Ye Olde Compact Discs

Over some fifty years, every time I played in public someone would come up to me afterward and ask, “Do you have any recordings?” At first I was flattered, after all, the only people I knew who had recordings were Big Stars. Then, on reflection, I was slightly offended, “What sort of sell-out do you think I am? I’m an honest musician.” As years passed and more and more average people put out recordings, I realized I wasn’t the sort of musician someone else would record, I would have to do it myself. But there was the problem of money. I didn’t think money was a problem, I got along just fine without it. However, putting out a record required it, so I just resigned myself to doing without. But it did get old, constantly having to say, “No, I’m sorry, I don’t.” As computers arrived, people began to say, “You know, with the right software you could make your own. Anybody can do it.” But I wasn’t Anybody, and computers seemed the spawn of Beelzebub. But then came writing my dissertation with two fingers and a Kaypro and the Modern Age began, ever so slowly, to dawn.
Almost twenty years ago, at the Adams Avenue Roots Festival – the successor to the San Diego Folk Festival – a fellow came up to me before a scheduled performance, introduced himself, “Adam Miller,” and asked if he could record my hour of music. I assured him it was fine and paid no more attention to it. Afterwards he told me that a friend of his was interested in recording “everything I knew” because he had been a fan of mine from the 1970s in San Diego. This was sounding “curiouser and curiouser.” The friend – whose name he mentioned, but didn’t sound familiar – used to come to Lou Curtiss’ concerts at his shop Folk Arts. When I got home I looked up “George Winston” on the internet. I must have been the only musician on the planet who didn’t recognize his name. My sister-in-law practically wrung my neck over the phone when I admitted I hadn’t known who he was. She had been a big fan for twenty years.
The deciding factor, however, wasn’t the fact that George was famous, nor that it was tremendously flattering to be asked to be recorded, but that I learned of George and Adam’s first (then current) project. They said that the reason my recording would have to be delayed for a year or more was that they were busy recording “everything that Sam Hinton knew.” I knew, immediately, that this was a serious outfit and one attuned to my values. For those who have never heard of Sam, I emphatically urge you to immediately remedy that lacuna. For those of you who Do know and love his music, from “Old Man Atom,” to “Whoever Shall Have Some Good Peanuts,” to his amazing harmonica playing, and his years of school assemblies and folk festival appearances, you know how I felt to be associated with him. He was a great influence on my musical life, traditional and otherwise, for half a century. George set up a separate label, Eagle’s Whistle, (named after one of Sam’s signature tunes) to record traditional American music; their first issue was of Sam’s harmonica music, their next ones were mine. I am still honored to have such a patron.
Eventually, Adam and George and I spent long, wonderful hours in the recording studio of Dan De La Isla (another sympathetic kindred spirit) and even managed to get some tracks laid down. I am greatly indebted to George’s continuing compassionate, supportive attitude as well as Adam’s insightful encouragement. Without the loving, creative synergy of all parties over twenty years, these five CDs would never have happened. 
Eventually, though, the modern world intruded on our idyllic arrangement and fiscal strictures necessitated an end to the always-generous support of Dancing Cat and I was given financial and creative autonomy to go off on my own. George was still an important presence, both creatively and personally, continuing to be a great supporter and good friend, right up until his peaceful end on Sunday, June 4th, 2023. Flights of angels, dear George.

For a convenient, concise display of all my CDs downloaded to YouTube click on this link.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRIEvW4HdH178ZZ8adqtTOg

 

My first endeavor was a whirlwind of new experiences and, in spite of George’s assurances, I never expected the recordings to continue for such an extended period.

CD No. 1, “Down the Road I’ll Go.” 2006

 

Curt Bouterse is a traditional American folksinger and one of the great old-time fretless banjo pickers. He was born in rural Kentucky, but has lived most of his life in urban Southern California. He sings the songs of his mother’s East Tennessee traditions, as well as many newly-made, original “old time” tunes. Both Guy Carawan and George Winston credit Bouterse as a musical influence. He has shared the stage with Doc Watson, Jean Ritchie, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, even appearing on the sound track of Ry Cooder’s ‘The Long Riders.” Yet he has never made a solo recording–until now. “Down the Road I’ll Go” features remarkable performances on fretless banjos, gourd banjers, mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, and autoharp, as well as three stunning duets with his sister, Lee Davis. And don’t miss his amazing medley of “Angelina Baker/Sally Goodin'” played on the Thai mouth organ! Bouterse, who holds a PhD in ethnomusicology, doesn’t even own a fretted banjo, preferring fretless banjos in the style of the 19th century. Some of his banjos are early factory-made types, others were made by 20th century Appalachian builders such as Leonard Glenn and Frank Proffitt, and some he has made himself.

[Blurb from Dancing Cat for the CD release.]

Notes for the album.

1. Old Time Religion. (Curt Bouterse) As a singer of folksongs and a student of the oral process, I often wonder why some songs succeed and others don’t, why some retain their structure and others adapt to their environment. Everybody knows the old spiritual; I’ve sung it all my life. With its simple format and substitutions of “the Hebrew children,” “Paul and Silas,” it is easy to sing and can go on forever. But, as a preacher’s kid, each different subject evoked the more complex story, and I wondered what would happen if the allusions were made more evident. One day, as I played the tune on the banjer, I created a “B” strain and the words “came tumbling down.” The Bible-story verses could be continued indefinitely. The last two, New Testament, verses are pre-existing, floating quatrains from the shape-note tradition.

2. Two Little Children. (Homer Franklin Morris) This is one of the songs my sister and I grew up singing with my mother. My parents used to sing it together as did my father’s parents, who had a gospel program on a radio station in Orlando all through the 1930s. It’s clearly in the family of sentimental dying-orphan songs so popular in the late Nineteenth, early Twentieth Century. Only after looking it up on the Web did I realize it had been written by a music publisher from Georgia and recorded by Kelly Harrell and the Virginia String Band in 1927. Interestingly, though there are two children in the song, we always sang, “row me over the tide.”


3. Handsome Molly. Self-ma
de “notched” gourd banjer, 2003, fA#FA#A#.   I’ve sung this for over forty years in the style of a fiddle-accompanied song, with voice alternating with instrument so, perhaps, I learned it from Mike Seeger. But since I never have been able to stand my fiddling, I’ve used my Thai mouth organ instead. Only recently have I begun playing this on the banjer. I was shocked, some ten years or so ago, to hear Mick Jagger (!) sing a version on the (FM) radio. It was clearly a vintage recording but I had never heard this last verse. While researching the verse on the internet, all the versions seemed rather fragmentary or misunderstood, so I worked it over. I’ve always sung the tag at the very end but only recently realized it actually is from a version of “The House Carpenter,” which I don’t even sing.


4. Temperance
Reel [or The Teetotaler’s Fancy]. Chinese ‘yang qin,’ hammered dulcimer, 1957. This tune is a result of Stu Jamieson’s urging me, in the early 1960s, to expand my repertory of (mostly slow) hammered dulcimer tunes. He suggested “Haste to the Wedding,” “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” and several others, of which, only this one I could play. I used to begin my busking sessions in Balboa Park with this piece: by the end of it I was guaranteed 30 people standing around, asking, “What is it?”


5. I’m Not Ready/Nicolette. (Curt Bouterse). Self-made small octagonal box banjer, 1963/1976. 
Both these songs are from my book, “Nixon’s Farewell.” Since they are both in open C tuning and “Nicolette” only has one verse, I have played them together almost from the beginning. The opening lines came to me in one thought but it took weeks of wrestling before I came up with a workable rhyme for “married.” They are both good-natured contributions to the catalog of songs about the never-ending War Between the Sexes. The box banjer utilizes the walnut neck of the first instrument I made. For ten years it was on a bird’s-eye maple banjo-mandolin pot, then, for the US bicentennial, I built the octagonal, all wood, box–also bird’s-eye maple–to fit inside an old wooden fiddle case.


6. Scoldin’ Wife. Jethro Amburgey dulcimer, ggG. Another anthem of the aforementioned war,
I learned this song from Holly Tannen, Mistress of Folklore, in the late 1960s, as is. I must admit to using her Feminist cover as justification for singing it but it is so far “over the top” in its imagery I don’t think many take it seriously. I haven’t heard anyone else sing this so don’t know her source. Interestingly, it gets the biggest response from school-age audiences, including college. The verses themselves seem to be floating, occurring in different songs by Fiddling John Carson, Uncle Dave Macon, and others. Curiously, the phrase “If I had a scolding wife,” appears in conversation, in a play by Mercy Otis Warren, “The Blockheads,” 1776. [Thanks to Google.]


7. The Ways of the World. Leonard Glenn banjer, 1973, fA#FA#C. This tune was learned from the Library of Congress recordings of Luther Strong, one of my favorite fiddlers. There is a high, third strain which I occasionally play but loses much in translation from the fiddle. I had long played this on the hammered dulcimer but now prefer the banjer version, but in order to play the syncopations in the ending phrases I have to hammer-on and pick-off quite a bit. This led me to work the whole tune out in a sort of left-hand pizzicato, which I play here the second and third times through the melody. I haven’t heard any traditional banjer players use this technique but it’s not unheard of with other long-neck lutes of the world. This is another of the fiddle tunes which seem to me to imply the title words in the rhythm of the melody, as in the last three notes of “Sol-dier’s Joy.” I imagine I can hear “(and be-ware) the Ways-of the-World.”


