Philadelphia, 1854-55

Old Bob Ridley, O!

 

 

This broadside ballad may have been Cotton's debut musical publication. The subtitle states  this song (and character dance) had a lengthy run at "the late Cartee's Lyceum." Cartee sold the famed minstrel house in Philadelphia in 1855. Presumably the broadside was published shortly afterward when the house was bought by Sam Sanford. Late in his life Cotton acknowledged the debt he owed to Sanford. The lyrics of the song appear to be customized. However, there is no mistaking that a beating is being presented as a comic dance. Nor is there a congruence between the graphic image of dishelved black banjo player and the expressed intentions of a Northern dandy.   At the turn of the 20th century - nearly fifty years after first staging Ridley - Cotton opened a bar called "Ole Bob Ridley" on the waterfront in Providence, Rhode Island. 

Philadelphia, 1854-55