Long Time Travelling

by Jeff Warner

My association with the old songs goes back a long way. My father had me up on stage with him, singing “The Old Chisholm Trail,” when I was eight. I got taken along (of necessity) as a boy on some of their later song collecting trips to the mountains and seacoast of North Carolina and the Adirondack Mountains of New York. I'm glad I got to meet rural people for whom traditional song was their main - sometimes only - music.

Some of the songs on this album are from those people I met, and got to know better through the recordings they made for my parents. All the others are out of oral tradition, although a couple of them were composed by known authors and then absorbed into the folk. I'm happy to pass them on.

Jeff Warner: vocals, banjo, English concertinas, guitar, bones, spoons, jew's-harp
Barbara Benn: vocals, tambourine
Jonny Dyer: piano
Keith Kendrick: anglo concertina
Keith Murphy: piano
Carolyne Robson: vocals
Dave Surrette: mandolin
Pete Sutherland: fiddle
Vicki Swan: nyckelharpa; flute



Musicians:

Barbara Benn:  vocals # 5, 13, 18; tambourine 13

Jonny Dyer:  piano # 10

Keith Kendrick:  Anglo concertina # 1, 4, 7, 8, 15

Keith Murphy:  piano # 13

Caroline Robson:  vocals # 3, 10

Dave Surrette:  mandolin # 18

Pete Sutherland:  fiddle # 1, 11, 12, 16

Vicki Swan: nyckelharpa # 10, 17; flute 6

 

All songs are traditional, arranged by Jeff Warner, except where noted.

Singers from the Warner collection can be heard on two recordings my brother Gerret and I produced in 2000, Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still, and Nothing Seems Better to Me, Warner Collection volumes I and II, Appleseed CDs 1035 and 1036.

 

1. Ho Boys Ho 2:53 KK, PS
Collected by Anne and Frank Warner from Lena Bourne Fish (1873-1945), Jaffrey, NH, 1941. In 1850, the minstrel song “De Camptown Races,” composed by Stephen Foster, was an immediate success and the tune spread quickly. In 1849, a New Hampshire touring company, The Hutchinson Family, wrote “Ho! For California” in honor of a group of emigrants leaving for California. Aboard sailing ships, the Foster tune and the Hutchinson chorus combined with oral tradition verses to become a shanty - and “Ho Boys Ho.”

2. Long Time Traveling 3:10
Molly Tenenbaum, Seattle, Washington old-time banjo player, matched this banjo tuning (fDGCD, tuned down to F#) to Frank Proffitt's song. It's on her album Instead of a Pony. Frank said his father Wiley may have learned it from singers at a black church near where he lived in northwestern North Carolina. “He used to go there occasionally and listen on the outside as he was fascinated by their singing.” The hymn is well known in both black and white churches.

The Warners met Frank Proffitt (1913-1965) of Watauga County, NC, in 1938, and corresponded with him throughout his life. He taught my parents scores of songs including “Tom Dooley.”

3. By the Hush 4:33 CR, VS
Edith Fowke collected this song, also known as “Paddy's Lamentation,” in 1957, from O. J. Abbott (1872-1962) who was born in Enfield, England, and came across to work in Ontario lumber camps. It has been found in print as a broadside ballad called “Pat in America,” but it appears that Abbott's version might be the only one collected in oral tradition.
The realization that Irish immigrants were essentially drafted off the ships into the Union Army during the Civil War provides the distressing backdrop for this song. General Meagher led the renowned Irish-American Sixty-Ninth Brigade from New York.

4. Juberju 3:04 KK
This is another song from the northern lumber camps. It was collected by the Warners from John Galusha (1859-1950), a logger from Minerva, NY, in the Adirondack Mountains. John said a woodsman could make $4 a day in the late 1800s being in charge of a “jam boat,” rather than a dollar a day working from the shore. The boat would go out into the middle of a log jam to clear the key logs. Joe Thomas wanted the extra money but apparently didn't have the extra experience. “Juberju” seems to descend from “The Bigler's Crew,” a song about a schooner on the Great Lakes and its slow trip from Milwaukee to Buffalo. The song made its way through various US regions - and becomes “The Dogger Bank,” about fishing in northeast England.

5. Sunny Side of Life 2:47 BB
“Sunny Side” was written by Earl Bolick (1919-1998) who performed with his brother Bill (1917-2008) as the Blue Sky Boys. The “Boys” came from Hickory, NC, and recorded this song in their first recording session in Charlotte, NC, in 1936. They had a number of early country music hits before and after WW II, and retired in 1951.

