Sunday, June 29, 2008

Library of Congress immortalizes Elizabeth Cotten's plaintive 'Freight Train'

N.C. native's song enshrined

Barbara Barrett, Washington Correspondent, Raleigh News & Observer, 6/29/08

WASHINGTON - In the early 1900s, a black girl living in Carrboro composed a mournful song about a freight train, picking out her tune on a three-dollar guitar.
Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten would grow up to leave that guitar behind, to marry at age 15, have a baby and become a housekeeper and nanny for well-to-do white families. For decades, her work subdued the passion she once held for making music.

Her gift for music was rediscovered in midcentury. By then, she was a grandmother secretly plucking notes on an instrument that hung inside the suburban family home where she worked.

This spring, Cotten's folk song was named one of the most significant works in recorded history, joining the U.S. Library of Congress' national recording registry.

The album "Freight Train And Other North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes," first released in 1958, joins 249 other recorded songs, spoken-word albums and political speeches honored for their cultural, historical or aesthetic significance.

Jose Antonio Bowen, a member of the National Recording Preservation Board that chose Cotten's album this year, says that if someone could listen to every recording on the registry, "You'd get a range of the incredible variety of what goes into making America great."

The rest at

Sunday, June 22, 2008

6/22/08 Playlist

1. Ragged but Right: A Mother's Last Words to Her Daughter (Down Harmony Road), Merriweather
2. The Evangenitals: The Hole (Everlovin'), self
3. Sparky & Rhonda Rucker: John the Revelator (The Mountains Above and the Valleys Below), Tremont
4. Sugar Bayou: Someone Else's Dream (Dance Hall Incident), self

5. Katie Moore: Only Thing Worse (Only Thing Worse), Borealis 184
6. The Subdudes: Work Clothes (Street Symphony), EMI / Back Porch pre-release
7. Patty Larkin: Hallelujah (Watch the Sky), Vanguard 79851
8. Terence Martin: Who's Breathing All the Air (Even Trade), Good Dog 006

9. Caroline Herring: Song for Fay (Lantana), Signature Sounds 2010
10. MacDara: The Mighty Dancer (The Love Token), self
11. Terri Hendrix: Bottom of A Hill (The Spiritual Kind), Wilory
12. James Lee Stanley: The World We Left Behind (The Eternal Contradiction), Beachwood
13. Mae Robertson: Meet the Sun Halfway (Meet the Sun Halfway), Lyric Partners 4508
14. Noel Paul Stookey: In These Times (single), Public Domain Foundation

15. John McCutcheon: Hope Dies Last (This Fire), Appalsongs 2007
16. Mark Erelli: Hope Dies Last (Delivered), Signature Sounds 2014

Ticket giveaways for New Bedford Summerfest, which features these performers (among others!):
17. Red Molly: Wichita (Love and Other Tragedies), self
18. Richard Shindell: The Storms Are on The Ocean (South of Delia), self
19. The Kennedys: American Wish (Better Dreams), Appleseed 1107
20. Brooks Williams: Lightning (The Time I Spend with You), Red Guitar Blue Music 0801
21. Mike and Ruthy: Something's Got A Hold on Me (The Honeymoon Agenda), Humble Abode 10
22. David Jacobs-Strain: Black Cat at Midnight (Liar's Day), self

23. The Chad Mitchell Trio: The George Bush Society (single), Brownstone Music
24. Jim Ringer: Still Got That Look (Endangered Species), Flying Fish LP 1981

25. Eliza Gilkyson: Great Correction (Beautiful World), Red House 212
26. Leon Rosselson: The Third Intifada (A Proper State), Fuse Records 024
27. Guy Mendilow: Experiment (Live), Earthen Groove

Dreaded Folk Calendar over selections from Roger Williams's "A Resophonic Retrospective," Happy Appy

On June 20, the House passed H.R. 6304 which sanctions warrantless wiretapping and hands immunity to telecommunications companies for their role in domestic spying:
28. Roy Zimmerman: Hello NSA (Faulty Intelligence), Metaphor
29. Richard Shindell: May (Reunion Hill), Shanachie 8027
30. Janis Ian: God and The FBI (God and The FBI), Windham Hill 11498
31. Chuck Brodsky: Dangerous Times (Color Came One Day), Waterbug

32. Anais Mitchell: 1984 (Hymns for The Exiled), Waterbug
33. Roy Zimmerman: Homeland Security (Security), self
34. Adam Brodsky: Uncivil Rights (Hookers, Hicks & Heebs), Permanent Records
35. Si Kahn: Who's Watching the Man (Thanksgiving), Strictly Country 63
36. Anne Feeney: Whatever You Say, Say Nothing (Dump The Bosses Off Your Back), self

