Pinery Boys: Lumberjack Songs of the Upper Midwest

Pinery Boys: Lumberjack Songs of the Upper Midwest

Record date: Oct 10, 2017

James P. Leary, UW-Madison Professor Emeritus and co-author of “Pinery Boys: Songs and Songcatching in the Lumberjack Era,” recounts the story of Franz Rickaby, a scholar who collected the tunes and lyrics of songs sung by lumberjacks in the lumber camps of the Upper Midwest. Leary shares recordings of the songs.

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Episode Transcript

Today we are

pleased to introduce

James P. Leary as part of the

Wisconsin Historical Museum's

History Sandwiched In

lecture series.

The opinions expressed today

are those of the presenters,

and are not necessarily those

of the Wisconsin

Historical Society,

or the museum's employees.

Born and raised in

Rice Lake, Wisconsin,

James P. Leary is

Professor Emeritus

of Folklore and

Scandinavian Studies,

at the University

of Wisconsin-Madison,

where he co-founded

The Center for the Study of

Upper Midwestern Cultures.

His many books and documentary

productions include:

"Wisconsin Folklore,"

"So Ole Says to Lena,"


"Accordions in the Cutover,"

"Down Home Dairyland"

with Richard March,

the Grammy nominated

"Folksongs of Another America,"

and "Pinery Boys" with Franz

Rickaby and Gretchen Dykstra.

So if you could join me in

welcoming James P. Leary.


Thanks everyone,

and thanks Katie for

the nice introduction.

I'm a folklorist, and

as Katie mentioned,

I was born and raised

in northern Wisconsin.

And folklorists

really engage in

cultural documentation,

with diverse peoples

and my own work has been

in the upper Midwest.

Working with diverse

indigenous peoples,

the old European immigrant

ethnic communities.

With new immigrants.

Also with people working

in a number of

occupational traditions.

I've done stuff with iron

workers, with farmers,

with factory line workers,

and also with working

loggers in the region.

Growing up in Rice Lake,

I was born in 1950.

I had the good fortune of really

growing up in a farming

and logging town.

And there were a lot

of old lumberjacks

around when I was a kid.

People who had worked in the

heyday of the lumber camps.

Most of the ones who were still

living when I was growing up

were born maybe in

the 1880's and 1890's

and had worked kind of toward

the tail-end of big camps.

But I had a neighbor down the

road who was born in 1885.

His parents a had come

over from Ireland.

His father had worked in

Chippewa Valley lumber camps.

And he worked a

little in Wisconsin,

but more in Minnesota

near Rainy Lake.

His name was George Russell.

He was a timber scaler

in the woods.

Also in my hometown was a

guy named Otto Rindlisbacher,

who I'll mention a

little bit later.

But he ran the Buckhorn Tavern,

which was a classic

up-north Museum Bar.

And as a young man he

was of Swiss background.

He made cheese of course,

but he'd also worked in the

woods and worked in sawmills.

And he was a fiddler

and a fiddle-maker.

And his place, his bar

had the world's largest

collection of odd lumberjack

musical instruments.

Or so he called them,

on a postcard from

the Buckhorn Tavern.

And his place was a

hangout for musicians.

And I went in there

now and then

with my dad when I

was a young kid.

And then later on,

Otto lived until 1975

when he was 80 years old.

And I was able to--

I was 21 by then,

and able to go into the Buckhorn and have a drink and hang out,

and talk with him a little bit.

In the early 1970's I also

began to study folklore.

I got a Masters at North

Carolina and a Ph.D. at Indiana.

And along the way I

discovered this book

"Ballads and Songs of the

Shanty-Boy" by Franz Rickaby.

And looking at

the forward of it,

I saw that he acknowledged the

help of Otto Rindlesbacher,

from my hometown.

And he also included

songs from people in

Ladysmith, Eau Claire,

Chippewa Falls, Gordon,

other places in

northern Wisconsin,

with which I was quite familiar.

When I was kind of a

scrappy young grad student

in the mid-seventies.

I found a used

copy of this book.

It was published

originally in 1926.

It was a scarce book,

I paid $50.00 for it,

which was a huge fortune to me

as a starving

graduate student then.

And it's been an

interest ever since.

A few years ago, the

University of Wisconsin Press

asked if there were

any older titles

that had gone out of print.