8. Cold Winter’s Night. (Curt Bouterse).  In the 1960s I heard (and taped) a selection of songs of California migrant workers, collected by Sam Eskin, that were played on KPFK in Los Angeles. One of them was called “Cold Winter’s Night.” It had various floating verses, a chorus, “So fare ye well, my own true love,” and I still sing it. But about twenty years ago I reworked the verses and set them to one of my favorite melodies from the Sacred Harp, “Tribulation,” which only had one verse, about Death. I used a technique of Almeda Riddle’s, of varying the last line of a verse when repeated. I really liked the idea, and since most of these verses already had varied forms, it seemed inevitable. The spoken last few words were inspired by Stu Jamieson, who reminded me of this Scotch-Irish tradition. There is another traditional version of this song, by Mrs. Goldie Hamilton, “Sweet Wine,” recorded by the Library of Congress in Virginia, in 1939, on New World 80549, “On My Journey Home.” 

9. Yankee Doodle. Self-made Wm. S. Mount banjer, 1983, eAEAB. Everyone knows this song, or at least the chorus. I’ve always been curious why it seemed frozen in time: it appears in the “Revolutionary War” section of folksong collections but I’ve never heard any traditional musician sing or play it. Perhaps it’s the unabashedly Patriotic, and slightly Literary, verses. I tried to reinvent it as it might have become if “Colonel Gooding” had become “Sally Goodin.” And the chorus seemed to need to end with its stronger half instead of the weaker. Yankee Doodle rides again!


10. Seneca Square Dance. Chinese ‘yang qin,’ 1957.  Around 1970 my friend, Bob Webb, owned a coffee house in Mission Beach, in San Diego, where a fellow named Tom Waits was the doorman. I didn’t hang around just for the waitresses, I played there regularly. I learned this tune from the Highwoods String Band and ten years later, when Ry Cooder asked me to play on the soundtrack of “The Long Riders,” this was the first tune he suggested.


11. I’m So Glad . Self-mad
e “horsehead” gourd banjer, 2004, dGDGA.  In the early 1960s, “The Sign of the Sun” Bookstore, near San Diego State College, used to have concerts of traditional musicians, including Son House, Bukka White, Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers, and Mance Lipscomb. I believe it was from Mance that I learned this song. Only recently have I begun to play it on the banjer.


12. Your Long Journey. (Doc and Rosalie Watson) Vocal harmony, with my sister, Lee Davis, singing melody. Another coffee house which flourished in the late 1960s and into the 1970s, was “In the Alley,” run by Rich Copeland in Escondido, just north of San Diego. My favorite time there was when I opened for Doc Watson for four days, two shows a night. I decided I was going to do all different songs, which meant 70 or 80 tunes, so I enlisted the aid of all my friends. In particular, my dear friend Carol McComb and I played guitar and autoharp on Carter Family songs, and this Doc and Rosalee Watson stunner, which we called, at the time, “Your Lone Journey.” Doc was very complimentary, but at the end said, “You know, it really is Your Long Journey.” Either way, it is a week I will never forget. In this version I return to my roots to sing with my sister.


13. Pretty Polly. Self-made cherry box banjer, 1984, dADGA.
Return with us now, to those thrilling days of yesteryear. From out of the past come the haunting sounds of Dock Boggs, Clarence Ashley, Hobart Smith, and Roscoe Holcomb. I have no idea how many versions I’ve heard of this song but I was particularly attracted to the strange contrast of the first-person opening verses and the rest of the third-person narrative.


14. Shortnin’ Bread. Self-made “hawk” gourd banjer, 2004, cCGC. Another song I’ve sung since childhood morphed (back) into a banjer tune. I shaped up a few more verses and produced more of a narrative. Playing this melody on a four-string (3+1) banjer creates syncopations, often on the chanterelle, that show up better with fewer pitches. The vocal refrain seemed redundant in this version.


15. Turkish Enemy. Self-made dulcimer, 1963, c#d#D#.
This version of the ancient ballad is from Stu Jamieson. The story plunges right into the action with no preliminaries. Stu always played it on fretless banjo with the striking double upward slides after “in the lowdown,” suggesting the line “lowland low” of other versions. He learned it from Jimmy Dalton of Big Stone Gap, Kentucky, the first man in his Army unit killed after they went into Normandy. The song itself, and its stinging anti-war sentiments, still has the power to move me, but our family’s personal history makes it even more powerful. My father’s first ship after he became a chaplain at the beginning of the war was the USS Astoria, a heavy cruiser, which was sunk in the Battle of Savo Island in 1942, the worst American naval defeat of the war. Three other cruisers, two American, one Australian, were destroyed in that same night off Guadalcanal, ending up on what became known as Iron Bottom Sound. If my father had been among the half of the crew which did not survive, my sister (born two months later) and I would have had a very different life. My father, though only slightly wounded, was never very far from that day for the rest of his life and I can’t sing this song very often.


16. Down the Road I’ll Go. (Curt Bouterse) Self-made “singer” gourd banjer, 2003, d#D#A#C#.
Uncle Dave Macon has always been one of my favorite performers and I like many of his songs, though most don’t fit my style. I’ve always been fond of the line, “I’ll rise when the rooster crows,” so I worked it into a banjer tune I came up with. The verses also came out being rather rooster-ish, though the title ended up more conventional.


17. Parting Friends. Vocal harmony, with my sister, Lee Davis, melody.
This fine old hymn is from the “Southern Harmony” by William Walker, first published in 1835. It is clearly related to, or perhaps the source of, “Wayfaring Stranger,” which was collected as a fragment by John Jacob Niles, in Kentucky. I also play the melody, along with “The Promised Land,” as a medley on the mountain dulcimer. I worked out this duet years ago so Lee and I could sing it by ourselves, though she sang it as a solo (then Lee Berg) on the classic “Mud Acres” recording. Here she takes the melody while I sing a reduction of the two other harmony parts. None of us had a dry eye when we sang this five years ago at our mother’s funeral.


18. Angelina Baker / Sally Goodin. Khaen, Thai 6-pipe pentatonic mouth organ. This is my tribute to the great Texas fiddler “Eck” Robertson (1887-1975), who made one of the first recordings of folk music back in 1922. His version of “Sally Goodin” is an all-time classic and my rejoinder when classical violinist friends condescended over “fiddlers.” One hearing shuts them up. His endless variations have been an inspiration for both my hammered dulcimer and banjer playing. They are without peer but, as Browning said, “Man’s reach should exceed his grasp.”
When I was stationed in Amarillo in the mid-1960s I used to go by Eck’s house and listen to him talk. Once I brought my little fretless banjer and he began to pick “Rovin’ Gambler.” He said the banjer was his first instrument but his brother wanted to play so he switched to fiddle. I learned “Angelina Baker” from a West coast band who used the Kenny Hall words: i.e., the title repeated four times. I am amused by that anarchic quality but have pulled up 2 traditional verses here. I play a small pentatonic mouth organ (G-A-c-d-e-g) which my friend, Noel Montrucchio, brought back for me from R&R in Thailand, in the 1960s. I have several other, larger versions, but this is the only one I can keep working. I often joke this instrument is from the southern mountains, just not Our southern mountains. And this is the sort of music we would play on it if we had the chance.

“Congratulations!” –Jean Ritchie

“Pure old-time music played for the joy of it.” –Holly Tannen, Mistress of Folklore

“Picking of a cleanness I’ll never be able to achieve, excellent singing, and superlative material choice.” –Big Jim Griffith, folklorist, Tucson, AZ

 

A review by San Diego’s own Folk Guru and Festival Founder, Lou Curtiss.

