Jo Stafford- Sings American Folk Songs

This was all of $1.  When I bought it, there was some tie in or something notable about the record, but whatever that was escapes me now.  It does have a bunch of good folk tunes on it.  Today, as I write this, the Great 2017 eclipse happened, which by now must seem like a distant memory to most.

Truly a historical day in Houston if one likes looking a clouds.

Well anyway, here is this by singer Jo Stafford (1917-2008).  Born in what is not a dirty word, Coalinga, California, Stafford was a singer who started in a group with her sisters before joining the Pied Pipers and then parlaying this into singing with Tommy Dorsey. She went solo in 1944 and her biggest hit was 1952’s “You Belong To Me”.  She retired in the mid-60’s with a few pop ups here and there until her death of heart failure at age 90.

During her solo career, many of Stafford’s works were backed by the Paul Weston Orchestra. Stafford and Weston would marry in 1952 and remain in union until Weston’s death in 1996.  The two did perform in a comedy routine, at first for friends and then for a bigger audience.  As two incompetent lounge performers Johnny and Darlene Edwards, the duo released five records.

This record was a 1962 re-release of an earlier record by Stafford.  The original released came out tin 1948, making it one of her earlier solo recordings.  Two years later a second version came out adding two songs.  Then in 1962, this came out with an additional 4, bringing the total to 12. With these songs conducted and arranged by her hubby, Weston, it should be noted that although these are conventional songs, none of these are conventional arrangements.  And I think that is what gives the album its charm.  Consequently, Judy Collins lists this album as highly influential in terms of her getting into folk music.

Lot of good choices on this album.  I really liked “Cripple Creek”, “Single Girl” ,and my perennial favorite, “Poor Wayfaring Stranger”.  However, I decided to go with “Sourwood Mountain”.

Good record.  Satisfactory.

Ambrose Thibodeaux-More Authentic Acadian French Music

Ok.  I messed up the math on this.  I thought it was $5 with discount but in reality it turns out it was $5.60.  My bad.  Probably should re-adjust the threshold for inflation.

Acadian music is the basis of Cajun music which has been blended with creole to form zydeco.  This style was rooted from the ballads of the French Canadians who settled to North America from France in the 17th and 18th centuries and were forcefully migrated from Eastern Canada to Louisiana during the Great Expulsion of 1755-1764.  I could fill this post up about the rich history of all this or touch on the fact that my late grandma had Acadian roots but it is Monday and am just not in the mood today to take this any further.  Google it if you want to learn more.  For the sake of this record I will over simplify: Acadian music = Cajun music. 

Ambrose Thibodeaux, born in 1903, learned to play accordion at age 15 and was playing dances by 17.  After putting it aside from the married/farmer life, he picked it back up in the 60’s during what was a revival of French Cajun music.  During this time, he played festivals, appeared on radio and tv, won awards, and even traveled to France.  The most notable appearance, according to what scant information I could pull up, was his work on the Revon Reed Radio show out of Eunice, LA.  He performed on Saturday mornings for the good part of five years.  Thibodeaux past away in 1995 .  I am not sure when but he did get inducted into the Cajun Music Hall of Fame (again in Eunice).  His bio on this site is where I pulled most of this info from.

Link to Cajun Music Hall Of Fame

This album, released by La Louisianne Records, in 1966?, features traditional Cajun French songs as well as original compositions by Thibodeux.  Pretty good music and very authentic and representative of the genre.  Thibodeux’s accordion is backed up by the violin of Leon Doucet, the guitar of Nelson Bergeron, the bass of Jack LeBlanc, the occasional vocals of Gervis Quibodeaux, and the triangle of Elmer Thibodeaux.  Not sure if that is a relation of not.

There were a bunch of songs I liked, but in the end, I went with “Two-Step De Musician” simply because it had vocals.

Good little record.  Satisfactory. I probably did want to add more to the post but the time constraints of pulling together next months records and working on two musical acts while pulling down a nine to five have led to this brevity.

