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Me and Gary, brooding (September 2004)

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Hay peores cárceles que las palabras.

Nuria Monfort


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Saturday, November 15th, 2014

The Modesto Kid

Some folk music for your perusal --


The Modesto Kid -- Very happy with this playlist of folk tunes and covers that I've been recording over the past few months. (Primarily happy about this since I am really enjoying listening to it -- the thing that most strongly motivates my playing music is how much I enjoy listening to the tapes -- is this an embarrassing thing to admit? And happy as well about the prospect of other people digging the tunes. So please take a listen!) Here's a track listing and a couple of annotations.

I seem to have happened on a rhythmick formulation through which one can transform a song: a way to create a totally new song on the structure of a traditional or a popular tune. I've been recording a lot of songs transformed through this method -- this method of altering the song's beat and key and (in consequence) twisting even the melody and lyric itself as necessary -- and here lay out some of the fruits of that project.

"Here Comes the Sun" is the most recent of the group -- I made this recording on the spur of the moment and it is what revealed to me that the project was complete.

"Bring it in over to my house, mama," by Blind Willie McTell. Excellent, excellent, exciting ragtime lick! (Thanks, Dylan, for the introduction to Blind Willie McTell -- thanks, Erik Frandsen, for teaching me this song.)

"Ballad of Hollis Brown" is one of the saddest songs I've ever heard. (The three saddest songs I can think of are all by Bob Dylan; the fourth is a traditional number sung by Dylan.) I'll put this in a category with several other trax here as a song that I could picture being traditional. Just hoping I can do my bit to help turn these songs into traditional numbers :)

We been playin' some old-time favorites. Here's "Tell Old Bill." I know this song from the Chad Mitchell Trio. Not totally sure whether it is by Dave Van Ronk or traditional* :)

"Richland Woman Blues" by MS John Hurt, which I know via Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band. I'm no Maria Muldaur but I sure do love to sing that lilting melody! Another one I learned from Erik Frandsen.

(Turning the recorder back on, here's) "Stagger Lee" (hey finally an actually traditional traditional!) -- another tune that I know via Mississippi John Hurt. He's the first delta blues artist I ever really got into.

alright now here's something a little different. A version of John B. (this is a song deeply rooted in my memory of childhood campfire sing-alongs.) I'm never quite sure what to make of this narrative (to tell the truth) but I love the melody/the sound and sentiment of it. This recording has a flaw and I ought to redo it, same goes for a couple of other trax here. Apologies if I have not addressed this already. Oh my god I feel so broke up. dig the solo. (now let's see how that came out.)

kooky little instrumental. was finally able to figure out a dramatic way to end this lick. nice.

Oh yes! Lady waters and the hooded one! made up changes! This is a song off Element of Light by Robyn Hitchcock. Seems totally like a much older, traditional ballad. Great story! (Each time I sing it I wonder why exactly, the hooded one would have recoiled from Lady Waters' sickness? -- seems like as Death he'd have been into that kind of thing.) Extremely erotic song about death and Death.

"desolation row." (grin, shrug) A possibly self-indulgent tribute to an idol. If you're not into that sort of thing, skip it. Otherwise enjoy! :) This song's story-line is a bit harder to follow -- definitely there are moments of insight if you look/listen closely enough. Listen to Cinderella sweeping up, on Desolation Row.

another kooky little instrumental to bracket the two long vocals :)

"wish you were here" (speaking of tributes to idols), featuring me and John as Mountain Station. dig the solo/dig the harmony!

"12 gates to the city". Hey everyone: if you haven't gotten to see "Harlem Street Singer" yet, go find a way to see it! I've rewritten a Gary Davis gospel number a fair bit, came up with something new :) -- threw in a little Apocamon imagery. You owe it to yourself to listen to Gary Davis, and to watch the film if you get the chance.

"taps" (on balalaika :)) -- goodnight.

posted evening of November 15th, 2014: 2 responses
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Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Ok, check *this* out:

ok, check *this* out: https://soundcloud.com/the-modesto-kid/desolation-row-capo-6
#desolationrow #coverversion #dylancovers

posted morning of October 25th, 2014: Respond

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Another Saturday Night

Let's listen to Cat Stevens.