6. Bold Harpooner 3:23 VS
Stuart Frank, Curator at the New Bedford (Massachusetts) Whaling Museum, found this song in the papers of George Piper who sailed in the whaler Europa out of Martha's Vineyard in 1868. An almost identical chorus is quoted in Moby Dick, chapter 40:

“So be cheery my lads! Let your hearts never fail
While the bold harpooner is striking the whale!”

7. Plains of Baltimore 2:39 KK
Another song in the Warner collection from Adirondack Mountain logger John Galusha. I've not found it elsewhere. A charming fantasy of life in the new land, “Baltimore” might have come from a British broadside ballad.

8. Lumberman's Alphabet 3:42 KK
Galusha also sang this song, which may be the most widely known of all lumberjack songs. My text comes from several traditional sources, including Galusha. The tune I got from Mary Malloy and Stuart Frank, scholar-musicians who learned it out west. I tracked down the tune when I was in Vancouver in '04, in the Philip J. Thomas Collection. Thomas traced it back to 19th century Machias, Maine.

9. Old Moke Picking on the Banjo (He Back, She Back) 2:50
A capstan shanty from the 1800s, probably of black origin. It's related to the Irish-American song “Paddy Works on the Railway” and the tune is a variant of the Irish “Shule Agra.” The first verse and chorus of this version was collected by Cecil Sharp in Somerset, UK, in 1916, from John (“Yankee Jack”) Short (1839-1933), an English sailor who sailed aboard American deep sea sailing ships in the mid-19th century. No musical instruments were used aboard ships when shanties were sung to help hard physical labor. But I couldn't resist adding the banjo from the title.

10. Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still 3:41 JD, CR, VS
The Warners got this song from Eleazar Tillett (1875-1968) in 1951. The Tilletts, a fishing family, lived in Wanchese, NC, on the Outer Banks. The song was composed in circa 1864, words by J.E. Carpenter, music by W.T. Wrighton, and went into oral tradition. It was published by Joanna Colcord in her 1924 book Roll and Go. She says that it is a “composed song of the last century.”

11. Been All Around This Whole Round World 3:59 PS
This is a black “roustabout” or river worker song from Mary Wheeler's 1944 book Steamboatin' Days. Wheeler was interested in preserving the songs she remembered hearing in her childhood days in Paducah, Kentucky, on the Ohio River. She indicates that many of the river songs she collected were used to help with hard physical labor, as shanties were aboard the 19th century sailing ships. Perhaps “Been All Around” was as well. Jerry Epstein and Jeff Davis's recording made me want to learn it.


12. Come Love Come 2:54 PS
Another song collected by the Warners from Eleazar Tillett in NC. Eleazar sang a fragment of the song, with the first verse and chorus of “Nancy Till” (published in 1851, also known as “Down By the Cane Break”) and the second verse from Dan Emmett's “The Boat Man's Dance,” 1843. I used the rest of Dan Emmett's text to fill out the song.


13. I Done Done 3:16 BB, KM
From the singing of Reverend Nathaniel and Sister Fleeta Mitchell on a recording released by Global Village entitled Georgia Folk: A Sampler of Traditional Sounds. The field recording of the Mitchells was made by the Georgia Folklife Program in the 1980s. “I Done Done” was first recorded by the Fisk Jubilee Singers in the 19-teens.

14. One Day I Will 3:29 BB
From the singing of Estil C. Ball (1913-1978) and his wife Orna of Grassy Creek, NC. Alan Lomax, who recorded them from the 1930s through the 1950s, says that the Balls came from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Galax (Virginia) fiddler's convention in the 1930s and became “regular starring performers there.” In his youth, EC was known as a ballad singer, and even had a string band at one time. In his later life, however, he was known primarily for his spirituals.

15. Away Idaho 3:05 KK
My father Frank Warner collected this song in 1952, from Deac Martin, a Missouri singer whose people had come from eastern Virginia. The song was published in 1864, with Frank French listed as its author. Vance Randolph has a version of the song collected in Arkansas in 1942, (Ozark Folksongs, Vol. 3), called “In the Hills of Arkansaw.” We'll perhaps never know whether the eastern version was a parody of the earlier western song - or if it was the other way 'round.

16. Wild Hog in the Woods 2:48 PS
I learned this from the Rounder album Fuzzy Mountain String Band in 1971. The Fuzzies got it from traditional singer Taylor Kimble of southwest Virginia. It's an American version of the ancient British ballad “Sir Lionel.”

17. Young but Daily Growing 3:24 VS
Also known as “The Trees They Do Grow High,” this is another song Lena Bourne Fish gave the Warners in 1940. Some see its origins with a young laird of Craigton, Scotland, who died in 1634, three years after his marriage to a woman several years his senior. Others say it is an even older song. It's not in the Francis James Child collection of The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. But it probably should be.

