Ethnic stereotypes are on parade in this 1960s commercial, in which hillbilly cartoon characters guzzle caffeinated sugar water and play with firearms. The soundtrack uses the Bascom Lamar Lunsford tune Old Mountain Dew, and one of the characters sure sounds like Grandpa Jones.
Steve Martin’s banjo was more than a stage prop — he was is a solid Scruggs picker who rubbed shoulders with some of the greats. He reminisced rather, rather eloquently, about crossing paths with Doug Dillard in the cat-poem-free literary magazine The Oxford American:
The Dillards boasted the fastest and most thrilling banjoist alive, Doug Dillard. They played live in Orange County in those days, and watching Doug Dillard was like watching God, if God were a finger-picking madman. Doug, thin as a rail, had a grin that Lewis Carroll could describe, like a piano keyboard stuck on the end of a reed. But the sound of the banjo accelerating from zero to sixty in a nanosecond, in a town that had heretofore heard only the lazy folk guitar, made us freeze. Doug was generous, too, and he would teach us various licks (slang for finger and chord sequences).
So here the erstwhile Gern Blanston applies what he learned, dueling with the Muppets.
I loathe jewel cases, the ubiquitous plastic cases that house most compact discs. They’re heavy, bulky, and fragile. My collection of CDs, while not huge, had totally outgrown whatever space I had to house it. Even after a rather draconian purge, there still wasn’t enough space for the discs I wanted to keep. The solution was to banish the hated jewel case from my home.
I’ve been hosting a bluegrass jam every other Sunday at the Wild Rover Pub (6001 N. Paulina) on Chicago’s northside. We just had our second session over Memorial Day weekend and it was a blast. We’re including a pot luck dinner as part of the fun. It makes the event kind of like a church picnic where everyone is drunk. This week Tiffany (bartender and hostess) made her special vegetarian sloppy joes and Matt Reese (banjo and co-host) showed up with some oven baked chicken wings. I took a crack at making some chocolate chip cookies with walnuts and they turned out surprisingly well.
The highlight of the evening was when two brothers visiting from Dublin started requesting Irish songs. I drew upon Tangleweed’s limited repertoire and soon the bar was filled with shouts of choruses from “Wild Rover” and “Whiskey in the Jar.” One of the brothers, Craig, had a great voice and belted out the verses. “Wild Rover,” being the namesake of the establishment, was such a hit we decided to play it twice that evening.
The next session will be held on Sunday, June 8 from 4-8 pm. Come bring your instruments, voice and a dish to pass if you feel so inclined. It’s been a great time so far, and there’s free parking across the street at the European Auto Body Shop!
Here’s another early Tangleweed clip, from our days of slogging through our Sunday sets at the Metropolis Coffee House in Chicago back in the halcyon days of 2004.
The song is ‘Spoonful’, about a month before we recorded it for our debut CD. We still hadn’t figured out what to do with it — it’s zipping along at about 142 beats a minute, while we pass around solos and sing the chorus until we meander to an ending. The album version is about 108 beats a minute, and, even by our meager standards back then, tightly arranged by comparison.
We hadn’t yet hooked on to the unison riff (borrowed from the Texas fiddle tune version of ‘Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down’) that we used for the intro and instrumental break. Slowing the tempo down–way down–was Ryan’s idea, and it turned out to have been a good one.
For more about our early Sunday shows, and another clip from the same set, see my previous post.
Download: tangleweed-just_a_spoonful_metropolis_10_10_04 (MP3)
Four years ago this month, Tangleweed got our start at a little coffee shop way up in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. In between blasts of steam from the espresso machine, we would play two sets each Sunday to largely disinterested onlookers who would occasionally look up from their Powerbooks to ask us if we were through yet.
We did the gigs without mics or amplification of any kind. We would just shout over the din when we had to sing, and beat our instruments a little harder when we had to take a solo. This set us up well for our first CD, which we recorded live to two-track tape using three microphones and vintage gear. For worse or worser, that’s what we sounded like at the time. This was recorded a little over a month before we recorded Just a Spoonful.
For reasons known only to himself, Scott taped a lot of these early shows for posterity. Many of the early shows are agony to listen to, but there were occasional bursts of competence, such as this here. The tune is the Earl Scruggs classic ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’, with a wee bit of an insert borrowed from John Williams. We’re joined by our pal, the Mayor of Bucktown, some dude whose name escapes me on harmonica for this one.
If’n you feel like downloading it, you can fetch the file here: MP3 Download
This 37-minute film from 1965 captures the Dubliners in their native habitat, O’Donoghue’s Pub in Dublin. According to the Irish Film Institute’s website, O’Donoghue’s Opera was the first Irish musical film. The plot loosely follows the trad tune, ‘The Night Before Larry Was Stretched’. Lyrics are below the fold.
Hello fellow musicians/music lovers,
The “promoters ordinance” was postponed, but it is not over yet. A committee is working on a revised ordinance that will probably come up again for a vote in 1 month. The Chicago Music Commission is asking people to fill out a survey about the promoter’s ordinance that they’ll present to Daley and City Council. The last day to complete the survey is this Friday. Here’s a link:
Please take the time (15-20 minutes) to click on the link below, read the ordinance, and fill out the Chicago Music Commission’s survey by Friday. All of us will be negatively affected by this ordinance if the language is not revised. It seems like the city is open to revising the language, but there must be a large outcry in order to make it happen.
Pass this along to every musician/music lover you know!