And this book had

originally been published

by Harvard University Press.

And the UW Press

was wondering if

there was something,

some books we could bring back,

having to do with

regional folklore,

bring it back into print.

Then I suggested this,

and I was very lucky in looking

into doing a new edition,

to be able to be

in contact with,

and eventually collaborate with

Franz Rickaby's granddaughter,

Gretchen Dykstra.

Rickaby himself

was born in 1875,

1879 rather, in

Rogers, Arkansas.

His father was English.

His mother was of

German background.

And they were a family that

kind of scuffled to get by.

He was a high school

dropout as a young man.

He kind of wandered

around picking apples

and doing various laboring jobs.

But his father was a church

organist and a music teacher,

and he had music

in his heart.

And kept that up

and then finally,

late in his teens, returned

and got a high school degree,

and then went on to get degrees

from Knox College in

Galesburg, Illinois,

and eventually from Harvard.

This is a photograph of him in,

being Mercury like,

quite a yoga move one would

say today I suppose.

A very energetic fella,

but during his early travels

he contracted rheumatic fever.

And later in his life

as he got into his 30's,

his health began to decline.

He was at the Mayo

Clinic periodically.

Eventually he and his

wife and young son

moved out to California

for better air,

but he died in 1925,

a few months before his book

"Ballads and the Songs of the

Shanty-Boy" was published.

So he never got to see it.

His wife remarried a

number of years later.

She married a guy

named Clarence Dykstra,

who became the Chancellor

at the University of

Wisconsin in the 1940's.

And as a result of that,

Rickaby's field notebooks

from a field trip

that he made in 1919

are in the Wisconsin

Historical Society.

And his unpublished collection

of other folk songs,

mostly from the upper Midwest,

are in the Mills Music

Library here on campus.

But his granddaughter,

Gretchen Dykstra,

who grew up only hearing

a few stories about him,

seeing a few family photographs,

became curious as she

got into her 60's,

and began to wonder more

about her grandfather.

She began going

into a family cache

of writings, letters, photographs,

publications, that he'd had.

And began to track down

elements of his life.

Including eventually

going on a trip.

Retracing some of his field work

and going to various

places where he had lived.

And I mentioned fortuitously,

as I was beginning

to work with UW Press

on a new edition

of Rickaby's book,

I ran into Gretchen who in turn,

was at work on this

kind of biography

and genealogical quest

about her grandfather.

And we threw in together.

So what we've done,

we've taken his,

Rickaby's 1925 book "Ballads

and Songs of the Shanty-Boy,"

and we've added

new material to it.

And here's a slide of

the table of contents.

We have a first

part where I wrote

a little introduction

about Rickaby's background.

And he was one of

a number of people,

who in the early

20th century were,

what nowadays gets

called "song-catchers,"

people who were in search

of narrative folk songs.

Mostly in the English language,

sometimes having roots

to the British Isles.

Circulating an oral

tradition in North America.

So I did a little

introduction about that.

Then there's an extensive,

very well written, I might add,

an illustrated

biography of Rickaby

that also combines with

Gretchen's genealogical search

and retracing his steps.

So it's a really

nice vivid piece.

And then we

reproduce the songs

that Rickaby gathered

from lumberjacks.

Mostly in northern

and lower Michigan,

the Upper Peninsula

of Michigan,

northern Wisconsin,

northern Minnesota.

And then there were

a number of people

who had worked in

the woods in Ontario.

Mostly people of

Irish background,

if any of you are familiar with

that kind of Irish-Canadian

folk music group

called "Leahy."

They're a bunch of brothers

and sisters who perform.

One of their ancestors settled in Omemee, North Dakota,

(laughs) which is where

Franz Rickaby encountered him.

So we have his collection

of 51 folk songs

circulating in

the lumber camps.

Most of these songs are songs

about work in the woods.

Triumphs, tragedies,

people being crushed

during log jams

and exciting things like that.

Or having limbs fall on them,

or being cut in half

in a sawmill.

But there also are

contests in skidding

and who could do the best work.

There are sometimes

militant labor songs,

the shanty man's Marseilles,

evoking the French

soldier's song,

associated with

the Paris Commune.

And there also are a

lumberjack alphabet.

A is for axes, as

all of you know,

and B is for boys who

can wield them also.

