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.

For a concise, convenient display of all the albums downloaded to YouTube click on this link:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKoSHaG3NiEpmiu5VER7FbQ/playlists

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 right-wing forces instigated by a failed presidential candidate.

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, 2023, I released, as a single, a dramatic reading of my thoughts on the demise of the Los Angeles celebrity puma, P-22. It is dedicated to all our wildlife, increasingly endangered by humanity, consciously or not.

I decided to release a small sample, a Garland, of Shaker songs and hymns as a single in October 2023. In addition to their abundant creativity in commerce, science, and the arts, the Shakers were perhaps the most musically prolific group in the history of the world. Never numbering more than a few thousand at a time, in twenty communities, over less than two centuries of their existence, they produced tens of thousands of songs in hundreds of hand-written hymnals. Though clearly part of the general Anglo-American musical tradition many of their songs were idiosyncratic, frequently inspired by visions or other ecstatic events, occasionally wordless even glossolalic. The poetry was often individualistic or naive but suffused with genuine religious passion; melodies, even the shortest, were capable of great beauty.

 

The songs are: Heavenly love; Who will bow and bend like a willow? Oh, we have found a lovely vine; Precept and line; The shepherd’s call; Life, life, living zeal; Square order shuffle; Drink ye of Mother’s wine; I want to be like the lily; I’m on my way to Zion; Come to Zion; I will not be like the stubborn oak; Heavenly love (reprise).

                                              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.
notched (#2, 7, 15); Wolfe (#4); singer (#13 & 16); hawk (#6 & 9); Cubley (#11); tackhead (#1 & 12)

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 – but you’ll have to access it from the complete YouTube list.] 😉

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.
Singer (#6); "Frank Proffitt" (#16); Bell&Sons (#3); notched (#7 & 12); Fairbanks & Cole (#14); Prust (#10); my Wm. S Mount copy (#4 & 8); Frank Proffitt, Jr (#1)

                                                                             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, 1963.
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.
 
 
John Huron (#1); Bell&Sons, red (#9); my Wm. S Mount copy (#3); Bell&Sons, white (#7); anon mt. banjer (#13)

                                                                                                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.
singer (#12); Wolfe (#1 &15); Shaker (#9); Huron (#6); hawk (#3)

                                       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.
Shaker (#5); Stichter (#14 & 16); notched (#13)

                                                                                               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.
Cornette (#12); Veteran (#14); horsehead (#2 & 4)

                                                                                      Album seven was released two weeks before my birthday in May 2023.

 
THIS TRAIN. (#12)
 
1. I’m Going Back to Jericho. A great banjer tune from my earliest days of performing; undoubtedly from Clarence Ashley. Notched gourd banjer, B/F#BF#’F#’; jaw harp.
2. Early One Morning. Usually considered an English folk song, I am reluctant to believe it never crossed the pond. American 7-string épinette.
3. You’re Gonna Miss Me. A Carter Family classic I probably learned from the New Lost City Ramblers. Singer gourd banjer, B’/BEB’.
4. Little Ball of Yarn. Though widespread and enduringly popular, bawdy songs are only sparsely collected, both because of Puritanical attitudes and, since they often circulated among women, reticence to sing them for male folklorists. This version was learned from Mike Seeger and friends in their manifestation as the New Lost City Bang Boys. Zimmerman 1895 5-bar autoharp.
5. Motherless Children. The gut strings on my Shaker box banjer provide an eerie accompaniment for Blind Willie Johnson’s classic lament. Self-made Shaker box banjer, D’/ADA’A’.
6. The Letter That Never Came. This overly sentimental, often unintentionally humorous Victorian song was a tongue-in-cheek standard of the Folk Revival; perhaps from The New Lost City Ramblers. 1941 Oscar Schmidt autoharp.
7. How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live? Blind Alfred Reed’s trenchant identification of the fundamental elements of America’s concern with injustice made my updating of this early protest song easy. John Huron mountain banjer, metal strings, F’/CFAC’.
8. The Rambling Boy. Though popularized by A.P. Carter’s version this song of a highwayman has roots stretching back to the British Isles. Self-made Shaker box banjer, E’/AEA’B’.
9. Hesitatin’ Blues. Based on a traditional tune, claimed by the songwriting team of Smythe, Middleton, and Gillham, as well as W.C. Handy, this song became a ragtime classic before WWI and has never lost its appeal. 1941 Schmidt autoharp; Jim Brandenburg fretted mountain banjer, -/CEGC’; 4 strings, open chords only.
10. Tighten Up the Back Band. I learned this from Sam Hinton’s mellow version of a Leadbelly composition. Hawk gourd banjer, Bb’/BbFBb’.
11. I’m the One You Chose. Love songs, traditionally, reflect the yearning of the lover for the beloved. I know that impulse as well but this song sprang from the feeling of gratitude for being on the receiving end of passion. 1941 Schmidt autoharp.
12. This Train. This ubiquitous, seemingly ancient standard was recorded only in 1922, and though its imagery stretches back to the mythic era of early trains, the Lomax anthologies of American folk songs certainly popularized it. Prust-Boucher banjer, Ab’/EbAbEb’Eb’.
13. I Didn’t Hear Nobody Pray. Based on the original 1930 composition by Dorsey Dixon. 1941 Schmidt autoharp.
14. Heavenly Armor. A shape note hymn in the militant Christian tradition, played on a powerful gourd banjer by Billy Cornette, A’/DAD’E’.
15. Don’t Let the Deal Go Down. Many traditional songs have evolved independent versions; this is a very different, jazzy example of the old-time tune Lee and I recorded on “Polly Dang Doodle.” Jim Brandenburg fretted mountain banjer, B’/BD#F#B’.
16. Sweet Rivers. Here a very spiritual shape note hymn is played, more appropriately, on dulcimer, C#’G#C#.
17. Ha-Ha This-a-Way. Another of the many children’s – and child-like – songs from the imagination of Leadbelly. Singer gourd banjer, B’/BEB’; voice; claps.
18. Keep On the Sunny Side. Another Carter Family classic: unabashedly joyous. 1941 Schmidt autoharp.
 
