Downloaded Albums

After Dancing Cat Productions (in their guise of Eagle’s Whistle Records) relinquished all rights back to me in 2022 I took control of releasing albums in the new world of downloads. I had been recording a considerable number of songs – still with Dan De La Isla – and we were able to produce new releases every few months, instead of the several year interval heretofore. We still haven’t worked out all the details of the new format, including any remuneration, if any, but I am heartened by the reaction.

In July, 2022, I released a single, “On January 6th They Came,” a dramatic solo work, commemorating the infamous attempted overthrow of the United States by forces instigated by the losing candidate for president.

I released this single, “The Leaving of Afghanistan,” based on the traditional English farewell song, “The Leaving of Liverpool,” in September, 2022. It was dedicated to all the NATO forces forced to abandon their allies as they were driven from the country by the Taliban.

In June, 2022, I released “Polly Dang Doodle,” and launched into the new era of self-produced albums.

1. Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down. I’ve known this classic Charlie Poole song since the ’60s, but just recently worked it up to sing with my sister, Lee Davis; it’s probably a mix of the New Lost City Ramblers and Doc Watson. Played on an ancient tackhead fretless found around Roanoke, Virginia.
2. Willie Moore. Another standard of unknown inspiration, perhaps Doc Watson again. Played on my “notched” 4+1 gourd banjer.
3. The Irish Girl. Learned around 1961 from recordings made by Sam Eskin in the 1940s of California migrant workers. After one of my first public concerts, with Rita Weil, she wouldn’t leave until I taught it to her.
4. The Cuckoo.  One of the most popular songs from Clarence Ashley we all learned in the ’60s. Played on a mountain banjer by Ellis Wolfe.
5. Lonesome Dove. Learned from my fretless banjer mentor, Stu Jamieson. Played on a Jean Ritchie dulcimer.
6. Danville Girl. Inspired by Dock Boggs’ version. Played on my “hawk” 3+1 gourd banjer.
7. The Boston Burglar. An idiosyncratic version from Stu Jamieson, who learned it from Kentucky banjo player Rufus Crisp. Stu always insisted the slight slide characteristic of the tune was a microtone, not simply chromatic. Played on my “notched” gourd banjer.
8. Sawyer’s Exit. Another standard of the Sacred Harp repertory, the tune also occurring as the fiddle tune, “Rosin the Bow.” Played on a cherry 7-stringed épinette of unknown, but probably American, origin.
9. Polly Dang Doodle. A fiddle tune, in the style of a rondo, having a recurring theme based on “Polly Wolly Doodle,” interposed with other (traditional and original) tunes. Identify them all for the title of Master of Old-Time Music. Played on my “hawk” 3+1 gourd banjer.
10. The Wicked Wife. Learned from the singing of Stu Jamieson.
11. The Lady Gay. I sang this for many years as an unaccompanied ballad, only recently adding an East Kentucky-style banjer underlay. Played on a Cubley fretless with Nylgut strings.
12. The Lone Pilgrim. From the Sacred Harp tradition. Sparse accompaniment on the tackhead fretless from Roanoke.
13. Morning Blues. Inspired by Uncle Dave Macon, sung by everyone. Played on my “singer” 3+1 gourd banjer.
14. The American Star. From a one verse, harmonized version in the “Original Sacred Harp,” of a Much longer patriotic song from the generation immediately following the American Revolution, sung in the style of a drinking song.
15. Train on the Island. From the New Lost City Ramblers; by far my favorite version of the old-time classic. Played on my “notched” 4+1 gourd banjer.
16. Siboulet. My vocal rendition of a song I created from a fragment of a fife and drum tune. My “singer” 3+1 gourd banjer, voice, whistling.
17. Hammered dulcimer medley: The White Cockade/ Soldier’s Joy/ The Ways of the World.
18. You’ve Been a Friend to Me. One of my favorite Carter Family songs, with harmonies on each verse from the three most important women in my musical life, (1) my sister and longest singing partner, Lee Davis; (2) my first love and musical inspiration, Kathy Larisch; and (3) my dearest musical friend, Carol McComb. Also, guitars, autoharp, and additional voices on the choruses from Ray Bierl, Larry Hanks, and Deborah Robins.

