Saturday's all the Doo Dah Day

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .


Doo Dah Day is Saturday, so brush up on your Stevie Ray Foster and slip back in time at the Allegheny Cemetery in Larryville from 11a to 4p. (Photo above, taken by P-G staff photographer Rebecca Droke, from a previous Doo Dah Day.)

This is the 7th annual festival celebrating the composer of some of Americana’s most well-known ditties, such as “Oh! Susanna,” “Old Dog Tray,” “Beautiful Dreamer”” and “My Old Kentucky Home.”

"Doo Dah" is a recurring lyric in the tune "Camptown Races," one of Foster's most famous.

He wrote a lot of songs with “Oh!” in the title: “Oh! Tell Me of My Mother,” “Oh! There’s No Such Girl as Mine,” and “Oh! Why Am I So Happy?” are but a few.

Oh! And he wasn’t from Kentucky. As you might have suspected if you didn’t know, he was from Pittsburgh. He wrote in the mid 19th century and earned a pittance in what would today be called royalties and make him a very very wealthy man. Back then, there was no such reward.

Here is an archive of his songs.

The event will include cemetery tours, horse-drawn carriage rides and performances of Foster’s music. You can even visit his grave.

The event is on the Butler Street side of the cemetery, but the cemetery parking lot will not be available. You will need to bring your own seating or blankets if you want to hang out there for awhile. There will be food and beverage vendors.

For more information, visit the event site here.

He wrote a lot of songs for minstrel shows, but you won't find much on anyone's official web site discussing the way he and other white writers and composers of his time chose the way the lyrics were supposed to sound, in imitation of what sounded to them like the way black folks spoke, with questionable sentiments such as "longing for de old plantation."

Here's an example in the lyrics "Swanee River":

Way down upon the Swanee ribber,
Far, far away
Dere’s wha my heart is turning ebber,
Dere’s wha de old folks stay.
All up and down de whole creation,
Sadly I roam,
Still longing for de old plantation,
And for de old folks at home.
All de world am sad and dreary,
Ebry where I roam,
Oh! darkies, how my heart grows weary,
Far from de old folks at home.

All round de little farm I wandered
When I was young
Den many happy days I squandered,
Many de songs I sung.
When I was playing wid my brudder
Happy was I.
Oh! take me to my kind old mudder,
Dere let me live and die.

One little hut among de bushes,
One dat I love,
Still sadly to my mem’ry rushes,
No matter where I rove
When will I see de bees a humming
All round de comb?
When will I hear de banjo tumming
Down in my good old home?

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