I’ve known Curtis Carlisle Bouterse since about 1963 when we revived an on-campus club at San Diego State together called the Campus Organized Folksingers and Folksong Society (the group had actually been founded the summer before by folksinger Michael Cooney, so he’d have an on-campus forum to have Sam Hinton perform in concert). The idea Curt and I had, together with some other folksingers on campus, was to provide information about folk happenings and to organize a few picking sessions. Our Thursday old time pick sessions at noon in the Rose Arbor behind Scripps Cottage (in its old location up the hill from where it is now) most always featured Curt with the many instruments he played (autoharp, hammered dulcimer, and old time banjos – I think he was playing a fretless banjo even then), along with so many others like Dennis Squier, Wayne and Warren Stromberg, Clarke Powell, Nicolette Axton (now Birkett), Corkey Woerner, Ray Bierl, and even yours truly with my Hohner Marine Band harmonica. It was always Curt, however, who led the way with ideas, new (old) songs, and things we should be listening to. When we heard about the 1963 UCLA Folk Festival it was Curt who thought a bunch of us should go, and we did (in 1964 and 1965 too). Talking about a San Diego Folk Festival led to the first one in 1967. Curt was emcee and performer at that one and he’s been a part of every other one along the way, including last year’s 33rd Annual Adams Avenue Roots Festival. Curt finally has a CD that includes material from at least a part of his old time music repertoire. It’s called Curt Bouterse Down the Road I’ll Go (Fretless Old Time Music) and it centers around the old time fretless banjo music and songs that Curt has been singing at folk and roots festivals, concerts, and coffee houses in the area for as long as I’ve known him. The CD is on Eagles Whistle Music, which is part of Dancing Cat Productions (P.O. Box 951, Drain,OR 97435). The fretless banjo or banjer, as Curt and the folks who invented it call it, was the first instrument I heard Curt play. He had built his own right around the time I met him. About that same time he had acquired a yang chin (Chinese hammered dulcimer) and a little later a Frank Proffit-built fretless banjo. Back then you could check out an autoharp from the property room at SDSU for the afternoon if you were a student (as I did in many a case), but it seems to me that Curt had an arsenal of autoharps even then, including one of the little four-bar Zimmerman from the 1800s. He also built an Appalachian dulcimer during those early years. It was an exciting time in the early and mid-1960s. Lots of old timers were being discovered and rediscovered and on any weekend you might see such folks as Mississippi John Hurt, Clarence Ashley, Rev. Gary Davis, Roscoe Holcomb, the Stanley Brothers, Elizabeth Cotton, Almeda Riddle, Son House, Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers, Hobart Smith, J.E. Mainers Mountaineers, the Blue Sky Boys, Frank Proffit, and Furry Lewis either in San Diego or in L.A.,along with revivalists like the New Lost City Ramblers to sort of set everything in perspective. That’s also what Curt Bouterse was all about (and still is). If you had a question about a traditional song, Curt could usually answer it. He probably doesn’t know this but when I started putting the folk festivals together, I knew I was going in the right direction when I had his approval (along with Sam Hinton, Stu Jamieson, my parents, and, later, Johnny Walker). Curt, for example, came back to San Diego after seeing Roscoe Holcomb,or maybe it was because he’d just seen The High Lonesome Sound, a film thatJohn Cohen put together (now available on video). He told us that this was someone worth hearing and that we ought to all go out and get the LP Mountain Music of Kentucky on the Folkways label, which about five or six of us did that I know about. That record and its CD reissue (with added tracks) is still in my collection. Curt never turned me on to a type of music that I was sorry about (I confess to only a passing interest in Gamelan) although I sure think any kind of ethnic music should be listened to, preserved, and known about. Now let’s move on to what’s on Curt’s CD, which features a number of instrumentals played on various kinds of banjers, hammered dulcimer, and at least one on the Khaen, a six-pipe pentatonic mouth organ from Thailand on which he plays ‘Angelina Baker’ and ‘Sally Goodin,’ naturally. There are some ballads and folk songs sung solo and in duet with his sister Lee, played on autoharp,Appalachian dulcimer, and various banjers, including ‘Turkish Enemy,’ Pretty Polly,’ ‘Your Long Journey,’ ‘Two Little Children,’ and others. This is a fine and long overdue CD from an artist who ought to be a lot better known in folk life circles. I hope he doesn’t wait too long for the next one. The CD also includes excellent notes about Curt and about the songs, but I could have told him he got ‘Temperance Reel’ from a hammered dulcimer player named Chet Parker off a Vanguard Newport Folk Festival LP (or maybe from a Chet Parker LP on Folkways, but I’d guess it was the former since I remember playing the Newport LP for Curt). At any rate, check out the fine cover photo by Virginia Curtiss (available at reasonable rates to do your CD cover photo) and most of all checkout the music. You won’t be sorry.

I have lost the source of this review over the past 15 years; I vaguely recall it was a Belgian folk music site. I couldn’t make this up. [There was also a review from the French magazine, Le Cri du Coyote, likewise lost. The internet is a strange world.]
Down the Road.
Curt Bouterse is een muzikant en instrumentenbouwer die uit de rijke traditie van zijn muzikale familie kan putten. Hij bespeelt op deze CD zelfgebouwde banjo’s, of “banjer” zoals hij ze noemt in een apparte tweevinger-stijl. De banjer is fretless en de voorloper van de latere banjo. Het zijn vooral traditionele nummers die aan bod komen met een sobere begeleiding maar Bouterse slaagt er toch in om voldoende afwisseling tussen de verschillende nummers te brengen, ook door het gebruik van de dulcimer en de autoharp. De grootste verrassing is echter dat op deze CD de “Seneca Square Dance” staat, een traditioneel nummer dat hier gekend is van de film “The Long Riders” met muziek van Ry Cooder. En wat blijkt: deze mijnheer Bouterse werkte mee aan de soundtrack van de film en bespeelde voor dit nummer een Chinese (!) hammerd dulcimer (in het nederlands: een hakkebord, een met snaren bespannen platte doos waarbij de snaren met hamertjes aangeslagen worden). 10 van de 18 nummers zijn traditionals met o.a. “Handsome Molly” en “Scoldin’ Wife” die aan Derroll Adams doen denken, “Pretty Polly” en een heel originele uitvoering van “Angelina Baker/Sally Goodin”. Voor de liefhebbers van old-time en folk is dit een geslaagde CD.
 
[My hybrid-Google translation.]
 
Curt Bouterse is a musician and instrument builder who can draw on the rich tradition of his musical family. On this CD he plays home-built banjos, or “banjer” as he calls them in a separate two-finger style. The banjer is fretless and the predecessor of the later banjo. They are mainly traditional songs that are dealt with with a sober accompaniment, but Bouterse still manages to bring enough variety between the different songs, also through the use of the dulcimer and the autoharp. The biggest surprise, however, is that this CD contains the “Seneca Square Dance”, a traditional song known here from the movie “The Long Riders” with music by Ry Cooder. And guess what: this Mr. Bouterse contributed to the soundtrack of the film and for this song played a Chinese (!) Hammered dulcimer (in Dutch: a dulcimer, a flat box strung with strings where the strings are struck with hammers). 10 of the 18 songs are traditionals including “Handsome Molly” and “Scoldin ‘Wife” reminiscent of Derroll Adams, “Pretty Polly” and a very original rendition of “Angelina Baker / Sally Goodin”. This is a successful CD for fans of old-time and folk.
 

Our second project was a work of the heart: recording with my best friend and musical partner since our coffee house days at The Heritage in the early 1970s. Bob Webb’s energy and technical ability was the perfect contrast to my somewhat introverted, even casual approach to traditional music. We supported and stimulated each other constantly; he was taken from us much too soon. Even the cover photo, taken by Virginia Curtiss, of us playing our twin gourd banjers, sitting in a doorway, reflects our personalities and is one of my all-time favorites. (I dedicated this album to Joanne, Cathy, and Mary…and Nancy.)

Curt & Bob at 'The Ash Grove,' 1972. Photo, Roger Karraker

CD No. 2, “Waiting for Nancy.” 2008

 

This long-awaited album brings together two friends who have played old-time music together for 40 years. Curt Bouterse and Bob Webb helped to perpetuate traditional American folk music on the U.S. west coast, beginning in the 1960s. Curt’s name is legendary, for introducing American fiddle tunes on the hammered dulcimer. He has inspired two generations to learn to play that instrument, and he was also an early exponent of both the Southern mountains fretless ‘banjer’ and the Carter-style autoharp. Bob has taken traditional Southern music, and the songs and shanties of deepwater sailors, to such diverse places as Poland and New Zealand. He is well-known in Europe and the U.S. as a baritone singer, who accompanies himself on the rare MacCann-duet concertina, five-string banjo and guitar. This wide-ranging CD features both artists together, and separately, playing their own accompaniments on a wide variety of instruments.

Two Halves of the Same Gourd.

Curt and I probably met in 1968, the year I began driving 100 miles south from my home in Los Angeles, California, to sing at The Heritage, a traditional folk music club in the Mission Beach district of San Diego. He was the only hammered dulcimer player anybody knew then.He had arranged American fiddle tunes on a Chinese version of that ancient instrument, and also played a graceful two-finger style on his fretless “banjer.” It took awhile to learn to pronounce his old Dutch name (Bau’-terz), but only a little longer to work out banjo parts for his dulcimer tunes, and guitar accompaniments to fit his melodic picking on the autoharp.

After 1972 our paths diverged, and we couldn’t get together so often. Curt formed a band to explore his new theories of Medieval music in Europe, and later traveled as far as Bali in search of traditional musical communities, before earning a doctorate in World Music. I went on tour as bassist with the songwriter-poet Tom Waits, and afterwards managed the True & Trembling String Band in Los Angeles, featuring the late Don McCarty, the second hammered dulcimer artist in California. In 1978 I left L.A., moving first to Canada and then to Massachusetts, where I developed the exhibition ‘Ring the Banjar!: The Banjo in America from Folklore to Factory’ for the MIT Museum. It helped to catalyze a revival of America’s “own” musical instrument.

In 2004, Curt cut a gourd in half and crafted two 18th-Century-style banjers from it. He gave one to me, and kept the other. Even though they’re not exactly alike, it’s clear that they spring from the same natural source. That same sort of bonding gives this album its life. It’s about two brothers, of different blood, joined by a dedication to music that originated a long time ago, in deep places.

Bob Webb, March, 2008

Notes for the album.