The second album, in July, 2022, was “Punkin’ Pie.” [The first tune, “Ground Hog,” has the line “Here come Sal with a snigger and a grin…” which some bot evidently didn’t understand so it was designated an “Age-restricted video.” It’s Not.] 😉

1. Ground Hog. There are two versions of this melody: one with the flat 7th (played on the mountain banjer), the other, more modern, with the raised 7th (played on the Amburgey dulcimer). The original intent was probably a neutral 7th (heard in my voice), common to English and American traditional singing. Learned from the singing of Clarence Ashley and Doc Watson.
2. Carter’s Blues. One of my earliest autoharp songs; learned from Mike Seeger. Played on my 1941 Oscar Schmidt.
3. Old House Carpenter. Based on multiple versions of this standard song, I eliminated all the supernatural elements, paring it down to a story of inconstant love. Played on a Bell & Son Boucher model fretless.
4. Sherman. A fiddle tune I wrote, named after an area of San Diego where a friend lived. Played on my Wm S. Mount copy fretless with Ray Bierl, fiddle.
5. Poor Little Fisherman Girl. From the singing of two sisters from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, collected by Frank and Anne Warner. [In broadside form from the 1830s.] With my sister, Lee Davis.
6. Charlie’s Neat. Perhaps originally referencing the Bonnie Prince, learned from a fragmentary version on the Mountain Music of Kentucky. One of my very first (because of its simplicity) fretless banjer tunes, here on a 3+1-stringed gourdie of my making (“The singer”).
7. Country Blues. One of the many classics by Kentucky banjo player, Dock Boggs, an early influence on me. Played on my “notched” gourd banjer.
8. Punkin’ Pie. A tune I created based on the well-known children’s song. Played on my Wm. S. Mount copy fretless. With Ray Bierl, fiddle.
9. The Prisoner For Life. Learned from the 1910 John A. Lomax book of Cowboy Songs. It was one of the few melodies indicated.
10. Darling Corey. Learned from an early version of Pete Seeger with the very-droney tuning: 1-5-1-1, with a Major 3rd 5th string, even though the song utilizes a Minor 3rd. Played on a large fretless banjer by Eric Prust.
11. Handsome Molly. This was one of the few songs that could be accompanied on the Thai mouth organ and I’ve played it thusly since the early 1960s. I’ve forgotten whether it was from Frank Proffitt’s or Doc Watson’s version – and does it matter?
12. Red Rocking Chair. Remembered from that heady mix of Carence Ashley, Dock Boggs, and the New Lost City Ramblers, uncertain as to exact inspiration. Played on my “notched” gourd banjer.
13. The Weary Pilgrim’s Consolation. Another 19th-century hymn from the Sacred Harp tradition.
14. East Virginia Blues. Probably a mix of Rossie Holcomb and Clarence Ashley, played on my Fairbanks & Cole fretless.
15. The Excellent Gift. A song from the Shaker tradition.
16. Mole in the Ground. Originally learned from Frank Proffitt, filtered through the ferment of the 1960s. Played on one of Franks’s own banjers.
17. Siboulet. A percussion version of my song based on a fragment of a fife and drum tune.
18. When the Train Comes Along. The Uncle Dave Macon tune, realized with old friends and new; George Winston, harmonica; Lee Davis, Kathy Larisch, Carol McComb, Ray Bierl, Larry Hanks, and Deborah Robins, voices.

The third album, The Blue Goose,” dropped in September, 2022.

