October 24, 2011

Government Issue Orchestra

Oh blog, I've neglected you and neglected you, and yet you do not disappear somehow. And judging by the traffic I see from time to time, some unwitting souls are still finding you as well. Huzzah!

I know better now, with my new job and all, than to say that I'll be a more regular poster. But I have recently come across a now-defunct band that I just have to share.

I heard Government Issue Orchestra the other day on Knoxville's WDVX, and I made sure I stayed in the car until they said who it was that was playing (they're usually pretty bad about getting around to that). The tune was Boating Up Sandy from the album I've pictured above.

From what I gather the band was short-lived and broke up even before the release of the album, so there is no YouTube presence that I can find. I have, however, tracked down a decent recording of this tune from other posters.


After I couldn't find them on iTunes, I broke down and bought their album the old-fashioned way. It's a really good time from front to back. My personal favorite is a tune called Brushy Run, complete with square dance calls. I goes like this (again, not them, but this is the best version I found:


Most of the tunes are instrumental, which I prefer personally, and for you who also like some singing mixed in you'll find that as well. The vocals, by the way, are strikingly similar to Uncle Earl, not sure if there is any overlap with the bands, just an observation.

Go to this website for some streaming tracks from the album I've mentioned and to hear more work from former member Michael Ismerio. It's worth the time. I only wish I had discovered them sooner.

July 26, 2011

Help Support an Old-Time Music Documentary

Hello Everyone:
I've been on hiatus for quite some time, but I'm happy to make a triumphant return by spreading the word about an upcoming documentary about old-time music. It's by Heather Haynes, who is completing a Master's degree in photojournalism.

As a recent graduate school survivor myself, I know how hard it is to get support for these projects. She has cleverly put together a website to raise money for her upcoming trips to Galax and Clifftop, to big-time festivals I'm sure you've all heard of or been to.

So check it out (here), and take a look at this short clip she's posted:

If you're too lazy to click on over, here's a description of the project. You know you wish you'd thought of it:

I aim to explore the modern world of folk tunes in Appalachia both as a fiddle player and as a visual and oral recorder of a shifting yet thriving tradition. In our rapidly changing world, a candid documentary of old-time fiddle tradition is overdue. While documentaries continue to appear on Appalachian culture, modern media has not preserved a project specifically focused on old-time fiddle heritage. A documentary on this subject will be a valuable addition to current visual and folk literature.

In addition to my own journey, I will follow several other fiddlers whose experience varies from fledgling musicians to masters of their trade. Through observing their various lifestyles, I can accurately frame the context and impact of my exploration.

Based on still photographs, my final piece will include audio recordings of Appalachian folk melodies and interviews with fiddlers. I also intend to include video of traditional, informal jam sessions and both formal and informal fiddle lessons. With this multimedia project, I expect to successfully explore the passage of old-time fiddling knowledge in contemporary Appalachia.

May 31, 2011

Two for One Tuesday

Looking through the list of tunes I haven't posted about here before, I came across two that I had never even heard of. The first is Batchelder's Reel, which from I gather is an Irish tune... makes me like it even more. Unfortunately it's kind of hard to find recordings of this tune. But, the one version I could find is pretty nice, it's by a group called the Russet Trio. I believe they are a contra band from New York based on my brief Googling.

Here the are playing Batchelder's Reel at the 2009 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival:


The second tune, Bayne Water, is also Irish (I'm pretty sure, correct me if I'm wrong). Again, pretty difficult to find recordings. What I discovered in the process of looking was one video:


And I also stumbled across a band who has recorded this tune called Claddagh. Check them out by clicking on the link. The album with this tune on it is the one with dragon.

Enjoy, and find some Guinness as you listen.

May 29, 2011

Barlow Knife

Here's another tune I don't believe I've posted about before called Barlow Knife. As usual, lots of different versions, some with words most without. Searching for some good examples I came across this version, which I really like but seems to have been filmed in a staircase for some reason. Either way, well done sir:


For a different sounding version, here's a group from TX:


And for all you people who just like banjo, try out this version from the music archives of dphall:

Barlow Knife MP3

May 17, 2011

Backstep Cindy

Looking through my tune book, the one to come up is Backstep Cindy, which I believe is by Tommy Jarrell.

The first thing I did was type this in YouTube to see what versions came up and to my surprise/delight was a video of David Bass playing with Forge Mtn Diggers. I know of him from the Freight Hoppers, and he's been to Knoxville many times and played with some people I know here. Nobody plays with such a driving-yet-clear tone as Bass. He plays so hard he can never contain himself and inevitably breaks out what one friend of mine calls the stank leg.

Here he is with Forge Mtn Diggers playing Backstep Cindy:


If it's the slower tempo you like with more banjo, try this version out from squawkeye on Fiddle Hangout:
Backstep Cindy MP3

May 14, 2011

Apple Blossom

Hello everyone,
I hope to be back and posting with some regularity after my graduation. Now I'm in between jobs, writing articles for journals, and looking to kill time doing stuff like this. We'll see how long it lasts.