He didn't include

the raunchy version

of this unfortunately,

but that's in my

"Folk Songs of Another America,"

from subsequent

field recordings.

And then there were also--

It's riddled with

little catalogs

or chronicles of

work in the woods,

and little verse, or a

couple-line portraits

or characterizations

of different people

who worked in the woods.

So he has a lot of

those but he also,

as you can see

here at number 41.

Well actually starting

even earlier number 39.

There are a lot of songs of being on ships and sailing.

And that's partly because work

in the woods was seasonal.

It was done in the winter time

with a frozen ground

and ice roads.

You could move those heavy

timbers with horse and oxen.

And then what would people

do the rest of the time?

Some of them had small farms

to which they returned.

Some went out eventually

to the Dakotas

and worked on threshing crews.

Some worked in sawmills.

But more than a few worked

on Great Lakes vessels and

sailed in the age of sailing

ships on the Great Lakes.

And so those

repertoires of songs

from those different

occupational traditions

came over.

A number of the songs

like "Morrissey and

The Russian Sailor,"

and "Heenan and Sayers"

are songs.

They're Irish-American songs.

And a large number of workers

who were also singers

in the lumber camps

were of Irish extraction.

And Rickaby was the

first really to identify

the Irish influence

in the lumber camps,

on tunes, on the

composition if songs,

and also on singing style.

And Irish were

influential to the extent

that the people of

other backgrounds,

if they were singing in English,

took on an Irish style.

The third part of

the book has songs

from Rickaby's manuscripts

that are in the

Mills Music Library.

There are several

hundred of these

and I picked out about 14

that had to do with

the upper Midwest.

They expand the

frame a little bit.

They include songs in

German and about Germans.

They include Scandinavian,

especially Norwegian songs.

They include local songs

about deer hunting.

They include even

a Ho-Chunk song.

This is it.

He says, "This is my

only attempt so far

"to record a melody

sung by an Indian."

This is Rickaby's little notes.

"I heard a young

fellow of the Winnebago

sing at the Kiwanis

Club luncheon when

I was in Eau Claire."

And he goes on to observe that

he had him sing afterwards,

and noted down, Rickaby

did not make recordings.

He transcribed,

he was a violinist,

so he transcribed the

tunes in quick notation.

And here he observes,

"I can't believe he

was a very good singer.

"The young fellow called

himself Chief White Eagle."

Now I think this is

the ethnocentrism

of Rickaby at work.

Because in fact I'm pretty sure

this is Winslow White Eagle,

who was revered as a very

fine Ho-Chunk singer

with quite a range and command,

vocal command and

a broad repertoire.

Back in the late

80's and early 90's

I worked quite a bit

with Ken Funmaker Sr.

of the Ho-Chunk Nation,

helping him establish

the Hocak Wazijaci language

and culture center,

the Ho-Chunk Nation's institution

of language and

culture programs.

And Ken himself was

a remarkable singer.

He had a repertoire of

about 300 Ho-Chunk songs.

His sons carry on the group

called the Wisconsin

Dells Singers,

carry on the

Ho-Chunk repertoire.

And Ken knew

Winslow White Eagle

and described him as

a remarkable singer.

He was also a silversmith.

Kenny used to hang out with

him when he was living

in Lyndon Station and

heard him sing many times.

Winslow White Eagle was also

recorded by Frances Densmore,

an early recorder of American

Indian music working for

the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology.

She was from Red Wing, Minnesota

and did extensive

recordings of Ho-Chunk,

as well as Menomonie,

Lac du Flambeau,

Ojibwe, in northern

Minnesota as well.

Here we see a photo

of Winslow White Eagle

as a guide in the

Wisconsin Dells.

And he...

He was involved with the

Stand Rock Indian Ceremonial.

And he was actually

recorded again

for the Library of Congress

in 1946 at Wisconsin Dells.

But here he is on a postcard.

Even though Rickaby

denigrated or

had his misgivings about the

skill of White Eagle

as a singer,

it's noteworthy that he

paid attention to it.

We see a glimpse

of Franz Rickaby

here in two different settings.

One is in his sort

of traveling clothes.

In some ways there was a,

not only an economic

reality of, you know,

homeless and itinerant

workers in that era.

