Thursday, July 23, 2015

Roots Radio 9: The Tippler's Way - Songs Of Strong Drink & Hard Drinkers Part 1

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This is the first half of my two hour show on KPFK-FM last Saturday, July 18. One hour seems to work better for podcasts, so from here on out I'll be dividing the KPFK broadcasts into two pods.

And as much as I love this aspect of my folk music life - I am fully intending to get back to the original concept of this blog some time in August.

The Tippler's Way
KPFK Roots Music & Beyond
July 18, 2015

Opening Track:  Finnegan's Wake - The Clancy Brothers  Lou Killen

Bottled Poetry (Songs About Wine)
Bottle of Wine - Tom Paxton
Raspberries, Strawberries - Bud & Travis
Wines of Madeira - The Kingston Trio
Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee - Jerry Lee Lewis
Candlelight and Wine - Barleycorn
Strawberry Wine - The Wreckers/ Deanna Carter
Two More Bottles Of Wine - Emmylou Harris

Whiskey You're Me Darling (Songs About Whiskey)
Nancy Whiskey - The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem
The Juice of the Barley - Jack Makem
Whiskey - Trampled By Turtles
One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer - John Lee Hooker
Whiskey Ain't Workin' -  Marty Stuart
Scotch&Soda - Bob Shane
Whiskey You're The Devil - Riverclad

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Roots Radio 8: Desperadoes - Good Songs About Bad People

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Desperadoes: Good Songs About Bad People

Show Theme: From "Forever And A Day" - The Kingston Trio

Opening Track: "Four Rode By" - Ian & Sylvia

Cowboy Era Killers
"Sam Hall" - Johnny Cash
"Jesse James" - Pete Seeger
"Billy The Kid" - Marty Robbins
"John Hardy" - Cisco Houston

North Carolina Criminals
"Omie Wise" - Pentangle
"Tom Dooley - Doc Watson
"Poor Ellen Smith" - The Kossoy Sisters

Public Enemies
"Stagger Lee" - Taj Mahal
"Pretty Boy Floyd" - The Byrds
"The Legend of Bonnie And Clyde" - Merle Haggard

Outro: A Big Hand For The Little Lady
"Lizzie Borden" - The Chad Mitchell Trio

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Roots Radio 7: The Silver Singing River - Folk Songs Of America's Waterways

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Song And Artist Notes To Be Added Shortly
Show Theme: From "Forever And A Day" - The Kingston Trio
Opening: "That Song About The River" - The Kingston Trio
The Great Waters
"The Lovely Ohio" - Matthew Sabatella & The Rambling String Band
"Mississippi River Blues" - Jimmie Rodgers
"Across The Wide Missouri" - The Kingston Trio

 Deep Streams
"Rivers Of Texas" - Mason Williams
"Deep River Blues" - Doc Watson
"Roll On, Columbia" - Hank Cramer
"Oh Cumberland" - Matraca Berg, Emmylou Harris, & The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

 Rivers Of Light
"Shall We Gather By The River" - Uncle Dave Macon
"River Of Death" - Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
"Down In The River To Pray" - Alison Krauss  

Closing: For Charleston, SC - June 2015
"O Healing River" - Pete Seeger

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Roots Radio 6: Where Highways Never End - Songs For The Open Road

Song and artists notes appear immediately below the podcast player.

Where Highways Never End

Songs For The Open Road

Show Theme: From "Forever and a Day" - The Kingston Trio

"Mountains & MaryAnne" - Gordon Lightfoot (1968)
As much as I love this song and its lyrics - including the second line from which this show takes its title - I think that Gord got a little carried away with the orchestrations here, not only on this track but on the whole Did She Mention My Name? album. His all-acoustic concert version is better but unavailable as a digital recording.

Love, Lost And Found
"Tomorrow Is A Long Time" - Judy Collins (1965)
Collins learned the song from a bootleg tape of a demo that Bob Dylan had done at the end of 1962, as did the dozens of other performers who recorded and released the tune before Dylan himself did so - which wasn't until 1971.
"I Dream Of Highways" - Hoyt Axton (1976)
From Axton's  most productive and successful years as a soloist. His singing partner on this track is Renee Armand.