Huron (#7); singer (#3 & 17); Brandenburg (#9 & 15); Cornette (#14); Prust (#12); notched (#1); Shaker (#5 & 8); hawk (#10)

                             Album eight was released in early August, 2023. My sister, Lee Davis and I enjoy singing together now as much as we did eighty years ago.

No. 13. BROKEN HEART
 
1. There Ain’t No Bugs On Me. From Fiddling John Carson via the New Lost City Ramblers. Homer Ledford fretless banjer; 1941 Oscar Schmidt autoharp; voices.
2. Salty Dog Blues. Early performers include Buddy Bolden, Papa Charlie Jackson, the Morris Brothers, then Leadbelly, and Mississippi John Hurt. Gardner fretted minstrel banjo (slide); voice.
3. When First Unto This Country. Learned from Mike Seeger and the NLCR. 1895 Zimmerman 5-bar autoharp; voice.
4. Rissolty, Rossolty. An early American children’s song used by Ruth Crawford Seeger in one of her compositions and played in the home for her children, including Mike and Peggy. Self-made 1963 dulcimer; voices, Lee & Curt.
5. Leaving Home. A version of the marital problems of Frankie and Johnny from Charlie Poole and his North Carolina Ramblers. J.E. Dallas zither banjo; voice.
6. Talking Hard Luck. Learned from the always taciturn John Cohen of the NLCR. Gardner fretted minstrel banjo; voice.
7. Morning Trumpet. Perhaps my favorite shape note hymn, from “The Sacred Harp,” 1844. Voices.
8. Broken Heart. 10-year-old original tune with arbitrarily-chosen title. Self-made “hawk” gourd banjer; jaw harp; spoons; claps.
9. Saints’ Delight. A rousing millennial shape note hymn from William Walker’s “Southern Harmony,” 1835. Jethro Amburgey dulcimer; voice.
10. Can I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight, Mister? Another great standard string band song originating from Charlie Poole. (I forget which banjer, perhaps the Stichter, shown above); voice.
11. Bound For the Promised Land. A jazzed-up version of the old gospel song by Alfred G. Karnes of Bedford Co., Virginia in 1927. The tune, of course, is transferred from the popular, “Don’t Let the Deal Go Down,” which I recorded on my previous album, “This Train.” The words produce a completely different, almost martial effect here. Dallas zither banjo (slide); voice; claps.
12. Single Girl. A.P. Carter’s observations on married life. Leonard Glenn dulcimer; voices, Lee & Curt.
13. The Girl I Left Behind. A variant of Maggie Walker Blues, learned in the early 1960s from “Old-time Music at Clarence Ashley’s.” Anonymous 19th-century fretless banjo with fret markers; voice.
14. Happy Land. Martin Luther is supposed to have said, in justifying his adopting secular melodies for hymns, “Why should the Devil have all the good tunes?” I return the sentiment by adapting this rather bland 19th-century religious song – which was, in turn, supposedly derived from a Hindu melody. 4-string Ledford dulcimer; self-made Shaker box banjer.
15. Captain Kidd. Piratical ballad from a broadside, ca. 1700. The melody and metrical structure relates it to “Wondrous Love.” Voice.
16. The Leatherwing Bat. Traditional song with roots in England, first recorded by Burl Ives in January and released in August of the year I was born. Fairbanks & Cole fretless banjo; small Vietnamese jaw harp; voice.
17. “Back Porch” Banjo medley: Landee/Waiting for Nancy/The Bear’s Leaving Town/8th of January/Sherman/8th of January. During an early recording session I improvised this stream-of-consciousness medley in the studio. George Winston liked it so much he urged me to include it; it took a dozen years but here it is, warts and all. Self made William Sidney Mount banjo.
18. I Am Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes. A classic Old-time tune, recycled for “The Great Speckled Bird,” “The Wild Side of Life,” and “I Didn’t Know God Made Honkey-Tonk Angels.” 1895 Zimmerman autoharp; Gardner fretted minstrel banjo; voices, Lee & Curt.
19. Fishing Blues. Ostensibly originating with Chris Smith in 1911, famously popularized by “Ragtime Texas” Henry Thomas, but in modern times by Mike Seeger. Charango; mouth organ; voice.
 
