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Human Interest

Jay Cravath

Ajo Copper News of Ajo, Arizona

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Jay Cravath strummed an Irish harp, banjo, and guitar, and played other instruments during his presentation at the library last week about the work songs of early Arizona. He said the Irish harp was easy to play and soothing to the ear, and that it was not a stretch to imagine that biblical David really did placate an anxious Saul with harp music.

Cravath described the similarities of simple melodies such as Old McDonald and Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch with a number of Arizona Indian songs. He talked about African Americans picking hybrid cotton in the Casa Grande area in the 1920s who passed time with harmonica tunes, and about Mexican immigrants who were hardscrabble farmers before the Gadsden Purchase and sang ballads to tell stories of old days and new. Audience participation at the presentation included the singing of O My Darling Clementine, Mammy's Little Baby Loves Shortening Bread, and other old-time favorites.

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Original Publication Date: February 4, 2009

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