Gum Tree Canoe

This is an online fiddle lesson for the old time tune "Gum Tree Canoe" by S. S. Steele. is your best source for Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic, Gospel, and Country fiddle lessons!

Genre: Old Time
Skill Level: Beginner and Intermediate
Keys of E and D

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Video #1: Here is a video of me playing and singing "Gum Tree Canoe."

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Gum Tree Canoe

On Tombigbee River so bright I was born,
In a hut made of husks of the tall yellow corn,
And there I first met with my Julia so true,
And I rowed her about in our gum-tree canoe.

Singing row away, row, o'er the waters so blue,
Like a feather we sail in our gum-tree canoe.
Singing row away, row, o'er the waters so blue,
Like a feather we sail in our gum-tree canoe.

All the day in the field the soft cotton I hoe,
I think of my Julia and sing as I go,
Oh, I catch her a bird with a wing of true blue,
And at night sail her round in our gum-tree canoe.

With my hands on the banjo and toe on the oar,
I sing to the sound of the river's soft roar,
While the stars they look down at my Julia so true
And dance in her eye in our gum-tree canoe.

One night the stream bore us so far away
That we couldn't come back so we thought we'd just stay,
Oh, we spied a tall ship with a flag of true blue,
And it took us in tow with our gum-tree canoe.
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Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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    John (BGD)John (BGD)

    Haha when I was recording this one, it seemed to go on forever. Jennifer asked if it was like the “Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald,” except on a canoe.


    Come to think of it, I think it has a similar sound as the WOTEFitzgerald…lol…fortunately a better ending, I guess.  Very cool, John…that’s how I heard John Hartford do it, except I believe he was playing banjo.  It’s really a nice version for getting some good fiddling in there.  Another one for my evergrowing list, that poor ol lonely list I never have time for anymore.  Hopefully one of these days.  I’m thinking the huge sing8ng range required could pose some challenges…would be great to do with a band…one person sing the verse and another sing the chorus part.  Anyway, great lesson…another great lesson!  Hoping I get some time soon so I can try going through this!

    Steve SraderSteve Srader

    Great lesson thanks Rteaff and thanks John I look forward to learning this one !


    Oh my gosh, I love this tune and your singing John!  I have been away for a while but I do like to check in once in a while. Keep up the good work!

    Hello everyone on bluegrassdaddy. I hope you are all doing well.


    John (BGD)John (BGD)

    Hi Ann, it is great to hear from you! Hope to hear you playing this tune some day. I hope you are doing well.



    Just heard Jay Ungar say that this was a slavery song. They were escaped slaves and were picked up by a British ship.


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