1 ELZICK'S FAREWELL
(Pete fiddle, Dan banjo, Dave guitar) Kentucky-born fiddler Harvey G. Elswick wrote the original in 1889, reportedly playing it as a request for his dying mother. The tune entered aural tradition in West Virginia, where Elswick had moved in 1875, and French Carpenter, who died in 1964, handed it down to Wilson Douglas and Gaither Carlton. A legend that ‘Elzick’ was an ancestor of Carpenter's, and had played the tune before marching away to fight in the Civil War, got added as an attachment. By the late twentieth century, as played by revival fiddlers like Ruthie Dornfeld, the tune lost a few bars here and there but gained a distinctive C-part. Our version’s like Anglo-Irish band Flook’s, but more scrapey and twangy.
2 SHORT JACKET AND WHITE TROUSERS
(Dave vocal/guitar, Pete fiddle/viola, Dan banjo) Cross-dressing (generally by girls) has always fascinated Grubb Street ballad writers and traditional singers. Many a fo’c’sle and barrack room entertainer must have lived in the hope of discovering just such a young woman in the hammock or bunk next to his. The song was introduced into the folk revival by Bert Lloyd, who unearthed it in Greenleaf and Mansfield’s Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland, and in 1962 recorded it on the album A Sailor’s Garland. He claimed to have also heard a ‘rough’ version from an ex-bosun named Ned Close of London. Following Bert’s habit of song ‘tinkering’, Dave partially rewrote this version after a trip to Virginia, and fitted it to a new tune.
3 SADIE AT THE BACK DOOR.
(Dave banjo, Dan guitar, Pete fiddle)
Written in 1980 by fiddler Jere Canote, of Seattle, Washington. Sadie the cat is said to have disdained the cat-flap thoughtfully installed on the front door.
4 WILLIE MOORE
(Pete vocal/fiddle, Dan guitar, Dave banjo) The verses of this tragic tale circulated in the mountains as a printed broadside ‘ballet’. The identity of the songwriter (‘J.R.G.’ of ‘the cloudy west’) is still a mystery. The song was recorded in 1927 by blind Dick Burnett (vocals and banjo) & Leonard Rutherford (fiddle), of Monticello, Kentucky. ‘I think someone give me that ballet,’ Burnett recalled. ‘Then later someone hummed the tune to me, and I was always quick to catch the tunes, and I already had the ballet, y’know, already had the words. I don’t know if there ever was a real man named Willie Moore
5 RED APPLE JUICE
(Dave vocal/guitar, Pete fiddle/chorus, Dan banjo) Versions of this song were recorded, as ‘Sugar Babe’ by Dock Boggs in the 1920s, and by Charlie Monroe in the 1940s as ‘Red Rocking Chair’. It took a minimal amount of re-writing to turn it into a narrative for all those people who have lost loved ones too soon.
6 OLD JOHN PEEL/ ROCK THAT CRADLE, JOE
(Pete fiddle, Dave D/G melodeon/banjo, Dan guitar/banjo) One of those transatlantic melodic overlaps we like so much – a tune version of the Cumbrian National Anthem ‘D’ye ken John Peel?’ from England’s Lake District and a version of a well-known Old Timey dance number played on ‘stereo banjos’. Some sing (to the tune of the B-part), ‘What will you do when the baby cries? – I don’t know What will you do when the baby cries? – Rock that cradle, Joe.’
7 YOU’VE BEEN A FRIEND/FRISKY JENNY
(Pete vocal/mandolin/fiddle, Dave guitar/melodeon, Dan banjo) ‘I would have had a broken heart had it not been for you.’ A song recorded in 1936 by The Carter Family and pre-dating Carole King’s similarly themed hit ‘You’ve Got A Friend’ by some thirty years. Followed by the old British country dance tune known variously as ‘Frisky Jenny’, ‘Twenty First of August’ ‘The Gallant Weaver’ and ‘The Weaver’s March’ – the title used by Bert Lloyd on the Industrial theme album The Iron Muse, where we first came across it. Professor Samuel Bayard pointed out that the tune was as well known in Continental Europe as it was in Britain in the early 18th century and he believed it could be French in origin. Later American breakdown versions of the tune include ‘The Cheat’, ‘In My Cottage Near the Wood’ and ‘The Coquette’.
8 PRINCESS ROYAL
(Dave guitar, Dan banjo, Pete fiddle/viola) A studio noodle we decided to keep. Composed by Irish harpist Turloch Carolan (1670-1738) for a daughter of the ‘Prince of Coolavin’ (as the head of the MacDermot family was known), the tune was used in 1796 in a small London opera, The Lock and Key, and gained currency in England, not least as a Morris tune.