The Kingston Trio-Goin’ Places

This was a dollar.  I am not sure why I bought this since it does not have a whole lot of songs I knew, except the two Woody Guthrie ones.  That might be the reason I bought it.

This was the Kingston Trio’s tenth record and last one with Dave Guard. After recording this album, the trio went on their first foreign tour.  Upon their return, Guard, upset about royalties as well as wanting to expand as an artist, left the group.  He would be replaced by John Stewart.


Anyway, this album, released in 1961,  went to #3 on the Billboard charts.  It is a pretty good collection of lesser known folk tunes that run the gambit of styles, from spanish, to pop to bluegrass to americana.  Truth be told, I selected about 6 songs from this record for a sample.  Anyway, really good album.  It should be noted that the trio put their long time bassist on the cover Buck “David” Wheat.

For a sample, I thought about it quite a bit and went with two, the gospel flavored “You Don’t Knock” and the folk “Razors In The Air”, mainly because Wikipedia made a deal about Dave Guard’s banjo on it.

Good album.  Satisfactory.

Paul Clayton- Whaling and Sailing Songs From The Days Of Moby Dick

I could say it was the whaling genre that got me to buy this album, or the allusion to Moby Dick, or the inclusion of “Greenland Whale Fisheries” that made me buy this album.  But honestly, it was the yellow and blue cover that caught my eye and made me buy this.  It was $3.00, perhaps $2.40 if I got it on discount.  I can not remember exactly.

But for what ever reason, I bought this and fell in love with it as soon as I heard it.  “The Mermaid Song”, in particular, caught my ear and after two days, I threw it in to my guitar repertoire.  Anyway, this album, released by Tradition Recordings in 1956, takes some of the more popular whaling songs, most known and referenced by Melville and displays them in this collection.

It is kind of odd when you sit down and think of it, but singing was an integral part of a seaman’s life back in the day.  There were all types of songs for all types of jobs, varying in length to reflect the various jobs.  These songs also varied in mood and emotion.  A sailor who could sing well could stand to gain great respect from his captain and crew.

Paul Clayton,  born in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1931, was a folk singer who gained popularity during the folk revival of the 60’s as well as the Greenwich Village Scene.  Although he collected tunes from various places including the Appalachians, his New England upbringing lent himself to become a purveyor of whaling and sailing songs.  He became friendly and even a mentor to a young Bob Dylan.  However, when Clayton’s publishing company found that Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice Its Allright” sounded too much like one of Clayton’s own compositions, the two companies met in court.  It was found that Clayton’s song came from an earlier song which was in the public domain, so the lawsuit was settled out of court.  The two artists remained friends after this up until 1967, when beset with personal problems, Clayton took his own life with an electric heater in a bathtub.  He was only 36.

This record is an excellent collection of sea shantys, done in a bare bones fashion with little instrumentation save a guitar.  The record has a summary of the song on the back cover as well as a little history and why and where the song was sung.  All together, really great songs.

For samples, I went with a couple of songs. First off, one of the oldest shanties, “The Maid Of Amsterdam” tells the story of a sailor who meets a fair maid who pinches his money.  The second song, “The Mermaid” (Child 289) was one of Melville’s favorites and quoted in his novel White Jacket.  As mermaids were known as harbingers of doom, this song tells the story of such an encounter.

“Greenland Whale Fisheries”, which was one of the reasons I bought this album, is presented here as well.  I have noted with this song as did the liner note writer that there are two variants of this song.  In some versions, the captain, although pained by the losing of the whale, grieves more for the loss of his crew.  In versions such as the Pogues’, the two are switched which is perhaps more realistic. The Dubliners have actually gone both ways with this, which begs the question; was human life more or less valued back then as compared to now?  Well, just like today, it probably depends whose life? Anyway, which version does Clayton choose?  You will have to listen for yourself.

Finally, here is a number dating back from days after the death of Napoleon, “Boney Was A Warrior”.  This short drag song was used for sweating up the halyards at the end of a long pull.

