Texian Stomping Grounds Page: 82
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TEXIAN STOMPING GROUNDS
retorted. "If you're referring to this fiddle, I've had it about
Whatever truth there may be to tales of the fiddler's laziness,
nothing of that trait remains when he starts playing. He pats
his foot, wags his head, and sways his entire body to keep time.
With an occasional "nip" to bolster up his spirits, he can be
depended on to play the whole night through without complaint.
One old fiddle tune has a suggestive title-"Give the Fiddler a
Dram." With no restraint, another tune is called "Whiskey by
the Gallon," a favorite of Uncle Joe Chastain long ago down at
Sabine Point. Then there is "Rye Whiskey" (or "Drunkard's
Hiccoughs," as it is known in Parker County) in the rendition
of which none can excel Elmo Newcomer, of Pipe Creek, in
Bandera County, for sheer realism, as he plays and sings:
I eat when I'm hungry; I drink when I'm dry.
If a tree don't fall on me, I'll live till I die.
Of course, the liquor can flow too freely. Indication of the
general love for drink is the Fourth of July dance described by
Gerstaecker," at which two fiddlers were laid out by midnight
to sober up, the third managing to saw on until dawn.
Tex Bender, noted as roper, mustanger and fiddler, could pick
up a quart bottle and take a drink out of it without missing a
single stroke of his bow or slacking on a single note of his tune.
The louder the music, the better. Squeaking floors, shuffling
feet, crying babies, and the sonorous voice of the caller are but
part of the noise which the fiddler has to play against and over-
come. If he has a "loud fiddle," he can do this except when a
cowboy becomes intoxicated (with the music) and seeks to imitate
a coyote or lets forth a "yipee." To improve the tone quality
many fiddlers keep a rattlesnake rattle inside their instrument;
this is also thought to keep the spiders out, and to be a protection
against dampness. Hanging always in the open as most fiddles
hang, they need protection. Some musicians own battered cases,
but the most care that many give their instruments is to wrap
them in an old shawl when they hie forth to a dance.
At a public dance, sometime during the evening two or three
'Ed Kilman, "Old Fiddlers Make Their Last Stand," Houston Post-Dispatch,
April 4, 1926.
'Frederick Gerstaecker, Wild Bports n the Par West, New York, 1854,
Here’s what’s next.
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Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. Texian Stomping Grounds, book, 1941; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc67663/m1/90/: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.