Mitch’s Music

I’ve been playing tunes around Bloomington since 1979, most regularly at our Farmers’ Market until the white supremists made than no longer an option for my mixed race family. Playing music was part of my life every week, whether at the Contra Dance, at an art fair, birthday parties, Irish sessions, farmers’ market, campfires or demonstrations, live acoustic music was part of my life.

As times have changed with Covid, so have I, and thus decided to record a few tunes for the internet. My latest video, Pedal Your Blues Away (from R. Crumb) needed to burst forth on Inauguation day, I could not stop it! Other versions may have better production values, but none are more heartfelt!

Careless Potato

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.

Careless Potato

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!

Sailor’s Consolation
Get up Jack

The Pirate Flags on Facebook

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.

Big Bamboo
Dig Digga Doo
Hit That Jive Jack
Is It True?
Is It True?
Watermelon
The Song is Ended

Irish Music

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..

Donald Cameron’s

Fiddle Tunes

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 hand 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.

Birdie – Melvin Wine
One Morning in May – Melvin Wine
Meat on the Goosefoot – Lester McCumbers
Flanigan – Lester McCumbers

Market Tunes

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.)

Joe Dawson

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.

With Joe Dawson
Joe Dawson and Friends at Joe’s house
Billy, Joe’s take on Billy in the Lowground
Corder Tune – joe Dawson
Paddy – Joe Dawson
Double Lick Clog (aka Rustic Clog or Wilson’s Clog)
Granny – Joe Dawson

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s