Anyway, real good album.  Satisfactory.


Various- Stay, O Guests From Afar

Records like this are why I started the blog.  I picked this up with an earlier Chinese 10″ at the Half Price Books in Sugar Land.  Both records were $4.  For the most part, I wrote most of this month’s posts during the first week of April.  Which on one hand has been great for me as I have been able to sit back at nights and relax.  On the other hand, it has been less easy for me to comment on current events in an interesting manner as these posts have already been churned out.  Do I correct this in May?  Or do I continue to get ahead of the game?  I guess only time will tell.

When I posted the earlier record, I wrote a bit about the China Record Company, the state run business which out out this record. Not much more to say about the label.  From my guess, this record came out around 1977 or so.

Link to Earlier Post

Anyway, here is this, a collection of Chinese folk songs featuring solos and choruses in both male and female variety.  I am not sure if these songs focus on a specific area of China or not and quite frankly, I am too lazy to look into it any further.

A lot of good songs on this album but I kind of prefer the other one to this effort.  I can’t exactly put my finger on it.  Anyway, for samples, I was stuck bewteen “Pai Girls Love To Sing”, “Picking Flowers”, “The Wusuli Boatmen’s Song”, and the somewhat dirty sounding “My Home is in Shiagatse”.  Well, as it comes down to this being the last post I am writing for the month of April, here they all are.  Extreme laziness on my part but what can you do?

I got a bit more mileage out of the other Chinese album bu this is decent enough record.  Satisfactory.

The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem- The Bold Fenian Men

Happy St Patrick’s Day.  You had to know I was going to bust out the Brothers Clancy sooner or later. And let us not forget Mr Makem, either.  I bough this for $5.  It had a lot of songs I like on the record but I bought it specifically for this day.

If you don’t know who the Clancy Brothers were, I have posted various albums of thiers on this blog, mostly during last March.  I have written much about them and at this point, really can not think of anything else to add.  You can search for past blog posts on the Brothers if you want to learn more.

This album was released in 1969.  It features a good mix of mostly Irish songs along with a cover of Canadian Gordon Lightfoot’s “Early Morning Rain”. This was the last studio album of the Brothers with Tommy Makem.  He would leave amicably to pursue a solo career after its release, thus ending a great era of Irish folk music. The Brothers continued on with success, but this was the magic lineup of the group, no doubt.

For samples, I went with the classic song “All For My Grog”  which is a key Irish drinking song.  I also decided to go with two more of my favorites which have been posted on this blog before by different artists, ” The Banks of the Roses” and Brendan Behan’s “The Auld Triangle” which has been done by the Dubliners and the Pogues, who probably do my favorite version. I would probably be remiss not to throw in a version from the songwriter himself, Brendan Behan, whose cheery mug will show up in a post later this month. And since I already broke my promise to myself, here is my version.  In for a penny, in for a pound as they say.

Satisfactory Record.  Happy St Paddy’s Day.

Mick Moloney with Eugene O’Donnell- ST

This was $3.  I got it for the song I am going to use a sample, which is one of my favorites.  St Paddy’s Day is 2 days away.  It falls on a good day this year, on a Friday.  My birthday is on the 19th so if 43 years have taught me anything, it is that if St Paddy’s Day falls on a Friday or Saturday, I can expect low turn out for my birthday.  However, this greatly works in my favor.  More on that later this month.

Mick Moloney is a musician and folk historian from Limerick, which greatly explains his choice of song selection.  Born in 1944, he was a key figure of the 1960’s Irish folk revival.  He moved to Philly in 1973 and obtained a Ph.D in folk lore and Folk Life.  Hating the piano as a kid, he soon moved to guitar before moving towards banjo and mandolin, which seems to be the instrument he is associated with on this album.  Besides writing books on Irish music, he has worked with many a notable artist, including fiddler Eugene O’Donnell (who is included on this record) and the Clancy’s.

