Poor Ellen Smith

by Rattle on the Stovepipe

Rattle on the Stovepipe sing and play American traditional ‘Old Timey’ music with a classic line-up of guitar, banjo and fiddle. This is their sixth album on the WildGoose label and it comprises a selection of their current favourites. Dave Arthur, Pete Cooper and Dan Stewart are all master musicians and they are completely at home with the music they love.



Dave Arthur, Pete Cooper and Dan Stewart are all master musicians, but there is no sense of ego, no promotion of themselves as stars, although they certainly can dazzle. They are completely at home with the music they love, and can switch comfortably from American to English songs and tunes. They know their material, they honour their sources and Dave and Pete have written comprehensive notes for each track, both interesting, and invaluable to anyone wanting to learn and perform the piece.

Dave is a great story-teller too and that is evident in his handling of ballads in particular. Both he and Pete have that rare gift of drawing you into a song.

The cover painting is The Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley (1934) by Thomas Hart Benson, egg tempera and oil on canvas - Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas. As well as a painter, Benton was a harmonica player who in 1941 recorded an album for Decca, Saturday Night at Tom Benton’s. The band’s members included his celebrated pupil Jackson Pollock, here depicted in the foreground playing harmonica.

1 Dead-heads and Suckers 


Dave vocal, banjo, Pete fiddle, chorus, Dan guitar, chorus Learnt originally in Athens, Georgia, by Dave from the doyen of Old Time banjo, Art Rosenbaum. No-one knows what the Dead-heads and Suckers of the title refer to although, of course, this hasn’t stopped people speculating. Fish or flowers seem to be popular choices. Our preference is for the theory that the song (which seems to have appeared in the first quarter of the 20th century) refers to general layabouts and ne’er-do-wells - shirkers who didn’t sign up and do their bit in the First World War. To this effect we’ve written some new lyrics to give it more of a narrative than the original floating verses, and added a First World War reference in the last verse. But, fish, flowers or shirkers, it’s a great ass-kicking song to sing and play. 

2 Little Billy Wilson 


Pete fiddle (AEAE), Dan banjo, Dave, guitar Based on ‘Billy Wilson’ (in the A-part at least) as recorded by Tennessee fiddler ‘Uncle’ Jimmy Thompson (1848-1931), the tune became popular in the 1970s Old Time revival as a three-part tune - ‘synthesised’, it is said, by fiddler/musicologist Joel Shimberg. Pete had certainly heard the Critton Hollow String Band’s version on Poor Boy (1979), but it was another ten years before he learned it from banjo-player Candy Goldman of Seattle, Washington. 

3 Hang Me, Oh, Hang Me 


Pete vocals, Dave banjo, Dan guitar Justis Begley, the Sheriff of Hazard, Kentucky, recorded for the Library of Congress by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax in October 1937, sang ‘I’ve Been All Around This World’, the original of this song. Grandpa Jones recorded it in 1946 and Dave van Ronk in 1967 - the latter inspiring Oscar Isaac’s soulful performance in the Coen Brothers’ 2013 film Inside Llewyn Davis. ‘It’s not the hanging that I mind, it’s laying in the grave so long,’ van Ronk sings, but it’s ‘laying in the jail so long’ as Pete learned it c. 1979, suggesting the influence of the Grateful Dead’s more up-tempo 1973 West Coast version. 

4 Swannanoa Waltz / Julianne Johnson 
(Rayna Gellert, Willow Garden Music, ASCAP/ trad. arr. Rattle on the Stovepipe) 

Pete, fiddle (ADAE), Dave banjo, Dan guitar/ fiddle Swannanoa, N. Carolina, five miles from Asheville, was a booming mill town in the 1920s when fiddler Marcus Martin (1881-1974) moved from the country to work at Beacon Manufacturing. ‘Factory jobs not only brought together people who would hear and remember the tunes but also allowed the tradition bearers free time to develop and promote their art.’ – Anne Chesky Smith, Swannanoa Valley Museum. Today the annual Swannanoa Gathering at Warren Wilson College is a good place to meet the N. Carolina Old Time community. Fiddler and singer Rayna Gellert, who composed this waltz in Ohio while homesick for Swannanoa, often teaches there. The source of the reel that follows, which Pete also first got from Rayna (and which Dan, who switches to fiddle here, reminded him of recently), is the great Emmett Lundy (1864-1953) of Grayson County, S. W. Virginia. He recorded it in 1941 (as ‘Julie Ann Johnson’) for Alan and Elizabeth Lomax of the Library of Congress in a session later issued by Topic Records in 1977. 

5 Poor Ellen Smith 


Dave vocal, banjo, Pete fiddle, chorus, Dan guitar, chorus Like so many other girls who must have heard countless traditional murder ballads, Ellen Smith ignored the warnings concerning unfaithful and cruel sociopath lovers and paid the ultimate price, along with those other unfortunate N. Carolina victims Omie Wise and Laura Foster. Ellen’s murderer, in Winston-Salem, July 1892, was Peter DeGraff, a working-class fantasist with delusions of grandeur. He hung around bars and clubs dressed as a wealthy plantation owner, sporting pistols and boasting of being prepared to use them. With an apparent split-personality, DeGraff callously shot Ellen when she became an ‘inconvenience’, but then carefully laid out her body on a bed of greenery and covered her face with her apron. At a later date he performed a ritual at the murder scene to raise her spirit and try to ensure that her soul would go to Heaven. He fled town, crossed the State line to Mount Airy thirty five miles away, and worked in a sawmill. Stupidly he returned a year later and was arrested. He denied the murder right up to his last moment on the scaffold, when he confessed theatrically, and told the vast crowd of spectators that corn-liquor, cards, dice and bad women had brought him to that place. There are two main strands of the Ellen Smith song. In the earliest, printed by the local newspaper, The Sentinal, during the trial as ‘The Song of Peter DeGraff’ by Charles Pepper, a cell-mate of DeGraff in Winston gaol, DeGraff proclaims his innocence: ‘I know they will hang me at last if they can But God knows I’ll die as an innocent man.’ In the later, better known, versions he admits he’ll never be free of his sins of the past. Although first recorded by Henry Whitter in 1924 and Dykes Magic City Trio in 1927, it’s Molly O’Day’s driving banjo-led 1949 recording that seems to have influenced most subsequent recordings, including ours. 