"Chilly Winds" - John Stewart (1973)
This is one of Stewart's best-loved compositions, and for my money this is his absolute best recording of the seven or eight versions that he waxed of it. The Cannons In The Rain album/CD on which it appeared in '73 is also likely the best introduction to Stewart for people who don't know his work - or that he also wrote the evergreen pop-rock classic "Daydream Believer" for The Monkees.

Looking Back
"Me And You And A Dog Named Boo" - Stonewall Jackson (1972)
Jackson's peak years were between the late 1950s and about the mid-1970s when he scored a significant number of hit albums and singles on the country charts. He's retired now and living comfortably outside of Nashville, age 82.
"Freeborn Man" - Liam Clancy (1965)
This was the opening track on Clancy's self-titled first solo album (independent of his brothers Paddy and Tom and his friend Tommy Makem) from 1965. I am stunned to think that this was fifty years ago.
"On The Road" - John Denver (1974)
From what I think may well be Denver's finest and most completely satisfying album, 1974's Back Home Again. Composer Carl Franzen lives near Minneapolis and has recently resumed his musical career after a four decade hiatus. The tune was also recorded by Michael Johnson of "Bluer Than Blue" fame.

"Country Road" - Keith Urban (2006)
I knew of Urban's work mostly from radio, and I admired not only his skills as a rock/blues/country guitarist but also his good taste in creating musical lines that complimented his vocals rather than dominated them. I think this rendition of James Taylor's tune demonstrates all of that most effectively. Parenthetically - I was surprised to find out just how long ago this Music Cares tribute show actually was.

Looking Ahead
"Settle Down" - Peter, Paul and Mary (1962)
The Moving album to which I alluded in the 'cast also included a little tune called "Puff, The Magic Dragon." For more on composer Mike Settle, see his page here on my friend Jerry Kergan's excellent Kingston Trio Liner Notes site.
"Northwest Passage" - Stan Rogers (1981)
Rogers' best-known compositions in addition to this one are probably "The Mary Ellen Carter" and "Barrett's Privateers." His inclusion here and my remark in the show that you could do an entire podcast on his music has elicited a significant number of enthusiastic endorsements, so I expect to do one somewhere down the line.
"One More Town" - Hank Cramer (2004)
Hank's personalization of the lyrics as noted in the 'cast has an interesting twist to it. When John Stewart wrote the song at the age of 21, he had never been to some of the places of which he sang - in verse 1 West Virginia (where Hank substitutes his native Carolina) and New Orleans in verse 2. In fact, following the Hurricane Katrina disaster of a decade ago and not long before his death, Stewart recorded a mournful number called "Never Been To New Orleans,"  and it was sadly true. Hank Cramer's website in all its considerable glory can be found here. 

"Gotta Travel On" - Paul Clayton (1958)
Of the distress that I expressed in the show about Clayton's anonymity today, the most painful part for me is that where he is remembered at all it is as a mentor to Bob Dylan and not for the tremendous impact that he had had on the repertoires of virtually every other folk performer of the 1950s and 1960s - nor for the subtle beauty of his arrangements of traditional songs and the grace with which he sang them. This track, I believe, is an excellent example of all of that.

For Ronnie Gilbert, 1926 - 2015
"On My Journey" - The Weavers (1960)
Two of my internet friends responded to this track with such articulate and thoughtful remarks that they deserve to be included here. First, from Bruce in Montreal:
"Somehow, when [a] person dies, something inside them still lives on, and we become closer than ever before. In the case of Ronnie Gilbert, I believe it's her wisdom + her quest for justice + her talent. She sure made THE WEAVERS sound incredible. She gave them (and by extension, us) her magnificent voice...and through the mastery of recording, we get to listen to Ronnie Gilbert sing forever." 
And from Jack in the Great Northwest:
"Thank you for the much-deserved tribute to Ronnie Gilbert at the end of the show.  You couldn’t have chosen a more fitting song and that it was a live performance with applause at the end only made it a more fitting way to salute a great performer."  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Roots Radio 5: Bound For Californ-i-o: Golden Songs Of The Golden State

More information on Artists and songs in italics below.

