Notes

Original Lyrics

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Capt. Jim Rees and the Katy

Based on a traditional roustabout song
as sung by Bertha Wenzel at the
Four Rivers Folk Festival, 1990;
first collected by her aunt Mary Wheeler.

Adapted by Charlie Ipcar, 2016

Tune: variant of Dance, Boatman, Dance

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Vintage photo of the Kate Adams: Starboard view of Sidewheel Steamer Kate Adams shortly after launching, Jeffersonville (formerly Port Fulton), Indiana, Ohio River, 1899, from Howard Steamboat Museum Collection (ULPA 1986.90), University of Louisville Photographic Archives.

Now the Captain said when the "Katy" was made,
"Arkansas City* gonna be her trade;"
She'd steam out from the Ohio;
Down the Mississippi she would roll!

Chorus:

An' it's roll, "Katy," roll!
Roll, "Katy," roll!
Roll all night in the pale moon-light,
Be home with the gals in the morning!
Hey, ho, roll and go,
Rollin' down the river on the Ohio;
Hey, ho, roll and go,
Rollin' down the river on the Ohio!

Now I met my woman by the do';
Cryin', "Honey, don't you go no mo'";
It grieved my heart to leave her so,
But there ain't no work on the sho'. (CHO)

It's down the River to Memphis Town
Sing and dance the night aroun';
Load her down to the rails,
For Arkansas City we'll shake her tail. (CHO)

It's roll them bales down the levee bank,
Heave 'em up the long plank!
"Captain, oh Captain, would you be so kind,
Load all the cotton, leave the seed behind." (CHO)

Now I ain't gonna tell no one,
Wha' the captain of de watch has done,
But if ever I gets back to sho',
You won't see me here no mo'. (CHO)

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Notes:

The "Katy" or "The Lovin' Kate" was what the roustabouts called a steamboat packet named the "Kate Adams" (1899-1927), built at the Howard Ship Yard and Dock Co. in Port Fulton, Indiana, on the Ohio River.

*"Arkansas City" is located in the Arkansas Delta Region, about 115 miles southeast of Little Rock and 75 miles southeast of Pine Bluff on the Mississippi River; "Katy" ran between Arkansas City and Memphis for much of her life.

The header graphic is a vintage photo of the Kate Adams: Starboard view of Sidewheel Steamer Kate Adams shortly after launching, Jeffersonville (formerly Port Fulton), Indiana, Ohio River, 1899, from Howard Steamboat Museum Collection (ULPA 1986.90), University of Louisville Photographic Archives.

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Traditional roustabout song as sung by Bertha Wenzel at the Four Rivers Folk Festival,
Paducah, Kentucky, 1990, as collected by Mary Wheeler.
Tune: variant of “Dance, Boatman, Dance”

Capt. Jim Rees and the Katy


Capt. Jim Rees said when the Katy was made,
Arkansas City planned to be her trade.

I met my woman in the do'
Says I worked down the river and, honey, don't you go.

Oh, Capt. would you be so good and kind,
Take all the cotton, leave the seed behind.

A heap sees, a few knows,
A heap starts, but a few goes.

I ain't plannin' to tell nobody,
What they've done to me.

But if ever I get to the long plank walk,
I won't come a-here no mo'.