Thursday, September 13, 2018

Waitin' On the Julia Belle

Waitin' On the Julia Belle (mandolin orchestra score and parts)
                 (mp3 recording of the basic tune on mandolin and guitar)

Attention mandolin orchestra directors and members:

This summer I decided to finally create a mandolin orchestra version of a tune I had written a few years earlier, "Waitin' On the Julia Belle" (that is, the Julia Belle Swain riverboat). This arrangement is the result.

Being from the Indiana side of the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky, I first encountered the Julia Belle Swain in the mid-1970s as a participant in the annual Great Steamboat Race that was held as part of the Kentucky Derby festivities. I remember standing on the riverbank and being amazed at how the smaller boat was holding her own against the larger Belle of Louisville and Delta Queen as they came down the home stretch. The Julia Belle only ran in 1975 and 1976, but she won that second year.

Later, when we moved to Northeast Iowa in the mid-1990s I was delighted to discover that the Julia Belle was now operating out of La Crosse, Wisconsin, only 65 miles away. It was always good to see her docked downtown and to know that she was available for a short cruise on the Mississippi. The Julia Belle Swain was retired in 2009, a casulty of the Great Recession of 2008. Serious attempts have been made to refurbish the boat and she may still have another life on the river.

Musically, the Julia Belle Swain had a long association with the late, great John Hartford. He would sometimes pilot the boat and he mentioned her in some of his songs, especially "The Julia Belle Swain" ("with a bunch of old hippies for a crew"). My simple tune is, hopefully, a reflection of both the pleasure of riding on the Julia Belle Swain and the many hours I have spent being inspired by the music and life of John Hartford.

I have decided to make PDF copies of the score and parts for Waitin' On the Julia Belle freely available for download here under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Generic License found on the site linked above. Feel free to make as many copies of the score and parts as are necessary for your orchestra.

If you find Waitin' On the Julia Belle to be a good addition to your repertoire and you feel inclined to make a donation in support of my work you can use the PayPal Donation button on my site. Again, this is not required, I just hope that you enjoy the music. I would, however, love to hear about any performances of the piece. PDF copies of concert programs are especially appreciated.

I decided not to include a computerized "recording" of this piece. If you want to hear how it can sound convince your local mandolin orchestra to give it a shot. You could also gather a smaller group of musicians who play mandolin family instruments, plus a guitar and a bass, and read through the music for fun. If someone does give it a play I would love to hear a recording of a rehearsal or performance.

(Update: thanks to a comment on FB from Ben Hippen I realized that I did have a simple recording of the basic tune from back in 2008. I have added that link above. You can see that I've added a bit to the original tune but that I haven't changed its fundamental character.)
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.