18. Give Me Just A Little More Time 2:56 BB, DS
Written as “Lord, Give Me Just A Little More Time” by Albert E. Brumley (1905-1977), it is one of more than one hundred religious songs he wrote, many of which went into oral tradition. I learned this from Estil C. and Orna Ball, Grassy Creek, NC, who gave it to Alan Lomax in 1959.

Ho Boys Ho
Long Time Traveling
By the Hush
Sample not available
Juberju
Sample not available
Sunny Side of Life
Sample not available
Bold Harpooner
Plains of Baltimore
Sample not available
Lumberman’s Alphabet
Old Moke Picking on the Banjo
Sample not available
Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still
Sample not available
Been All Around This Whole Round World
Sample not available
Come Love Come
I Done Done
Sample not available
One Day I Will
Sample not available
Away Idaho
Wild Hog in the Woods
Sample not available
Young but Daily Growing
Sample not available
Give Me Just A Little More Time

Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

American singer Jeff Warner will be well known already to many people in the North-west following his many appearances here in the UK over the years. He has made a number of recordings previously but this is his first CD for the Wild Goose label.

The mastery of his craft pervades throughout this recording proving yet again that Jeff is one of America's finest interpreters of traditional song.

There are a number of 'new' versions of some well known songs such as the very jolly and up tempo opening song 'Ho Boys Ho' (AKA 'The Banks of the Sacramento') which is nicely enhanced by fellow American Pete Sutherland's fiddle and Keith Kendrick's concertina. He follows this with the title song 'Long Time Travelling' which he accompanies with some superb banjo playing. Jeff's banjo playing is also given full rein appropriately on another well known song, 'Old Moke Picking On The Banjo'.

The title song is one of a number of spiritual songs on the album including 'I Done Done', 'One Day I Will' and the closing track 'Give Me Just A Little More Time'. The authenticity of these particular songs is further improved by the fine harmony singing of New Hampshire's Barbara Benn.

There's an interesting version of the well known sea song 'Juberju' but this version comes from the lumbercamps and not the sea as does 'Lumberman's Alphabet' which is similar to the sea song 'Sailor's Alphabet' in structure. There are many up tempo songs here but one of the best tracks for me is the mournful and slower 'Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still' which Jeff delivers with great feeling and is subtly accompanied by the nyckelharpa of Vicki Swan, piano from Jonny Dyer and the beautiful harmonies of Carolyn Robson. The 'Bold Harpooner' is another example of a different version of the better known 'Bonny Ship the Diamond'. It is these variants that make this CD so much more interesting than so many other 'run of the mill' recordings.

Eight of the songs come from the collection of Jeff's parents Anne and Frank Warner who collected nearly a thousand traditional songs from a number of American rural singers at the beginning of the 20th century. I suppose that, with a pedigree like that, Jeff was almost automatically destined to become a top performer and interpreter of his tradition.



This is a very entertaining CD produced with the usual thoroughness and panache that we expect from the Wild Goose label.

EDS

Joan Crump

Jeff Warner is well known on the UK festival scene

for bringing to life the songs collected by his

parents, Anne and Frank Warner, in America during

the middle of the twentieth century. As children

Jeff and his brother Gerrett accompanied their

parents on several of their collecting trips, and so

were exposed from early childhood to these rich

song traditions � their mother Anne's book

contains several photos of the boys playing on

mountain farms and posing with ancient-looking

source singers. On Long Time Travelling, Jeff gives

his interpretations of eighteen songs drawn mostly

from the Warner collection, though interestingly

these American songs are accompanied by an

impressive selection of British singers and

musicians, including Keith Kendrick, Johnny Dyer,

Vicki Swan and Caroline Robson.

The songs come from different regions of the

United States, and Jeff seems to strive to be true

to the style of the source � so 'Bold Harpooner', for

example, as a song collected in New England,

doesn't have the ringing chorus of 'Long Time

Travelling' or the languid pacing of 'Come Love

Come', both of which are southern songs. I think

the southern songs, especially with their banjo

accompaniment and additional instrumentation

such as fiddle and bones, work particularly well.

They're relaxed and easy in their interpretation,

and the guest musicians and Jeff seem to be

having great fun with them. However, one of the

strengths of the CD is its range of material,

encompassing different traditions and styles. It

even presents several types of work song, from

shanties to roustabout and lumber camp songs.

This CD of Jeff's interpretations of the songs is

a great complement to the field recordings from

his parents' collection.