In the meantime, here's a tune I haven't posted before called Apple Blossom. As usual there are many versions of this, and I haven't really heard it from my West Virginia circle so if there is some regional affiliation with this tune let me know.

I looked around for a minute to see if any bands had recorded this tune, but then I stumbled across this session from the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention and I think it's as good as it gets.


I also stumbled across this great version on Fiddle Hangout if you are interested in the more portable variety:
Apple Blossom MP3 by David M. on Fiddle Hangout


May 06, 2011

New Post, Finally: Cajun String Bands

Hello everyone, it's been a while I know. I've been busy trying to do all the requirements needed to graduate with a PhD in Geography. Mission accomplished. Now I actually have time to do stuff like this without feeling guilty and/or getting behind.

What really inspired me to start posting again was a story I ran across on a music blog on NPR. The story asks if Cajun string bands are the next big thing, and cites the success of Lost Bayou Ramblers (who I've posted about before) and other bands like "the Pine Leaf Boys, Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole, Feufollet and the Red Stick Ramblers."

Many of these bands are based in and around Lafayette, Louisiana (pronounce the first "a" as you would taffy, not water, if you don't want to get corrected). What's interesting about this scene is that unlike the recent rise in popularity of Appalachian music in places well beyond its traditional hearth (e.g. the West Coast, New England, major cities like Chicago and Minneapolis, among others), this music is mostly performed by folks of Cajun descent and stays close to its geographical roots.

Since I've posted before about Lost Bayou Ramblers (go check that out in the search feature if you're interested), I'll give some space to the Grammy-nominated Pine Leaf Boys, who play frequent shows and have a ton of media out there.

On their very well-designed website, you can access an MP3, stream tracks from their new album "Back Home," and of course find their touring schedule. If you like to dance and want to experience roots music straight from the source, they're worth checking out.


February 08, 2011


The tunes just keep on coming. For the first time ever I think, I'm putting a recording of my own playing up here. Here's one of my favorite tunes, Waterbound, with Roger doing some vocals and guitar.

Waterbound MP3

February 01, 2011

Spanish Pipe Dream

If you know the Samples Brothers, you know they are big fans of John Prine.

In keeping with the theme of my recent series of posts, here is another tune played and recorded at Roger's house with the Samples Brothers and the 1937 Flood. Roger, with a cold and unusually deep voice, is singing lead.

Spanish Pipe Dream MP3

And if you prefer the original, maybe this version will suit you:


January 28, 2011

Ragtime Annie

If you've never heard Buddy Griffin do his showpiece tune, Ragtime Annie, you're in for a treat. As Mac says every time he breaks it out, Buddy owns this tune.

Here they are playing twin fiddle on Ragtime Annie recently at the Samples house.

Ragtime Annie MP3

And I almost forgot, Charlie Bowen, one of the guitars players here, posted video of this tune. The audio is the same as the MP3, but if you'd like to take a look in, here you go:


January 24, 2011

Seneca Square Dance: Samples Brothers Home Jam

Here's another track from the weekend, this time playing Seneca Square Dance. I learned this tune from the Samples Brothers, and I'm playing here with Mac on the other fiddle. Also included are Roger Samples, Dave Peyton, and Charlie Bowen. I think that's it, possibly a few others in there. You'll also get plenty of background banter, just comes with the territory of a live recording I guess.

Seneca Square Dance MP3

January 23, 2011

Boatmen with the Samples Brothers

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to play with the Samples Brothers (featuring Buddy Griffin and John Preston). We got in a few hours worth of tunes, and the ones I managed to record I'll feature here.

The first of those is a tune called the Boatman. There are lots of different versions of this, but here's the one they taught me (I'm the fiddle that sounds good in this... actually, that's probably Buddy).

Enjoy, and there will be more to come in the next few days.

Boatman MP3

New Look

Hello Everyone:
After realizing that people read this blog despite my lack of attention to it, I have made some changes (hopefully for the better). I've added a Facebook group, I've added a few social media buttons, and I'll actually start putting up some new material.

So enjoy, and sorry for neglecting things for so long.

January 21, 2011

Black Twig Pickers

Hello World:
It's been a while, I've been writing my dissertation, I'm almost done by the way, and kind of didn't have time to scour the web for tunes. In fact, I've been quite out of touch with music for the last five or six months.

Anyway, I did come across a band I really love, the Black Twig Pickers. They seem to have been around for a while, but I had not heard of them.

They have a fair amount of stuff on the internet, thankfully.


Also, for some music on the go, check out this song. I really like it, and the timing is strange, the tune doesn't do what I expect it to do... but that's what's cool about it. Enjoy.

Don't Drink Nothing But Corn MP3

August 11, 2010

The Boatman

I really like this version of the Boatman. I became familiar with this tune through the Samples Brothers, who play a version that doesn't really sound like this one. The one I know is a three-part tune out of A, and this sounds like a two-parter. I like this version too though, and the dulcimer sounds great. You don't get to hear those enough.