Let's listen to Sam Cooke.



No link or video (natch), but one of my favorite memories of hearing a busker playing in the subway is of a young Latino guy in the Times Square station playing this song with a sort of Reggae beat, musta been back in '96 or something.

posted morning of October 5th, 2013: Respond

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Let's listen to

"Train on the Island."

posted evening of September 27th, 2013: Respond

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Forever is ending today

If Mountain Station was from Nashville, they'd be a country act. Here's a slow jam.

A-and thanks to Mr. Peter Guralnick for hipping us to "Are they gonna make us outlaws again" and in general, to the roots of rockabilly.


Mountain Station jamming
in the living room --
May fourth, 2013

Forever is ending today

  1. Forever is ending today (Ernest Tubb -- this is a special moment for me, I have been wanting to cover Tubb for a long time.)
  2. Serpent at the gates of Wisdom (Robyn Hitchcock, to whom happy 60 years! Sorry we missed the big show in San Francisco -- and very happy to have been present at the big show in NYC.)
  3. Snake Doctor Blues (or a few bars from it anyways)
  4. Handshake Drugs (Wilco)
  5. Drunken Sailor's Hornpipe
  6. This Old Man
  7. Arms of Love (Robyn Hitchcock)
  8. Sloop John B.
  9. Praying Mantis (Don Dixon)
  10. Helpless (Neil Young)
  11. Are they gonna make us outlaws again? (James Talley -- and check out this extraordinary version by Hazel Dickens.)

posted morning of May 5th, 2013: 1 response
➳ More posts about Dress rehearsal rags

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Let's Listen to

Pretty Peggy-O:

Las Vegas, June 26th 1994.

posted afternoon of September 15th, 2012: 3 responses

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Let's Listen to

"You'se a Viper" by Stuff Smith Harlem Hamfats [wow! I always thought this was originally a Stuff Smith tune! He was covering Hamfats] -- this is Dale Burleyson and the 4th St. NiteOwls performing a truly spectacular cover version. Dig the washboard, dig the pedal steel and clarinet solos -- fast forward to 20:30:
Or really, don't -- watch the whole concert, get a "Viper" treat midway in. This is the NiteOwls performing a year ago at Barbes -- tonight Ellen and I are going to see them at Tierney's. Can't wait! They are opening for Ruby on the Vine, whose new album is included in the admission.

posted afternoon of June 30th, 2012: Respond
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Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Have you seen the well-to-do, up on Lenox Avenue...

Let's listen to Puttin' on the Ritz.

Bunch of versions at the link, mostly brand-new to me. Check em out! Sheet music here.

posted evening of June 24th, 2012: Respond

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Rag Mama Rag -- Kweskin, Muldaur, Helm

Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band is the group that got me listening to old-time music. Not the first old-time I listened to, certainly; but when I heard Maria d'Amato (who would marry the group's banjo player and become one of the great popular music voices of the 60's and 70's as Maria Muldaur) sing "Richland Woman Blues" -- this was in the late 90's sometime, after I had come home from a Christmas visit to my parents with a cassette dub of two records, Jug Band Music and See Reverse Side for Title -- was a signal moment for me, it was when I knew what kind of music I wanted to play, what I wanted to sound like.

It was fun to happen on that Wyos cover of "Rag Mama Rag" last night -- that was one of the first songs I learned to play when I was taking lessons in finger-style guitar from Eric Frandsen. I've added a couple of tracks to the end of my You Ain't Goin Nowhere playlist, ending up with The Band's song "Rag Mama Rag". And re. The Band, exciting news! Ellen and I are going to see Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble at the Wellmont Theater on Friday the 10th.

Update: Midnight Ramble show in Montclair is postponed until April.

posted morning of January 14th, 2012: 1 response

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Let's Listen to

the utterly amazing percussion solo(s) in this utterly amazing "Rag Mama Rag" cover, from The Wyos -- Live @ Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn, NY on November 4, 2004:

("Let's listen to" posting format inspired by cleek, who comes through today with a Quick One While He's Away)

posted evening of January 13th, 2012: 2 responses

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