1. The Blue Goose. Learned from Stu Jamieson, one of my Old-Time musical gurus. [A blue goose is the dark variety of the Snow Goose.] With a Homer Ledford dulcimer and John Huron mountain banjer.
2. The Spirit of Love. An obscure maudlin, and obviously-literary Carter Family song for which I wrote a counter melody; with accompaniment on my 1941 Oscar Schmidt autoharp.
3. Little Sadie. From the singing of Clarence Ashley and Doc Watson. Played on my Wm. S. Mount fretless copy.
4. Cold Rain and Snow. A lonesome song from Obray Ramsey, popularized by many others. Played on a Jethro Amburgey dulcimer.
5. Poor Mike Pence. Written before the Vice President finally showed some backbone.
6. Sailor on the Deep Blue Sea. Carter Family classic, played on my 1894 Dolgeville, N.Y., 5-bar Zimmermann autoharp (with original strings).
7. My Little Old Sod Shanty (on my Claim). A rustic Midwestern parody from the 1880s played on a Bell & Son Boucher copy fretless.
8. Roll On, John. Another Rufus Crisp song learned from Stu Jamieson.
9. The Lady of Carlisle. Learned from Mike Seeger, played on a different Bell Boucher, with Nylgut Red strings.
10. Fod! Unique nonsense song collected from a California migrant worker in the year of my birth.
11. The Prodigal Son. A gospel version of the famous parable, learned from the singing of Dock Boggs.
12. Poor Ellen Smith. Late 19th-century semi-factual murder ballad, based on part of the same melody as the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation,” of which I utilize both closely-related strains. Played on my (probably American) 7-string cherry épinette.
13. “Sweetheart” Banjo Medley: Liza Jane/ Skip to My Lou/ Black-eyed Suzie/ Cindy. Played on an anonymous mountain banjer.
14. This World is Not My Home. Another Carter Family hymn, sung with my sister Lee Davis.
15. King Kong Kitchie. Another version of “Froggy Went A-Courtin'” recorded by Chubby Parker in 1928. Played on my first dulcimer build, 1962.
16. I Never Will Marry. Another Carter Family classic, popularized during the 1960s by Pete Seeger among others. Played on my 1894 5-bar Zimmermann, with my sister, Lee Davis.

December, 2022, saw the release of “Moonshiner.”

1. Going Down Town. From the singing of Stu Jamieson. Played on a Frank Proffitt, Jr/Ellis Wolfe banjer and anonymous dulcimer
2. The Old Gospel Ship. A Carter Family gospel standard, played on my 7-stringed cherry épinette with my sister, Lee Davis.
3. Spike Driver Blues. A Mississippi John Hurt classic, played on my “hawk” 4-stringed gourd banjer.
4.Willy Poor Boy. From the New Lost City Ramblers, played on a Jethro Amburgey dulcimer.
5. Moonshiner. Learned from Roscoe Holcomb many years ago but seldom sung since.
6. Trouble On My Mind. Another Stu Jamieson song he learned from Rufus Crisp. Played on a John Huron mt. banjer and Amburgey dulcimer
7. Anchored in Love Divine. From the Carter Family, played on my 1941 Oscar Schmidt autoharp, with Lee Davis.
8. Darling Jimmy. A strange old song, learned from blind Tennessee singer, Horton Barker.
9. Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor. A Mike Seeger standard, played on my cherry “Shaker” box banjer, with genuine gut strings.
10. Digging On the New Railroad. Learned from Stu Jamieson, played on a Jethro Amburgey dulcimer.
11. Cold Winter’s Night. Recorded by Sam Eskin from California migrant workers; I later used this traditional song to create another version (on my first CD, “Down the Road”).
12. The Orphan Girl. A Victorian sentimental song, played on my “singer” 4-string gourd banjer.
13. Old Joe Biden. The old-time chestnut, “Old Dan Tucker” just seemed the perfect fit. With a Homer Ledford dulcimer.
14. Sing Me a Song. I changed Ola Belle Reed’s slow 4/4 song to a waltz to pick up the tempo slightly. With another Ledford dulcimer.
15. Worried Man Blues. The Carter Family’s version avoids the hackneyed 3-fold repetition and gives this simple song a distinctive turn. With Frank Proffitt, Jr/Ellis Wolfe mountain banjer.
16. The Storms Are On the Ocean. Another Carter Family favorite, with my sister, Lee Davis and my 1941 Oscar Schmidt autoharp.

The fifth album, “Old Paint,” featuring two different songs about the titular horse, was released in January, 2023.

