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!