If one reflects back on

labor in the United States

and even looks to it in

the contemporary era,

there are a number

of occupations

that demand intensive

seasonal labor.

Whether it's picking apples

or harvesting various

kinds of crops.

And back in the day of

lumber camp of course

you could only work in

the woods in the winter.

And so people did seasonal work,

but in between a lot of

times they were homeless.

Wandering around, and it's

obviously not that unusual

of a situation globally

or nationally either.

Rickaby himself

took part in this,

had a strong sympathy for it.

But because of his

intellectual brilliance

and the fact that he came from a

poor but well-educated family,

he was able to make

his way eventually

to Harvard University where

we see him in his study here,

a little bit prior to WWI.

There he was

influenced by a number

of ballad and folk

song scholars.

One had died by that time,

Francis James Child on the left,

who is associated with the

so-called Child Ballads,

English and Scottish

popular ballads.

Child was a Professor

of Modern Languages

at Harvard as a young man.

He had kind of made

the European tour.

He had studied at Heidelberg.

He became influenced by

the Grimms and others.

The Grimms were of course

interested in Germanic,

but comparative folk tales,

as well as legends,

but they also had

an earlier interest

and were connected with people interested in folk songs.

Child made folk

songs his interest,

especially English and

Scottish folk songs.

He never went out

into the field.

You can see him here

in his arm chair,

a so-called arm chair scholar, as opposed to Rickaby,

who looks ready to go

out and tramp around.

But he corresponded

with various people

and he compiled a

five-volume set of books

of 305 English and

Scottish popular ballads

with various variations

and historical

and linguistic background

and annotations and so forth.

His main disciple at Harvard,

who in fact was

Rickaby's teacher,

was George Lyman Kittredge,

also an arm-chair scholar,

who you can see sitting

in his arm chair.

That's actually a portrait

that was painted of him.

But he was very much a

scholar of these old texts.

However, unlike Child,

he realized

that these songs were

not only confined

to the historical record

in England and Scotland,

but rather they were

continuing to circulate

and undergo variation

in oral tradition,

and that many people

that had come over

from the British

Isles sang these songs

and were continuing to sing them

in various parts of

the United States.

Kittredge was also

more open-minded

about other kinds of songs

that may have emerged

in the United States.

And there were a few

other people at the time

that Rickaby was working,

who had this interest.

One of them was John Lomax,

who you see here on the right,

in his recreation

of his historic 1933

field recording of Huddie Ledbetter or Ledbelly,

where he was accompanied by his

more famous son, Alan Lomax.

But John Lomax grew up

in east Texas

not far from the

Chisholm Trail.

He heard cowboy songs

while he was growing up.

He began to put them

together and in 1910,

he published a book called

"Cowboy Songs and other

Frontier Ballads."

He was savvy enough,

very much a promoter,

to enlist the former Rough Rider Theodore Roosevelt,

the former president

of the United States,

to write a forward

to Cowboy Songs

and other

Frontier Ballads.

So this was in some ways

the first major study

to look at folk songs

that were either

composed thoroughly

in the United States

or were songs from British

and Irish origin

that were made over and

localized and redone,

to situate themselves

in the United States.

It was also the

first major study

of the tradition

of workers' songs.

Generally of men who were

in semi-isolated conditions

for extended periods of time.

You know, cowboys

on the trail drive

or out tending the herds,

and then getting

together at night.

Similarly sailors,

whether on the Great Lakes

or the salt seas,

had song traditions,

as did people who

worked in lumber camps.

And that included of course,

Maine and New Brunswick,

the maritime

provinces of Canada,

across to Ontario

on the Canadian side

and the United States across

into New York State especially,

and then jumping

over into Michigan,

especially northern

and lower Michigan,

the U.P., northern Wisconsin,

northern Minnesota,

and then out on into

the Pacific Northwest.

So Rickaby was

inspired by Lomax,

who had also studied in Harvard.

Because of his

earlier tramping days,

he took into his mind,

this idea that he would

"auto tramp" as he called it.

Fundamentally hitchhike

with his fiddle.

He would sing for his supper.

And he thought he

would travel from--

He'd actually been

the organizer

of all the caddies

at a big resort

for rich people from Chicago

and Charlevoix, Michigan.