Bound For Californ-i-o

Jim Moran's Folk Music Podcast May 18, 2015

Show Theme: From "Forever and a Day" - The Kingston Trio

Opening: California, Here I Come - East Bay Banjo Club
A delightful group per show commentary. Their last big gig was in April at Sheep Shearing Day at Forest Hill Farm. That about says it all.

The Gold Rush

Santy Anno - The Weavers
From the group's 1957 album 'The Weavers At Home." Perhaps the definitive 20th century rendition of the tune and ample evidence of why this was the greatest pop-folk group of them all.

Days of '49 - The Knob Lick Upper 10, 000
Knob Lick is in Kentucky; "upper 10,000" was the group's translation of a German word that most of us would render as "upper crust" or "elite." The trio consisted of  Erik Jacobsen, Dwain Story, and Peter Childs, who met as students at Oberlin College, which had one of the oldest and most active folk environments of any college in the country. The KLU10k released three excellent albums at precisely the wrong time, in 1963 and 1964, right when pop-folk-acoustic music was being washed away by the British Invasion. Too bad.

Bound For The Promised Land - Craig Duncan
Duncan specializes in hymns and church music, especially as those were sung during the country's formative years. This hymn can be rendered as an exceptionally stirring and messianic march; Duncan's choice to perform it more quietly with dulcimer layered on dulcimer is sublime. The chorus runs "I am Bound for the Promised Land/Bound for the Promised Land/O who will come and go with me?/I am bound for the Promised Land."

Oh, California! - Andrea Zonn
Zonn was the original fiddler with The Union Station before Alison Krause joined the band. Zonn has been most visible during the last fifteen years or so as the principal fiddler for James Taylor, and the two interact warmly and brilliantly in live performance - to which a host of JT PBS specials attests. The other Grammy-winning fiddle-playing Alison - Alison Brown - also performs on this track.

Banks of Sacramento - Tom Brown
Brown's 'Short, Sharp Shanteys" is one of the most delightful albums of sea songs in recent years - and Brown frails that ol' banjo with the best of them.

The King of California - Dave Alvin
From the king of California folk/roots songwriters. An exceptional re-imagining of the Gold Rush era.

The Land of Dreams

California Mudslide - Lightnin' Hopkins
There are millions of people in California today wishing that we had had enough rain at any point in the last four years to create a mudslide. Well, not really, except as a metaphor for the agony of our current devastating drought. Hopkins presents the opposite end of the spectrum, with the mudslide viewed as a disaster in itself that seems often to be a precursor to even worse. That's a cheery thought.

California Dreaming - Lisa Ferraro & Erika Luckett
Ferraro styles herself as a jazz singer, but with her frequent partner Luckett she can do just about any kind of song - as she proves here.

Going To California - Johnny McEvoy
I ran across McEvoy while looking for songs for this blog, and he does a fine and polished job on such classic Irish folk standards as "The Leaving of Liverpool" and the Celtic "Portland Town" (not the Derroll Adams tune). But McEvoy is also a skilled and successful writer, and this tune has been covered dozens of times on both sides of the Atlantic.

California - Joni Mitchell
Written and sung with the fervor of one who has adopted California as a home. Mitchell manages to get just about every major theme of this show into her song - the freedom, the beauty and the weather - and the possibility of re-invention of self. A classic Mitchell composition and performance.

California Bloodlines - John Stewart
Stewart's love letter to the only state he ever really called home. Though he spent most of his life living in the Bay area, Stewart died in 2008 in the hospital in which he had been born in San Diego 68 years before . That seemed absolutely fitting somehow.

Outro: California/I'm Going Home - The Kingston Trio
An excellent example of why this second-generation band is every bit the equal of its predecessor group(s). There are those abroad in the land who whisper that George Grove, Bill Zorn, and Rick Dougherty actually perform this number better than the originals. Shh!