37. Ed Pettersen: The Liberty Song (Song of America), Spllit Rock / 31 Tiger
38. Eliza Gilkyson: Highway 9 (Land of Milk and Honey), Red House 174

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Playlist June 15, 2008

1. Chris Smither: Father's Day (Leave the Light On), Signature Sounds 2001
2. Judy Collins: My Father (Forever: An Anthology), Elektra 62104
3. Loudon Wainwright III: Four Mirrors (Little Ship), Virgin 44879
4. Tom Paxton: Jennifer and Kate (Comedians & Angels), Appleseed 1105
5. Eliza Gilkyson: Easy Rider (Lost and Found), Red House 162
6. Jim Henry: Pals Forever Dad (Jacksonville), Signature Sounds

7 & 8. Abbie Gardner & Anthony da Costa: Spent & Someday (Bad Nights / Better Days), self
9. Martin Simpson: Louisiana 1927 (Prodigal Son), Compass 4466
10. Sara Softich: Down in The Cellar (Pipe Dream), self

11. Ed Pettersen: June 1945 (Folk & Acoustic Sampler), Split Rock Records
12. Red Molly: Honey on My Grave (Love and Other Tragedies), self
13. Chris Smither: Origin of The Species (Leave the Light On), Signature Sounds 2001
14. Sirens: The Promise (Look Up), Borealis 183

Current events:
for Hillary Clinton and her supporters:
15. Martha Wainwright: I Am Woman (Song of America), Split Rock / 31 Tigers
for Barack Obama:
16. Will Kimbrough: Wind Blowing Change (Americanitis), Daphne
for Dennis Kucinich:
17. Neil Young: Let's Impeach the President (Living with War), Reprise 44335

Fathers in wartime:
18. Mike Strasser: A Hero's Father (Rash Behaviors), self
19. Tom Paxton: My Son John (I Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound), Elektra / Rhino
20. Darrell Scott, Danny Thompson, Kenny Malone: With A Memory Like Mine (Live in NC), Full Light
21. Richard Shindell: You Stay Here (Somewhere Near Paterson), Signature Sounds 1236

Fathers singing with their children:
22. Bob, John, Jim & Ron Copper: Warlike Seamen (Come Write Me Down), Topic 534
23. Paul & Win Grace and Family: Wave The Ocean (Dance upon The Earth), self
24. Ewan MacColl et al: The Manchester Rambler (Black and White), Green Linnet 3058
25. Terry Gilkyson with Eliza: Brother Simon and Sister Mary (The Easy Riders), Bear Family Records 15780
26. Wayne Scott with Darrell Scott: I Wouldn't Live in Harlan County (This Weary Way), Full Light

Dreaded Folk Calendar over selections from Daithi Sproule's "The Crow in The Sun," New Folk 0122

While abroad last week George Bush was asked if he had any regrets about the war. He looked something like thoughtful, then said "No........ no regrets." He's such a bad politician, even, that he couldn't summon up the courtesy, or smarts, to say "I do regret the loss of life of thousands of valiant American servicemen and -women and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians." But no.......
27. Jen Cass: Dear Mr. President (Accidental Pilgrimage), Blind Justice
28. Spicewood Seven: Mr. President (Kakistocracy), Austin Recordings
29. Keb' Mo': Talk (Peace...Back by Popular Demand), Okeh / Epic
30. Audrey Auld Mezera: Presidential Dreams (Music with The Dirt Left On), Reckless
31. Roy Zimmerman: Chickenhawk (Faulty Intelligence), Metaphor 920
32. Peter Dyer: Talking Chickenhawk Blues (single), self
33. Will Kimbrough: Warring Ways (Americanitis), Daphne
34. Matt Angus Thing: President's Son (Political Pop), Black Potatoe 00030
35. Tim O'Brien: This World Was Made for Everyone (Chameleon), Howdy Skies

36. The Kennedys: Give Me Back My Country (Better Dreams), Appleseed 1107
37. Eliza et al: Peace Call (Land of Milk and Honey), Red House 174

Playlist June 8, 2008

1. The Gordons: 300 Miles from Hazard (Our Time), Inside-Out
2. The Starlings (Vanilla Bean 6/21): Ghost Town (Marveling the While),
3. Mark Weems: Short Time Here, Long Time Gone (Short Time Here, Long Time
Gone), Little Windows
4. Corb Lund: The Truth Comes Out (Hair in My Eyes Like A Highland Steer),
Stony Plain1309

