Camptown Races polka

Also known as The Banks Of The Sacramento, Campdown Races, The Camptown Races, De Campton Races, Le Port De Tacoma.

There are 7 recordings of a tune by this name.

Camptown Races has been added to 27 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Six settings

X: 1
T: Camptown Races
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:ed Bd|ed B2|BA AG/2A/2|BA AB/2d/2|
ed Bd|ed BG|AG/2A/2 BA|G2 G2:|
|:Bd ef|g2 g2|fe fe|d2 dB/2d/2|
ed Bd|ed BG|AG/2A/2 BA|G2 G2:|
ABC
X: 2
T: Camptown Races
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Fmaj
|F>A cc|dc c2|AG2F|AG2F|
F>A cc|dc c2|fd2c|AG2C|
ABC
X: 3
T: Camptown Races
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
e>e ce|fe c2|cB2c|B4||ef/e/ ce|fe cA/B/|cc BB|A3 e||
A2 ce|a3 a|f/ef/ af|e4||ef/e/ ce|fe cA/B/|cc BB|A4||
ABC
X: 4
T: Camptown Races
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|: B/d/ |ed Bd | ed BG | BA AG/A/ | BA AB/d/ |
ed Bd | ed BG | AG/A/ B/c/B/A/ | G2- G :|
|: A |GA Bd | g2 g2 | f/g/f/e/ fe | d2 dB/d/ |
ed Bd | e/f/e/d/ BG | AG/A/ BB/A/ | G2 G :|
ABC
X: 5
T: Camptown Races
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|: c/e/ |fe ce | fe cA | cB BA/B/ | cB Bc/e/ |
f/g/f/e/ ce | fe ce | BG/B/ cB | A2 A :|
|: c |ec ef | a2 ag/a/ | fe/f/ af | e2 ec/e/ |
fe cA | fe ce | BG/4A/4B/ cB | A2 A :|
F |:E>F AB | c/e/c/B/ ce | fe ce | fa af/a/ |
ba fe | c/e/c/B/ ce | BG/4A/4B/ cB |[1 A2 A/B/A/F/ :|[2 A2 A |]
ABC
X: 6
T: Camptown Races
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|: B/d/ |ed Bd | ed BG | BA AG/A/ | BA AB/d/ |
e/f/e/d/ Bd | ed Bd | AF/A/ BA | G2 G :|
|: B |dB de | g2 gf/g/ | ed/e/ ge | d2 dB/d/ |
ed BG | ed Bd | AF/4G/4A/ BA | G2 G :|
E |:D>E GA | B/d/B/A/ Bd | ed Bd | eg ge/g/ |
ag ed | B/d/B/A/ Bd | AF/4G/4A/ BA |[1 G2 G/A/G/E/ :|[2 G2 G |]
ABC

Twenty comments

Campdown Races

As played by Patrick O’Keeffe on track 16 of "The Sliabh Luachra Fiddle Master" (RTE CD).

CampTown races

This is the doo-dah song with a slight change in the spelling

How’s she cutting, Ed?

Well, Camptown Races the song is attributed by most to Stephen Foster. Dunno if he used a "folk melody" to perpetrate the lyrics upon.

Conan: all’s well with me thanks - how about you? Is your Finsbury Park sesh still going?

The notes confirm what you say, noting that this polka "…is known well beyond Ireland as a song." Unfortunately that’s all they say about this tune. The only other clue to its age is that these recordings date from Sept ‘48 and Jan ‘49.

Camptown Races

Stephen Foster was an accomplished composer and songwriter, and wrote Camptown Races (aka "De Camton Races") in 1850, so the tune is indeed of respectable antiquity. Two useful websites about Stepeh Foster are
http://www.pitt.edu/~amerimus/foster.htm
http://www.pdmusic.org/foster.html

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869) was the USA’s first international virtuoso pianist/composer. His virtuoso piano fantasia "Le Banjo" Op 15, composed in 1855, makes a clear reference to Stephen Foster’s "Camptown Races" of 1850, and also the spiritual "Roll, Jordan, Roll". "Le Banjo" is probably one of the best pianistic impressions of banjo playing I’ve heard, and shows that Gottschalk was familiar with the banjo and its sound.
The opening eight bars of Le Banjo - which is about the only bit I can play :-) - are as follows:
K:Fmaj
M:2/4
|F>A cc|dc c2|AG2F|AG2F|
F>A cc|dc c2|fd2c|AG2C|

BTW, the original is in F#maj, and the first eight bars are played on the piano fortissimo in double octaves.

Trevor

You ever read those lyrics? "Perpetrate" is about the only way of looking at it! ;) Trev, but did Foster write the tune or steal it from some folk melody, is what I’m wondering!

Camptown Races

Yes, Zina, I agree. It is possible that Foster may have used an existing folk tune (a composer’s practice of venerable antiquity), in which case Gottschalk may have got his reference in Le Banjo from a source other than Foster. Gottschalk was deep into American and African ethnic music, so it’s possible he may have come across the tune in his travels - he toured Europe as a soloist.
If documentary evidence of this tune before 1850 can be found, than we have an answer.
BTW, would you like to post the words for our delectation? :-) I don’t know them.
Trevor

Heh. From, believe it or else, The Stephen Foster School of Music for the Harmonica:

"Camptown Races ranks with Oh! Susanna as one of Foster’s best nonsense songs. It is interesting to speculate on the possible origin of Foster’s idea for Camptown Races. Musically, its refrain is similar to a Negro spiritual, Roll, Jordan Roll. Another old song, Doo-Dah, has passages almost identical with Camptown Races. Did Foster, then, base Camptown Races on a popular folk-song, or are these folk-songs variants and adaptations of Foster’s song? These questions cannot be answerfed, for no one knows when the folk-songs originated; whether they came into being earlier or later than Camptown Races.

