Monday, October 31, 2005

Heart of Dixie

The Bus is on the road again. A quick run through Alabama this trip.
Sit back, pour yourself a drink, and get comfortable. We won't hear the standards on this trip. No "Sweet Home Alabama" and no Lynyrd Skynyrd. We'll stick to the backroads.

In north Alabama, up on Sand Mountain, runs the beautiful Little River. Joey and I have a friend, Jack, who has a house overlooking Little River Falls in the canyon below. To reach Jack's place we'll drive down a dirt road through what seems to be an auto graveyard. A sweeping left curve at the top of the hill brings us to Jack's place. There's a couple of old station wagons in the yard, but they aren't junk. Nope, Jack's wife wanted a greenhouse to start her plants early in the spring, so Jack pulled them two station wagons up the hill and, well, they make mighty fine greenhouses.

Pierce Pettis is a native of Alabama and he writes and sings of his beloved home state often. I don't know if Pierce Pettis has ever stopped in to see Jack, but he has been to the Little River Canyon.
Pierce Pettis - Little River Canyon

Vivian's Keeper, although this trio of talented women are based in Portland, Oregon, I felt this song just fit today's journey.
Vivian's Keeper - Daughters of Eve

Kate_Campbell. Yea, I know Rock City is in Tennessee, but the billboards and painted barns are on every road for hundreds of miles. I can imagine growing up in north Alabama, seeing those barns painted in huge letters "See Rock City". It's quite tempting.
Kate Campbell - See Rock City

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Just another workin' Joe

Monday and it's back to making a living.
I overheard my son once tell his friends as they were discussing college and career plans, "My Dad enjoys what he does for a living, he just doesn't like who he does it for." It made me think.
He's right, of course, I do enjoy what I do. My chosen career has been very good to me all in all. I have worked on some good projects, seen most of North America, made some great friends, and had one hell of a good time along the way.
Everywhere I've travelled I've met people who have spent their whole lives in one place. I've often wondered how different my life would have been if I had found a job close to my hometown and spent my journey through life on the same soil. I suppose there is something to be said for it, but it's just not for me. My wife used to joke that I was ready to move on once I'd learned all of the backroads to and from the jobsite. I suppose I've got a little gypsy blood in me.

Cheryl Wheeler is a long-time favorite of mine. This cut is from her Sylvia Hotel CD on Philo Records.
Cheryl Wheeler - His Hometown

Kate McDonnell from her Broken Bones release on Waterbug Records
Kate McDonnell - Ordinary Man

John_Gorka recorded for The Silverwolf Homeless Project
">John Gorka - The Gypsy Life

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Vendredi nuit doit danser et boire!

I've mentioned before that I relate certain days with different types of music.
Sunday mornings aren't complete without some good ol' Bluegrass Gospel. And...

As the title of this post states, "Friday night is to dance and to drink!"
It must be time for some Zydeco!

Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band - Steppin Out Zydeco

Zachary Richard - File Gumbo

L'il Brian and the Zydeco Travelers - Snap Bean

Beau Jocque - Richard's Club

Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band - Good For the Goose

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Between the Blue Ridge & Chesapeake Bay

Yesterday the bus made a quick run south on I-95 to North Carolina. Today we will travel around my home state a bit. Virginia has added a substantial and diverse amount of music to the American earscape. The Carter Family, The Stanley Brothers, Cephas & Wiggins....

Page Wilson is a local folk icon. From his "Home in the Chickahominy Swamp" Page Wilson hosts the 'Out O' the Blue Radio Revue' on 88.9FM WCVE, where he spins what he calls "Purebred American Mongrel" music, an eclectic blend of blues, folk, bluegrass, cajun, country and whatever else "feels good". Virginia was Page Wilson's submittal when the Commonwealth was thinking of changing the official state song. These days it is the theme song that welcomes listeners to his radio program every Saturday night. I think it would have made a fitting state song. Special thanks to Lucy for giving me this CD several years ago. Get your own copy here.

Page Wilson with Reckless Abandon - Virginia

Jim & Jesse McReynolds have been staples of the bluegrass world since 1947. In 2000 they recorded a collection of 4/4 shuffle country standards from the 1950's with The Opry Stage Band. Available from Pinecastle Records

Jim & Jesse - Under Your Spell Again

Note: I've added a link to WebJay (bottom right on this page) for those of you who are tired of my ramblings and just want to hear the music.

How I spent the past few months

My car, before painting.
(Really just a test for posting pictures - more music to come.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Carolina Dreamin'

The North Carolina border is about an hour south of here. And while all states have added to the great American musical tapestry, North Carolina has contributed generously to the cause.