  1. Sweet Sunny South. (Charlie Poole, Norman Woodlief) Curt: Wm. S. Mount banjo, gCGCD. Bob: Fairbanks-VegaTu-ba-phone No. 9 banjo, gCGCD, capoed 7 frets. The legendary North Carolina banjo player Charlie Poole (1892-1931) recorded this song for Columbia Records. Curt and Bob learned it from the New Lost City Ramblers. The excitement in the arrangement is the result of the two banjo voices, low and high, played together.
  2. Otto Wood the Bandit. (Walter B. “Kid” Smith, 1931) Curt: Vocal harmony, modified Oscar Schmidt 12-bar autoharp. Bob: Vocal melody, Martin 000-28 guitar, standard tuning. Otto Wood came from Wilkes County, North Carolina. His troubles began in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1923, where he killed a pawnbroker who had sold a watch that he had come to redeem. The court ruled it a crime of passion and he was spared the death penalty. He escaped from prison four times and died on December 30, 1930, in a gunfight with the police chief of Salisbury, North Carolina. Walter Smith’s ballad was first recorded by his own string band, The Carolina Buddies, and later popularized by Doc Watson.
  3. Waiting for Nancy. (Curt Bouterse) Curt: Frank Proffitt black walnut fretless banjer, gCGCE, half-step lower. Bob: Frank Proffitt tiger maple fretless banjer, gCGCD, half-step lower. Several of Curt’s finest tunes for fretless banjo, including “Nixon’s Farewell,” have been popularized around the world by string bands and banjo pickers, but none is so often played and recorded as “Waiting for Nancy.” Curt composed this tune in Old Town, San Diego, while waiting for a friend who never showed up. So something fine came out of his disappointment.
  4. A Long Time Ago. Curt: Vocal harmony. Bob: Vocal melody, MacCann-duet concertina by Colin & Rosalie Dipper. In the 19th Century, “A Long Time Ago,” was a popular capstan shanty, a work-song intended to coordinate labor at the capstan, which heaved up the anchor of a sailing ship. Several text versions survive: the most common tells the story of a young sailor who finds himself thoroughly miserable on a voyage around Cape Horn. Another version is set in the American South. This version tells an amusing story about Noah and the animals who made the voyage aboard his ark. It comes from the singing of Bo’s’un Chenoweth, who sailed in the ship ‘Mount Stewart,’ and can be found in ‘Shanties from the Seven Seas: Shipboard Work-Songs and Songs Used as Work-Songs from the Great Days of Sail’ (London, 1966), by Stan Hugill. Another Noah text is published in William Main Doerflinger’s ‘Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman’ (New York, 1972). Bob learned it from Stan Hugill, a long time and a very long time ago.
  5. Seneca Square Dance. Curt: Hammered dulcimer. Bob: Fairbanks-Vega Tu-ba-phone No.9 banjo, fCFAC, capoed 7 frets. Curt learned this old dance tune around 1970 when The Highwoods String Band performed it at The Heritage. Bob began playing it in 1973 with his group, the True & Trembling String Band. It’s one of those old-time fiddle pieces once know as “Indian” tunes, so nominated by nothing more than the inclusion of a minor chord in the accompaniment.
  6. Ticklish Reuben. (Cal Stewart, 1899) Curt: Vocal, Schmidt modified 12-bar autoharp. Bob: Gibson L-3 guitar, standard tuning. Cal Stewart (1856-1919) was an inveterate composer of “laughing songs” and other novelty pieces, which he performed in his country-comic role as “Uncle Josh Weathersby.” His successes included “And Then I Laughed,” “I Laughed at the Wrong Time,” and of course, “Ticklish Reuben.” The banjoists Uncle Dave Macon and Wade Mainer later recorded versions of this song. Curt’s paternal grandfather, Matthew John Bouterse sang it, accompanied on his old jumbo Gibson guitar. Curt says, “He was quite a laugher. It was one of the few non-religious songs I ever remember him playing.”
  7. The Bear’s Leaving Town. (Curt Bouterse) Curt: Homer Ledford fretless banjer, gCGCD, one-half step down. Bob: Bouterse William S. Mount fretless banjo, gCGCD, one-half step down. Curt dedicated this song to Bob in his chapbook, ‘Nixon’s Farewell & Ten Other Newly Made Old Time Banjer Tunes in Traditional Style.’ Thirty-some years ago, Bob was once called “Bear,” having something to do with his physique, and also some gently perceived relationship with Winnie-Ther-Pooh.
  8. Bachelor’s Hall. Curt: Vocal, khaen. The British maritime composer Charles Dibdin (1745-1814) used the title and theme before 1800, but the actual beginnings of this particular tune are unclear. Curt learned it from Mike Seeger, then substituted the khaen, a Thai bamboo mouth-organ for Mike’s country fiddle playing.
  9. Gypsum Davey. Curt: Jethro Amburgey dulcimer, Bbb. Bob: Vocal, African style bonja by Curt Bouterse, dDGB. Forty years ago, Bob gathered 127 published versions of the old ballad, “Johnny Faa,” “Gypsey Davy,” or “Black Jack David,” for Bess Lomax Hawes’s ethnomusicology class at California State University, Northridge. But this version came recently from Jeff Warner, whose parents, Frank and Anne Warner, compiled one of the most important collections of American folk song.
  10. Boney on the Isle of St. Helena. Curt: Vocal harmony. Bob: Vocal melody. Bob was inspired to sing this song after hearins Frank and Anne Walker’s field recording of Chares K. “Tink” Tillett, recorded on the Puter Banks of North Carolina in 1940.It is published in Anne Warner’s ‘Traditional American Folksongs from the Anne and Frank Warner Collection’ (Syracuse, 1984). Curt crafted the harmony from the widely-disseminated fiddle tune “Bonaparte’s Retreat.” He says, “The two melodies are clearly related. The opening of each harmonized beautifully, and the rest was easy.”
  11. Fair and Tender Ladies. Bob: Vocal, Louden S-25 guitar, standard tuning. Redrafted for the commercial folksong revival from a Maybelle Carter recording, “Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies,” was popularized in the early 1960s by the Kingston Trio. Bob has been striving to master its complex melody and poetic lyrics ever since. It’s surely an ancient mountain love song, and remains a beauty for the ages.
  12.  Mississippi Sawyers. Curt: Hammered dulcimer. Bob: Fairbanks-Vega Tu-ba-phone No. 9 banjo, fCFAC, capoed up two frets. No one seems to know how this famous dance tune got its name, but Curt suspects it comes from the dangerous, dynamic snags called “sawyers” that create a serious hazard to navigation on the Mississippi River. “The characteristic rocking-thirds motif of the melody,” he notes, “seem to mimic the movement of the sawyers in the water.”
  13. Hopalong Peter. Curt: Vocal, jaw harp. A recording by a band known as Fisher Hendley and His Aristocratic Pigs is the source of this now-common old-timey tune. Curt and Bob first heard it as recorded by the New Lost City Ramblers, but Jerry GArcia of the Grateful Dead sang it, too. Curt’s version makes a fine children’s song, or even a lullaby.
  14. Texas Rangers. Curt: Hammered dulcimer. Bob: Vocal. Bob first heard this ballad sung by Ian and Sylvia in 1964, but it was included in seminal collections of cowboy songs dating to the turn of the 20th Century. Bob calls it a lament for both sides of the Indian Wars: for the First Peoples, who gradually lost their freedoms to invasive progress, and also for the Rangers, who paid with their lives to pry open the American West to settlement. European hammered dulcimers were ocasionally encountered in settlers’ cabins on the prairie, so Curt’s playing adds a sadly appropriate punctuation to what is ordinarily an unaccompanied ballad.
  15. I Only Want a Buddy (Not a Sweetheart). Edward H. Jones, 1932. Curt” Vocal melody Schmidt modified 12-bar autoharp. Bob: Vocal harmony, Martin 000-28 guitar, standard tuning. Edward Jones song was recorded by several rural stringbands in the 1930s, and by the southern singer Bradley Kinkaid, from whom Curt learned it. Bing Crosby also recorded it, in 1936, making it an early crossover that was popular among both rural and urban audiences.
  16. Nine Hundred Miles. Curt: “singer” 4-string gourd banjer by Curt Bouterse, fFAC. Bob: African style 4-string bonja by Curt Bouterse, cCFA. This tune is made by two gourds singing head-to-head. The melody is less like “Nine Hundred Miles” and more like a related song, “Reuben’s Train.” Bob explains, “We recorded it face-to-face, with the banjos almost touching. We were sitting in a doorway, playing between two rooms just like musicians in slave quarters once played for dances.” Curt adds: “We sat facing each other and played this tune on small 4-stringed gourd banjers for almost 20 minutes, and didn’t want to stop. We knew we were on to something good.”

Waiting for Nancy:
Old-Time Country Duets.
Curt Bouterse and Bob Webb

  Curt Bouterse and Bob Webb met in 1968. Both started out as musicians in the West Coast folk revival, but their diverse musical interests, and Bob’s eventual move East, resulted in their musical partnership being only a sometime thing. “Diverse” is almost too pale a word for the paths each has taken. Curt formed a medieval music ensemble, traveled to Bali to explore musical traditions there, and got a doctorate in world music. Bob went on the road as Tom Waits’ bassist, managed a string band in Los Angeles, and after moving to Massachusetts developed a seminal banjo exhibition for the MIT Museum.
  The most interesting of the instrumentals are the banjo duets. “Waiting for Nancy” and “Bear’s Leaving Town” (both written by Curt in 1978) are exciting listening. Two banjos back up Curt’s rendition of “Sweet Sunny South,” a perfect setting for Charlie Poole’s wistful song. The last track, a “Reuben’s Train”-esque version of “Nine Hundred Miles,” features both Curt and Bob singing, both playing Curt’s gourd banjos. This would be a really stunning finish to the album if it wasn’t a whopping seven and a half minutes long. The singing doesn’t start until five minutes or so into the track. There’s a saying I’ve seen on hats and T-shirts: “Old-Time Music – better than it sounds.” I believe this track to be a perfect example of that phenomenon. It must have been fun to play; Curt mentions in the liner notes that they played the tune for 20 minutes, probably inducing the tune trance that’s such a great feature of playing old-time tunes. Sometimes it doesn’t translate to listening, though.
  The more familiar tunes “Seneca Square Dance” and “Mississippi Sawyers” are played as banjo/hammered dulcimer duets. These are less successful. The instruments are playing in the same pitch range for the most part and the dulcimer‘s sustain gives a muddy feeling to the mix, covering the banjo’s quicker attack and decay.
  Some songs on this CD will be familiar to listeners. Others are less well known, of greater antiquity, with interesting arrangements. I found a couple of things distracting, though. Most of the vocals are way in front of the instruments, giving an auditory picture of voices a few inches away from your ears while the instruments are several feet away. The vocal harmonies, though precisely worked out in terms of pitch, don’t always match the phrasing of the lead vocals.
  Special mention needs to be made of “Texas Rangers.: I remember listening to the New Lost City Ramblers’ version; the liner notes also cite Ian and Sylvia as a source. I have seldom had such vivid pictures in my mind from hearing a song as I had from listening to Bob and Curt’s arrangement, Curt freely echoing Bob’s meditative vocal phrases on the hammered dulcimer. This form of emotional punctuation is common in Indian classical and ghazal singing, which translates to this song with an eerie effectiveness.
  Among the less-well-known songs are “A Long Time Ago,” a humorous capstan shanty with concertina accompaniment, “Ticklish Reuben,” an early-twentieth-century novelty “laughing” song, and “I Only Want a Buddy (Not a Sweetheart),” widely popular in the 1930s, recorded by Bradley Kincaid and Bing Crosby, among others.
  The liner notes are a delight. Scholarly background information, instrument details, and general musings are imparted with a light touch and a solid sense of humor.