1. One Morning in May. An English and American song with a several-hundred-year pedigree, not always as innocent as here. Inspired by the singing of Jean Ritchie; with hammered dulcimer duet accompaniment.
2. We Shall All Be Reunited. Another gospel song from the singing of Alfred G. Karnes. Played on my 1941 Oscar Schmidt autoharp, with my sister, Lee Davis.
3. Cluck Old Hen. A classic old-time banjo tune with floating verses from the singing of Clarence Ashley. Played on a dulcimer by Paul Adams, with Vietnamese brass jaw harp.
4. The Louisville Burglar. A version of this ballad I learned from the singing of Mike Seeger. Though I accompanied it on the autoharp for half a century, here it is played on a cherry 7-stringed, probably American, épinette.
5. Banjo Medley: The 8th of January/ Johnson Boys. Played on my cherry, Shaker-style box banjer, with real gut strings.
6. Little Darling, Pal of Mine. A Carter Family standard. Played on my 1941 Oscar Schmidt autoharp, with my sister, Lee Davis.
7. Good Bye, Old Paint. Recorded by cowboy singer Jess Morris in 1942. Learned from a Black cowboy, Charlie Willis, around 1900, who used to play it on the jaw harp (as I do here).
8. Bury Me Beneath the Willow. Another sentimental song from the Carter Family. Played on my 1941 Oscar Schmidt autoharp, with self harmonies.
9. The Bachelor Blues. Learned from the singing of Tracy Schwarz.
10. The Yellow Rose of Texas. Learned from the New Lost City Ramblers. Played on my 1941 Oscar Schmidt autoharp.
11. Froggy Went A-Courting. Another version of the widespread song, from Ozark singer Almeda Riddle. A duet with my sister, Lee Davis.
12. The Baltimore Fire. Another of my earliest songs, from Mike Seeger. Played on my 1941 Oscar Schmidt autoharp.
13. Working on the Railroad. Instrumental version of the ubiquitous old-time song. Played on my 4+1 string ‘notched” gourd banjer and jaw harp.
14. I Ride Old Paint. A widespread cowboy song, often mistakenly confused with Good-Bye Old Paint (above). Played on a Bell & Son Stichter copy fretless.
15. I Am Free, Little Bird. A standard, performed by everybody from Clarence Ashley to every bluegrass group in existence. Here on a Vietnamese brass jaw harp.
16. Likes Likker Better Than Me. Ubiquitous, but perhaps from the New Lost City Ramblers. Played on my 1894 Zimmerman autoharp and a Bell & Son Stichter copy fretless.

Album six, “Juba,” was released in March, 2023.

Half of this album coincidentally turned out to be Carter Family songs, extremely influential in Country music and a staple of the folk music revival of the 1960s.
1. Oh Take me Back. One of the jazziest Carter Family songs, strummed on my little 5-bar 1894 Zimmerman autoharp (with original strings).
2. I Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow. Another Carter Family favorite, learned from the New Lost City Ramblers, played on my “horsehead” gourd banjer.
3. Hello Stranger. Another Carter Family standard, played on my 7-string cherry American épinette.
4. Juba. An original tune developed on my “horsehead” gourd banjer, with spoons, claps, jaw harp, and bottles.
5. The Widow Jones’ Lament. Another original, inspired by “Wild Bill Jones,” the typically laconic, unapologetic song of murder based on particularly trivial causality. I imagined the Other side of the story of random violence, sung by his mother, played on my 5-bar Zimmerman.
6. Man of Constant Sorrow. A great a cappella lament, learned from the singing of Roscoe Holcomb, which I haven’t sung since the early 1960s.
7. Picking Flowers. Based on Mother Maybelle’s “Gathering Flowers” in the “dragging” style of Kilby Snow, on my 1941 Oscar Schmidt autoharp.
8. And Am I Born To Die? A haunting old favorite hymn from the Sacred Harp tradition.
9. Today Has Been a Lonesome Day. Another NLCR song derived from the Carter Family. 1941 Schmidt autoharp.
10. Talk About Suffering. Hymn learned from the singing of Doc Watson, in a duet with my sister, Lee Davis.
11. The New Other Side of Jordan. I updated the topical references for this Uncle Dave Macon classic. 1941 Schmidt autoharp.
12. Nashville. Another Sacred Harp hymn sung with a chestnut gourd banjer by Billy Cornette.
13. Sweet Fern. The forever-perversely-titled love song from the Carter Family, the verses of which are clearly avian; played on my 1894 Zimmerman autoharp.
14. Johnny Booker. The old-time banjo standard, with my antique “Veteran” mountain banjer from New York.
15. The Wayworn Traveler. An old hymn channeled through the Carter Family, here accompanied with my cherry American epinette.
16. Chewing Gum. Both Uncle Dave and the Carters sang this tongue-in-cheek satire on modern times.
17. All the Good Times. This 1930s Carter Family song has become a country and bluegrass standard; here on my 1941 Schmidt autoharp.
18. I Bid You Goodnight. Often sung as simply a chorus, in numerous versions from Joseph Spence to Aaron Neville, here with some of the 19th Century verses, accompanied on my American épinette.