Netrythms

David Kidman

Jeff's one of the most welcome of the fairly frequent visitors to these shores from the US, and his gigs are always eagerly awaited and supported by those in the know. Quite simply, he's one of the most charismatic, enthusiastic and genuinely versatile performers on the whole scene, with a warm and approachable personality to match his encyclopaedic knowledge of traditional song � a knowledge he's always keen to share at every opportunity (I've been party to many a post-gig conversation that's lasted well beyond closing-time!). In live performance, Jeff never presents the same set twice (although inevitably there will be cherishable repeats of some oft-requested favourites from across the years), while he can always be relied upon to unveil some fabulous new discovery from within his exhaustive repertoire � a repertoire developed through continuous long time travelling and collecting, as well as from his parents Anne and Frank, themselves noted song collectors as you know.

Jeff himself is noted for his thoughtful, respectful approach to his source material and his knack of choosing exactly the right type, and degree, of accompaniment to communicate the song without distraction. Another speciality of Jeff's is his ability to surprise and delight his audience by coming up with songs we thought we knew well in different variants and fresh guises and with copious illuminating supporting background information regarding his sources. And so it proves on this, the latest addition to Jeff's (not exactly prolific) discography, where a good half of the songs will be at least partially familiar (often maddeningly so), even though at first their titles might deceive. Into this category I'd straightaway place Young But Daily Growing (a variant of The Trees They Do Grow High), Wild Hog In The Woods (an American version of the ancient British ballad Sir Lionel), Bold Harpooner (a relative of Bonny Ship The Diamond), the adapted-shanties Old Moke Picking On The Banjo and Ho Boys Ho, the roustabout song Been All Around This Whole Round World, and By The Hush (aka Paddy's Lamentation). The latter receives a particularly fine, nay benchmark, rendition here, with some sumptuous vocal harmonies from Carolyn Robson, whereas two other songs receive a haunting nyckelharpa backing courtesy of Vicki Swan. Indeed, in the vast majority of cases, in truth you'd be hard pressed to find better recorded versions on the market! And by dint of his well-researched liner notes, he often convinces you, too, often against all the odds, that these are the preferred versions (did you know of the lumber camp origins of Juberju, for instance?)!

Jeff's excellent, fully idiomatic singing is supported throughout by his own entirely unassuming instrumental virtuosity on banjo, English concertina and guitar (and not forgetting bones, spoons and jew's harp!), but on this recording he's also called upon long-time collaborator Barbara Benn for vocal support on a handful of tracks, and Keith Kendrick's vibrant Anglo concertina or Pete Sutherland's lively fiddle on a handful more apiece, while Jonny Dyer, Dave Surrette and Keith Murphy also put in brief yet entirely apt cameo appearances. Finally, spending time in Jeff's company here will enable you to renew acquaintance with lovely pieces such as Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still (another disc highlight) as well as introducing you to some extremely worthwhile songs you didn't already know � and there are at least half a dozen of those on this new record, including a splendid gospel rouser I Done Done.

Not only is this disc one of the finest recordings in WildGoose's illustrious and entirely trustworthy catalogue, but it continues the label's tradition of acutely attractive accompanying artwork and design that perfectly encapsulates the personality of the musicians and singers and the repertoire contained within � in this case, a front-cover line-drawing of a man joyously holding aloft a concertina, having stepped out of a frontier painting. The old adage �if you only buy one traditional song album this year, make it this one� will be hard to displace from its application to this magnificent disc!

R2

Dai Jeffries

When Jeff Warner was in the neighbourhood recording this album, back in the  spring, I was fortunate to be at one of few gigs he played. It was one of those evenings that really take you somewhere else: not just the songs and the style but the context and cultural milieu are, not alien exactly, but something beyond our experience.

So it is with this album. There are shanties, work songs, old hymns and ballads as well as compositions like 'Sunny Side Of Life' and 'Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still'. Some tunes and storylines are familiar Warner rather cheekily implies that Juberju began life in lumber camps before becoming a North Sea shanty  but that familiarity simply emphasises the differences. 'Bold Harpooner' and 'Lumberman's Alphabet' have old world equivalents but 'Old Moke Picking On The Banjo' could only come from the Americas.

Jeff's concertina and banjo are joined on this splendid album by two of his regular supporters, Barbara Benn and Dave Surrette, with Keith Kendrick, Vicki Swann and Jonny Dyer among the British contingent. From the exuberance of 'I Done Done' to the despair of 'By The Hush', all human life is here.