6 Bonaparte’s Retreat 


Pete, fiddle (DDAD), Dan banjo, Dave tambourine and guitar This celebrated tune, with the fiddle in DDAD - or ‘Dead Man’s’ - tuning, is from William Hamilton ‘Bill’ Stepp (1875-1947) of Magoffin County, Kentucky, recorded in 1937 by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress. His performance, transcribed by Ruth Crawford Seeger and orchestrated by Aaron Copland (1900-1990), became the ‘Hoe-Down’ section of Copland’s ballet score Rodeo, and is sometimes ironically referred to by Old Time musicians as ‘Copland’s Fancy’. Emerson, Lake and Palmer also had a crack at it. 

7 Black Bottom Blues 


Dave vocal, guitar, Dan banjo, Pete fiddle ‘Black Bottom Blues’ (not to be confused with Blind Boy Fuller’s ‘Black Bottom Blues’) and ‘Deep Elem Blues’ are basically the same song with interchangeable titles and verses. Over the last few years a few Old Time musicians (especially banjo players) have opted for ‘Black Bottom Blues’ as the title, as have we, after adding a ‘tweak’ to the chorus. Black Bottom could simply be a generic term for an African-American downtown area or, as in Detroit, the rich marsh-soil ‘bottom-land’ left when the Savoyard River was piped underground and where the black community settled and music clubs sprang up. Deep Ellum (Elm Street & Central Track area) was a ‘red-light’ downtown area in early 20th century Dallas, Texas, a magnet for blues and jazz musicians, good-time girls, gangsters and purveyors of booze and drugs. A hot time could be had as long as you took notice of the song and kept your pistol in your pocket and your money in your shoes! In an alley called ‘Death Row’ someone got killed every Saturday night. In 1927 the Georgia Crackers recorded the song ‘Georgia Black Bottom’, whose first verse goes: ‘If you go down to Black Bottom, put your money in your shoes The women in Black Bottom got them Black Bottom blues.’ In 1933 the Lone Star Cowboys released ‘Deep Elm Blues’ - same tune but with some newly-written lyrics based around the Crackers’ ‘shoes-blues’ verse. It was later recorded three times by guitar and mandolin duo the Shelton Brothers (ex-Lone Star Cowboys) as ‘Deep Elem Blues’ and became the basis for most subsequent recordings from Doc Watson and Tom Paley to Jerry Lee Lewis and the Grateful Dead. 

8 Take Me Back to Georgia 


Pete fiddle, mandolin, Dave banjo, Dan guitar Booked by an airline to play at the launch of a new direct Manchester to Atlanta flight, the band mugged up on Georgia tunes. This one’s from fiddler Lowe Stokes (1900-1983), who played with The Skillet Lickers and recorded it in Atlanta in October 1929 with Mike Whitten, guitar. The following year on Christmas Day Lowe’s right hand was blown off in a shooting accident… The tune was a hit with the passengers at the airport check-in. A water-cannon salute for the plane arriving on the tarmac did not, however, go as planned. The jets shooting out of the fire engines were not water, it turned out, but fire-suppressant foam, which disabled the plane for the rest of the day. Presumably it took off eventually. We got the train back to London… Lowe Stokes had a special hook made to hold his bow and by the early 1930s had resumed his playing career. 

9 Wild Bill Jones 


Pete vocal, harmonica, fiddle (tuned ADAE), Dave banjo, Dan guitar A moment of sexual jealousy, a weapon to hand, this tale of crime and punishment has been recorded by singers and musicians from Eva Davis, Burnett & Rutherford, Dock Boggs and Frank Profitt to Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley, Kirk Sutphin and Bruce Molsky. Pete first got the lyrics from the New Lost City Ramblers’ Old-Time String Band Songbook. The death toll from shootings in the USA between 1968 and 2011 alone has been estimated at 1.4 million - more than the 1.2 million US deaths in every military conflict from the War of Independence to Iraq. 

10 Going Over the Mountain/ Old Jimmy Sutton 


Dan minstrel banjo, Dave drum, tambourine, Pete fiddle A pair of tunes played by Dan on a copy of a 19th century minstrel banjo. ‘Going Over the Mountain’ or, as it appears in Briggs Banjo Instructor (1855), ‘I’m Gwine Ober de Mountain’, was written (words and music) by the famous white ‘blackface’ performer Dan Emmett, co-founder in 1843 of the Virginia Minstrels, the first minstrel group to put together a full length blackface show, which premiered on February 6 1843 in the Bowery Theatre in New York. Later that year the Virginia Minstrels played in Britain, opening the door to decades of regular tours by popular American minstrel groups, described in Punch in 1847 as a ‘glut of Ethiopians’. By the mid-1850s several British broadside printers had produced ‘Ober de Mountain’ songs obviously inspired by Emmett’s lyrics, and in 1906 folksong collector George Gardiner noted three verses from a James Brown of Basingstoke, Surrey (not the soul singer!), which began: ‘Fare thee well my own true love Fare thee well my darlin’ Fare thee well my own true love I’m going over the mountain.’ Surprisingly, blackface minstrel shows enjoyed continuous popularity in the UK for over 130 years until the Black and White Minstrel Show was finally given the coup-de-grace by BBC TV in 1978, bringing a fascinating, if bizarre, era to an end. ‘Old Jimmy Sutton’, especially popular in Virginia, was first recorded in 1928 by the Old Time fiddle/guitar duo G.B. Grayson and Henry Whitter. Fine versions have been collected from such banjo-pickers as Wade Ward and Vester Jones from Buck Mountain, Grayson County, who declared it to be a tune from the ‘covered wagon days’ and that he was going to ‘go at it the old time way.’ ‘Here’s a tune called Old Jimmy Sutton If you don’t play this, you don’t play nuthin’ ’ It was described in The Journal of American-folklore (1888) as a typical hillbilly dance tune and some lyrics were published in Thomas Talley’s collection Negro Folk Rhymes (1922). Dan resisted the temptation to bleat or ‘baaaa’ as some traditional players do when the rhyme ‘Sutton/Mutton’ crops up in song versions. 