  Hilary Dirlam

Old-Time Herald, October-November 2008

Review by Dan Levenson, Banjo Newsletter, April, 2009.

Well, it has finally happened. The famed, though not very visible, composer of that festival favorite tune, Waiting for Nancy, has recorded the tune himself for one and all. You may remember that Curt’s last CD intentionally did not include that tune.

For those that may not remember that, here is an excerpt from the October 2006 Old Time Way, where we asked: “Why not put Waiting for Nancy or Nixon’s Farewell on this recording? After all, you are the author, and wouldn’t it be nice to have your current interpretation of your “children”?

Curt replied: “I thought long and hard about this. Mainly, because George Winston had indicated he didn’t want this to be a one-shot deal, I knew I would have chances to do more. I could, and will, put them on forthcoming issues. Also, there are so many people who have already recorded versions of them, I didn’t want to have people say, ‘Oh no, not another Waiting for Nancy.’ Besides, I like the fact that players are modifying and developing the tunes—that’s the folk process. If I come out with an “authoritative” version, that might be inhibiting.”

Well, I can only assume he felt it was time to document how he currently plays the tune. I was curious to hear how the originator “saw” this one, and was quite pleased with his “version”. It is wonderfully played as a fretless banjo duet on two Frank Proffitt fretless banjers. Curt plays a black walnut one and Bob, a tiger maple one, both tuned gCGCD. There are a couple of differences in how “the composer” plays it, but nothing to “inhibit” anyone’s self expression. We provide the original page from Curt’s book “Nixon’s Farewell & Ten Other Newly Made Old Time Banjer Tunes in Traditional Style,” so you can see how it looked in Curt’s own hands once upon a time.

Curt and Bob are both quite accomplished multi-instrumentalists and this CD does a very nice job of showing off their various talents. It starts of with a wonderful version of Sweet Sunny South, which they attribute to Charlie Poole and Norman Woodlieff but say that they learned from the New Lost City Ramblers. Curt sings and plays one of his fretless banjos while partner Bob plays a Fairbanks-Vega Tu-ba-phone No. 9. Quite a cool sound and very nice vocals.

Following this comes a soulful version of Otto Wood the Bandit. I always have enjoyed this tune—I probably first heard it performed by Norman and Nancy Blake. The next tunes continues with some great concertina playing and singing on A Long Time Ago, a wonderful version of Seneca Square Dance with banjo and hammered dulcimer and more.

There is a lot of good old-time banjo (or “banjer” as Curt would say) on this CD, and some unusual things too, as with the “khaen” playing (a Thai bamboo mouth-organ) on Bachelor’s Hall; a lap dulcimer tuned B-b-b and an African style 4-string bonja in a beautiful rendition of Gypsum Davey (aka Gypsy Davy); acappella vocal tunes; guitar, jaw harp and more. Just listen to old-time jam favorite Mississippi Sawyers, where Curt likens the melodic progression of the tune to what “seems to mimic the movement of the sawyers in the water.”

This CD entertains all the way through and closes out with a duet between a 4-string gourd banjo and an African-style 4-string bonja playing Nine Hundred Miles, which most folks also recognize as Reuben’s Train. Perhaps Bob’s notes for this one say it best about all great jams, but particularly this recording: “We recorded it face-to-face, with the banjos almost touching. We were sitting in a doorway between two rooms just like musicians in slave quarters once played for dances. …we didn’t want to stop. We knew we were on to something good.”

And they were. You can hear for yourself by getting this CD. Additional tunes: Ticklish Reuben; The Bear’s Leaving Town; Boney on the Isle of St. Helena; Fair and Tender Ladies; Hop-along Peter; Texas Rangers; I Only Want a Buddy.

Instrumentation: many variations of banjos and banjars (fretted and fretless), vocals, autoharp, hammer dulcimer, concertina jaw harp and guitar.

 

CD No. 3, “Banjer On My Knee.” 2010

This album is dedicated to my two traditional music fathers and gurus, now both departed, Robert Stuart “Stu” Jamieson (1922-2009) and Sam Duffie Hinton (1917-2009). Even more than my previous recordings, this is a tribute to the folk process and my small part in it. In the world of traditional music, it’s not just a poetic truth that ‘no man is an island.’ The creation, shaping, and ultimate acceptance of any tune is the effort of families, villages, and nations of listeners and performers. This is a collection of favorite songs transmitted and inspired by some of the wonderful people I have met over the past half century. Many of them were learned in the oral tradition from these great singers and players while others were created ‘under the influence.’ In all cases, I owe a great debt to those who have gone before me and hope my efforts help keep both their memories and the traditions of these songs alive. Once again, I am joined by my favorite singing partner, my sister, L. Lee Davis. I am proud to be able to work with my old friend of some 40 years, Ray Bierl, a fantastic fiddler, as well as Larry Hanks, an excellent musician, all-around nice guy, and best traditional bass voice in the nation. Once again I am joined by my sister and favorite singing partner, L. Lee Davis. I am also proud to be able to work with my old friend, Ray Bierl, who has become a fantastic fiddler since I first knew him some 50 years ago, along with the fine guitarist, all-around nice guy, and best traditional bass voice in the nation, Larry Hanks. There is, perhaps, a greater variety of music in this selection: sad and joyful, private and public, religious and secular, quiet as well as boisterous. Not everyone will be equally attracted to every piece but these are all songs and melodies which move me in the many moods and facets of my life. For that I make no apologies.album is dedicated to my two traditional music fathers and gurus, now both departed, Stu Jamieson and Sam Hinton. Even more than my first two efforts, it is a tribute to the folk process and my small part in it. In the world of traditional music it is not just a poetic truth that “no man is an island.” The creation, shaping, and ultimate acceptance of any tune is the responsibility of families, villages, and nations of listeners and performers. This is a collection of favorite songs transmitted and inspired by some of the wonderful people I have met over the past half century. Many of them were learned in oral fashion from these great singers and players while others were created “under the influence.” In all cases I owe a great debt to them and hope my efforts help keep both their memories and the traditions of these songs alive. 

 Once again I am joined by my sister and favorite singing partner, L. Lee Davis. I am also proud to be able to work with my old friend, Ray Bierl, who has become a fantastic fiddler since I first knew him some 50 years ago, along with the fine guitarist, all-around nice guy, and best traditional bass voice in the nation, Larry Hanks.
  There is, perhaps, a greater variety of music in this selection: sad and joyful, private and public, religious and secular, quiet as well as boisterous. Not everyone will be equally attracted to every piece but these are all songs and melodies which move me in the many moods and facets of my life. For that I make no apologies.

Notes on the album.

1. Gold Watch and Chain Waltz. [Trad. arr., CCB] 2:55. CB, voice and autoharp; Lee, voice; Ray, fiddle; Larry, voice and guitar. Even after singing it for 50 years this Carter Family classic doesn’t pale but, recently, treating it as a waltz, it has taken on an entirely new character. I gave a gold watch and chain to my first love; we are still good friends.

2. Rocky Hill. [Trad.] 3:00. William Sidney Mount banjer, spoons. Another great tune learned from my mentor, Stu Jamieson. I don’t know anyone else who plays it. The phrase, “got my rations on my back, musket on my shoulder,” is derived from an oral formula common in the 18th and 19th century. (Just Google “musket on my shoulder.”) Stu was also influenced by Uncle Dave Macon and often played in his style. I include an Uncle Dave intro as a tribute to him. Impromptu percussion accompaniment is a tradition which is ancient and widespread but underrecorded.

3. Jennie Jenkins. [Trad.] 3:25. Jethro Amburgey Kentucky dulcimer, tuned 1-1-5; Curt and Lee, voices. I learned this from a recording of Estil and Orna Ball back in the 1960s and Lee is the perfect vehicle for this old-time flirting song.

4. Early in the Morning. [Trad.] :55. hammered dulcimer. This was the first hammered dulcimer tune I ever remember hearing. I taped it from the radio, as I recall, by “an anonymous player from West Virginia” recorded by the Library of Congress. Its characteristic “crooked” tune is typical of an old style of solo performers, fiddlers and others, when they were not playing for dancing but just for themselves. The meter is 5, 5, 7, 4+2, 4, 4. As I recall it was titled “Drunken Sailor” but I always thought it more closely resembled “Going to Boston.” When I realized they both used the last line, “early in the morning,” I supposed they might have interacted around this shared phrase and chose it for my title.

