The All Comers Band set of the month for June 7 is Sam and Elzie/Step Along Johnny. Baron and I will also play this set for the June 1 outdoor dance at Steamboat Landing – sit-ins are encouraged! Bring your instrument and join us!
We have a couple of new old time tunes this month – though I’ve been teaching Sam and Elzie to people for a while, so some of you might have heard it.
Sam and Elzie I learned from my friend Henry Blackford of Asheville, NC, who learned it from the Canote Brothers. Bill Brennan of Cuyahoga Falls, OH has spent some time digging into the history of this tune and writes,
Sam & Elzie (Elza) Crutchfield were father and son farmers from Omega Township, Marion County, Illinois. They ran square dances in Omega Township between 1900 and 1920. Elzie was born 10/13/1884 and died 8/28/1928. I visited their grave sites last summer in the Phillips Cemetery in Omega Township.
- Canote Brothers got it from Phil and Vivian Williams in Seattle
- Phil & Vivian got if from banjo player Harley Bray and his brother fiddle player Wilson Bray
- Harley and Wilson learned it from their father Montie Bray who may have written the tune and knew the Crutchfields
I spoke to Harley Bray in Seattle and he gave me the name Harley Bonham, an 84 year old farmer from Omega Township now living in Flora IL. I wrote Mr. Bonham a letter and he called me! Bonham knew Montie Bray too. He said the men would meet outside the church every Sunday to decide who would have the next dance. Harley Bonham said that Sam and Elzie had a hired hand named John Tipsword who would come to the dances drunk and start fights. The tune had words, and Harley Bonham sang the last line, “Sam and Elzie, Sam and Elzie, leave John Tipsword home.”
I don’t know as much about Step Along Johnny, but I learned it from Emily Jeffries, a great old-time fiddler who grew up in Alabama but now lives in Rockland. I particularly like how the B part is a little more repetitive than you think it will be!
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Download the sheet music with chords: Sam and Elzie/Step Along Johnny