KING GANAM Original Recordings

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hey folks, just wanted to apologize for being away for so long. It's been over a year since I've put up any new posts, I'm afraid other things have just kept me away. Several moves, a broken ankle, and many other responsibilities prevented me from finding time to properly transfer, upload, and annotate all the items I would like. I'm glad to say that people seem to continue to discover the Attic and download items! I am somewhat backlogged in correspondence, so if you have not received a reply please do not take it personally. I intend to try to catch up on emails in the next few weeks.
On to today's post. Featured here are 40 tracks by legendary Canadian fiddler Ameen Sied "King" Ganam (1914-1994). Ganam was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan to an English mother and a father of Syrian decent. Ganam is an interesting figure in fiddle history who's style bridged a number of traditions and who's story and background are the very fabric of the Canadian cultural mosaic. He began leading "western" style cowboy bands in his home territory in the early 1940's and continued to be successful throughout the decade, but it was his association with the early CBC TV production "Country Hoedown" that brought him to national prominence. Ganam had already landed in Toronto by 1956, the year "Country Hoedown" was launched. The program was a runaway success, sparking longstanding careers for the likes of Gordie Tapp and Tommy Hunter.
The recordings here were all cut for RCA Victor's Canadian division during the 50s and very early 60s and released in varying combinations on 78s, 45s and LPs on RCA's Bluebird, Victor and Camden imprints. Ganam's repertoire is somewhat more varied that that of the average Canadian fiddler of the time. Some, especially the earlier tracks, seem very much like western swing, featuring heavy accordion bordering at times on the sort of lounge jazz made popular by artists such as Art VanDamme. He plays some southern sounding "hoedown" pieces and a great deal of old time time dances, waltzes, schottische, etc. Of course, there are Canadian style jigs and reels as well, played at a somewhat faster pace than contemporaries like Don Messer or Ned Landry favoured. I find it particularly fascinating to hear Ganam play the "Red River Jig", a tune from the M├ętis tradition of Manitoba and his native Saskatchewan. It is interesting to speculate if he played in and/or for those communities enough to have picked the tune up and kept it in his repertoire.
Like so many of the great fiddlers, "King" seems to have suffered his popularity and by the sixties had experienced difficulties with alcohol and mental health. He relocated to California in 1962 and spent his remaining days there, returning to his native country only occasionally. His influence was immense and his tunes, especially the enduring "Four String Polka" are still played widely.

Click here for a biography at the Canadian Encyclopedia.

Click here for a biography from "Folk and Country Songs", November 1956.


Angus Campbell-Reel, Arkansas Traveler, Black Mountain Rag, Cattle Call, Champagne Polka, Congress Park Reel, Dawson Creek Reel, Dick McDougall Reel, Endearing Young Charms, Fireman's Reel, Four String Polka, Golden Eagle-Hornpipe, Happy Times Schottische, Heel And Toe Polka, Holiday Waltz, Josh King's County Breakdown, Kiley's Reel, King Ganam's Special, Kitty O'Neil Jig, Marilyn Bell Reel, Miller's Reel, Mitton's Breakdown, Old Time Polka, Once Upon My Cheek, Oompah Rag, Qu'Appelle Valley Breakdown, Red River-Jig, Ridin' Ole Paint, Leadin' Ole Ball, Ridin' The Fiddle, Rippling Water Jig, Smash The Window, The Farmer's Jamboree-Jig, The Farmer's Schottische, The Maritime Polka, The Mohave Hornpipe, The Rocket Reel, The Shelburne Reel, The Tipsy Sailor Jig, To The Ladies-Jig, Western Reel Medley

*download folder #1 here*

*download folder #2 here*


Jon said...

Just let me be the first to welcome you back. I discovered your site after you went on your hiatus and have enjoyed listening to many of your posts. I do hope another year doesn't pass before the next one!

pwd said...

Welcome Back - I too discovered your site during your "break" - I really like the focus on Canadian artists as it has introduced me to some excellent performers that were previously unknown to me

Johnny One-Note said...

Hi Lefty, it's so great to have you back!

I'm looking forward to many more of your posts.

All my best,
Johnny One-Note

oldfolkie said...

Welcome Back !

Unknown said...

We had the "Ridin' The Fiddle" recording at home when I was a boy. I have always remembered it, and wanted to hear the music again. I don't remember how it happened, but a colleague at work mentioned that he had the record. I brought it home, and in the process of listening, decided to search the internet, and found your blog post, and all the music; and all the information about King Ganam. Great!

Gary Frank said...

This is fantastic! King Ganam was a great musician and should be remembered. Thank-you!