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<  Archive  ~  Origin of James River Blues

motiger
Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 11:28 am Reply with quote
Raisin' a Ruckus Joined: 26 Aug 2005 Posts: 80 Location: Missouri
Does anyone know the origin of James River Blues? (one of my fav OCMS songs)
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pittsyltucky
Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:36 pm Reply with quote
*Johnny* Joined: 15 Sep 2006 Posts: 4268 Location: Pigg River District, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
I don't claim to know the origin of the tune, but it's one of Crit's and it's a DAMN GOOD SONG -- I think it ought to be our state song here in Virginny, it's so farkin' good.
What it's about, however, I can honestly comment on... The decline of the batteauxman's livelihood versus the "big iron" railroads. The batteaux were a Virginia phenomenon, "invented" in the late 18th century to carry farm goods (mostly hogsheads of tobacco, sometimes flour and iron pigs) from the piedmont to the commercial centers of the east like Richmond, Petersburg and Fredericksburg. Batteaux were the MAJOR transporters of goods on the Rappahannock, the James, the Appomattox, the Staunton, and there's also evidence that at least one shipment of iron pigs was transported down my home river on the Pigg (and then into the Staunton)... By the early 19th century, even little tributaries like the Willis and Slate Rivers had been improved with locks and wing dams and such by corporations to facilitate batteaux movement. Well, this was certainly a neat way to transport goods, certainly easier than by wagon across Virginia roads that were only conveniently passable with heavy loads in summertime. Goods were also transported down the Shenandoahs, but these were flatboats and not batteaux -- there are many "additions" built on homes in the Harper's Ferry, West(ern) Virginia area that were constructed out of these flatboats whose only purpose was to make one run downriver and then be sold for lumber afterward.
Things were looking good for the batteauxmen, mostly poorer whites and free blacks of the "rougher" sort (Front Royal, VA was known as "Helltown" in the early 19th c. because of the boatmens' reputation for drinking and whoring) as well as plenty of trustworthy slaves running boats for their masters' plantations (a subject fascinating to me and worth researching) - they pretty much had the lock on the transportation market until the rail roads sprouted up heavily in Virginia in the early 1850's. One batteau could carry as much as twelve hogsheads, but the rail roads could "haul much more than (they) ever could before". So began a loooooong decline of the batteaux traffic. Ultimately, it was still more convenient for folks near the major rivers to use the batteux, and traffic continued on the rivers until about 1900. If you want to read a really good book on what it was like to be a batteauxman in this latter period, I suggest you check out: "Appomattox River Seay Stories", by Dr. W'm Trout, III - they are the reminiscences of Jim Seay, who was purported to be the "last Appomattox River batteauxman". Truly fascinating. I also suggest checking out the other publications of the Virginia Canals & Navigations Society, most all of them put together by Dr. Trout... The Society, even if you don't canoe or get off on history like I do, could benefit from your support. Also --- the last week in June is the annual batteaux trek from Lynchburg to Richmond on the James River --- if you've got a canoe, come join the flotilla --- if you make that run you will come away with an even greater appreciation for James River Blues and the lives of the batteauxmen that Mr. Fuqua has captured in his song.
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motiger
Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:49 pm Reply with quote
Raisin' a Ruckus Joined: 26 Aug 2005 Posts: 80 Location: Missouri
Wow, thanks so much. You have opened a while new world to me (a total history nut, esp. anything related to SOUTHERN History) and I am excited to explore it. Thanks! I knew nothing about Batteaux or their history - makes "James River Blues" much more real...
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pittsyltucky
Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:56 pm Reply with quote
*Johnny* Joined: 15 Sep 2006 Posts: 4268 Location: Pigg River District, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
motiger wrote:
a total history nut, esp. anything related to SOUTHERN History


I think we will get along just famously, motiger!!!

Speaking of "the recent unpleasantness", I just heard a version of "Tell It To Me" where Ketch says "All them YANKEES that thank they're tough..."
LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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therodge
Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:36 pm Reply with quote
*Law Dog* Joined: 17 Oct 2004 Posts: 6539 Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Was he talking about the NY Yankees? I think he is a big Red Sox fan and they are in a series with them right now.

but, im sure you all ready know that pitts, after the conversation you and my brother had at Bristol Razz

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pittsyltucky
Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:57 pm Reply with quote
*Johnny* Joined: 15 Sep 2006 Posts: 4268 Location: Pigg River District, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Seein' as how it's a Jan'y show in NC, I doubt he's talking about the Yanks -- You mean the Sox and Yanks WERE in a series -- I can't believe the Yanks didn't best 'em in ONE SINGLE GAME. :( I'm going to see the O's hopefully WHIP them Sox on Wednesday. Tell yer boy them Sox better watch out, the O's aren't but a game and a half behind 'em in the AL East. Keeping my fingers crossed for a Black and Orange October this year!!! Razz
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foxontherun
Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:39 pm Reply with quote
*Call Me Foxxxy If'n Ya Nasty* Joined: 18 Dec 2004 Posts: 1079 Location: Lynchburg, VA USA
i dunno, ive hear gillian welch add yankees in there before too, so ya know...yea, but the baseball thing works for me!