9 MONDAY MORNING GO TO SCHOOL ('THE TWO BROTHERS'. CHILD 49).
(Dave vocal/guitar, Pete fiddle/chorus, Dan banjo) A fratricide ballad popular in Scotland from at least the early 1800s, and widely collected in America in the 20th century. Cecil Sharp came across fourteen versions of it when tramping the Appalachians in 1916-18 with Maud Karpeles. In Madison County, North Carolina, a remarkable hotbed of singers and storytellers, Sharp generously paid for clothes for the 13-year-old daughter of one of his singers so that she could attend a nearby mission school. The girl, Emma Hensley, repaid the debt some thirty-five years later when Karpeles was retracing Sharp’s earlier collecting trips in the mountains. As Mrs Emma Shelton she recorded, among others, ‘Monday morning go to school’, accompanied on the harmonium, which Dave heard in New York a few years ago. One of her verses that we’ve used as a chorus is almost identical to a verse collected by William Motherwell from the recitation of Widow McCormick in Scotland in 1825.
10 WAYS OF THE WORLD
(Pete fiddle (AEAE), Dan banjo, Dave fiddlesticks) Beating on the open fiddle strings with straws or knitting needles while the fiddler plays a tune is known in the Appalachian Mountains as playing ‘fiddlesticks’. This is the best known of the tunes associated with fiddler William Hamilton ‘Bill’ Stepp (1875-1947) of Magoffin County, eastern Kentucky.
11 DAMNED OLD PINEY MOUNTAINS
(Pete vocals/ fiddle/viola, Dave banjo, Dan guitar)
Written by Craig Johnson who took the refrain lines from an ex- logger who, as they were talking, kept saying, ‘Buddy, sing a sad old song.’ After another song they'd go on talking about his life, and the sawmill accident that took off his fiddling fingers. ‘Woman don’t you weep for me,’ was another of his phrases, referring to his wife. ‘Skidders’ were placed under the felled trees to help roll them away, while a ‘shay’ was a narrow-gauge steam locomotive used to bring the cargo of logs to the main rail line.
12 SALLY IN THE GARDEN
(Dan banjo, Dave guitar, Pete fiddle/mandolin) A haunting Old Time tune, originally recorded by Crockett’s Mountaineers, that Dan learned from banjo player Barry Murphy.
13 DILLARD CHANDLER.
(Dave vocal/guitar), Pete fiddle/chorus, Dan banjo)
Dillard Chandler, was one of the many celebrated ballad singers from Madison County, North Carolina. He could neither read nor write and lived a hard life in a one-roomed wooden cabin with cracks in the walls through which, on good days, the sun shone and, on bad ones, the rain seeped. He was the subject of John Cohen’s documentary film The End of an Old Song, in which Cohen took the opportunity to show a ballad singer talking about his own interior life, his love life, his isolation and the way he functioned in that mountain society.
The song was written by Dick Connette, ‘as seen and heard in John Cohen’s 1967 documentary.’ The tune for the verse was taken from ‘Oh My Little Darling’ sung by Alabama banjo-picker Thaddeus C Willingham, and the chorus, ‘Rock about my Sarah Jane’, is from the Uncle Dave Macon song of that title. The words sat in Dave’s ‘to learn’ folder for several years before he was gratefully reminded of the song by a Roy Bailey recording.
14 ROLL, ALABAMA, ROLL!
(Dave vocal/guitar, Pete fiddle/chorus: Dan banjo/guitar) The C.S.S. Alabama, the Confederate navy’s most successful commerce raider of the American Civil War, was as famous in Britain as in the southern states. Known originally as merely ‘No. 290’, she was built under great secrecy in John Laird’s Birkenhead shipyard on the River Mersey, under the suspicious eyes of northern Federal spies. When finished in July 1862, and ostensibly undergoing sea trials as a cargo vessel, she made a run for the Azores where she was provisioned and armed as a battle cruiser. Here Captain Raphael Semmes and his Confederate officers took command of the ship and its crew, which included around 80 Liverpool seamen who signed the articles of war in expectation of prize-money and adventure. During her two-year career the Alabama took 65 United States ships, destroying 52 of them. Her luck ran out on a sunny day in 1864 when she fought the U.S.S. Kearsage and was sunk in 195 feet of water 6 miles off the French port of Cherbourg. Of the several songs written about the Alabama, this one, even if not strictly historically accurate, seems to have caught the popular imagination of 19th century sailors and folk club singers. We have tweaked it a little by giving it an additional chorus.