While in Switzerland I recorded what I could of the after hours scene. The Swiss turned a bar, called the Baggenstos, into our Mariner home, complete with Mariner artifacts from past years, uniforms draped from the ceilings, sails hanging in the back patio and a flowing tide of beer. While going through my recordings I came across this wonderful version of the Whipple from the Baggenstos.
The Whipple, or more accurately entitled, Whipple and the Gaspee is the finest fife and drum medley ever created. It is a melodic, harmonic and percussive work of art. It was sequenced decades ago with a variety of classic sea songs including the cotton screwing chantey Whup Jambouree. After a brief drum solo enters a great Scottish ballad called Henry Martin, which is arranged as a foux bourdon, a technique used in the late middle ages where the melody is harmonized against one line that plays a perfect fourth and another that plays a sixth. I could go on, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that it is the standard by which all other medleys are measured, at least in my book.
There are three neat things about this recording. First, all the percussion is being played on tables since we are in a bar. Second, nobody had any idea it was being recorded. It simply is what the Whipple sounds like at 3am in a bar in Switzerland, including the erroneous c natural three notes into the melody. Lastly, I have never heard a better live recording from within a bar of fife and drum music.
One more note on the origins of the title. Whipple was an American sea captain. The Gaspee was a British ship. I won’t go into any other details except to leave you with this great exchange between the British Captain Sir James Wallace and our beloved Abraham Whipple:
You, Abraham Whipple, on the 10th of June, 1772, burned His Majesty’s vessel, the Gaspee, and I will hang you at the yard-arm.
To Sir James Wallace, Sir:
Always catch a man before you hang him.