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The Fox
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bwilley1
Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:55 pm Reply with quote
Tearin' it Down Joined: 27 Oct 2004 Posts: 191 Location: Nashville, TN (Music City!)
wow..pittsyltucky...that, there is some good readin'.

Thanks for the history lesson!
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pittsyltucky
Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 3:40 pm Reply with quote
*Johnny* Joined: 15 Sep 2006 Posts: 4268 Location: Pigg River District, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
It's what I do... can't help it. Thanks for the thanks...
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BrownEyesBlue
Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 8:31 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 10 Aug 2006 Posts: 376
pittsyltucky wrote:
Keeping my fingers crossed for a Black and Orange October this year!!! Razz


You're a Giants fan????????????




Just kidding!


I'm impressed, Pittsy. And I was just about to ask you what you read to get all the information/knowledge that you have. Everytime you get into the history explanations, I become fascinated and want to know more.

Looks like you have a whole built-in conversation that you can have with Critter - if you haven't already. And Ferd. I remember your post about the conversation you had with him about Cotton Balers something or other. Very fascinating indeed. You southern folks sure love and know your history.
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katie_dear
Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 8:49 pm Reply with quote
Raisin' a Ruckus Joined: 15 Feb 2006 Posts: 111 Location: Pittsburgh
Quote:
Looks like you have a whole built-in conversation that you can have with Critter - if you haven't already.


She's right, Pittsy. You and Crit will have a blast on your "wargasm," with everything you two know! Just promise me there won't be any ass grabbing this time! Laughing
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pittsyltucky
Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 11:02 pm Reply with quote
*Johnny* Joined: 15 Sep 2006 Posts: 4268 Location: Pigg River District, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed

Katie Dear, you make me blush, gal...

Brown Eyes -- come on out, I do some pretty good historic tours of certain rivers around the state -- good history and good whitewater canoeing. And I do some pretty good camp cooking as well. It's a very authentic and informative experience.
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motiger
Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 6:54 am Reply with quote
Raisin' a Ruckus Joined: 26 Aug 2005 Posts: 80 Location: Missouri
[quote="BrownEyesBlue"]
pittsyltucky wrote:
Keeping my fingers crossed for a Black and Orange October this year!!! Razz


Good luck with that...

Go Cardinals! Very Happy
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pittsyltucky
Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 11:16 am Reply with quote
*Johnny* Joined: 15 Sep 2006 Posts: 4268 Location: Pigg River District, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
It'll be just fine with me if it ends up being a Cards v. Orioles series... Wink
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motiger
Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 12:53 pm Reply with quote
Raisin' a Ruckus Joined: 26 Aug 2005 Posts: 80 Location: Missouri
pittsyltucky wrote:
It'll be just fine with me if it ends up being a Cards v. Orioles series... Wink


You all are about due for a Series win as we were, aren't you? Well, best of luck to you. So long as you keep beating the Royals I don't care too much what happens in the AL. Smile
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BrownEyesBlue
Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 7:07 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 10 Aug 2006 Posts: 376
pittsyltucky wrote:

Brown Eyes -- come on out, I do some pretty good historic tours of certain rivers around the state -- good history and good whitewater canoeing. And I do some pretty good camp cooking as well. It's a very authentic and informative experience.


Free (for me) I hope! Wink Laughing
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pittsyltucky
Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 7:09 pm Reply with quote
*Johnny* Joined: 15 Sep 2006 Posts: 4268 Location: Pigg River District, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Sheeeeeiiiiiittt... y'all make the big bucks out yonder -- more like twice the normal fee!!
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BrownEyesBlue
Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 7:13 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 10 Aug 2006 Posts: 376
That's such a big misconception. But I'm used to it. And it's true, people would want to charge me more because they think I for some reason make more money, being from where I'm from and all. If only they knew....HAhahahahaha. Embarassed
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pittsyltucky
Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 7:15 pm Reply with quote
*Johnny* Joined: 15 Sep 2006 Posts: 4268 Location: Pigg River District, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
ok -- i'll take pity on yer poor pocketbook - besides, fees are always negotiable... Wink
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BrownEyesBlue
Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 7:18 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 10 Aug 2006 Posts: 376
Done and done. Smile I think. Confused
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Kitty
Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 7:38 pm Reply with quote
*Mrs. Kitty* Joined: 23 Oct 2006 Posts: 2344 Location: Durham, NC
BrownEyesBlue wrote:
pittsyltucky wrote:

Brown Eyes -- come on out, I do some pretty good historic tours of certain rivers around the state -- good history and good whitewater canoeing. And I do some pretty good camp cooking as well. It's a very authentic and informative experience.


Free (for me) I hope! Wink Laughing


Yup - - - free and all the possum and snapping turtle you can eat!
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