11 Southern Soldier 
(Dave Arthur) 

Dave vocal, banjo, harmonica, Pete fiddle, mandolin, Dan guitar Despite what we hear in Western films, an ‘American’ accent was by no means the U.S. norm in the 19th century when every town, ranch, mine and army unit welcomed immigrants speaking in a variety of accents and dialects. A ten-year-old boy from Manchester, Birmingham or east London could end up at twenty as a Mancunian, Brummie or Cockney-sounding gunfighter, sheriff or farmer. Men newly emigrated from Kent, still with a Kentish burr, fought and died at the Alamo and at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. In the South many independently-minded British incomers fought for the Confederacy. Not necessarily because they were slave owners or anti-abolitionists but simply in defence of their adopted state, their county, and the bit of land they worked. ‘Southern Soldier’, written by Dave, is about such a man caught up in the War Between the States who believes the whole thing will soon be over and he can get back to working his Georgia farm in peace. Union general William Tecumseh Sherman, however, had other plans when he determined to ‘make Georgia howl.’ The verse referring to Confederate President Davis’s white horse and Abe Lincoln’s mule is a traditional fragment that Dave heard in North Carolina in 1972. 

12 Waiting for the Federals 


Dave melodeon, Pete fiddle, Dan guitar AKA ‘Seneca Square Dance’, ‘Georgia Boys’, Shelby’s Mules’ and ‘John Hoban’s Polka’. Sam Long (1876-1931), the first Ozark country musician to make a commercial recording, called it ‘Seneca Square Dance’ when he recorded it (with ‘Echoes of the Ozarks’ on the B-side) in 1926 for Gennett Records of Richmond, Indiana, a subsidiary of the Starr Piano Company which released hundreds of Old Time recordings between 1925 and 1934. Sam Long retired from mining due to lung problems and earned money organising and fiddling for square dances. He only ever recorded six tunes - check them out on YouTube. His ‘Seneca’, with guitarist Ray Kastner, was re-issued by Challenge records under the pseudonym ‘Fiddling Dave Neal’. Ry Cooder popularised the tune for a later generation on the soundtrack of a 1980 western, The Long Riders, and it is frequently played in Old Time sessions today, but rarely with a melodeon in the line-up, even though the melodeon (Dwight Lamb), accordion (Carter Family), harmonica, pump-organ, piano (Sam Long) and even the musical saw (The South Georgia Highballers) have all been pressed into service by Old Time traditional musicians less proscriptive than some of their modern revival counterparts. 

13 The Devil’s in the Girl 
(Roud 1480) 

Dave, vocal, guitar, melodeon, Pete fiddle, Dan banjo A cautionary tale of seduction and abandonment, collected by Cecil Sharp on January 12th 1904 from farmer William Nott of Parsonage Farm, Meshaw, N. Devon. Nott, the source of a number of fine songs, died just three years later in January 1907 and is buried in Meshaw parish churchyard. The lyrics were popular with the printers around London’s Seven Dials area in the 19th century and virtually identical broadsides were sold by J. Pitts, W. S. Fortey and H. Disley. Dave came across a typewritten copy of the song, minus a tune, in Bert Lloyd’s papers while writing his biography. Bert had altered a couple of lines but never, as far as we know, sang or recorded it. Dave had put a tune to it before discovering Sharp’s transcription of William Nott’s version. Having got used to our original arrangement the band saw no reason to change it, other than to make a fetish of ‘authenticity’ in traditional music, which as we all know is subject to infinite variation. Anyway, for purists, Sharp’s version is always there to refer to if one is so inclined. 

14 Rodeo Man 
(Bob McDill, Universal Music Publishing Group) 

Pete vocals, fiddle, Dave melodeon and chorus, Dan guitar and chorus The great Texan Country & Western singer Don Williams (b.1939) released ‘She’s in Love with a Rodeo Man’ in January 1974, and it’s long been a favourite of Pete’s. Dave’s melodeon adds a little Tex Mex flavour. The barmaid’s favourite song referred to here, ‘San Antonio Rose’, is, of course, the Bob Wills classic. 

15 Stackolee 


Dave vocal, banjo, Dan, guitar, Pete fiddle SHOT IN CURTIS'S PLACE William Lyons, 25, colored, a levee hand, living at 1410 Morgan Street, was shot in the abdomen yesterday evening at 10 o'clock in the saloon of Bill Curtis, at Eleventh and Morgan streets, by Lee Sheldon, also colored.
 St Louis Globe-Democrat, December 26, 1895 Billy Lyons and Lee ‘Stack Lee’ Shelton, a carriage-driver and pimp, got into a political argument during which Billy snatched Stackolee’s Stetson hat and refused to return it. A large John B. Stetson and flash clothes were the sign of a successful pimp and not to be disrespected. Stackolee, with a reputation to keep up in the violent red-light districts of Deep Morgan and Chestnut Valley, drew his .44 and shot Lyons, picked up his hat, and calmly left the bar and went home to bed, where he was arrested the next morning. A number of Stackolee’s ‘clients’ were local politicians and civic dignitaries so it’s no surprise that he escaped the gallows for his first-degree murder. Songwriters, however, felt differently and in the songs that started to emerge soon after the affair, he swings for his sins. They even credited him with being so bad that he kicked the Devil out of Hell and took over himself. In reality he ended up serving 12 years of a 25 year sentence and left Missouri’s Jefferson City Penitentiary in 1909. He died three years later from TB. There were several other killings over that Christmas in St Louis but, for some reason, this one caught the popular imagination. Hugely popular, over the years more than 200 versions of Stackolee have been recorded, but few as fast as Dan likes to play this version. 