He started there and then

had to take the ferry

across into the U.P. and

made his way from there,

and he was on his way eventually to Grand Forks, North Dakota,

because by 1917 he

had begun to teach

in the English Department at University of North Dakota.

So you see the

Grand Forks Herald in 1919

is giving a little

bit of play-by-play.

There were periodic stories

about the Rickaby's here,

and now he's somewhere else.

And his field journals

from that trip

are in the Historical

Society here.

We see a little

bit of his route,

as well as indications on

this map of other places

where he had recorded songs

from people in Wisconsin.

As well as Michigan,

Minnesota, and North Dakota.

This trip however

wasn't very successful,

with regard to finding people

who sang songs

from lumber camps.

I think he only got

one song and he also--

Although he was fixed on

finding songs sung in English,

a lot of the people that he

encountered were Finnish,

and French-Canadian and German,

and Swedish and

Italian and Croatian.

They were new immigrants.

By the time he was

doing this, was in 1919.

This is one of his

photographs here on the left

of tar-paper shacks in the U.P.

On the right he's in

Cloquet, Minnesota.

So he pretty much struck

out on this particular trip.

So what he began to do,

because University

of North Dakota

was involved with

educating teachers,

he was familiar with the

so-called teachers college

or normal school set up.

He knew that in many

cases, teachers were

the children of people,

especially in these regions,

who may have worked

in the lumber camps.

He arranged for a

number of programs

in places like Eau Claire,

quite notably,

where he would give a little

concert with his violin,

and also singing

some of these songs.

He would invite people to

come and then in many cases

there were people

who knew songs.

Some were men, but there

were also many women

who were his sources

of lumber camp songs,

even though they hadn't

worked in the lumber camps,

they knew the repertoire

through their relatives

who had worked in the camps.

And so he was able to

acquire quite a few songs,

but he got a lot help from a

guy named William Bartlett,

who was born in

the state of Maine,

had moved as a young

boy with his parents

in the 19th century

to Eau Claire.

He was a contractor there.

But he was also very

much interested

in history

of the area.

And he put out a great book

later in the 1920's called,

"History, Tradition and Adventure

"in The Chippewa Valley,"

that includes a

really cool chapter on

humor in the lumber camps.

He was a source for Rickaby.

They had a long correspondence,

as well as meeting when

Rickaby was in Eau Claire,

and you see here

a little account

of Rickaby playing on the fiddle

delighting a large audience

of students and faculty

of the Eau Claire Normal School.

And through Bartlett,

Rickaby encountered or met

a number of other people.

One was a guy named William N.,

William Neal Allen

or Billy Allen,

who also took on

the pen name,

as you can see on the left

right under the photo,

of Shan T. Boy,

or shanty boy.

And in the early

19th or 20th century,

the term lumberjack

wasn't used that much.

People who, men who

worked in the woods,

referred to themselves as

"The Boys" or "Shanty Boys,"

and the word shanty

that we've--

I grew up hearing connection

with mostly ice shanties,

you know put up for ice fishing,

comes from Gaelic,

it means small house.


And so it refers in some

ways to the rough buildings

in which the woods

workers found themselves.

But Allen was from-- He was

born in New Brunswick

and as a young man moved to

Wisconsin with his family,

or his parents rather.

He never married,

but he was based mostly

in the Wausau area.

He was a timber cruiser,

which meant that he

would travel in areas

where lumber companies

wanted to bid on

or get a sense of the

cost effectiveness,

the quality of timber

in a particular area,

where to put their camps

should they invest in it

and that sort of thing.

He was very good at what he did.

He was also, he was

of Irish extraction

and very much

poetically inclined.

And in the 1870's,

he began to compose

a number of poems

having to do with life

in the lumber camps,

which he would sing.

He also printed them out on

little handbills or broadsides.

At least three of them got

into oral tradition:

"Shanty Boy and

the Big Eau Claire,"

"Driving Saw Logs

on the Plover,"

and, ah...

the other one that's

escaping me, right now.

But some of these songs

were sung not only

throughout Wisconsin,

but in the U.P. and Ontario,

in Minnesota, even back

further east in New York State.

And in fact a fellow with a

stage name of Pierre Ledoux,

sang one in a New York musical,

sang "Driving Saw

Logs on the Plover,"

and recorded it

on a 78 rpm record

in a kind of a cheesy

parlor, crooner style.

