Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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

 photo RivPod2_zpsm2fqok4n.jpg  
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."