5. Life’s Railway to Heaven. [ca. 1900. See the info at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Davis_Tillman] 4:45. CB, Lee, Ray (voice & lead guitar), Larry (voice & rhythm guitar). My sister and I have been singing this song since we were in grade school, from an old hymnal which had it, “respectfully dedicated to all railroad men.”

6. Froggy Went a-Courtin’. [Trad., arr., CCB] 4:10. This is dedicated to my mother. She used to sing it around the house when I was very young and I always enjoyed the asymmetrical phrasing. Unfortunately, I never paid much attention to the verses past the beginning few – or maybe she didn’t sing very many. Anyway, I have gathered some favorites I know she would have enjoyed. I know I do.

7. Hey, Ben! [CCB] 3:10. CB, voice and Wm. S. Mt. banjer, open C tuning; Ray, fiddle, GDAE. I wrote this song when my old friends, Lou and Virginia Curtiss had their son, Ben, back in 1976. I imagined him growing up in the midst of Old-Time parties and becoming a musician. He turned out to be a Byzantine scholar and we all couldn’t be prouder.

8. Hills of Mexico. [Trad., arr. CCB] 3:45. Notched gourd banjer. This was inspired by Roscoe Holcomb’s version from his old album with Wade Ward. Unfortunately, only some of the words were intelligible but I was enchanted by the possibilities of the story, a version of “The Buffalo Skinners,” with unique touches like the “Mexican cowboy.” In particular I was haunted by the line, “the bells they did ring and the whistles they did blow,” so I had to compile a more complete account.

9. Good Old Chicken Pie. [?Perhaps “Bake That Chicken Pie,” variously attributed to Collins and Harlan (ca. 1907), Frank Dumont (1906), and J E Ditson Co., 1886.] 2:10. autoharp; Ray Bierl, fiddle; Larry Hanks, guitar. I asked Ray to provide some “chicken music” on the fiddle: he succeeded beyond my expectations. This was one of my paternal grandfather’s favorite songs he used to accompany on the old Jumbo Gibson he bought in the late 1920s. He was a complex and difficult man in many ways but when he sang this song (and “Ticklish Reuben”) he became the jovial, entertaining raconteur we all admired and loved.

10. Oh Death. [Trad.] 3:50. Kubing (Philippine bamboo Jew’s harp), voice. Doc Boggs has been one of my favorite players since I first heard his recordings in the early 1960s. This is perhaps his most dramatic and moving song.

11. Gold Rush Medley: Camptown Races/Oh, Susanna/Buffalo Gals. [Trad.] 5:30. Gourd bonja, tuned (8)-1-5-5; Kentucky dulcimer (made by CCB), tuned 1-1-8, fife and drum. I was delighted to find that there are many traditional tunes that can be played on two strings tuned a fifth apart. In this case these three melodies are so closely related I have to concentrate not to accidentally change from one to the other in mid-song. I added more percussion on these pieces, including the fife and drum, which tradition was probably more widespread in the 19th century than it is now. I will be disappointed if you, or your children, aren’t dancing by the end of these familiar tunes.

12. Little Birdie/Glory in the Meeting House. [Trad.] 5:52. Notched gourd banjer. I learned this song from Rossie Holcomb and it was Joanne and Lisa’s favorite. Glory was one of the wonderful, haunting tunes by the great Kentucky fiddler, Luther Strong. For this tune alone I could say, paraphrasing King Agrippa, “Almost thou persuadest me to become a fiddler.”

13. Brother Green. [Trad. Richard Dorson has a woman from Illinois relating it was composed by Rev. L J Simpson, an Army Chaplain, on the death of a brother, killed at Fort Donelson, Tennessee, in February, 1862. I spent my Junior High School days in Clarksville, 30 miles from there, and visited the beautiful, somber site.] 5:10. Ky. dulcimer (made by my Mother, Virginia Lee Hargis Bouterse, in Hindman, Ky., 1982.), tuned 1-1-8. Stu Jamieson learned this from Margot Mayo’s family in Kentucky. Most version have the dying soldier from the Union side. The “brother” refers to male nurses, usually from conscientious objector backgrounds, like the Shakers and Quakers (and Walt Whitman), who offered palliative care to those who were seldom saved by the primitive medical establishment.

14. Felicita. [CCB] 2:28. Fairbanks & Cole fretless banjo, “sawmill” tuning; and Ray Bierl, fiddle, ADAE. Another of my tunes, composed in the 1970s, dedicated to a wonderful woman and the times we spent in Felicita Park in Escondido, just north of San Diego. This is one of Ray’s favorites.

15. Yonder’s Gallows Tree. [Trad., arr. CCB] 4:05. I learned this from my favorite Traditional American musician, Frank Proffitt. I had never been fond of the “Hangman” stories but Frank’s version was not only the most beautiful and simple but resolved a couple of issues for me. In most examples there is no indication of the crime, but here she has “stole a silvery cup” and seems to accept her fate. His gentle rendition also somehow shed a new light on the most vexing issue: her family’s seeming indifference and even voyeurism about the hanging. We didn’t bring a ransom, we just came to watch, always offended me. But Frank’s matter-of-fact singing suggested (at least to me) that, though the family may be poor and powerless, we can at least be with you in your final hours. And public hangings were communal events, with a host of social implications, until fairly recently. So, I decided this was, at last, a version I could sing. But there was one last hurdle: I had always been left unfulfilled by the truncated nature of the mini-ballad. It seemed like a gimmick: no money, no money, no money, Money. The end. So I exercised my oral transmission rights and composed some finishing verses.

16. Ducks on the Pond. [Trad.] 4:00. I learned this tune from Larry Hanks back in the 1970s while working on a movie soundtrack with him, Holly Tannen, and a host of high powered musicians, including Byron Berline. While the big band members were inside recording, he and I were sitting on the street in the middle of the San Fernando Valley, at 2 am, with only his mandolin for company. Among the tunes he played, this one mesmerized me. Even though I didn’t play the instrument, I learned to pick the melody on it and determined to remember it. When I got home to San Diego, I pulled my “tater bug” Washburn out of the closet and relearned it, transferring it to the hammered dulcimer. For 30 years it has been one of my favorite tunes to play. A couple of years ago Larry was at the (San Diego) Adams Avenue Roots Festival on a workshop with me and I played it, crediting him. His response: “I didn’t know I knew that tune.”

17. Lone Prairie. [Trad., arr. CCB] 2:40. CB, Ray, Larry. The shape note hymn, “Devotion,” from the Southern Harmony is in the same tune family as “Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie,” “The Young Man Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn,” and “The Leatherwinged Bat.” The harmony parts are from the hymn.

18. Promised Land. [Trad.] 5:30. Jethro Amburgey Kentucky dulcimer, tuned 1-1-8. This is a song from my childhood but the minor tune is from the Southern Harmony shape note hymnal. I also have worked in another, similar, hymn from the same source, “Parting Friends.” All my Kentucky dulcimer playing is indebted to Jean Ritchie, who was a charming friend to both my parents and me.

This review appeared in Sing Out! vol. 54, No. 3

“Bouterse was born into a Kentucky musical family. He grew up as part of a Navy family and lived all over the US. While in high school he began to play the hammered dulcimer, and in 1961 he met his mentors Sam Hinton and Stu Jamieson. Since then he has had a long and varied musical “career” alongside his day job as an anthropologist, historian and musicologist. Probably his most ‘high profile’ musical credit was his involvement with Ry Cooder on the classic movie soundtrack for ‘The Long Riders 
Curt’s new recording ‘Banjer On My Knee!’ features him performing on a variety of instruments including both mountain and hammered dulcimer, banjo, autoharp, fife, drum and the kubing, a Philippine Bamboo jaws harp. The CD is dedicated to his two mentors and is chock full of wondrous American traditional music.
The recording opens with ‘Gold Watch and Chain’ from the Carter Family. Curt has rearranged it as a waltz and the song takes on a wholly different character. He is joined by L. Lee Davis on vocals, Ray Bierl on fiddle and Larry Hanks on guitar and vocals. ‘Rocky Hill’ follows from the playing of Stu Jamieson. Curt accompanies his vocal on a banjo tuned to low A tuning. It’s an especially rich sound with lots of slides. The popular ‘Jennie Jenkins’ is up next, from the playing of E.C. and Orna Ball. The call and answer vocals with L. Lee and the mountain dulcimer accompaniment are especially lovely. Curt comments that ‘Early in the Morning’ was the first tune he heard on the hammered dulcimer. It was played by an unknown West Virginia musician and collected by the Library of Congress.
This is just a taste of the eighteen tracks of wonderful American traditional music to be found on ‘Banjer On My Knee!’ Don’t pass this one by.”

Tom Druckenmiller

Somehow this was reviewed by the German country music site, www.countryhome.de .