I found both of these self-produced singer-songwriters at CD Baby. If you haven't browsed through the CDs there, you should set aside some time and check it out. It can be a daunting task! They are the biggest sellers of independant music. Now, not all of it is great. There are plenty of average local artists out there with the resources to burn a CD. But there are also lots of extremely talented folks who rarely get the break they deserve. I'll save my whole "how ClearChannel and the RIAA have stifled good music" rant for some other time. Let's listen to some good musicians and thank CD Baby for giving them an outlet.

Vince Junior

Although, originally from Berkshire, MA. Vince Junior is now based in Asheville, North Carolina. He plays an old National Duallian steel-bodied resonator guitar. I used to have one, his looks like it's from the late 1920's or early '30's. In his music you can hear the obvious blues influences, Mississippi John Hurt, the Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Willie McTell, etc. But he has blended that with more contemporary influences such as Ry Cooder, JJ Cale, and Bruce Cockburn. His strong, rich voice, aggressive slide guitar work and his simple and direct songwriting are a winning combination. This cut is from his Better Than a Wheel CD.

Vince Junior - Stolen Goods

Jonathan Byrd
from his website: "Jonathan's career started with a contest. In the year 2000, Byrd took grand prize in the North Carolina Songwriter's Co-op Song contest in his hometown of Carrboro, NC. Inspired, he began to tour and recorded his first CD, Wildflowers."
In 2003 he won the New Folk Competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival.
'Sing Out!' magazine says Byrd is, "a songwriter of exceptional talent... with the stark storytelling of the finest traditional balladeers."
You can feel the energy in his recordings. I have not had the chance to see him in person, yet, but I imagine that his live shows are a lot of fun.

Jonathan Byrd - Wildflowers

Monday, October 24, 2005

Keep on truckin' (and busin')

Richard Shindell
The Kenworth Of My Dreams

Hoyt Axton
An Old Greyhound

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Martin, Bogan and Armstrong

I went to my storage unit today and retrieved what I believe to be the last of my album collection. Yes Joey, the ones we were looking for were in this box. So were a lot of other things I've been looking for.
I'm a big fan of Martin, Bogan & Armstrong. One of my all time favorite albums is their Barnyard Dance album. I have owned this album since it was released in 1972. Yes, this strange affliction with good music has been with me for some time now. Anyhow, I have been searching for the release of the CD. It never happened. I bought a compilation CD of theirs, but Barnyard Dance wasn't on it.
For those of you not familliar with Martin, Bogan & Armstrong, a little background is in order.

Carl Martin was born April 15, 1906 in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. His fahter was a stone mason and fiddler known as "Fiddling Martin". At the age of 17 Carl moved to Knoxville to join his brother Rolan's band. While playing in Rolan's band he met up with Ted Bogan.

Ted Bogan was born May 10, 1910 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He taught himself to play finger-picked guitar by listening to Blind Blake and Leroy Carr records. He layed in a travelling medicine show run by a Canadian who called himself "Dr. Mines".

Howard Armstrong was born in Lafayette, Tennessee. He began playing fiddle at an early age. He took to the road at the age of 16 and joined up with Rolan Martin in Knoxville. Where he taught himself to play "anything with strings". He is a self taught man and speaks seven languages.

The three, along with Howard's brother L.C. formed the Four Keys String Band in Huntington, West Virginia in 1931. L.C. left to join a jazz band and the Four Keys became simply, Martin, Bogan & Armstrong. They played radio broadcasts, square dances, weddings, church picnics and taverns throughout the southeast and midwest to Chicago. It was in Chicago that they earned the admiration of Steve Goodman, who had them join him on his 1975 record Jessie's Jig and Other Favorites. Goodman went on to produce their That Old Gang of Mine

Black string band music from the 1920's and 30's by folks that were there and were still playing it into their 70's and 80's.

Martin, Bogan & Armstrong from their now out-of-print 1972 recording on Rounder.

Barnyard Dance

Thursday, October 20, 2005

It's the start of the weekend...

And you know what that means.

(There, that ought to increase the number of hits to this little blog.)

Here are two different takes on the subject.

Amy Rigby from her Till The Wheels Fall Off cd on Signature Sounds.
Are We Ever Gonna Have Sex Again

Jerry_McCain from This Stuff Just Kills Me. Buy It Here
Viagra Man

Get the "L" on down the road

Third day in a row I've stayed away from the office. I could get to like this! I did get my car painted yesterday. Today I plan to paint the interior.

How about a little Hokum today?

Bill Johnson's Louisiana Jug Band recorded 1929 in Chicago.

Get The "L" On Down The Road

- NOTE: I had prepared this post this morning, but lost my connection before I could post it. It's only 12 hours late.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


The weather has turned here in the past day or so. Temperatures back into the 80s, low humidity. Perfect for painting a car. So I left the office yesterday at noon and called in again today. This may be the last chance I'll have to get some paint on my car before winter gets here.

A little car music seems fitting.