The Living Tradition

Paul Burgess

As befits the son of the amazing folk-song collectors Anne and Frank Warner who collected hundreds of wonderful songs, Jeff Warner has quite a background in traditional American music.  Here he includes eight of the songs his parents gleaned, but doesn't restrict himself to this source, wisely choosing a number of other pieces which all then fit together to produce a varied and satisfying whole.  He's a fairly undemonstrative singer, with a rich voice and has the great knack of letting a song speak for itself � something which requires great technique and deep understanding.  

This extends to his accompaniments:  thoughtful, well-chosen and always guaranteed to suit the song, rather than getting in the way.  As well as his own banjo, English concertina, guitar and percussion, he has assembled a stellar backing group � once again, all of whom are chosen to help ornament a particular song, or point up a particular mood.  From Keith Kendrick's punchy anglo-concertina on Ho Boys Ho, which kicks off the album in fine style, to the fiddling of Pete Sutherland, all the musicians and singers give performances which are a truly positive addition - even the use of such exotica as Vicki Swan's nyckelharpa is beautifully judged and proves particularly telling.  A really lovely record, and warmly recommended.

fRoots

Vic Smith

Something of a departure, this, for Wildgoose who have previously concentrated on British-based performers, but then Jeff seems to spend an increasing amount of time on this side of the pond and is the ideal per�former for folk clubs.

Here he gives us a very interesting and varied programme reflecting the diverse nature of the American tradition, though there is a higher proportion of songs from the vast body of songs collected by his par�ents, Frank and Anne, than on his previous album. Perhaps this reflects the fact that he has been re-examining these songs following the development of his popular multi-media show based on his parents' work.

There is certainly more of great interest here than can be mentioned in a short review but the headlines must include the title track delivered over solo banjo and quite the finest treatment of By The Hush that you will ever hear. Two songs from one of the Warner's most prolific contributors, Lena Bourne Fish, are included and they are very different. There's her lovely, contemplative version of Young But Daily Growing whilst the album opens with a very lively Ho Boys Ho to anglo-concertina accompaniment by Keith Kendrick, whose contribution is the finest of those Warner calls on here. Another performance that stands out is Jeff and Barbara Benn harmony singing of EC Ball's One Day I Will but, on reflection, each performance here has its own merits.

It is certainly clear that here is very talented per�former treating us to a selection of fine songs that he has lived with for most of his life.

Whats Afoot

Jacqueline Patten

Steeped in the traditional music of America since birth, Jeff Warner is a fine exponent of, and evangelist for, American traditional music, as well as an excellent musician and performer. His parents were Frank and Anne Warner who collected and performed songs in the USA in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. He recalls that his Father "had me up on the stage with him, singing The Old Chisholm Trail, when I was eight". Half of the eighteen tracks come from his parents' collection; some come from the collection of Cecil Sharp, some from that of Alan Lomax and the remainder from various diverse sources.

A country and nation comprising so many immigrants inevitably draws on all the countries from which people emigrated and the traditions they brought, to create its own. The American blend is strident, harsh and bold, yet remarkably varied and enthralling. It is interesting to see some of the British and Irish influences among the songs on this album. Some are clearly evident, such as Young but Daily Growing, others more obscure, for example the connection between Wild Hog in the Woods and Sir Lionel. Jeff credits Juberju as the source for Sailing Over The Dogger Bank, which shows how some have crossed the Atlantic in the opposite direction to expected. A few items are what might considered old time bluegrass and there are some hymns from semi secular sources, a tradition that never developed fully on this side of the ocean. Inevitably some songs like Been All Around This Whole Round World have their roots in the black community, in this particular case from the Ohio River.

Jeff accompanies himself on banjo, guitar, English concertina, jew's harp and percussion, and is ably assisted by eight musicians and singers, who between them play tambourine, piano, anglo concertina, mandolin, fiddle, nyckelharpa and flute as well as backing vocals. Consequently the arrangements are rich, varied and compelling.

The `sleeve notes' and cover include archive photographs from Jeff's parents: if you ever get a chance to hear him talk about his parents' collecting when he would also show some photographs taken by them, then take it. The songs and images are amazing.

Folk London

Paul Cowdell

Jeff Warner continues to delight with his readings of (largely) American traditional and popular songs. Many of the songs on this lovely CD were collected in the field by his parents Frank and Anne.

Jeff Warner has a lovely warm voice, and the arrangements here bring out its richness across some diverse material. Keith Kendrick provides a jaunty concertina accompaniment for the lumber camp song Juberju, while the melancholy Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still (long one of my favourites from his live repertoire) is backed beautifully by the piano and nyckelharpa of Jonny Dyer and Vicki Swan. Jeff's own banjo playing covers old time lonesomeness on the title track and the springy drive of Bold Harpooner.

This is a charming and engaging album, full of understated depths.