“‘Gold Watch and Chain Waltz’ ist einer jener Songs, die mir aus dem Herzen sprechen. Für mich gemacht. Sentimental bis zum geht nicht mehr, ehrlich, verletzt, direkt. Manche Musiker verstehen es, den ganzen Weltschmerz in ein Stück zu legen. Wie Curt Bouterse mittels Dulcimer, Autoharp, Löffeln, Schlagzeug, Banjos und noch viel primitiveren Instrumenten bzw. Perkussionsmitteln.
Erstaunlicherweise kommt diese Old-Time CD aus Kalifornien. Ich hätte gewettet, sie kommt aus den Appalachen, so ursprünglich klingt sie (Anspieltipp: “Oh, Death”). Gesanglich bewegt sich der Tonträger im Mittelfeld. Dabei muss man aber die gewählten Stücke in Betracht ziehen, die allemal sehr viel vom Sänger verlangen. Einen Höhepunkt macht Patsy’s “Life’s Railway to Heaven” (ich kenne das Stück nun mal vor allem von ihr). Wunderschön und sehr, sehr religiös (für mich ist DAS Religion nicht das Tragen von Hemden mit Kreuzen und dem zeigen darauf, wenn man fotografiert wird. Für mich muss man den Glauben leben).
Hier scheint alles ehrlich und aufrichtig zu sein. Und gleichsam wichtig. Eine angenehme Arbeit, vor der man sich verbeugen muss.

My Translation (compilation of not-very-sensical translations). I welcome corrections.

“‘Gold Watch and Chain Waltz’ is one of those songs that speaks to me from the heart. Made for me. It doesn’t get any more sentimental: honest, vulnerable, direct. Some musicians know how to put the pain of the world into one piece. Like Curt Bouterse with dulcimer, autoharp, spoons, drums, and many more primitive instruments and percussion. Surprisingly, this Old-Time CD comes from California. I would have bet it was from the Appalachian Mountains, it sounds so natural/original/primordial (e.g., ‘Oh Death’). Vocally, it moves in the middle ranges.[?] However, here one must take into consideration the selected pieces, which always require a lot from singers.  A high point is Patsy’s [Cline?] ‘Life’s Railway to Heaven’ (I know the piece above all from her). Beautiful and very, very religious (for me [true] religion isn’t wearing shirts with crosses and pointing to it, if you are photographed; for me, one must live the faith). Here everything seems to be honest and sincere. And, as it were, important. A pleasant work, before which one must bow.” [That must be an idiom which escapes me.]

“Hard work and honesty created folk music. The right tune could ease a hard day, bring a smile to a tired face, and liven up a quiet night at the pub. So today’s recordings suffer from enshrinement. Sanitized and held on high, the tunes lose what made them so special to the people who sang them.

I didn’t understand this until my junior summer when I took on a personal care attendant job. For five, twenty-three hour shifts, six days a week I lived with a couple who had been married twice as long as I had been alive. She had taught him in high school back in the day when area families hosted small town teachers. While I did the dishes after dinner, she would sit in the kitchen and sing me the songs he had sang her while they were courtin’.

In a voice as old and worn as the Appalachian Mountains surrounding our town, she sang songs of love and joy, waiting and sorrow. For the first time, I heard the soul that lives in traditional folk music.

Curt Bouterse’s Banjer On My Knee: Traditional American Old-Time Tunes And Songs captures the spirit that invaded the kitchen during those summer nights. The tight line up includes: Bouterse on dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, autoharp, spoons, kubing, fife, drum, and bango; Ray Bierl on fiddle and guitar; Larry Hanks on guitar; and L. Lee Davis joins everybody on vocals.

From the earnest Gold Watch and Chain Waltz to the haunting, a cappella version of Lone Prairie, Bouterse’s arrangements highlight the heart of each song. The effect is a walk through American folk history. The album is an instructive for the newcomer, but also a welcome addition to the connoisseur’s collection.

The couple I worked for have long since passed on and it’s been years since I thought of them. But when I heard Bouterse begin Froggy-Went a-Courtin’ as I was washing dishes, I smiled. Their old kitchen, lost down time’s river, had come right back. She’d always blush when he joined in “with a sword and a pistol by his side” as he rode up to Miss Mousie’s door. There was honesty in the way her cheeks turned pink. And like that old tune, it came in a story that could only be told with a song.”

By Peter Massey, on March 31st, 2011, Green Man Review

CD No. 4, “Wooden Nickel.” 2014

 Notes on the album.

1. Boatman Dance. Traditional. 4:07. Curt Bouterse: Vocal, William Sidney Mount banjer in eAEaa, hand claps, jaw harp. I’ve known this tune since my childhood. I may first have learned it from Aaron Copland’s “Old American Songs” arrangement.

2. Bangum and the Boar. Traditional. 4:20. Curt Bouterse: Vocal, Jean Ritchie dulcimer in aaD. I learned this in the 1960s from a recording of someone who played it on the dulcimer, but I never performed it until recently. Burl Ives sang a version of this song with a similar melody. The dulcimer that I play on this track was a gift from Sam Hinton.

3. Wooden Nickel. Curt Bouterse. 2:34. Curt Bouterse: Vocal, William Sidney Mount banjer in gDGcd, Ray Bierl: Fiddle in GDAE. I’ve played this tune of mine for over thirty years and just recently taught it to Ray Bierl. Now you can learn it.

4. Wild Bill Jones. Traditional. 2:38. Curt Bouterse: Vocal, George Washington gourd banjer in dDAd. I’ve been rearranging many of the tunes I used to play on my old fretless banjers for my small, 4-string gourdies. The limited octave range of the smaller instrument seems to increase the intensity of this murder ballad.

5. Never Grow Old. James C. Moore. 3:14. Curt Bouterse: Vocal, Amburgey dulcimer (built by Curt’s Mother, Virginia Lee) in aaA, 1890’s Zimmermann Dolgeville 5-bar autoharp (with original strings), Lee Bouterse Davis: Vocal. This is one of the many great songs I learned from the underappreciated 1930s gospel singer Alfred G Karnes. Lee and I channel our paternal grandparents who had a gospel radio program in Orlando in the 1930s. My grandfather would have played his old jumbo Gibson. (We were probably fated to sing this song: Moore was an African-American hymn writer whose middle name was the same as the town where my mother and sister were born. The song is dated the month before my birth, on the same day, in a year that is an anagram of mine. Coincidence? Hah!)

6. Foreign Lander. Traditional. 2:37. Curt Bouterse: Vocal I learned this sing from Martha Hall on the old Folkways Records Mountain Music of Kentucky album (1960). I sang it as a fragment for years until recently finding more verses I liked.

7. John Hardy. Traditional. 4:01. Curt Bouterse: Vocal, gourd bonja in dDAA. I knew pieces of versions of this song that didn’t speak to me — until I was inspired by a fragment Stu Jamieson sang to me just before he died, which sounded more like a Child Ballad. I hope my arrangement does it justice.

8. Jenny’s Blues. Curt Bouterse. 2:46. Curt Bouterse: Vocal, Fairbanks & Cole banjo (#2854) in gDGcd, Ray Bierl: Fiddle in GDAE. Dedicated to a dear friend and her daughter, eternally young.

9. Blue-Eyed Gal In Sunny Tennessee. Curt Bouterse. 2:43. Curt Bouterse: Vocal, George Washington gourd banjer in bBEA. The melody came from the tuning and the song appeared in about fifteen minutes. I couldn’t find a way to shorten the title.

10. Goin’ to Boston. Traditional. 3:17. Curt Bouterse: Vocal, Jethro Amburgey dulcimer (built by Curt’s Mother, Virginia Lee) in aaA, Lee Bouterse Davis: Vocal. Another great song I learned from Jean Ritchie. Note the similarity of the melody to ‘Early in the Morning’ (on my Banjer On My Knee! CD) as well as ‘Drunken Sailor.’

11. Rainbow in the Willow. Traditional. 2:37. Curt Bouterse: Vocal. I learned this one from the singing of Almeda Riddle in 1963. A version of ‘Locks and Bolts,’ the vivid imagery makes it one of my favorite songs.

12. Roving Gambler. Traditional. 3:16. Curt Bouterse: Vocal, Leonard Glenn banjer in dGDga. I always liked this song but had considered it a guitar tune until recently. It was also the tune that Eck Robertson picked on my fretless banjer when I first met him in Amarillo in 1965 when I was working for my Uncle Sam. Eck told me he’d played it in his youth, before he learned to play the fiddle.

13. Bonaparte’s Retreat to the Isle of Saint Helena. Traditional. 5:49. Curt Bouterse: Jethro Amburgey dulcimers in aaA. I start with my old version of ‘Bonaparte’s Retreat’ which was inspired by Mike Seeger. I love the contrast of the free-rhythm first strain with the strict second strain. I then add ‘Boney on the Isle of Saint Helena’ and include the countermelody I composed.

14. Villulia. Traditional. 2:58. Curt Bouterse: Vocal. The original melody in The Southern Harmony only had two verses, so I found two more to complete the well-known story of the miracle of Jesus healing blind Bartimeus. This is an example of the highly-ornamented, solo tradition of religious singing which goes back to ancient European roots.

15. Fair Beauty Bright. Traditional. 3:02. Curt Bouterse: Vocal, Jethro Amburgey dulcimer in aaA. Lee Bouterse Davis: Vocal. My sister Lee has been singing this to my accompaniment since the days before I learned to play the dulcimer. Undoubtedly learned from Jean Ritchie.

16. Binfield’s Waltz. Neriah Binfield. 2:06. Curt Bouterse: 1890’s Zimmermann Dolgeville 5-bar autoharp (with original strings) I can’t remember where I learned this in the 1960s, but I have played it ever since. Only in preparing these liner notes was I able to identify its composer: the great autoharpist, Neriah Binfield, who only called it ‘Waltz.’

