1. Seneca Square Dance - 2:02 - Trad.
2. Don't Get Around Much Anymore/Dunbar - 2:13 - D. Ellington, B Russell (Music Sales Corporation and Sony/ATV Harmony) / E. Haley (Done Gone Publishing, BMI)
3. Waterlooplein - 1:45 - T. Scroggins (No You Step Back, ASCAP)
4. Angeline the Baker - 1:55 - Trad.
5. Carpal Tunnel - 3:37 - J. O'Connor
6. Red Fox Waltz - 1:34 - Trad.
7. Jack O Diamonds/St. Anne's Reel - 3:17 - Trad.
8. Tennessee Waltz/Wiley Laws - 2:29 - R. Stewart, Pee Wee King (Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music) / Trad.
Recorded at The Rec Room Studio in Nashville, TN
Engineered and Mixed by Ben Surratt
Mastered by Anna Frick (Airshow, Inc)
Cover Photo by Natia Cinco
Cover Design by Grace van't Hof
All tracks feature a Paramount Style C tenor banjo from around the 20s
Dedicated to the memory of Eileen Carson Schatz, Haley Hoover, JT Gray, Lea Mattson, and Garrett Sartori
There are many folks who helped make this recording possible the most important of which being John Treacy. I had wanted a tenor banjo for a while but couldn't justify the expense, so I was left trying to manifest one. I told this to John at Wintergrass in February 2020 where he was trying to sell the Paramount that I play on this record. A month later when everything shut down due to COVID-19, John offered to ship the banjo to me. I spent a lot of time during the lock down playing tenor banjo. I wasn't practicing any style or specific techniques, just experimenting and having fun which is what lead to this record.
I also owe thanks to Rachel Baiman for lending me a dance board. I've been obsessed with podorythmie foot percussion for years and I knew I wanted to put some on this record but realized the day before I was supposed to record that I should probably find an actual board. Rachel lent me hers and it's made Dunbar one of my favorite tracks on the record.
I'm thankful for Mark Schatz who taught me how to hambone whenever we had free time on tour. That skill eventually led to me meeting Ceili Galante who was a constant source of encouragement and inspiration through this project and who helped refine both the podorythmie and body percussion on this recording.
This was conceived, recorded, and actualized during one of the hardest years of any of our lives. So I don't want "general" to be interpreted as less than "special" thanks because these folks helped keep me alive during this time. I owe much to all the people who worked on this project for helping me bring this idea to life. Additionally, I'm very thankful for Megan Lynch and Adam Chowning, Molly Tuttle, Justin Hiltner, Ellie Hakanson, Missy Raines, Katie and Eric Hogue, Bethany and Jacob Olds, and my wonderful supporters on Patreon.
I'd also like to thank Dolly Parton and the scientists that developed the Moderna vaccine that made much of this record possible.
Seneca Square Dance
The Seneca are a group of Indigenous Iroquoian-speaking people who historically lived south of Lake Ontario. Many were moved to Oklahoma after the War of 1812 which might explain why this tune has been traced to the Southwestern Missouri/Oklahoma area. I learned this tune from Molly Tuttle and we would play it together a lot. Its simple melody makes it easy to experiment with different harmonies and picking techniques.
Don't Get Around Much Anymore/Dunbar
Don't Get Around Much Anymore was my high school girlfriend's favorite song. When our relationship dramatically ended, I was crushed and decided to learn the song as a kind of catharsis. Rather than having to actually listen to jazz, I learned the version Bela Fleck and Mark Schatz play together on the Spectrum album Live in Japan (1981). I learned Dunbar in a much less dramatic way from George Jackson. I decided to play these in a medley partly because I thought it would be funny to go from a Duke Ellington song into an Ed Haley tune. Additionally, the woman I was dating at the time was a big fan of both jazz and podorythmie so the combination was also meant to excite her.