16 Walk Along John to Kansas 


Dan fiddle (AEAE), Pete fiddle (AEAE), Dave guitar A wild tune introduced to the band by Dan. Collected by John Lomax in Hebbonville,Texas in 1941 from Mrs F. E. Goodwyn (fiddle) and Frank Goodwyn (guitar), it’s a tune that seems to sound better the more fiddles you put on it. It’s also in Dan ‘Clawdan’ Levenson’s Old Time Favourites for Clawhammer Banjo (Mel Bay 30224 and its fiddle companion 30225) taken from the Arizona fiddler Kenner ‘KC’ Kartchner (b. Snowflake, AZ. 1886). A great tune for flat-foot clogging. 

17 Blood Red Roses 
(Dave Arthur) 

Dave vocal, guitar, Pete fiddle, chorus, Dan banjo, guitar, chorus Flowers? 19th century red-coated British soldiers? Bloody flower-like spume from the blow-hole of a harpooned whale? Who knows? Nobody. So we’re free to interpret the enigmatic chorus as we like. In fact, the poetic imagery of the ‘blood-red roses’ can be traced back no further than 1956 when Bert Lloyd sang it in the John Huston film Moby Dick. So the line that has caused such conjecture is simply, like so many other memorable folk revival lyrics, another example of Bert’s fertile imagination. His source was almost certainly ‘Come Down, You Bunch of Roses’, printed with the tune in William Doerflinger’s 1951 collection Shantymen and Shantyboys: Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman. With a re-written chorus line and the addition of some generic shanty verses, Bert launched the song on its way to becoming a folk standard. Many years later Doerflinger did say ‘I doubt that the movie version, with a “blood-red roses” chorus, is authentic folklore.’ Dave, inspired by Bert’s song but not wanting to sing a shanty, wrote our version a few years ago while working on his biography, Bert: The Life and Times of A. L. Lloyd. 
Dead-heads and Suckers
Dave vocal
Little Billy Wilson
Pete fiddle (AEAE)
Hang Me
Hang Me
Sample not available
Swannanoa Waltz / Julianne Johnson
Willow Garden Music
Sample not available
Poor Ellen Smith
Dave vocal
Bonaparte’s Retreat
Pete
Sample not available
Black Bottom Blues
Dave vocal
Sample not available
Take Me Back to Georgia
Pete fiddle
Sample not available
Wild Bill Jones
Pete vocal
Sample not available
Going Over the Mountain/ Old Jimmy Sutton
Dan minstrel banjo
Southern Soldier
Dave vocal
Sample not available
Waiting for the Federals
Dave melodeon
Sample not available
The Devil’s in the Girl
Dave
Sample not available
Rodeo Man
Universal Music Publishing Group)
Stackolee
Dave vocal
Sample not available
Walk Along John to Kansas
Dan fiddle (AEAE)
Sample not available
Blood Red Roses
Dave vocal
Sample not available

RnR

Ian Croft

This is the sixth album of (mostly) old time American music from Dave Arthur, Pete Cooper and Dan Stewart. True to

form, Poor Ellen Smith feels fresh and full of life, with the classic combination of guitar, banjo and fiddle augmented by occasional melodeon or harmonica.

The seventeen tracks switch back and forth between songs and tunes, starting with an 'ass kicking' song with the wonderful title, 'Dead heads And Suckers'. There's plenty of death to match the spirit of the times, as in the title track, a jolly treatment of a grisly murder tale, and old favourite 'Stackolee' seemingly played on speed.

A couple of new songs by Dave Arthur take a different route. 'Southern Soldier' is the fascinating story of an English migrant fighting for the Confederates because that's where he'd settled. 'Blood Red Roses' is a rewrite of the folk club favourite, which becomes defiantly not a shanty. All I need to say about the tune sets is that they're varied and uniformly excellent.

Finally, here's an album that, for once, has sleeve notes that deserve high praise indeed. They're informative, well researched and a fitting complement to a really superb CD. Thanks, chaps!

 4 star

Folking.com

Dai Jeffries

Rattle On The Stovepipe are Dave Arthur, Pete Cooper and Dan Stewart who play American old-timey music with the classic guitar, fiddle and banjo set-up, added harmonica and mandolin and a couple of excursions on melodeon. Poor Ellen Smith is their sixth album for Doug Bailey's label.

Most of the material here is traditional, or as traditional as it can be having knocked around America for anything up to a century and a half and the band squeeze seventeen tracks into the set. Only one, 'Bonaparte's Retreat' can be counted as a vignette so Rattle On The Stovepipe combine the pace of square dance tunes with a laid-back feel particularly in the songs. The set opens with 'Dead-Heads And Suckers', somewhat adapted to make sense of the text and put it the context of the early twentieth century. It's still traditional, though, that's just the folk process.

The title track is a classic murder ballad from Winston-Salem � a sort of American equivalent of Midsomer where Omie Wise also came to a bad end. 'Stackolee' came from further north in St.Louis, committing his crime on a particularly blood-soaked Christmas Day. More modern, and certainly less violent, is Bob McDill's 'Rodeo Man', a pure country song with a touch of melodeon to remind us that we're close to the Mexican border. I think I'd like to have heard Dave Arthur's melodeon fills higher up in the mix but it's a fine line with such a romantic song.

Arthur wrote two songs here. The first is 'Southern Soldier' which sounds very English and that's the point being made. At the time of the American Civil War the country was full of immigrants, few of whom were ideologues but were fighting for their own patch of ground. The second is 'Blood Red Roses', not the familiar shanty but inspired by Bert Lloyd's version from Moby Dick.

The top instrumentals include the well-known 'Waiting For The Federals', the twin fiddle attack of 'Walk Along John To Kansas' and the bouncy 'Little Billy Wilson'. The harmonica player front and centre of the cover picture, by the way, is the celebrated painter Jackson Pollock, pupil and band-mate of the artist, Thomas Hart Benton.

fRoots

Vic Smith

Another offering from the superb grouping of Dave Arthur, Pete Cooper and Dan Stewart.  Each release brings a new development and this time we can hear a tighter sound with a more up-tempo approach to the instrumentals. Their use of non-standard fiddle tunings (DDAD, ADAE,AEAE) gives the tunes a different feel this time.

