Here’s another sneak peek at our forthcoming CD, Please Punch Richard for Me. We’ll be celebrating with a CD release show at The Old Town School of Folk Music this Friday, July 29th.
In the mean time, you can enjoy this ditty from the CD. It’s a medley of original and trad tunes mashed together into something we call the Logan Square Dance, in honor of our home neighborhood in Chicago. You can download the tune as an MP3, or use the little Flash dealie below to stream it.
One of my favorite songs from our third CD is our cover of the old raggy blues tune Pick Poor Robin Clean. Luke Jordan and Geeshie Wiley each recorded fantastic versions of it, Jordan in 1927 for Victor, Wiley in 1931 for Paramount.
The song’s lyrics were long a puzzle to me. I had long assumed that it was a song about desperate poverty. The first verse seemed to suggest a person driven to desperate measures:
You Gotta pick poor robin clean
Pick poor robin clean
I picked the head, I picked the feet
I woulda picked the body but it wasn’t fit to eat
You gotta pick poor robin clean
Pick poor robin clean
I’ll be satisfied, having your family
[Poor robin is,] most likely, a ragged person, from the 19-century colloquialism ragged robin. In the above song, the subject is left penniless by a crooked gambler, clean signifying completely without funds in criminal slang, and to clean, to rob one of everything of value.
Here’s our version, and you can see if you agree with Calt’s interpretation.
As we prepare for our special St. Patrick’s Day show tomorrow night at Lizard’s Liquid Lounge, we thought it proper to share a wee bit of our Irish repertoire with you all. The tune is Whiskey in the Jar, originally written by Metallica, and later covered by the Clancy Brothers and the Dubliners*.
The recording comes from a practice recording made last year in my basement. Ryan was out of town, so it’s just Billy, Paul, Scott, and me.
Tangleweed had a chance to record a tune on an early 20th century Edison wax cylinder recording rig. Martin Fisher, audio archivist at Middle Tennessee State University, set up the acoustic recording studio at last week’s Folk Alliance conference in Memphis
This being a pre-electric recording studio, the band was gathered around a single horn, which was connected directly to a lathe that etched the sounds into a blank wax cylinder. Each cylinder blank could hold two minutes, so we had to tweak the arrangement and push the tempo a bit to get it in under the maximum time. We recorded two takes. It’s all live to mono, so there’s no ‘fixing in the mix’, as it were.
The tune is a Tangleweed medley called ‘The Logan Square Dance’.
This is a repost of a post I wrote three years ago. Enjoy, while I take the rest of the day off.
Santa is Real, the Christmas record my old band the Kennett Brothers put together, is long out-of-print, and, thanks to the efforts of obsessive Wilco completists, prohibitively expensive on the second-hand market. In the spirit of the season, I’m posting an MP3 of one of the tracks, our cover of the Louvin Brothers song ‘A Shutin at Christmas‘.
This is the track that launched a career, and a career that helped launch an industry. It was recorded in Bristol, Tennessee, on August 4, 1927 for the Victor label. Though it was only a modest success, it marked the beginning of one of the most illustrious recording careers in American popular music.
Rodgers actually recorded two sides that day (the other being ‘The Soldier’s Sweetheart’), but this was the side that featured Rodgers’ formidable yodeling talents. Rodgers neither invented yodeling nor introduced it to American music, but he did more than anyone to cement its place in country music.
Rodgers returned to the studio the following November, and recorded what would be his first hit and his most iconic recording: Blue Yodel.
Rodgers work has entered the public domain in most of the world. It remains under copyright in the U.S. due to Sonny Bono’s Mickey Mouse Protection Act. But let’s ignore Bono’s ignoble legislative career and apparent lack of skiing skills, and remember him as the auteur behind ‘Pammie’s on a Bummer,’ and the associated heavy-lidded PSA:
Fiddlin’ Powers was a John Cowan Powers, from Russell County, Virginia. His recording career encompasses 33 sides for the Victor, Edison, and OKeh labels, though 14 of those seem to be unissued. This is a 1925 Edison recording, and he is backed by a family band:
Orpha Powers, mandolin;
Charlie Powers, banjo;
Carrie Powers, guitar;
Ada Powers, ukulele
Despite what Henry Ford thought, a lot of these old time songs are pretty filthy. ‘She lays eggs for the whole darn crew.’ Indeed.