Category Archives: folk

Makes No Difference from Evin Wolverton’s Woodland Sessions

Some years ago I almost met Evin Wolverton. We both participated in FAWM more than once, and when I heard he’d moved to the San Francisco area, I invited him to perform at the Northern California Artistic Achievement Awards (The Grassies.) Evin was too sick to make it, and we asked Philip Flathead to fill in, which worked out. Except I didn’t get to meet Evin and tell him in person what his music has done for me.

When I found out Evin had a Kickstarter project for his new album, I chipped in. I had exactly a dollar to my name, and I put it in. Didn’t get me anything; anything less than a ten-spot doesn’t even get a copy of the album when it’s finished. That’s okay; Evin’s art is worth supporting and it’s about time I started giving back to the artists that fill my life.

Except, I did get something. Pretty much won the lottery.


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Badlands = Good Listen

Finding new music that hits me viscerally is sublime. Recently, No Depression introduced me to Eric Tingstad and his take on Americana instrumentals.

Eric Tingstad, BadlandsWhen my copy of Badlands arrived, it stayed in the CD player in the car for over two weeks, playing over and over again. Nearly every track is on my all-night music list (I never sleep without music playing. I’ve heard some people do. Seems odd to me.)

Instrumentals are hard to write. (continued)

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The Birdman, the Warden, and John Giles

Franc Cinelli: AlcatrazCurrently wearing out Franc Cinelli‘s short (under 20 minutes total) CD Alcatraz. Americana inspired by one of the world’s most famous prisons and some of the minds it tried to contain.

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40 Years in My Ear-y Canal

I‘ve been plagued by a particular earworm for over 40 years.

I’ve got a mule, her name is . . .

If her name popped unbidden into your mind, you’re either a fan of American folk music or you went to elementary school in California in the 60s.

The song was originally entitled Low Bridge, Everybody Down when Thomas Allen wrote it in 1905. Now it’s called The Erie Canal Song, 15 Miles on the Erie Canal, and any number of other names. It’s about the years, decades really, when boats on the Erie Canal were towed by mules. By 1905 the era of the mules was just about over.

I wish the era of this earworm were over.

Oh; the mule’s name? Sal. I’ve got a mule her name is Sal. Enjoy your earworm.

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The Politest Pirate

This week I’m trying to write three new songs. This idea came to me a few weeks ago, and when the ending landed in my brain the day before yesterday it wrote itself.

Recorded in the basement using my iPhone and mandolin. (continued)

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Words by Roger Miller. Lyrics by Love.

Love is, even in the best circumstances, a complex thing. Good songwriters find the words to sing about it.

Great songwriters know there are no words for it. (continued)

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How Many Kids Love Their Hometown?

If you ever want to get depressed just come to this town

Hard to top that as an opening line. Nice internal rhyme with the next line (continued)

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Not in Nottingham

One of Disney’s greatest soundtrack triumphs was getting Roger Miller to write and record the soundtrack to their animated version of Robin Hood.

The film doesn’t hang entirely on a single star. I can’t imagine the list of movies these folks have made: (continued)

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Doughnut Holes and Roger Miller

Jazz musicians occasionally highlight a melody by playing all the notes around it, leaving a hole where it should be. If you’re paying attention, you’ll “hear” it.

Some smart doughnut shop decided to stop rolling all the doughnut holes back together to make more doughnuts, and just started frying up doughnut holes to sell. (continued)

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Caledonia, You’re Calling Me

I don’t know if you can see
The changes that have come over me
In these last few days I’ve been afraid
That I might drift away

So I’ve been telling old stories, singing songs
That make me think about where I came from
And that’s the reason why I seem
So far away today

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USSS: Ross Durand

takes a lot of songwriting confidence to take on the challenge of writing an entire song for each line in Bob Dylan’s Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall. Takes a lotta songwriting chops to pull it off.

This year it looks like Ross Durand is going to finish this seriously ambitious and musically satisfying project. (continued)

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USSS: Phil Norman

Newgrass: it’s what’s for dinner. Okay, maybe that’s not how it goes, but I’ll have Phil Norman‘s take on American bluegrass and folk any day. (continued)

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