In the first album (under Dave's name �can it really be fourteen years ago?) they concentrated on historic musical links between the British Isles and North America. Gradually, the tunes have all become American and reflect interesting regional styles and repertoires, including some learned by Dave as a young man on his visit to the Appalachians.  The versions of songs here have origins in both continents and the different styles of interpretation and performance add to the variety. Dave even includes one of his own compositions, Southern Soldier, about an archetypical young English immigrant who ends up fighting for the South in the Civil War, not for any commitment to slavery but because that was where his small farm was.  He is undoubtedly telling a story which applied to many,

A regular feature of Rattle On The Stovepipe is always the depth of knowledge on the background of their material included in the full booklet notes, and there is always something to learn. How many of you, for example, knew that the chorus of the popular shanty, Blood Red Roses, does not have a basis in the tradition but is, as Dave puts it, �simply, like so many other memorable folk revival lyrics, another example of Bert [Lloyd]'s fertile imagination�?

The Living Tradition

Gordon Potter

The names of Dave Arthur and Pete Cooper have, for a good long time, been linked with the English folk scene, as has that of Dan Stewart (though not for quite so long, due to his relative youth!). Here they come together again as Rattle On The Stovepipe, an American old-timey group who play variations on the guitar / fiddle / banjo line-up, with some mandolin and melodeon for good measure. Indeed, if you listen to this CD, you'd only begin to realise that they're not Americans when you hear the accents in the songs, such is their collective mastery of the styles involved.

Whether in the complex interactions of the instruments or in the relative simplicity of the vocal arrangements, this is a group utterly at ease with their material and with each other. There is never a hint of rushing, forcing the pace or any other artificiality � this is genuine through and through. The clarity of the recording is superb, with every note and every word clear and legible.

Some of the choice of material, at first glance, might seem a bit familiar, but the interpretations of them make them all stand out as if they were being heard for the first time. There is also a superb balance between tune sets and songs to give a roundedness to the whole album, which truly is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish.

There are informative booklet notes for each track, giving brief histories, and the non-standard fiddle tunings are given as well, for those who might want to learn the tunes.

All in all, a highly recommended album.

Folk in Cornwall

Rattle on the Stovepipe are a three piece band with the classic combination of banjo, guitar and fiddle to play the traditional American 'Old Time' tunes and songs on this CD. If you are familiar with the genre you may recognise the source material for some of the tracks   although all the arrangements are differ�ent. There are a couple of English songs there as well to keep you on your toes   including a very dif�ferent version of the shanty Blood Red Roses. This style of music has the ability to sound upbeat even when the songs, like the title track, deal with death, murder and execution.

Around Kent Folk

Kathy & Bob Drage

Rattle on the Stovepipe sing and play American traditional Old Timey music, with a few English ones thrown into the pot. It is a classic line   up of guitar, fiddle and banjo. The trio are Dave Arthur   vocals, banjo and guitar; Pete Cooper  fiddle; and Dan Stewart   guitar and banjo. All are master musicians but there is no sense of ego between them, they play the music they love, know their material and honour their sources.

'Deadhead Suckers' has many theories on its origin but is generally believed to be about layabouts and ne'er do wells. 'Hang Me Oh Hang Me' recorded by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax in Hazard Kentucky, 'Swannanoa Waltz'  the annual Gathering is a good place to meet North Carolina Old Time community. 'Poor Ellen Smith' is a typical murder ballad, 'Black Bottom Blues', either a generic term for an African American downtown area or as in Detroit, an area where music clubs sprang up. Sexual jealousy in 'Wild Bill Jones, 'Southern Soldier', written by Dave is about a man caught up in the civil war. 'The Devil's in The Girl' a cautionary tale of seduction and abandonment, `Over the Mountain/Old Jimmy Sutton is played by Dan on a copy of a 19th C minstrel banjo. Of course there has to be a version of  'Stackolee' whilst 'Walk Along John to Kansas' is great for flat foot clogging. The CD ends with a Dave Arthur written version of Blood Red Roses.

Pete and Dave have written comprehensive notes for each track, both fascinating and valuable to anyone wanting to learn and perform them. Dave is a great storyteller which is evident in his handling of ballads in particular. They have the rare gift of drawing you into a song.

Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

This is the third CD that I've had the pleasure of reviewing by this threesome of Dave Arthur (vocals, harmonica, melodion and guitar), Pete Cooper (fiddle, harmonica and chorus vocals) and Dan Stewart (banjo, guitar and chorus vocals) collectively known as Rattle on the Stovepipe.  I enjoyed the previous albums tremendously and this one is equally full of exceptionally well performed American 'Old Timey' music.

Among the 18 tracks are a number of well known songs including Hang Me, Oh Hang Me a version of John Henry, the familiar Black Bottom Blues and Wild Bill Jones where Pete plays a mean harmonica part and Stackolee where Dave is obviously enjoying singing the murderous lyrics. In fact there are a lot of murders and violent incidents in many of the songs refelecting the American Wild West's society at the time. The title track Poor Ellen Smith is well chosen in this respect.

There's also a song collected by Cecil Sharp called The Devil's in the Girl a classic song of seduction and abandonment which includes a well known tune in the links and two songs from the pen of Dave Arthur, Southern Soldier and a very interesting reinterpretation of Blood Red Roses which concludes the album.

There are also a substantial number of tunes on this album which illustrate clearly the empathy between these superb musicians. Of these I particularly enjoyed Little Billy Wilson which really drives along apace as does the well known Bonaparte's Retreat. The more lilting Take Me Back to Georgia is also a super performance. Great musicianship personified.

The album is further enhanced by a selection of photographs of the artistes and comprehensive sleeve notes which clearly show the amount of research carried out in finding the songs and tunes.

This is a must buy for those who enjoy this particular genre but I can also recommend it to those who might like to dip into 'Old Timey Music' because you'll be hard pushed to find better than this.

