Music From Our Past: “The Presque Isle Eighth” (1958) [VIDEO]
Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame legend Don Messer once recorded a square dance tune stemming from an event in Aroostook County.
Donald Charles Frederick Messer, fiddler, band leader, radio broadcaster (born 9 May 1909 in Tweedside, NB; died 26 March 1973 in Halifax, NS). had many popular radio programs from the 1930s through the 1950s. His CBC Television series Don Messer’s Jubilee (1959–69), featuring down-east fiddle styles and toe-tapping “old-time” music of Don Messer and His Islanders, was one of the most popular and enduring Canadian television programs of the 1960's.
Square dance caller and folk historian Rod Linnell, author of Square Dances from a Yankee Caller's Clipboard (1974), recalled his days with Messer "We used to spend each winter in northern Maine and call dances there and in neighboring New Brunswick. During one of these winters, the Presque Isle club held an eighth anniversary dance. The night before the event we had to drive about 120 miles to a New Brunswick engagement, and while on the journey home after midnight, we made up a special dance to use on the anniversary. Thus, 'Presque Isle Eighth.' This has been quite a favorite with most everyone and is, I think, one of my better efforts."
The 1958 78 RPM recording of "Presque Isle Eighth" was released on the Rodeo label, under the name.Rod Linnell with the Maritime All Stars. The Maritime All Stars were actually Don Messer and his Islanders. Longtime fans of square dancing may recognize the tune to "Crooked Stovepipe" as the basis for the call..