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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Frank Durham, September 10 and 17, 1979. Interview H-0067. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Playing guitar for the Chatham Rabbits

Durham's band, the Chatham Rabbits, played many local dances, and he describes what the gatherings used to be like.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Frank Durham, September 10 and 17, 1979. Interview H-0067. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

DOUGLAS DENATALE:
What sort of things did you play for around town?
FRANK DURHAM:
We played for dances mostly, around out in the country and around. We hardly ever played except Saturday night, and sometimes Wednesday. Most of the time it was on Saturday night. And they was asking you to play more than you could play a whole lot of the time. There wasn't nothing going on much.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Where were the dances usually held?
FRANK DURHAM:
A village down here they calledand Farrington and here at Bynum and in the country between all in that area.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Did they have the dances in the schools?
FRANK DURHAM:
People's houses. No, we never did charge for them or nothing. We just played for them for pleasure. They would offer us money, but we never. . . . I don't know that we ever made any money playing at a dance, except during World War II we played over here every Saturday night at the American Legion hut. They paid us over there, and they charged. We got paid for playing for them every Saturday night. Lord have mercy, that place was full all around.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
What kind of dances were they?
FRANK DURHAM:
Round dances, square dances. Square dance mostly.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Did people do any clogging?
FRANK DURHAM:
Oh, yes, they'd have a little. But mostly they called figures and square danced. It was kind of like that clogging, a whole lot of it was. That figure caller come out of Sanford. I forget his name now, it's been so long. The poor fellow's dead now.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
So it wasn't somebody in the band that did the calling. It was somebody from Sanford that would come up.
FRANK DURHAM:
You had to have a good figure caller. He run the dance, and he kept everything on a. . . . You had to learn them figures, to know what move to make with your partner.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Do you remember any of the tunes that you used to play for those dances?
FRANK DURHAM:
Oh, yes, most of them. "Mississippi Sawyer" and "Cindy" and " " and "Down Yonder" and stuff like that. Snappy tunes. They were real good for a band like that. "Mississippi Sawyer" and "Cindy" about as good as I ever heard. They were old tunes. Lord, they're hundreds of years old, I reckon.