Fillmore and Buchanan March

poorly presidential
PDF | Midi mp3

A Presidents Day instrumental two-fer called for two U.S. presidents who (barely) deserve half a song each.

I’m inordinately fond of this song. I’m not sure, but it may have been the first fully instrumental song I wrote.

And my favorite version of it is this arrangement that featured a lot of instruments! We were preparing for a set at Martyr’s in Chicago on January 11, 2014 as part of an annual “Sousaphenia” show they put on — all bands had to have brass. We brought in our secret weapon: Jerry Shelato, who sometimes played with us on Tuba/Sousaphone. And so in this rehearsal recording at Elliot Hirsch’s appartment in Andersonville (may have actually been the same evening as the performance), you’ll hear the melody played by Rob Henn on trombone, Riley Broach on violin, John Peacock on toy piano, Jerry Shelato on Sousaphone, and Edward Burch and everyone else on vocals, and me throughout doing my best at shouted interjections in the style of Frank Cloutier and the Victoria Cafe Orchestra’s “Moonshiner’s Dance” from the Anthology of American Folk Music.

But wait, there’s more!

A couple of live performances here. The first is from the group I played with in Maryland for whom wrote this tune, The Paint Branch Ramblers. Like many songs I write, this came out of teaching myself an instrument new to me. In this case, this was the mandolin. And I was trying to up my skills by learning a traditional old time song called “Under the Double Eagle,” which moved between keys. Out of working on that, came this, played with a more traditional string band from a concert in Accokeek, Maryland. That sound you hear is me on the mandolin cümbüş

The Paint Branch Ramblers, Accokeek, Maryland, 2008.

More cümbüş with a more electric version of The Viper & His Famous Orchestra in 2010.

With the Famous Orchestra, including Kip Rainey on the electric mandolin and the Viper on mandolin cümbüş, July 2010.

Then here’s a version created in Finale software by Riley Broach, which for a long time served as my cell phone’s ringtone:

Riley Broach arrangement of “The Fillmore & Buchanan March,”

And let’s not forget that this song was the inspiration for some of my favorite visual art ever, in the form of the results of the coloring contest we staged at a kid-friendly show we played at Mike ‘n Molly’s in Champaign, IL in August, 2009, using some search-engined stock images from of Presidents 13 & 15. See all the results here, or try your own hand at coloring from this PDF. Send me the results and I’ll publish them on

Fillmore & Buchanan
by Tom, age 46

the kind of music your great-great-great-grandparents warned your great-great-grandparents about