John Prine from the excellent collection The John Prine Anthology - Great Days on Rhinodisc.

John Prine - Automobile

Asleep at the Wheel from their Swing Time release.

Asleep at the Wheel - Hot Rod Lincoln

Monday, October 17, 2005

"He plays autoparts?"

Wow, whodathunkit! It seems lots of riders on the Old Blue Bus (both of you) are closet Autoharp enthusiasts. I got a comment from Joey, email and phone calls about yesterday's post. Actually, one of the phone calls was from KillerBob, another voice from the past. During our conversation he asked about a song by someone named Bryan something about a Scotsman. It may have been no more than a coincidence, but it tied in with yesterday's post.
I was negligent in posting Autoharp music, and mentioning Bryan Bowers, but not posting anything by the recognized master of the Autoharp.

Bryan Bowers from his By Heart album
An explanation/example of how he plays the Autoharp and two oft-requested nonsense songs.
Bryan Bowers - Battle Hymn of the Republic
Bryan Bowers - Four Wet Pigs
Bryan Bowers - The Scotsman

and from his The View From Home album
Bryan Bowers - Stephen Foster Medley


I've owned several Autoharps for over 25 years. Only recently did I get serious about learning to play the thing. My interest in the Autoharp goes back to the first time I ever heard Bryan Bowers play. It's a strange affliction to a strange instrument. In the right hands, the Autoharp is a beautiful and rich instrument.
A little over a year ago, Autoharp masters Mark Howard, Ron Wall, and Bryan Bowers got 55 of the best Autoharp players in the world together and recorded the Autoharp Legacy 3 CD set.
Turn it up and give this over-looked instrument a listen.

A fun song. "Autoharpoholic" was the name of a now defuct magazine for Autoharp enthusiasts.
Tom Chapin and John McCutcheon - Autoharp-o-holic

A great duet. Two exceptionally played Autoharps, no other instrumentation required.
Gove Scrivenor and Will Smith - Ghost Riders in the Sky

Karen Mueller - Dirty Linen says "She's taking the autoharp into new and exciting territory." Hard to believe this is one person and one instrument.
Karen Mueller - Merrily Kiss the Quaker

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Stained Glass Bluegrass

For over thirty years, bluegrass fans in the Washington D.C. area have awakened on Sunday mornings to the gospel sounds of "Stained Glass Bluegrass" on WAMU. As a youngster I couldn't imagine starting a Sunday morning any other way. When I left home in the late '70s I continued the tradition of starting Sunday mornings with Bluegrass Gospel. Was it guilt for not attending church? Could have been, maybe just a childhood ritual that felt comfortable. A security blanket in three-part harmony.

You may remember the young Peasall Sisters from their rendition of "In the Highways" on the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack. Their music has matured in the past few years. Their beautiful and gentle three-part harmonies blend as only siblings can.
The Peasall Sisters - Home To You

The Merritts rural, laid-back songs, recorded at home in Milledgeville, Georgia with the late Randy Howard harken back to a simpler time, when most music was homemade.
The Merritts - The Reckoning Time

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Happy Yodel

Friday and time for some good-time music to set the mind straight for the weekend.
It's been dreary and rainy here for over a week. Yet, while it has drenched most everything else, I haven't let it dampen my spirit. It's all in your attitude.
I got one of those "cute" inspirational emails that we all get from time to time. I usually don't bother to read them, just hit delete. But this one sort of rang true with me. Thanks to Lucy for sharing this with me. Although I'm not the type to pass this sort of thing on, I'd like to share this one here.

Two Wolves
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, "My son, the battle is between 2 "wolves" inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy,sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:
"Which wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee simply replied,
"The one you feed."

My good friend Joey sent me a copy of a tape we made in the Old Blue Bus, twenty-some years ago. We had a blast putting that tape together and you can hear it in the songs we selected to record. Music can feed those "wolves". Here's a healthy serving.

Bill Staines - In the tradition of Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Staines has almost single handedly kept the western yodel alive. And no one does it better.
The Happy Yodel

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Piedmont Blues

Those of you that caught Cephas and Wiggins at the National Folk Festival this past weekend heard an excellent example of the Piedmont Blues. If you didn't make it, give a listen to "Dog Days of August", which I posted the other day. The Piedmont Blues differ from the Delta Blues in many ways. Most notable is the guitar work. While the Delta Blues guitarists rely on single string progressions, the Piedmont Blues style uses more of a finger picking style.

One of the early practitioners of the Piedmont style was Luther Mayer, known as "Captain Luke". Born in Greenville, South Carolina in 1926 and now living in Winston-Salem, Mayer is still performing. Give a listen, I think you'll like what you hear.