5. Carey Creed: I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be A Soldier (Peace of Wild
Things), Azalea City 0705
6. Paul Thorn: What Have You Done to Lift Somebody Up (A Long Way from
Tupelo), Perpetual Obscurity 20089
7. Skye Zentz: Things Are Simpler (Legitimate Bohemia), self
8. Pat Wictor: Eventide (Sunset Waltz), Risky Disc 006

9. Red Molly: Wichita (Love and Other Tragedies), self
10. Chip Taylor: New Song of Freedom (New Songs of Freedom), Train Wreck
11. Conjunto Jardin: El Balaju (Yerba Buena), Trova 405
12. The Deadly Gentlemen: Working (The Bastard Masterpiece), self

13. Ann Savoy & Her Sleepless Knights: If Your Kisses Can't Hold the Man You
Love (If Dreams Come True), Memphis International 0217
14. Eddie Lawrence: Step 8 (My Second Wife's First Album), Snowplow 109
15. Haale: Hastee (No Ceiling), Channel Music
16. Paul Kaplan: I Can't Remember Wintertime (The Folk Process), Old Coat

17 & 18. Priscilla Herdman / Anne Hills / Cindy Mangsen: Natural Selection
(?-- I'm not sure of the title) & The Language of The Bees (live, private

It's Frank Lloyd Wright's birth anniversary:
19. Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen: The Architecture Song (A Sense of
Place), Redwing 5409

It's the 222nd anniversary of the introduction of ice cream:
20. John McCutcheon: Ice Cream Man (Summersongs), Rounder 8036
21. Hugh Blumenfeld: Waiting for The Good Humor Man (Mozart's Money), Prime

Had to hear some more Hugh:
22 & 23. Hugh Blumenfeld: Why Am I Awake & The Snail (Rocket Science), Prime

President Bush spoke at Furman University's commencement on May 31 --
basically what he said was "don't do as I did, do as I say:"
24. Todd Snider: You Got Away with It (The Devil You Know), New Door

Some 222 students and faculty protested the choice of Bush as speaker; they
held a protest at which Chris Hedges spoke, delivering a talk called
"America's Democratic Collapse." He also wrote an article called "Collateral Damage:
What It Really Means When America Goes to War", 6/4/08
24. Jim Page: Collateral Damage (Collateral Damage), self
25. Emily Kurn: If I Am American (Things Change), self
26. State Radio: The Story of Benjamin Darling Part 1 (Year of The Crow),
Ruff / Shod

Dreaded Folk Calendar over selections from Lau's "Live" (Compass 4479)

In our efforts to find a replacement for fossil fuel, some are pushing nuclear power again:
27. John Hall: Plutonium Is Forever (No Nukes), Elektra
28. The Doobie Brothers, John Hall, James Taylor: Power (No Nukes), Elektra

29. Anais Mitchell: Hades & Persephone (The Brightness), Righteous Babe 053
30. Jeff Black: Persephone (Honey and Salt), LNM
31. Skye Zentz: Persephone (Legitimate Bohemia), self

I don't think we'll be hearing these campaign promises any time soon........
32. Dan Bern & The IJBC: President (My Country II), Messenger 19

33. Ellis Paul: I Lost A Day to The Rain (The Dragonfly Races), Black Wolf
34. Dr. John and The Lower 911 with Willie Nelson: Promises, Promises (City
that Care Forgot), 429 Records
35. Chuck E. Costa: Hollow Man (Where the Songs Come From), self
36. Eliza Gilkyson et al: Peace Call (Land of Milk and Honey), Red House 174

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Joel Mabus on Utah Phillips

From the Folk Alliance List-serve, June 4, 2008:

Like a lot of us, I've been thinking lately about Utah Phillips -- his life
and legacy. It is a joy to read the many stories and remembrances.

I have a lot of memories on, off, and behind the stage with Utah. If one
were to ever write the history of this thing we call folk music in the 20th
century, Bruce would weigh heavy in the chapter on the 1970's -- an often
overlooked decade in folk. As the Joni's and Bob's and JT's were marketed
as flavors of rock by the major labels, and the downtown commercial folk
clubs closed up or re-invented themselves, the folk movement took a left
turn towards community.

