Old Time Jams, Cowboy Music, and Men and Women
Written by Randy Black on February 7, 2017
Viking Twang Show 117, February 6, 2017
Good morning, welcome to Viking Twang Episode 117. My name’s Randy Black; happy to see you, as always.
As many of you know, WAMU’s Bluegrass Country has gone through an ownership change, saving full-time bluegrass radio for us all. One of my favorite DJs, Rosemarie Nielson, has chosen to retire after six years as host of the Old Time Jam. The show will continue with Brad Kolodner hosting, but I’ll miss Rosemarie’s welcoming voice every Friday morning.
Rosemarie is also a banjo player and avid jammer in the Virginia area, so I’m going to play a special set for her. This group of songs is from a 2011 album called In The Field Behind The Stage; recordings from the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, Virginia. There are essentially field recordings of jams at the festival, many recorded in a tent at the campsite of Kevin and Trish Fore.
In the second set we’ll play songs from a Smithsonian Folkways released called Cowboy Songs on Folkways, and we’ll close with some songs about the troubles between women and men.
We’ll start out with T.J. Lundy, recorded in 2011.
1 – Turkey Red; W.C. Beck & the Portland Country Underground.
2 – Sail Away Ladies; T.J. Lundy. Ted Lundy is playing the fiddle, with Kevin Fore on clawhammer banjo and Trish Fore on guitar.
3 – Durham’s Reed; John Ashby. From 1967; with Ashby on fiddle, Oscar Jenkins on banjo, and Aaron O’Bier on guitar.
4 – Leake Caudle’s Tune; Leake Caudle. Caudle’s on fiddle on his own composition, with Jenkins on banjo.
5 – Western Country; Oscar Jenkins. Jenkins’ history with the Galax festival goes to 1935, when he was in his father’s band that took first place in the band contest. He’s on the fiddle with Leake Caudle on guitar.
6 – Pat Him On The Back; Betty Vornbrock. Betty’s playing fiddle with Billy Cornette on guitar on a song she got from Snake Chapman.
7 – Grey Eagle; Blue Ridge Mountain Ramblers. The Ramblers are Adrian Shepard-Powell on fiddle, Trish Fore on clawhammer, Steve Kilby on guitar, and Sam Linkous on standup bass.
8 – Rachel; Corrina Logston. Corrina’s on the fiddle, joined by Kevin Fore on clawhammer, Trish Fore on guitar, and Erin Creed on bass.
9 – Western Country; New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters. That was recorded at the band’s campsite on the back of a pickup truck. Eddie Bond’s on the fiddle and vocals, Josh Ellis on clawhammer, Kirk Sutphin on finger banjo, Dennis Hall on guitar, Leon Frost and Dallas Hall on mandolin, and Jessie Morris on standup.
Rosemarie has a soft spot for cowboy songs and always included at least one in her show. Here’s a set from a 1991 Smithsonian Folkways album called Cowboy Songs on Folkways.
10 – Chisholm Trail; Tex-I-Ana Boys. The granddaddy of cowboy songs, this was recorded in 1962 by musicians from the Houston Folklore Group, with John Lomax Jr. on the vocals.
11 – Some Cowboy Brag Talk; Harry Jackson. Jackson was a cowboy who became a cowboy artist and virtuoso at the genre of cowboy brag songs.
12 – (When It’s) Springtime in the Rockies; Lead Belly. An old song that Lead Belly reportedly learned after watching the Gene Autry movie by the same name. Recorded in 1948.
13 – Buffalo Skinners; Woody Guthrie. One of the few cowboy protest songs, so of course Woody is the one to sing it. The words come from a couple of versions recorded by John and Alan Lomax; Woody recorded it in 1946.
14 – Strawberry Roan; Harry Jackson. This was originally written in 1914 by Curley Fletcher and first recorded in 1930 by Paul Hamblin. Marty Robbins had a hit with it in 1959.
15 – The Dying Cowboy; Cisco Houston. An old song that started in the mid-1800s as a song about a sailor. It became a cowboy song in the late 1870s and has become one of the most enduring cowboy songs. Cisco recorded it in 1952.
Rumor has it that sometimes men and women have different ideas about the course of their relationships. Here’s some songs about it, starting with the Amberguey sisters.
16 – Can’t Live With Them; Mattie, Martha, and Minnie. This was a sister group who all went on to have long careers in different parts of country music. They recorded this in 1951.
17 – I’m Gonna Wear The Pants; Joe and Rose Lee Maphis. That’s from 1954.
18 – I Wish I Was A Single Girl Again; Crooked Jades. The great San Francisco band, from their 2000 album Seven Sisters: A Kentucky Portrait.
19 – Act Like a Married Man; Jean Shepard and Hawkshaw Hawkins. This is from an album of radio transcriptions called Radio Memories of Hawkshaw Hawkins, from soon before his death in 1963.
20 – I’ll Take My Old Guitar; Atomic Duo. This is Mark Rubin from the Bad Livers, along with Silas Lowe, from 2009.
21 – Love Is All Around; Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Joan was apparently a big fan of Mary Tyler Moore; she put this out as a single in 1996.
22 – Daybreak in Dixie; The Countrypolitans.