"Camptown Races was copyrighted and first issued by the Baltimore publisher, F.D. Benteen, February 19, 1850. Within a few years the town of Camptown, New Jersey, changed its name to Irvington. A newspaper writer suggested that Foster’s race-track song had brought the New Jersey town so much notoriety that its citizens changed the name of their town in self-defense. Careful research into the Irvinton records and into minuted of town meetings has unfortunately failed to verify the tradition.

"Camptown Races contains foolishness of a rare quality, and it has been popular for almost a hundred yars. In its early days it was only moderately successful. In a seven-year period after it was first issued, it had earned in royalties $101.25, which represented the sale of a little more than 5,000 copies at two centsa copy. This sale was almost the same as that achieved by Oh! Lemuel! in approximately the same period."

And, now, my apologies, but here’s the lyrics:

De Camp-town lad-ies sing dis song,
Doo-dah! doo-dah!
De Camp-town race-track five miles long,
Oh! doo-dah-day!

I come down dah wid my hat caved in,
Doo-dah! doo-dah!
I go back home wid a pocket full of tin,
Oh! doo-dah-day!

chorus
Gwin to run all night! Gwin to run all day!
I’ll bet my mon-ey on de bob-tail nag,
Some-bod-y bet on de bay.

verse 2
De long tail filly and de big black hoss,
Doo dah! doo dah!
Dey fly de track and de both cut across
Oh! doo dah day!
De blind hoss sticken in a big mud hole,
Doo dah! doo dah!
Can’t touch bottom with a ten foot pole
Oh doo dah day!

verse 3
Old mulley cow come onto de track,
Doo dah! doo dah!
De bobtail fling her ober his back,
Oh! doo dah day!
Den fly along like a railroad car,
Doo dah! doo dah!
Runnin’ a race wid a shootin’ star
Oh! doo dah day!

verse 4
See dem flyin’ on a ten mile heat,
Doo dah! doo dah!
Round de race track den repeat,
Oh! doo dah day!
I win my money on de bobtail nag,
Doo dah! doo dah!
I keep my money in an old towbag,
Oh! doo dah day!

Camptown Races

Ha-ha-ha! Wonderful! Many thanks, Zina. It takes a rare talent to pen nonsense of that order, but you don’t have to look far to see that this website attracts numerous writers with that skill :-)
Trevor

The Banks of the Sacramento.

Author Frank Shay recorded these words in Iron Men & Wooden Ship:

Sing and heave, and heave and sing, To me hoodah! To me hoodah!
Heave and make the handspikes spring. To me hoodah! To me hoodah!
And it’s blow, boys, blow, For Californi-o.
For there’s plenty of gold, So I’ve been told,
On the banks of the Sacramento.
2.From Limehouse Docks to Sydney Heads, …
Was never more than seventy days…
3. We cracked it on, on a big skiute, …
And the old man felt like a swell galoot…

Tacoma

French version /adaptation by Hugues Aufray:

1. C’est dans la cale qu’on met les rats, houla lahoula,
C’est dans la cale qu’on met les rats, houla houlala.
Parés à virer, Les gars, faudrait déhaler.
On se reposera quand on arrivera dans le port de Tacoma.
2. C’est dans la mer qu’on met les mâts, …
3. C’est dans la pipe qu’on met l’tabac, …
4. C’est dans la gueule qu’on s’ met l’tafia,…
5. Mais les filles, ça s’met dans les bras, …

This polky ditty has been reasonably well known in France -since Hugues Aufray recorded it half a century ago- and in other places -such as Holland- where a shanty revival occurred as part of the general ‘folk revival’.

More shanties at: http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/shanty.html

Here’s a scottish pipe version:
(in A Major with no 7th):

X: 1
T: The Banks of Sacramento /Campdown Races /Tacoma
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
R: polka
K:A Major
e>e ce|fe c2|cB2c|B4||ef/e/ ce|fe cA/B/|cc BB|A3 e||
A2 ce|a3 a|f/ef/ af|e4||ef/e/ ce|fe cA/B/|cc BB|A4||

A decent beginners tune that can be played in D as well.

X: 4 ~ the above transcription…

Oops! It’s late and it has been a long day ~ exploring old WWII military vehicles and currently working on a pint of Cuba Libre… :-/

X: 5 “Camptown Races” ~ with an addition and in A (& X:6 in G)

S: "Jackie Daly & Matt Cranitch: Rolling On", track 7, the 2nd polka of two
http://thesession.org/recordings/4683

Personally, I don’t think Jackie’s third part does anything for what was a decent two part tune to start with, preferring other versions that his, though I like Jackie’s playing and we have pretty much everything he’s ever cut commercially, and some personal recordings too. The third part has promise, maybe as one of two parts to some other tune, but, for me, both of us, we’ll keep with the two parts. Realizing some folks might like it, I’ve transcribed his playing of this, with his add on, and again in G for those that might like it a step down.