But Allen lived until,

well into the 1920's.

You can see a little

obituary that made the news

in the Wisconsin State Journal in 1929.

He was a, as many Irish

were of his generation,

a lifelong member of

the Democratic Party,

and sometimes wrote

satiric political verse.

One of the funniest ones

involves Calvin Coolidge,

known as "Silent Cal" the

president from Vermont,

who famously didn't

seek a second term

using the phrase,

"I do not choose to run."

And the thing that galled Allen

was that there was

a tract of land

that's now the Sylvania

National Forest,

on the border between

Wisconsin and the U.P.

That was owned by

eastern timber interests.

There's still virgin

pine and hemlock there.

It was closed off at the

time to any ordinary people,

but the wealthy could go

there and stride around

and fish for trout and

enjoy the wildlife,

which Coolidge was doing.

And so in the 1890's

another timber cruiser,

who Allen knew from Rhinelander,

Eugene Shephard, had

invented this monster

of the Northwoods, "The Hodag."

And so in the imagination

of Billy Allen,

Calvin Coolidge is

walking through the woods

and he encounters a chipmunk

and stands boldly in

front him and says,

"I do not choose to run."

When he hears the

chipmunk chirping.

And then goes a little further

and there's a porcupine

kind of ambling along,

and he stands up and "I

do not choose to run."

But then he's walking

a little further

and he begins to

hear this growling,

and the bushes and the

trees start to shake

and out of the woods

comes this fierce Hodag

and he says, "By God!

I think I'll run."


But at any rate, through

William Bartlett,

Rickaby was able to

meet Billy Allen.

And, at the time when Rickaby

was seeking folk songs

it was not the custom

of folk song catchers

to pay much attention to

the singers themselves.

And it was also thought

that folk songs were

entirely anonymous,

as if they'd come out

of a throng of people,

or something like that.

So Rickaby was the first one

to set down a full biography,

a really full biography of an

American folk song singer.

And also to be able

to look at songs

which Allen had

actually composed

and that had undergone

different variation

in oral tradition.

Bartlett also provided Allen

with a set of photographs

that are now in the

iconic graphic collection

of the Wisconsin

Historical Society.

Photographs that he had had made

a little bit earlier

of lumber camp life.

And these were

used to illustrate

the original publication

of "Ballads and the

Songs of the Shanty Boy,"

and we reproduced

them the new edition.

So we see people

her with their pipes

and their socks

in the straw bunks,

the deacons seat that's

strewn across the bunkhouse.

We also see, and this

we use as a cover image,

a bunch of loggers

posing, probably on

a Saturday afternoon,

or a Sunday afternoon,

when a photographer

would have come to the camp,

with the Gabriel, or

the dinner horn there.

Another fella has a fiddle,

and then several have

cant hooks and jam pikes

for moving the logs

around as well.

And you see the rude

shanty behind them,

And this a kind of a

dramatic photo of a wanigan,

a kind of mobile cookhouse

for feeding people

on the river drives,

traversing the rapids.

So it was through

Bartlett that Rickaby

was able to acquire

all these images.

And I think it was

also through Bartlett

that Rickaby was able to

meet Otto Rindlesbacher,

who I mentioned at the outset.

Here he is, this

is a later photo

that was a postcard from

the Buckhorn Tavern.

This is kind of how I

remember it in the 1950's

with a number of lumber

camp instruments.

Some of which Rickaby

made, displayed--

I mean Rindlesbacher made,

displayed behind him.

Okay, we want to

have a little bit

of an opportunity to

hear some of these songs.

I mentioned before

the importance

of the Irish style in the camps.

This is a French-Canadian guy Emory DeNoyer.

He was blinded as a young

boy in a shotgun accident.

But he was very enterprising

He had a good ear, he had a

great voice, a good memory.

And he was living

in Rhinelander.

He acquired from

local old-timers,

a lot of lumberjack songs.

He had a brother who

would take him to camps

in the Rhinelander area

and he would sing for tips.

In the 1940's when Rhinelander

established their

logging museum,

he was kind of well known and

associated with that site.

And Lance Trapman Thomas of

the University of Wisconsin,

made recordings for the

Library of Congress,

and recorded this song

"Shanty Man's Life."