In the era when "Midnight Special" came to mean glam-rock on Friday night
TV, small rural folk festivals started up, run by cabals of shanty-singers,
banjoists and dulcimer players. Unitarian basements opened up. Rounders
rolled, Philos flipped sides and Fish Flew in Chicago. And small,
democratically-run folk societies sprung up in college towns all over
America from the ashes and detritus of the folk boom. This is the soil
where Utah Phillips rooted and grew strong. It is also where I started a
career, along with many of my compadres of a certain age, plowing along
where Uncle Utah and a few others busted sod.

The folk circuit I have worked these past 35 years is not the world of
Newport, Carnegie Hall and Columbia Records. The mighty wind had long blown
out to sea before I got onstage. Utah was good about reminding us that one
could make a living -- not a killing -- in folk music if you kept your
powder dry, your boots laced up and fixed your own breakfast most days.

But for all the quips, quotes, songs and stories I have been recalling these
past weeks, I have one enduring image of U Utah Phillips:

A serious labor organizer, heavy-weight thinker, first-rate story-teller,
damn-straight songwriter, and pretty good singer. A man of dignity who
walked tall and always carried a red rubber clown nose in his vest pocket --
and wasn't afraid to use it.

Aloha, my friend.

Joel Mabus

Sunday, June 1, 2008

6/1/08 Playlist

1. Crooked Still: Tell Her to Come Back Home (Still Crooked), Signature Sounds 2013
2. Pat Wictor: Song of Songs (Sunset Waltz), Risky Disc 006
3. Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet: Great Big Wall in China (Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet), Nettwerk
4. Scott Ainslie: Thunder's Mouth (Thunder's Mouth), Cattail preview CD

5. Sugar Bayou: Someone Else's Dream (Dance Hall Incident), Spare Parts
6. The Evangenitals: I Just Forgot (Everlovin'), self
7. Rancho Deluxe: Valley of The Bears (True Freedom), self
8. Rebecca Troon: Small Acts of Kindness (Turning Around), self

9. Peter Siegel: Talking Rome (Living in Rome), self
10. Cathy Fink: 1st String Fling (Banjo Talkin'), Rounder 0599
11. Corb Lund: MC Horses (The Gift: A Tribute to Ian Tyson), Stony Plain 1322
12. Jenny Agutter: Garden Waste (Top Cat, White Tie & Tails: Guide Cats for the Blind Volume 3), Osmosys

13. Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands: The Wood Thrush's Song (Live), Spruce & Maple 2004
14. Annie & The Hedonists: Haven of Mercy (Good Old Wagon), Windy Acres
15. Greg Brown: Blue Car (Just One More: A Tribute to Larry Brown), Bloodshot 143
16. Louis Ledford: Treebranch and Moonlight (Adios King), Waterbug 74

17 & 18. Blue Trail: Shady Grove & Sweet Dreams (Keep on Growin'), self
19. Michael Doucet: Brasse le gombo vite (From Now On), Smithsonian Folkways 40177
20. The Starlings: Honey Creek (Marveling the While), self

CT's own senator Joseph Lieberman has accepted an invitation from "Reverend" Hagee to speak at the C.U.F.I. Conference -- Lieberman has called Hagee a "man of god"
21. Eliza Gilkyson: Man of God (Paradise Hotel), Red House 187
The U.S., along with Russia, India, China, Israel, and Pakistan boycotted talks to ban cluster bombs:
22. Bernard Carney and Peter Grayling: Gardens of Death (No Time Like the Future), Tempo (Australia)
23. Kenny White: How Long (Never Like This), Wildflower EP
24. Rory McLeod: God Loves Me (Mouth to Mouth), Talkative 001
25. Eliza Gilkyson: Great Correction (Beautiful World), Red House 212

The Dreaded Folk Calendar over instrumentals from Peter Siegel's "Living in Rome"

26. John McCutcheon: It's the Economy, Stupid (Hail to The Chief!), Appalseed
27. Randy Newman: Mr President [Have Pity on The Working Man] (Good Old Boys), Reprise R2 73839
28. Phil Lee: 3 Faces in The Window (Songbook Americana), Shanachie
29. Eliza Gilkyson: The Party's Over (Beautiful World), Red House 212

30. Roy Zimmerman: Defenders of Marriage (Faulty Intelligence), Metaphor

31. Kate Campbell: Peace Comes Stealing Slow (Blues and Lamentations), Large River Music
32. Jim Page: Head Full of Pictures (Head Full of Pictures), Whid-Isle
33. Bruce Springsteen: Last to Die (Magic), Columbia
34. Chuck Brodsky: Dangerous Times (Color Came One Day), Waterbug