EDS

Sue Rooke

There is a very good mix of material on Rattle on the Stovepipe's sixth album of traditional American oldtime

dance tunes, songs from around the States and a couple of great songs written by Dave Arthur in the

British folk tradition but with old time American connections. This home-grown acoustic trio is well

respected composed of highly competent and versatile musicians. I have enjoyed listening to this CD very

much.

I have chosen a few of my favourite tracks. I love a lot of their dance tune arrangements and particularly

their rendition of Walk Along John to Kansas. This is a tune which I had been bit fed up with but their

version had me dancing around the kitchen (it's OK, nobody was watching). The sound and energy of the

two fiddles (Pete Cooper and Dan Stewart) in harmony is fantastic and really lifts the melody into another

dimension. Another great tune is Little Billy Wilson played with a light bouncy energy. Over the Mountain

played alongside Old Jimmy Sutton is a goody too. Dan Stewart plays a lovely mellow and primitive

sounding copy of a 19th century minstrel banjo on the first part of the tune accompanied by Dave on the

drum beat and tambourine, and the whole thing is speeded up when the fiddle joins the music for Old

Jimmy Sutton. It finished all too soon for me, they could have dragged it out a bit longer!

Whilst I'm not a big fan of British Folk Songs, Dave Arthur has done a great job with Blood Red Roses. This

enigmatic song sounds like it could have been around for hundreds of years but Dave wrote this version a

few years ago whilst working on Bert Lloyd's biography. It seems that Bert Lloyd was the first to use this

poetic imagery in his sea shanty for John Huston's film of 1956, Moby Dick. The other song that Dave has

written on this album is Southern Soldier, a tale of an immigrant from Britain who is fighting for the

Confederacy in the American Civil War.

Their CD cover gives notes against each of the tracks which I found very interesting and adds depth to the

listening experience. As an art lover, I found the cover page intriguing. t shows a painting called 'The

Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley' of 1934 by Thomas Hart Benson, an American artist and

tutor who has painted an image of his then student Jackson Pollock playing the harmonica. It's a lyrical

image and could have been made for this album.

This CD is well worth a listen (or two, or three), the quality of the recording in my opinion is very good,

you can hear all the instruments equally well. and represents good value not only for the many tracks on

it but for the quality of musicianship and passion that they obviously have for this music.

Old Time News

Sue Rooke

There is a very good mix of material on Rattle on the Stovepipe's sixth album of traditional American oldtime dance tunes, songs from around the States and a couple of great songs written by Dave Arthur in the British folk tradition but with old-time American connections. This homegrown acoustic trio is well respected composed of highly competent and versatile musicians. I have enjoyed listening to this CD very much.  I have chosen a few of my favourite tracks. I love a lot of their dance tune arrangements and particularly their rendition of Walk Along John to Kansas.  This is a tune which I had been bit fed up with but their version had me dancing around the kitchen (it's OK, nobody was watching). The sound and energy of the two fiddles (Pete Cooper and Dan Stewart) in harmony is fantastic and really lifts the melody into another dimension. Another great tune is Little Billy Wilson played with a light bouncy energy. Over the Mountain played alongside Old Jimmy Sutton is a goody too. Dan Stewart plays a lovely mellow and primitive sounding copy of a 19th century minstrel banjo on the first part of the tune accompanied by Dave on the drum beat and tambourine, and the whole thing is speeded up when the fiddle joins the music for Old Jimmy Sutton. It finished all too soon for me, they could have dragged it out a bit longer!

Whilst I'm not a big fan of British Folk Songs, Dave Arthur has done a great job with Blood Red Roses. This enigmatic song sounds like it could have been around for hundreds of years but Dave wrote this version a few years ago whilst working on Bert Lloyd's biography. It seems that Bert Lloyd was the first to use this poetic imagery in his sea shanty for John Huston's film of 1956, Moby Dick. The other song that Dave has written on this album is Southern Soldier, a tale of an immigrant from Britain who is fighting for the Confederacy in the American Civil War.

Their CD cover gives notes against each of the tracks which I found very interesting and adds depth to the listening experience. As an art lover, I found the cover page intriguing. t shows a painting called 'The Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley' of 1934 by Thomas Hart Benson, an American artist and tutor who has painted an image of his then student Jackson Pollock playing the harmonica. It's a lyrical image and could have been made for this album.  This CD is well worth a listen (or two, or three), the quality of the recording in my opinion is very good, you can hear all the instruments equally well.  and represents good value not only for the many tracks on it but for the quality of musicianship and passion that they obviously have for this music.  

RnR

Ian Croft

This is the sixth album of (mostly) old time American music from Dave Arthur, Pete Cooper and Dan Stewart. True to

form, Poor Ellen Smith feels fresh and full of life, with the classic combination of guitar, banjo and fiddle augmented by occasional melodeon or harmonica.

The seventeen tracks switch back and forth between songs and tunes, starting with an 'ass kicking' song with the wonderful title, 'Dead heads And Suckers'. There's plenty of death to match the spirit of the times, as in the title track, a jolly treatment of a grisly murder tale, and old favourite 'Stackolee' seemingly played on speed.

A couple of new songs by Dave Arthur take a different route. 'Southern Soldier' is the fascinating story of an English migrant fighting for the Confederates because that's where he'd settled. 'Blood Red Roses' is a rewrite of the folk club favourite, which becomes defiantly not a shanty. All I need to say about the tune sets is that they're varied and uniformly excellent.

Finally, here's an album that, for once, has sleeve notes that deserve high praise indeed. They're informative, well researched and a fitting complement to a really superb CD. Thanks, chaps!

 4 star

Folking.com

Dai Jeffries

Rattle On The Stovepipe are Dave Arthur, Pete Cooper and Dan Stewart who play American old-timey music with the classic guitar, fiddle and banjo set-up, added harmonica and mandolin and a couple of excursions on melodeon. Poor Ellen Smith is their sixth album for Doug Bailey's label.

Most of the material here is traditional, or as traditional as it can be having knocked around America for anything up to a century and a half and the band squeeze seventeen tracks into the set. Only one, 'Bonaparte's Retreat' can be counted as a vignette so Rattle On The Stovepipe combine the pace of square dance tunes with a laid-back feel particularly in the songs. The set opens with 'Dead-Heads And Suckers', somewhat adapted to make sense of the text and put it the context of the early twentieth century. It's still traditional, though, that's just the folk process.

