Old Joe

Title: 
Old Joe
Type: 
Song
Description: 

[Alternately: “Old Joe, Or Somebody in de house wid Dinah?” “Ole Joe, or Dare’s Someone In De House Wid Dinah,” “Old Joe, or “Some One In De House Wid Dinah”]


To listen to this song (and others) on the Artists Respond to Juba Site, Click Here.



According to Nathan, Keith first published the song at Boston in 1844 (457). The song is of interest as the vocal line is constructed to allow room for solo banjo breaks, particularly in the pre-chorus sections (see Minstrels in the Parlour). Recorded versions of the song that attempt to channel minstrel performance allow for entire phrases of instrumental break (see Winans’ The Early Minstrel Show). As Mahar suggests, the song recounts the extra-marital escapades of a male slave with a “yaller gal” (398 n. 44). You will also notice that in the B. Williams and Samuel K. Hales edition of the song, explicit reference is made to “The Dandy Broadway Swell”.



Certainly a popular song during the period in question, it seems to have now passed into the American folk canon. The song has been recorded a number of times.



Select Recording History:

  • Camptown Shakers. Camptown Shakers. Camptown Shakers, 2000.
  • The Free Staters. Ho! For the Kansas Plains. The Free Staters, 2004.
  • Winans, Robert, music director and program consultant. The Early Minstrel Show. New World Records, 1998.



    Works Cited:
  • Mahar, William J. Behind the Burnt Cork Mask: Early Blackface Minstrelsy and
    Antebellum American Popular Culture
    . Chicago: Illinois UP, 1999.
  • Nathan, Hans. Dan Emmett and the Rise of Early Negro Minstrelsy. Norman: Oklahoma UP, 1962.


    Mark Turner


  • Media: 
    Sheet Music Cover
    Sheet Music Cover #2
    Sheet Music Cover #3
    Sheet Music Cover #4
    Sheet Music Cover #5
    Sheet Music Cover #6
    Sheet Music Cover #7
    Lyrics
    Audio File - Minstrels in the Parlour

    Performance(s) listed of this act

    Performer(s) Troupe Event and Venue

    Cave, J.H.
    Original Creole Vocalists Variety, 22 Jun. 1846 - 26 Jun. 1846
    Vauxhall Gardens, London (city-county)

    Roberts, B.
    Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1846) Minstrel Show, 26 Jun. 1846 - 27 Jun. 1846
    Concert Hall, Lancashire

    Cave, J.H.
    Original Creole Vocalists Variety, 30 Jun. 1846 - 03 Jul. 1846
    Vauxhall Gardens, London (city-county)

    Cave, J.H.
    Original Creole Vocalists Variety, 06 Jul. 1846 - 10 Jul. 1846
    Vauxhall Gardens, London (city-county)

    White, W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48) Minstrel Show, 03 Aug. 1846 - 08 Aug. 1846
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)

    Pell, Gilbert W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48) Minstrel Show, 21 Dec. 1846 - 26 Dec. 1846
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)

    Pell, Gilbert W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48) Minstrel Show, 28 Dec. 1846 - 02 Jan. 1847
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)

    Pell, Gilbert W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1846-48) Minstrel Show, 04 Jan. 1847 - 09 Jan. 1847
    St. James Theatre, London (city-county)

    Ramsdale
    Ethiopian Melodists and New York Serenaders Minstrel Show, 27 Sep. 1847 - 01 Oct. 1847
    Concert Hall, Lancashire

    Roberts, B.
    Ethiopian Harmonists (1847-?) Minstrel Show, 15 Nov. 1847 - 19 Nov. 1847
    Concert Hall, Lancashire

    Vestris, Madame
    Vestris, Madame Variety, 27 Dec. 1847 - 01 Jan. 1848
    Lyceum Theatre, London (city-county)

    Vestris, Madame
    Vestris, Madame Variety, 03 Jan. 1848 - 08 Jan. 1848
    Lyceum Theatre, London (city-county)
    Minstrel Show, 07 Mar. 1848 - 08 Mar. 1848
    Music Hall, Sheffield, Yorkshire: West Riding

    Pell, Gilbert W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Variety, 24 Jul. 1848 - 29 Jul. 1848
    Vauxhall Gardens, London (city-county)

    Pell, Gilbert W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Variety, 31 Jul. 1848 - 05 Aug. 1848
    Vauxhall Gardens, London (city-county)

    Pell, Gilbert W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Variety, 21 Aug. 1848 - 26 Aug. 1848
    Vauxhall Gardens, London (city-county)

    Pell, Gilbert W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 31 Oct. 1848 - 03 Nov. 1848
    Music Hall, Sheffield, Yorkshire: West Riding

    Pell, Gilbert W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 18 Dec. 1848 - 20 Dec. 1848
    Theatre Royal, Birmingham, Warwickshire

    Pell, Gilbert W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 23 Dec. 1848 - 23 Dec. 1848
    Theatre Royal, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire

    Pell, Gilbert W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1848-49) Minstrel Show, 04 Jun. 1849 - 08 Jun. 1849
    Sadler's Wells, London (city-county)

    Pell, Gilbert W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1849-50) Dramatic, 27 Aug. 1849 - 27 Aug. 1849
    Edinburgh Adelphi Theatre, Edinburgh

    Pell, Gilbert W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1849-50) Dramatic, 28 Aug. 1849 - 28 Aug. 1849
    Edinburgh Adelphi Theatre, Edinburgh

    Pell, Gilbert W.
    Ethiopian Serenaders (1849-50) Dramatic, 03 Sep. 1849 - 05 Sep. 1849
    Corn Exchange, Stirling, Stirling