Captain Luke
Poke Salad Annie

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Sweet Tequila Blues

Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriquez
from their Let's Leave This Town release on Train Wreck Records
Chip Taylor, the guy that wrote such varied hits over the years as Wild Thing (The Troggs), Angel of The Morning (Merilee Rush, Juice Newton, Chrissie Hynde), Try (Just A Little Bit Harder) (Janis Joplin), I Can't Let Go (The Hollies, Linda Ronstadt), Country Girl, City Man (Ike and Tina Turner) joined up with young Texas fiddler, Carrie Rodriquez. Since 2002 they have released 4 CD's. They make quite a team. This cut is from their first release together.

Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriquez - Sweet Tequila Blues

Back to the Real World

Wow! What a weekend! The National Folk Festival was a great time despite the weather. Lisa and I were there from start to finish. 3 days, 33 artists, 7 stages, lots of food, beer and wine.
The James River went from drought to flood stage. So did the availability of traditional music in Central Virginia.
For those of you who missed it, well, you missed the best thing to happen in Richmond in the ten years that I've been here. Check it out here.
The Times-Dispatch did a great job of promoting and covering the event. Check out their site for the articles, photos, and videos, here.

I know I've been pretty slack about posting music here for the past few days. Give me a break, I'm still buzzing from the Festival.

Lori McKenna from her Bittertown cd.
For some reason I can really relate to this song. Lori McKenna is another great artist recording on Signature Sounds. I'll post more from this CD in the future.

Lori McKenna - Monday Afternoon

Thursday, October 06, 2005

National Folk Festival

The 67th National Folk Festival kicks off this evening in Richmond, Virginia.
I've posted the title song by John Cephas and Phil Wiggins from their Dog Days of August CD. Cephas and Wiggins will be at the Festival this weekend.
And so will I.
Y'all have a good weekend.

Cephas and Wiggins
Dog Days of August

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

More old friends

Boy did yesterday's post get a response! I got calls and emails from folks telling me about their song friends. I knew you had all been there.
I'll try to get as many special songs posted as I can find.

Dean Friedman - Ariel from his first album (1977) a pop tune about a pot-smoking, vegetarian Jewish girl. To be honest, this was new to me. Dale, there’s more to this story, but I’m not going to ask.
You will need RealAudio for this file. If you don't have it: Download RealPlayer
Dean Friedman - Ariel.ram

Jesse Collin Young - Rye Whiskey From his first album Soul of a City Boy
Jesse Collin Young - Rye Whiskey

Dan Fogleberg - Illinois From his 1974 Souviners album
Dan Fogleberg - Illinois

Hoyt Axton – Geronimo’s Cadillac From his Life Machine album
Hoyt Axton – Geronimo’s Cadillac

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Good times and good friends

Autoharp virtuoso, Bryan Bowers claims that when you learn a song, you have a friend for life. There are times, usually when I'm feeling particuarly good, that certain songs from long ago, come out of the shadows to share the good times like good friends.
I'm not talking about your run-of-the-mill, "boy, it sure is a nice day" kind of good feelings. These songs wait for those rare times when I am at peace with all living things. When no amount of rain could spoil my parade. When that youthful bounce returns to my walk for no apparent reason. I know you've been there too. It's a most wonderful feeling!
As I get closer to a half-century on this planet, I find I'm having more of those times. I've accepted the hand I've been dealt and I'm still in the game. Life has been good. Not at all as I had planned it, but I wouldn't trade any of it. Maybe I'm just more easily amused.
When I'm in that special place, there are certain songs that always seem to be there also. I've got two such "friends" that have been there for decades. I'd like to share them with you, because my human friends have so much to do with my song friends being around as much as they are lately.

Taj Mahal - Cakewalk Into Town
From his 1972 album "Recycling The Blues And Other Related Stuff".
Taj Mahal-Cakewalk into Town

Harry McClintock - Hallejujah I'm a Bum
I actually learned this song from an album by Utah Phillips. This is from the original 1926 recording by Harry McClintock.
Harry McClintock - Hallejujah I'm a Bum

Monday, October 03, 2005

Just a few of the things that make life so darn good

Accordion and slide guitar of course!
Daddy Squeeze and The Doctor (Dan Newton and John Walker) play blues, ragtime, swing, folk and original tunes in Lincoln, Nebraska. I stumbled across these guys at CDBaby and now have all of their releases.
No comment on the song's subject except to say it fits today's theme just fine.

What a Big Leg Woman Will Do

Michael Douchet and Beausoleil have been combining accordion and slide guitar, as well as fiddle, triangle and more, for a long time. This cut is from their latest cd Gitane Cajun. The title in English is "The Sun Shines".

Le soleil brille

A couple of tunes to start the week right.

Morgantown, West Virginia old-time music on steriods. Leading the Rounders is fidder Rachel Eddy.

The Morgantown Rounders - Let Me Fall

Aptly named group, The Greencards are two Australians and a Brit who met and play in Houston, Texas.