By Dave Thompson
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Additional info for Bayou Underground: Tracing the Mythical Roots of American Popular Music
Between those vessels, and with the hot Orleans now in her watery grave, the undisputed queen was once the Washington, a double decked 403-ton vessel introduced down through the Pittsburgh-based builder Henry Miller Shreve. He had already chanced on want with the locals after loading considered one of his previous paddle steamers, the firm, with ammunition and coming to the rescue on the conflict of latest Orleans in 1814. via the mid-1820s, over a hundred assorted paddle steamers have been famous by means of the recent Orleans Port Registry; by means of the 1840s, there have been over 1,200 at the Mississippi. The paddle-wheeled steamboat is still the main effective image of man’s conquest of the Mississippi — if conquest is even the right kind be aware. it really is extra applicable to name it a courting, or perhaps a romance, for that's what the steamers themselves signify: romance, glamour, heritage and magic all sure into one. lengthy after steam fell out of favor as a way of propelling river site visitors, the paddle steamers remained part of neighborhood existence, even if guiding travelers up and down the water, or supplying them a handy playing den. there have been thousands of paddle steamers plying the Mississippi to and from New Orleans, and 1000s of reports could connect themselves to them. Few, despite the fact that, have handed into musical lore so completely because the Stack Lee. was once there a true Stack Lee who gave his identify to the boat? it appears so. in response to Richard E. Buehler, writing within the Keystone Folklore Quarterly, “Many of the Lee Line boats have been named for contributors of the Lee family members, and considered one of them was once Stacker Lee. ” Buehler then is going directly to speak about one other skein of background, and the actual fact 139 DAVE THOMPSON It used to be New Orleans’ port that gave the town its wealth and its popularity, and the paddle steamers that carried either round the state. that Edna Ferber took the identify Stacker Lee for the eponymous heroine of her publication, express Boat, even if the following the vessel was once named for a former accomplice soldier. It doesn’t actually matter both manner, for even supposing the boat would possibly not were named for a guy, a guy was once definitely named for the boat, and he grew to become some of the most mythical figures in American people songs — Stack Lee aka Stagger Lee aka Stag O’Lee aka Stackolee aka Stack-a-Lee aka on the subject of any other edition at the similar easy pronunciation. And guy oh guy, he was once undesirable. the true Stack Lee, the one who the track was once initially written approximately, used to be a two-bit assassin, and perhaps a pimp, who was once at huge within the mid Eighteen Nineties in St. Louis — no longer New Orleans, or any of the opposite towns into which his story has been transposed. The St. Louis GlobeDemocrat tells the tale within the plainest phrases: “William Lyons, 25, a levee hand, was once shot within the stomach the day gone by night at 10 o’clock within the saloon of invoice Curtis, at 11th and Morgan Streets, by way of Lee Sheldon, a carriage driving force. Lyons and Sheldon have been associates and have been conversing jointly. either events, it kind of feels, have been consuming and have been BAYOU UNDERGROUND feeling in exuberant spirits. “The dialogue drifted to politics, and an issue used to be began, the belief of which was once that Lyons snatched Sheldon’s hat from his head.