Ledford (#1); Fairbanks & Cole (#16); "hawk" (#8); Anon. (#13); Gardner (#2, 6, 18); My Wm. S. Mt. (#17); My "Shaker" (#14); Dallas (#5, 11)

Number 14 (album eight), was released for my sister Lee’s eighty-first birthday in October 2023. Many duets, mostly love songs, it commemorates our long singing association and love for old-time music.

No. 14. Little Sparrow.
 
1. Who’s That Knocking At My Window? A Carter Family song much loved by Old Time and Bluegrass singers. Lee & Curt. 1941 Oscar Schmidt autoharp.
2. Little Sparrow. The traditional title of “Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies.” From Jean Ritchie and Peggy Seeger. Lee & Curt. 4-stringed Homer Ledford dulcimer.
3. Jack the Jolly Tar. Perhaps more popular in England than America, this bawdy song came from Stu Jamieson who learned it while living with Kentucky banjo player Rufus Crisp in the 1940s. Curt. Ellis Wolfe mountain banjer.
4. Reuben and Rachel. Written in the 19th century, it became a humorous country and children’s song. Lee & Curt.
5. The Wagoner’s Lad. Also commonly known as “My Horses Ain’t Hungry,” we learned it from Buell Kazee and Doc Watson. Lee. 3-stringed Ledford dulcimer.
6. Lula Walls. The unforgettable “aggravating beauty” of the Carter Family’s version of a 19th century parlor song. Curt & chorus. 1941 Schmidt autoharp.
7. Pretty Mary. Collected in the early 20th century, also known as “At the Foot of Yonder’s Mountain.” Perhaps a blend of Jean Ritchie and Hedy West. Lee. Prust-Boucher banjer ?
8. Your Bright Smile. A sentimental 19th century song with a lovely melody and surprisingly elegant lyrics. Collected by Frank and Anne Warner on the Outer Banks, I changed the title from the less personal “Her Bright Smile” in memory of the love of my life. Curt. Anonymous American cherry 7-stringed épinette.
9. The Waves On the Sea. From both the Carter Family and the New Lost City Ramblers. The last line of the chorus is traditionally “…while the landlord lies sleeping down below,” which makes no sense. Much discussion has suggested perhaps “landlubbers,” which is not much better, so I figured the (absent) owners [or landlubbers] would more likely be “on the shore.” Curt & chorus. 1895 Zimmerman autoharp.
10. Billy Barlow. Learned from Mike and Peggy Seeger’s charming children’s songs collection. An American version derived from much more serious British origins. Lee & Curt.
11. George Collins. Perhaps a combination of Jean Ritchie and Frank Proffitt’s versions. I long resisted singing this song because of the lovely version of my dear friends, Kathy & Carol. Lee & Curt. 1941 Schmidt autoharp.
12. Nobody’s Darling But Mine. Allegedly written by Jimmie Davis but I knew it from Uncle Dave Macon’s over-the-top sentimental version. There was also an 1876 song by the prolific team of Rutledge and Danks with the first line, “Nobody’s darling but mine, love, nobody loves you like me.” Curt. Dallas zither banjo; 2nd banjo ?
13. I Believe In Being Ready. From a private recording of Mike Seeger who learned it from Maggie Hammons. Curt.
14. The Warfare Is Raging. Collected by Cecil Sharp and sung by Peggy Seeger and others. The internal repetition is subtle but ingenious and charming. Lee & Curt. Ledford dulcimer ?
15. There’s a Hole. Another widely-known children’s song from everyone’s childhood, recorded by Vance Randolph among others. Lee & Curt.
16. Trouble in Mind. One of many traditional blues standards of the 1920s that transfer easily onto fretless banjer. Curt. Self-made Shaker banjer with gut strings.
17. Pretty Saro. Though the English original seems to have died out, this version survived in the Appalachians. Influenced by Jean Ritchie and Horton Barker. Lee. Épinette.
18. Way Down Town. From Uncle Dave Macon and Doc Watson among others. I love the graphic imagery of “slippin’ and slidin’ with his new shoes on.” Curt & chorus. Dallas zither banjo; 2nd banjer ?
19. Bright Morning Stars. Beautiful song from the religious folk tradition of the 19th century. Lee & Curt.