17. Claude Allen. Traditional. 3:51. Curt Bouterse: Vocal, George Washington gourd banjer in dDAd. This is another song with a wonderful melody that I’ve known and loved since the early 1960’s. I only occasionally played it until recently, when it found its voice on my small gourd banjer.

18. Waterbound. Traditional. 2:15. Curt Bouterse: Kubing (bamboo jaw harp). Learned from the New Lost City Ramblers, I’ve always sung this song with the accompaniment of a dulcimer or jaw harp. And now, not even sung.

For a long time George and I had been mooting the idea of a CD devoted just to my compositions. I had, of course, included a number of my tunes in previous releases but I had accumulated so many that a separate collection seemed appropriate. My working title for several years had been “Old Dog, New Tricks,” but when I realized that most of the CDs had been named after tunes of mine, and that I hadn’t used my Nixon tune yet, everything fell into place.

CD No. 5, “Nixon’s Farewell.” 2017

Notes for the album.

1. San Diego. Self-made, pine mountain banjer, painted black, in double C tuning (gCGcd, on G). A banjer tune with jig words, celebrating my favorite city: a difficult rhyme.
 
2. Use It Up. Curt & Lee, duet, chorus, autoharp, gitars. This song is as true as I could have written and it came in a matter of minutes after mulling over the punch line for a couple of years. My mother, grandmother, and many others of the past generations, not only said this but lived it I believe we ignore it at our peril. And I really do buy my clothes – except for underwear – at thrift stores.
 
3. Frog Jump. Self-made cherry “Shaker”box banjer w/ gut strings, double C tuning (on A). While visiting my dear suster in the California gold country, we went to the Calaveras County Frog Jump; I actually competed and received a participation ribbon. (It was a loaner Company frog and made all of 18 inches.) But I did get a tune out of it.
 
4. Carlisle. Self-made Wm. S. Mount banjo, double C tuning (on G); Ray Bierl, fiddle, GDGD. One of the many fiddle tunes I developed over the years, named after the small town in Kentucky where I was born – and from which I received my middle name. (My stage name when I become a country-western star will be C.B. Carlisle.) The tune itself has three sections, each one rising in range, the last repeated: ABCC.
 
5. I’ve Done It All. An Irish-style boasting song which, when I originally composed it, was not as bawdy as it has been taken by many. I was thinking of singing, honest.
 
6. Banty Rooster/Carrie’s Dream. Medley. “Oregon” anonymous fretted homemade banjo, double C tuning (on A). Banty was one of the original eleven tunes from my booklet, Nixon’s Farewell. “Carrie’s Dream” was dedicated to a dear friend who now lives in Mexico.
 
7. Obama. Self-made Wm. S. Mount banjo, double C tuning (on G); Ray Bierl, fiddle, GDAE. This tune rose spontaneously on Inauguration Day, watching the throngs on television. It was a triumph of modern technology that, even though I was three thousand miles away, I could feel the energy and joy of that distant assembly. I resisted including the verse, “There’s Michelle, Sasha, and Malia, and also their gran’mama; so raise your voice and give a cheer, for Barack Hussein Obama.”
 
8. Lindy Lou. Amburgey dulcimer, aaD; self-made pine mountain banjer, painted black, double C tuning (on D). Another almost-instant tune that came after thinking of play-party songs and named after my sister, whose given name was Linda Lee.
 
9. Bonja Moan. Self-made African-style gourd banjer, tuned cCGG. This instrument was one of the first gourd banjers I made, patterned after the very African epictions in the Sloane manuscript, and I call it a bonja to differentiate it from my other, later-style gourdies. The first day I sat down with this instrument, tuned only in fifths, this music was almost spontaneously released from it, combining both African and blues influences. I make no pretensions of authenticity, I only know it still moves me deeply.
 
10. Nixon’s Farewell. Self-made Wm. S. Mount banjo, double C tuning (on G). Ray Bierl, fiddle, GDAE. In 1974, right after the resignation, I figured something that monumental ought to be noted in music. My initial reaction was the situation resembled “Somebody on the Gallows” or What’s-his-name’s Farewell,” and I played around with various lonesome and lone melodies without success. Then I imagined a song with the refrain, “And you won’t have Old Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.” [Those too young to get the reference will have to ask their elders.] It was played so much in the late 1970s some tired of it and I was afraid it might better be called “Nixon’s Revenge.”
 
11. I’ve Always Been a Scholar. Zimmerman 5-bar autoharp, Dolgeville, NY., ca. 1895 (original strings). Perhaps some may think this too personal but it is a contemplation of some of my great loves. I look back with an equal mixture of joy, sadness, and gratitude to all who have touched my life. I intersperse a few traditional cues for atmosphere and commentary.
 
12. Landee. 1880s Cubley banjo, double C tuning (on F#). Another one of the original eleven tunes, this was composed in a few minutes while waiting to meet the mother of a friend for the first time. The structure seemed to fall into three parts, one of which wanted to come after each of the main phrases: AxBx. It has a little of the drive and repetition of “John Brown’s Dream.”
 
13. Cornbread and Beans. Bonja, tuned cCGG. Over the years I have come up with two or three melodies utilizing these traditional words. The others I can’t remember; this one I can.
 
14. General Kearney’s March to California. “Oregon” fretted banjer, double C tuning (on A); fifes and drums. This tune arose after thinking of early American marches and I play it partly with a back-and-forth strumming motion of the index finger. Stephen W. Kearney is considered the father of the U.S. cavalry; he made an epic march from Santa Fe to San Diego in 1846 in an important time for California and the United States.
 
15. Without You Tonight. Voice; Ray Bierl, twin fiddles; guitars. This song came to me, fully formed, in a dream over thirty years ago. It was an extremely emotional expression that I notated, sent a copy to myself, and filed away for many years. It never left my mind but I wasn’t sure I could ever realize it. About eight years ago George Winston encouraged me to record it and I tried: it brought up such raw emotions I couldn’t get through more than a line or so without dissolving into tears. I tried several more times but it wasn’t until a few years ago that we finally laid down the tracks with my sister and friends and I was able to sing it without weeping. This is my most personal song of all and only my subconscious is responsible for its existence. It fulfills the Chopi proverb: “To make music you must first dream about it.”
 
16. Tucson Tucstep. “Oregon” fretted banjo, double C tuning (on A); hand claps. spoons. This tune came to me while visiting friends in Tucson and didn’t have a name for several months. For some reason I thought of it as a two-step and it didn’t take long for the pun to surface.
 
17. In Your Pants. [Parental guidance recommended; NC-17] While the Tucson tune was rolling around in my head these verses manifested themselves. Another (subconscious) entry in my Political Songs album.
 
18. South Park. Self-made Wm S. Mount banjo, double C tuning (on A); Ray Bierl, fiddle, AEAE. Named after the area in San Diego where I live, not the cartoon show.
 
19. In My Father’s House. I was raised on Black gospel music beginning with WWII V-discs of “Echoes of Eden” and through the 1960s on local radio. This song came to me while thinking about John 14:2-3 and George Winston graciously agreed to assist us. My late father introduced me to this music and I can think of no greater tribute to him than this piece – except, perhaps, if a Black gospel church were to adopt and sing it. Hallelujah!
 
20. I’m Just a Ford, Not a Lincoln. Voice, hammered dulcimer, guitar. This song was my second topical effort, written during the term of the modest Gerald Ford. His proclamation became the title and the rest wrote itself. I used to play it often but I set it aside after a while. This cassette field recording was made by a young George Winston, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium when my dear friend, the late Bob Webb, and I performed there in December, 1975. For me, “The Irish Washerwoman” is a bear to play, mixing as it does left-hand lead with right-hand.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tony Thomas, a long-time banjo player and fellow hyphenated Floridian just wrote a gracious review of my last (four years ago) CD, “Nixon’s Farewell.” I think he “got” what I was trying to do with my collection of all-original compositions.
 
“If you like Old Time music, blues, and traditional American music you need this record
Reviewed in the United States on February 17, 2021
I have known of Curt for about 20-25 years, as a scholar, as a constant force in helping to encourage traditional music in this country, and as a defender in particular of the importance and integrity of the African American contribution to it. Though I believe we have met, I don’t think I have ever heard his music. This is just the best old time revivalist album I have heard in a long long time, the kind of album that makes me wish Curt had adopted me as a child and raised me, except I think we are the same age. This is just music and spirit as it was intended to be the first time a human found she or he could express what life is about with music. This is not for the faint of heart; sitting in a room with 5 banjos, 3 guitars, the stray fiddle and African instrument, I feel like why should I play them though I have struggled to do so since 1960, when someone can listen to this. You need this music. Thank you Curt.”

[I asked Holly Tannen about the song, “Obama,” and whether it needed additional verses. She replied,
Curt!
It’s so beautiful it made me cry.
The one verse is all it needs, but I predict that folks will make up
their own verses as well.
And the instrumentation is, of course, perfect!

        Love and respect,

                        Holly]

 
For the cut, “In My Father’s House,” I immediately heard George Winston’s old-time gospel piano with a choir. He confessed, “I don’t normally play back up, but Curt asked me to. Dancing Cat Records have produced 5 CDs on him so far (mainly Old Time Appalachian tunes and his own pieces – his best-known are ‘Waiting for Nancy’, and ‘Nixon’s Farewell’ that have become Old Time music standards). Curt is one of my big inspirations and influencers and I’ve been listening to him since 1975 so somehow I pulled this off. It was live and one take – One of those situations where we sort of only had 10 minutes to do it.”