The title track is a classic murder ballad from Winston-Salem � a sort of American equivalent of Midsomer where Omie Wise also came to a bad end. 'Stackolee' came from further north in St.Louis, committing his crime on a particularly blood-soaked Christmas Day. More modern, and certainly less violent, is Bob McDill's 'Rodeo Man', a pure country song with a touch of melodeon to remind us that we're close to the Mexican border. I think I'd like to have heard Dave Arthur's melodeon fills higher up in the mix but it's a fine line with such a romantic song.

Arthur wrote two songs here. The first is 'Southern Soldier' which sounds very English and that's the point being made. At the time of the American Civil War the country was full of immigrants, few of whom were ideologues but were fighting for their own patch of ground. The second is 'Blood Red Roses', not the familiar shanty but inspired by Bert Lloyd's version from Moby Dick.

The top instrumentals include the well-known 'Waiting For The Federals', the twin fiddle attack of 'Walk Along John To Kansas' and the bouncy 'Little Billy Wilson'. The harmonica player front and centre of the cover picture, by the way, is the celebrated painter Jackson Pollock, pupil and band-mate of the artist, Thomas Hart Benton.

fRoots

Vic Smith

Another offering from the superb grouping of Dave Arthur, Pete Cooper and Dan Stewart.  Each release brings a new development and this time we can hear a tighter sound with a more up-tempo approach to the instrumentals. Their use of non-standard fiddle tunings (DDAD, ADAE,AEAE) gives the tunes a different feel this time.

In the first album (under Dave's name �can it really be fourteen years ago?) they concentrated on historic musical links between the British Isles and North America. Gradually, the tunes have all become American and reflect interesting regional styles and repertoires, including some learned by Dave as a young man on his visit to the Appalachians.  The versions of songs here have origins in both continents and the different styles of interpretation and performance add to the variety. Dave even includes one of his own compositions, Southern Soldier, about an archetypical young English immigrant who ends up fighting for the South in the Civil War, not for any commitment to slavery but because that was where his small farm was.  He is undoubtedly telling a story which applied to many,

A regular feature of Rattle On The Stovepipe is always the depth of knowledge on the background of their material included in the full booklet notes, and there is always something to learn. How many of you, for example, knew that the chorus of the popular shanty, Blood Red Roses, does not have a basis in the tradition but is, as Dave puts it, �simply, like so many other memorable folk revival lyrics, another example of Bert [Lloyd]'s fertile imagination�?

The Living Tradition

Gordon Potter

The names of Dave Arthur and Pete Cooper have, for a good long time, been linked with the English folk scene, as has that of Dan Stewart (though not for quite so long, due to his relative youth!). Here they come together again as Rattle On The Stovepipe, an American old-timey group who play variations on the guitar / fiddle / banjo line-up, with some mandolin and melodeon for good measure. Indeed, if you listen to this CD, you'd only begin to realise that they're not Americans when you hear the accents in the songs, such is their collective mastery of the styles involved.

Whether in the complex interactions of the instruments or in the relative simplicity of the vocal arrangements, this is a group utterly at ease with their material and with each other. There is never a hint of rushing, forcing the pace or any other artificiality � this is genuine through and through. The clarity of the recording is superb, with every note and every word clear and legible.

Some of the choice of material, at first glance, might seem a bit familiar, but the interpretations of them make them all stand out as if they were being heard for the first time. There is also a superb balance between tune sets and songs to give a roundedness to the whole album, which truly is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish.

There are informative booklet notes for each track, giving brief histories, and the non-standard fiddle tunings are given as well, for those who might want to learn the tunes.

All in all, a highly recommended album.

Folk in Cornwall

Rattle on the Stovepipe are a three piece band with the classic combination of banjo, guitar and fiddle to play the traditional American 'Old Time' tunes and songs on this CD. If you are familiar with the genre you may recognise the source material for some of the tracks   although all the arrangements are differ�ent. There are a couple of English songs there as well to keep you on your toes   including a very dif�ferent version of the shanty Blood Red Roses. This style of music has the ability to sound upbeat even when the songs, like the title track, deal with death, murder and execution.

Around Kent Folk

Kathy & Bob Drage

Rattle on the Stovepipe sing and play American traditional Old Timey music, with a few English ones thrown into the pot. It is a classic line   up of guitar, fiddle and banjo. The trio are Dave Arthur   vocals, banjo and guitar; Pete Cooper  fiddle; and Dan Stewart   guitar and banjo. All are master musicians but there is no sense of ego between them, they play the music they love, know their material and honour their sources.

'Deadhead Suckers' has many theories on its origin but is generally believed to be about layabouts and ne'er do wells. 'Hang Me Oh Hang Me' recorded by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax in Hazard Kentucky, 'Swannanoa Waltz'  the annual Gathering is a good place to meet North Carolina Old Time community. 'Poor Ellen Smith' is a typical murder ballad, 'Black Bottom Blues', either a generic term for an African American downtown area or as in Detroit, an area where music clubs sprang up. Sexual jealousy in 'Wild Bill Jones, 'Southern Soldier', written by Dave is about a man caught up in the civil war. 'The Devil's in The Girl' a cautionary tale of seduction and abandonment, `Over the Mountain/Old Jimmy Sutton is played by Dan on a copy of a 19th C minstrel banjo. Of course there has to be a version of  'Stackolee' whilst 'Walk Along John to Kansas' is great for flat foot clogging. The CD ends with a Dave Arthur written version of Blood Red Roses.

Pete and Dave have written comprehensive notes for each track, both fascinating and valuable to anyone wanting to learn and perform them. Dave is a great storyteller which is evident in his handling of ballads in particular. They have the rare gift of drawing you into a song.

Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

This is the third CD that I've had the pleasure of reviewing by this threesome of Dave Arthur (vocals, harmonica, melodion and guitar), Pete Cooper (fiddle, harmonica and chorus vocals) and Dan Stewart (banjo, guitar and chorus vocals) collectively known as Rattle on the Stovepipe.  I enjoyed the previous albums tremendously and this one is equally full of exceptionally well performed American 'Old Timey' music.

Among the 18 tracks are a number of well known songs including Hang Me, Oh Hang Me a version of John Henry, the familiar Black Bottom Blues and Wild Bill Jones where Pete plays a mean harmonica part and Stackolee where Dave is obviously enjoying singing the murderous lyrics. In fact there are a lot of murders and violent incidents in many of the songs refelecting the American Wild West's society at the time. The title track Poor Ellen Smith is well chosen in this respect.

There's also a song collected by Cecil Sharp called The Devil's in the Girl a classic song of seduction and abandonment which includes a well known tune in the links and two songs from the pen of Dave Arthur, Southern Soldier and a very interesting reinterpretation of Blood Red Roses which concludes the album.

There are also a substantial number of tunes on this album which illustrate clearly the empathy between these superb musicians. Of these I particularly enjoyed Little Billy Wilson which really drives along apace as does the well known Bonaparte's Retreat. The more lilting Take Me Back to Georgia is also a super performance. Great musicianship personified.

The album is further enhanced by a selection of photographs of the artistes and comprehensive sleeve notes which clearly show the amount of research carried out in finding the songs and tunes.

This is a must buy for those who enjoy this particular genre but I can also recommend it to those who might like to dip into 'Old Timey Music' because you'll be hard pushed to find better than this.

EDS

Sue Rooke

There is a very good mix of material on Rattle on the Stovepipe's sixth album of traditional American oldtime

dance tunes, songs from around the States and a couple of great songs written by Dave Arthur in the

British folk tradition but with old time American connections. This home-grown acoustic trio is well

respected composed of highly competent and versatile musicians. I have enjoyed listening to this CD very

much.

I have chosen a few of my favourite tracks. I love a lot of their dance tune arrangements and particularly

their rendition of Walk Along John to Kansas. This is a tune which I had been bit fed up with but their

version had me dancing around the kitchen (it's OK, nobody was watching). The sound and energy of the

two fiddles (Pete Cooper and Dan Stewart) in harmony is fantastic and really lifts the melody into another

dimension. Another great tune is Little Billy Wilson played with a light bouncy energy. Over the Mountain

played alongside Old Jimmy Sutton is a goody too. Dan Stewart plays a lovely mellow and primitive

sounding copy of a 19th century minstrel banjo on the first part of the tune accompanied by Dave on the

drum beat and tambourine, and the whole thing is speeded up when the fiddle joins the music for Old

Jimmy Sutton. It finished all too soon for me, they could have dragged it out a bit longer!

Whilst I'm not a big fan of British Folk Songs, Dave Arthur has done a great job with Blood Red Roses. This

enigmatic song sounds like it could have been around for hundreds of years but Dave wrote this version a

few years ago whilst working on Bert Lloyd's biography. It seems that Bert Lloyd was the first to use this

poetic imagery in his sea shanty for John Huston's film of 1956, Moby Dick. The other song that Dave has

written on this album is Southern Soldier, a tale of an immigrant from Britain who is fighting for the

Confederacy in the American Civil War.

Their CD cover gives notes against each of the tracks which I found very interesting and adds depth to the

listening experience. As an art lover, I found the cover page intriguing. t shows a painting called 'The

Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley' of 1934 by Thomas Hart Benson, an American artist and

tutor who has painted an image of his then student Jackson Pollock playing the harmonica. It's a lyrical

image and could have been made for this album.

This CD is well worth a listen (or two, or three), the quality of the recording in my opinion is very good,

you can hear all the instruments equally well. and represents good value not only for the many tracks on

it but for the quality of musicianship and passion that they obviously have for this music.

Old Time News

Sue Rooke

There is a very good mix of material on Rattle on the Stovepipe's sixth album of traditional American oldtime dance tunes, songs from around the States and a couple of great songs written by Dave Arthur in the British folk tradition but with old-time American connections. This homegrown acoustic trio is well respected composed of highly competent and versatile musicians. I have enjoyed listening to this CD very much.  I have chosen a few of my favourite tracks. I love a lot of their dance tune arrangements and particularly their rendition of Walk Along John to Kansas.  This is a tune which I had been bit fed up with but their version had me dancing around the kitchen (it's OK, nobody was watching). The sound and energy of the two fiddles (Pete Cooper and Dan Stewart) in harmony is fantastic and really lifts the melody into another dimension. Another great tune is Little Billy Wilson played with a light bouncy energy. Over the Mountain played alongside Old Jimmy Sutton is a goody too. Dan Stewart plays a lovely mellow and primitive sounding copy of a 19th century minstrel banjo on the first part of the tune accompanied by Dave on the drum beat and tambourine, and the whole thing is speeded up when the fiddle joins the music for Old Jimmy Sutton. It finished all too soon for me, they could have dragged it out a bit longer!

Whilst I'm not a big fan of British Folk Songs, Dave Arthur has done a great job with Blood Red Roses. This enigmatic song sounds like it could have been around for hundreds of years but Dave wrote this version a few years ago whilst working on Bert Lloyd's biography. It seems that Bert Lloyd was the first to use this poetic imagery in his sea shanty for John Huston's film of 1956, Moby Dick. The other song that Dave has written on this album is Southern Soldier, a tale of an immigrant from Britain who is fighting for the Confederacy in the American Civil War.

Their CD cover gives notes against each of the tracks which I found very interesting and adds depth to the listening experience. As an art lover, I found the cover page intriguing. t shows a painting called 'The Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley' of 1934 by Thomas Hart Benson, an American artist and tutor who has painted an image of his then student Jackson Pollock playing the harmonica. It's a lyrical image and could have been made for this album.  This CD is well worth a listen (or two, or three), the quality of the recording in my opinion is very good, you can hear all the instruments equally well.  and represents good value not only for the many tracks on it but for the quality of musicianship and passion that they obviously have for this music.