It's sung very much

in an Irish style,

kind of a high-pitched tenor

style, sung unaccompanied.

It's one of these catalogs

and in Rickabys collection,

it's called "Jim

Porter's Shanty Song."

Well, just listen to part of it.

'Cause it's a long song, it

goes on for about five minutes.

§ All you jolly

fellows come listen §

§ to my song §

§ It's all about the pinery

boys and how they get along §

§ They're the jolliest lot of

fellows so merrily and fine §

§ They will spend their pleasant

winter months in cutting §

§ Down the pine §

§ Some will leave friends

and homes and others they §

§ Do love dear §

§ And into the

lonesome pine woods §

§ Their pathway they do steer §

§ Into the lonesome pine

woods all winter to remain §

§ Awaiting for the spring

time to return again §

- [Leary] So we're starting

the third verse now.

§ Spring time comes

O glad will be its day §

§ Some return to home and

friends while others go astray §

§ The sawyers and the choppers

they lay their timber low §

§ The swampers and the teamsters

they haul it to and fro §

§ Next comes the loaders

before the break of day §

§ Load up your

sleighs 5,000 feet §

§ 'Till the river haste away §

§ Noon time rolls around

our foreman loudly screams §

§ Lay down your tools me boys §

§ And we'll haste

to pork and beans §

- Okay, so they get their

food and it kind of goes on,

has a little bit on the rivalry

between the various workers.

And then it ends up with the

time in the woods being over.

But then a little break,

and people are

wanted on the lumber,

on the river drive.

And so it kind of

goes on like that.

Another noted song,

and this will be kind

of close to wrapping up,

is "The Pinery Boy" and this

is one that was acquired

by Rickaby from a

Mrs. Olan of Eau Claire.

We don't know too

much about her.

But it's a song with

an old Irish tune,

and it's actually adapted

from a song from the Isles,

from across the Atlantic,

about the death of a sailor.

A woman was lamenting news

about her lover the sailor boy.

It was,

appealed to Otto Rindlesbacher

and his wife Iva,

who was seen here

with a Viking cello,

a pitchfork soundbox,

one string instrument,

modeled on the

Norwegian psalmodicon.

And in 1938 they were asked

by the National Folk Festival

to do a program of

lumberjack songs,

first in Chicago and then

in Washington D.C. in 1939.

And one of the tunes

that Iva played

on the Viking cello

was 'The Pinery Boy'

It had a lot of appeal.

It's been recorded

by lots of people,

including a kind

of doomy goth-rock

Australian guy Nick Cave.

But kind of a

really cool version

is by a sort of Madison

based super-group,

The Emporors of Wyoming,

that has Butch Vig,

who ran Smart Studios,

and produced Nirvana,

and also played in

the group, Garbage,

that's still going periodically,

and teaming up with a

guy named Phil Davis

who used to write

a lot for Isthmus

and played in earlier bands

like Spooner and

Fire Town around Madison.

So we'll hear a little bit

of their version

of "The Pinery Boy."

And there's a very cool

video of it up on YouTube,

if you want to look on YouTube,

if you want to look

at that at some point.

§ §

§ Oh father, father,

she said build me a boat §

§ Down the Wisconsin River so §

§ I may float §

§ And every raft I pass §

§ Bring me joy §

§ I will ask for my §

§ Sweet pinery boy §

§ So she was rollin' §

§ Down the stream §

§ She saw three rafts §

§ All in a string §

- And of course she sees

these raftsmen coming

and they give her the bad news

that he fell on the rocks,

or drowned near Lone Rock,

or something like that.

And the Wisconsin River

is over his grave.

§ §

§ Oh pilot pilot §

§ Tell me true §

§ Is my sweet Willy boy §

§ Among your crew §

- Okay.

No, he's not among the

crew because he's gone.

So I wanted to kind

of end with that

just to show that I think

these songs still have power.

They're capturing

people's imagination.

They were a pioneering

effort by Franz Rickaby.

And in addition to

capturing the songs

of lumberjacks in the region,

he also got songs from

other ethnic groups

including Ho-Chunk in the area.

We've tried to put it all

together in this new edition.

In my introduction

I call attention

to some of newer recordings

of these old songs

by a number of people.

So thank you very much

for your kind attention

and patience with the

technical stuff too.

Thank you.


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