I’ve been playing tunes around Bloomington since 1979, most regularly at an outdoor setting, and since 1976, I had spent a part of my life of singing on the streets of Cleveland, Miami, and Bloomington. Playing music was part of my life every week for decades, whether at the Contra Dance, at an art fair, a party, an Irish session, farmers’ market, campfires, or demonstrations; live acoustic music was part of my life.
As times have changed with Covid, so have I, and deciding to record a few tunes for the internet. My latest video, Pedal Your Blues Away (from the Rouse Brothers) needed to burst forth on Inauguation day, I could not stop it!
Here is another food tune, written in the early 1800’s by Irish poet Thomas Moore, with the 3rd verse by me, including a Lotus Dickey phrase. Special thanks to pal Eric Rudd for the remix, adding twelve string guitar to my uke harmonies.
For nearly a decade I played with the Pirate Flags, it was a great gig for me, pirates, rum and music, who could ask for more. We recorded our album with the famous Lil Bub in the studio. Mike made my tenor banjo playing sound better than it was, and my harp work came through. We performed at WTIU’s Weekly Special in 2013 playing Sailor’s Consolation and Get Up Jack!
The Swingin’ Beets
With Wade Van Orman on clarinet and me on guitar and harmonica, we played a melange of tunes from the mento and jive jazz tunes around Bloomington. Here are tunes from our performance on WFHB’s Saturday’s child, with Michael Valliant backing us on bass.
In the early 1980’s we began to learn about PCB’s in Bloomington, and resistance to the a garbage-fueled incinerator to burn the toxic waste from our 5 Superfund sites grew from our self-education. One aspect of the defeat of Westinghouse/ReagonEPA plan was the album “PCB Blues”, songs abou the proposed incinerator. I asked 15 area songwriter to compose songs about the situation and this cassette album was recordered and Homegrown Studies with support from Richard Fish and Rex Hunt. There is a dazzling array of styles from a capella and folk to blues, country, electronica, rap, punk and atonal Dada!
A weekly session of Irish music at the Runcible was a tradition I loved as much as the weekly contra dance, I rarely missed a session when in town. I played guitar, uke, banjo and harmonica. The only recording I have of this style is on Deb Shebish’s Kitchen Music album, Donald Cameron’s, where I stretch the boundries of traditional Irish playing with my harmonica..
I played 5 string banjo, guitar, or mandolin with a lot of great fiddlers, and thus learned a lot of great tunes, but more importantly, got to hang out with some really generous, and skillful musicians. In the early 80’s I was lucky enough to (as he put it), “second” Lotus Dickey on guitar and banjo at various house parties and dances.
For a couple of years in the 90’s I played banjo with Jake & Dara Krack, and through them learned about West Virginia fiddlers, and had the chance to play with both Melvin Wine and Lester McCumbers, and as proof, I have a couple of poorly recorded tunes from the Krack House (aka Hootin’ Holler), West Virginia.
A few years ago, my son Tim recorded us in our living room in Bloomington. He did a great job of close mic-ing, and made us sound great. So here are a few new, old songs that did not make it into Fresh from the Market (see below.)
For a number of years in the early 00’s I had the fun of meeting at Joe Dawson’s house on the west side to play his unique collection of tunes, developed in the Salt Creek Valley communities in the early part of the 20th Century. Joe grew up on his grandparents farm in the valley (before Monroe Lake flooded their land in the 60’s), and he learned from the other musicians in Monroe and Lawrence counties. Most of his tunes are crooked, with extra beats and notes at the end of a stanza, and they ranged from familiar tunes and names, to a totally original mashup of fragments from different tunes traveled thorugh the folk/oral transmission process.
Fresh from the Market
With my wife Eileen, I performed at the Blo0mington Farmers’ Market from 1979 through 2017, nearly forty years of Saturday morning fun and food! We recorded our album “Fresh from the Market” full of rural/food/farm tunes in 2002, through the generous support of audio guru Steve V. The tunes from Fresh from the Market were recorded at the peak of my 5 string banjo playing, I have since moved to tenor banjo, guitar and uke as my main instruments.