First, I have to apologize for the misstatements I made in my introduction to this tune.
1. I actually learned this tune from Cody Marriott, not Junior Marriott.
2. I should have said that Cody learned it from a recording of Benny Thommasson, not “From Benny Thommasson”.
Now that I have that out of the way, it was Saturday night at the Greensburg, IN fiddle contest. It was probably Sunday morning at this point, but Cody Marriott and I were the only ones left still playing in the conference room at the hotel. Cody knows how I like obscure fiddle tunes, especially finger twisting hornpipes. He said check this out, and played Salem Hornpipe. And, after hearing it, I had to learn it (of course.) He said that he learned it from a recording of Benny.
It’s a real finger twister with some tricky string changes, and some funky third position wrangling. I did find a cool way to get up into 3rd position on this one – if you watch closely, but it was more difficult to use that same trick getting down.
Later I got a recording of Benny playing the tune, and I also found the tune in Cole’s 1000 fiddle tunes. If I had to guess, I would be willing to bet that Benny got it out of Cole’s. I highly recommend you give this tune a shot.
Salem Hornpipe according to Fiddler’s Companion
SALEM HORNPIPE. American, Hornpipe. G Major. Standard tuning. AABB (Cole): AA’AA’BB (Phillips). Composition credited to one P.S. Gilmore in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection (1883). Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore was a musician, a cornet virtuoso and brass band leader in the New York and Boston, Massachusetts, areas in the mid- and latter-19th century. Gilmore’s Band is one of the bands listed by The Boston Directory as headquartered at 103 Court Street, Boston, in 1865—the same address as Elias Howe’s music store (Sky, 2001). The title refers to the town of Salem, Massachusetts, where Gilmore was the leader of the Salem Brass Band, attached to the Salem Light Infantry, a militia unit. As young man he had been a blackface minstrel, after leaving the British army in Canada. Edward Le Roy Rice, in his book Monarchs of Minstrelsy (New York, 1911), gives this brief bio:
P.S. Gilmore, who organized and led for many years the famous band bearing his name,
was a member of Ordway’s Aeolians in Boston, 1851, where he sat on the end and
played the tambourine. June 24, 1851, he began an engagement in Hartford, Conn.,
with the above company. P.S. Gilmore was born near Dublin, Ireland, December 25,
1829; he died at St. Louis, Mo., September 24, 1892. (pg. 62).
Gilmore came to the United States at the age of 20, and, rather than having been born “near Dublin” as Rice says, he was born in Ballygar, County Galway. His most famous composition, according to many, was his band arrangement of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” (published under the pen name of Lewis Lambert), which first appeared as part of “The Soldier’s Return March.” At one time in his life Gilmore was famed as the impresario who led an orchestra of 1000, a choir of 10,000, and six bands in a huge 50,000 seat auditorium as part of the 1872 World Peach Jubilee and International Music Festival in Boston. Source for notated version: Armin Barnett [Phillips]. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; pg. 87. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 2, 1995; pg. 223. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; pg. 120. White’s Unique Collection, 1896; No. 134, pg. 24.