Waterlooplein is the location of the oldest still-operating flea market in the Netherlands. It's in the middle of Amsterdam near the Opera house, the Jewish Historical Museum, and the Rembrandt House. There are booths selling all kinds of stuff and vendors selling food from all over the world. I spent a lot of time there while I was dating a woman who was attending the theater school nearby. For me, this tune evokes the bittersweet, intangible feeling od the other-worldly memories of biking through the canals, exploring cobblestone streets, and spending time with a loved one.
Angeline the Baker
The pseudo-crosspicking at the beginning of this track was something that I've been playing around with for 10 years. Part of the reason I love playing the tenor banjo is because I actually really love the banjo but I've never been good enough at playing a 5-string to feel like I could express myself. I've spent a lot of time over the years absorbing banjo phrasing and ideas both intentionally and through osmosis. The crosspicking here represents that desire.
I came across this song on a Smithsonian Folkways compilation of Labor Union songs. I've always enjoyed unaccompanied ballads and would sing along with it in my car while driving around town. I knew I wanted to find a song to sing while hamboning because I'd been so inspired watching Mark Schatz perform Cindy while on tour and he generously taught me the basics when we had time between shows. The pairing of repetitive body percussion with a song about the physical sacrifice of workers in the name of profits ended up being more powerful than I realized. As a musician, I've been aware of and worried about carpal tunnel syndrome my entire life so I found it to be a bit tongue-in-cheek to sing about as the lyrics describe the struggles of people working in the meatpacking industry. But as I was working this song up, nearly half a century after it was written, many people in that same industry were dying of COVID-19 after being forced to continue working through the shutdown.
Red Fox Waltz
I've always enjoyed this waltz ever since I first heard it though I'm not sure if that version I heard was Charlie Walden's more traditional Missouri version of Robin Bullock's reharmonized version. Either way, I took inspiration from both for this arrangement. A big inspiration for this album was some time I got to spend working with Adam Hurt. Adam was making a sequel to his landmark solo gourd banjo album Earth Tones. Watching the way he would use space in his arrangments to help them sound more full was very inspiring.
Jack O Diamonds/St. Anne's Reel
Another recent obsession of mine, inspired by Megan Lynch, is Texas-style fiddling. Lots of things about it feel very natural because I spent so much time studying Sam Bush's playing and he draws a lot from that style. The chromatic fills, heavily emphasized swing, and triplets feel very familiar. Plus, I was born in Texas so there's that. This version of Jack O Diamonds is confusing because it is not the Jack of Diamonds that old-time musicians sing but rather a Texas standard that is extremely similar to the Irish tune Mason's Apron. This version comes from Benny Thomasson and I decided to also incorporate the tradition of just playing whichever part I feel like in no particular order. St. Anne's Reel is a classic bluegrass jam tune but is of French Canadian origin which ties in nicely with some of the other themes on this record. While there isn't any music on this tenor banjo record that is specifically Irish, this set feels the most of that tradition to me. The triplets, the key change, and the vague ties of the tunes fills that niche.
Tennessee Waltz/Wiley Laws
Ellie Hakanson helped me come up with the chord melody arrangement of Tennessee Waltz while we were trying to figure out a reharmonization that would annoy her as much as possible. I learned Wiley Laws from a Caleb Clauder recording of the tune. The source for it is Manco Sneed, a part-Cherokee fiddler, who learned it from his mentor J.D. Harris who had learned it from Wiley Laws, a blind fiddler who immigrated from England in the 19th century. Caleb's version of the tune is played in a very traditional way and in an F major tonality. Keeping with the chromatic reharmonization theme, I shifted it to D minor and gave it some movement. When I perform this medley I often end it with Jimmy Webb's "Witchita Lineman" but didn't want to mess around with securing the license to record that song.
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supported by 8 fans who also own “One-Ring Circus”
Powerful collection rooted in the stories that must be re-told. Played by some of the most generous community music people I’ve met during my foray into Old Time music.
This CD is a keeper! Ellen B. (Elly) Marshall