Moloney’s Webpage

Moloney’s discography is pretty extensive but I believe this is either the first or the second album released under Moloney’s own name.  It came out in 1978.  It is a pretty good collection or Irish folk with some songs off the beaten path. Besides Moloney and O’Donnell, this record features the work of Patrick Sky, Joe McKenna, and Shelley Posen.

I got this album for one song, “The Limerick Rake”, According to the liner notes, the song showcases “broad verbose humor and its honest opposition to conservative values”.  The song also serves as a travelogue of the County Limerick. The song has been covered by many including the Pogues whom I suppose this song was made for.  I think the Clancy’s do it best.  I have even fooled with it (despite the promise I made myself that I would never put any of my own music on this site.  It seems like a journalistic breach). Please note I have not practiced this song in 6 months or so.

If you are wondering, the oft repeated Gaelic phrase “Agus fagaimid siud mar ata se” translates roughly into “we will leave it at that” or in the Italian-American vernacular, “Forget About It”.

So here is Moloney’s version of “The Limerick Rake” which I feel is one verse too long.  I don’t like the verses about the singer’s childhood studies. I feel they really do not add anything to the song and really just needlessly drags it out.  Also for good measure, here is an instrumental called “West Limerick Medley” which includes ” The Clar Hornpipe”, “The Pride of Moyvane”, and “The Humours of Newcastle West”.

Decent album.  Satisfactory. Not too many meh’s these days, I know.  Maybe I have been in a better mood of late.

The Chad Mitchell Trio- Arrives

Welcome to yet another month of Donkey Show (which unofficially started two days ago by the way I breakdown months).  This month is a curious month.  Since St Patrick’s Day occurs within, as with last year, I loaded up  the month with the few remaining Irish albums I did not post last year.  Also, since next month is the site’s anniversary, I took a lot of the better albums out of March and put them in April.  So let’s see how this month pans out.  You don’t like it?  Stick around for April.  This was $1.00.  I got it both for the version of “The Gallows Tree” as well as the song I am posting.

Well, it seems like last months weekend getaway was more than an eon ago but I suppose now is as good a time to start posting some pictures from it. I took these on my I-phone and as I still have figured out how to properly post I-phone pics, prepare yourself both mentally and physically for a few days of upside down pics.   I spent an extended weekend up in Phoenix with my parents and my aunt.  One of my favorite activities in the Phoenix area is the Museum of Musical Instruments.  I was there last trip as well.  They had an exhibition on guitar inlays that was pretty interesting.

Also, since I ran out of time last visit, I started at the North American end of the exhibit this time and worked my way the to the other side.  Incidentally, my battery on my camera/phone died about the same spot as last visit. 

The Chad Mitchell Trio was formed around 1959 by Chad Mitchell, Mike Pugh, and Mike Kobluk, all students and Glee club members from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.  After two albums, in 1960, Pugh left to go back to school and was replaced by Joe Frazier (not the Smokin’ one).  At this point in their career, they started moving away from traditional folk songs towards more pointed, topical, and controversial tunes such  as “The John Birch Society”, “Your Friendly Liberal Neighborhood Klu-Klux-Klan” and my favorite from their later years, the” I am Not a Nazi Polka”.

After 1965, Mitchell left the group to pursue a solo career.  At this point the band changed it’s name to the Mitchell Trio and added a young John Denver to its ranks. The trio reshuffled a bit before calling it quits in 1967.  Mitchell, Kobluk, and Frazier reformed in 2005 and performed sporadically from thereon out until Frazier past away in his sleep at age 77,  After that, Mitchell, Kobluk, and bassist Ron Greenstein played a farewell concert in 2014.


Web Page for the Trio

This album was a 1964 reissue of the group’s 1959 debut.  As suggested above, this album features more traditional folk songs as opposed to the more topical ones they would do later in their career.  It also features the banjo work of Eric Darling, himself a seminal figure in the world of folk. 

I take great offense to the fact that the arranger, Milt Okun gave himself songwriting credits as the majority of these songs come from traditional sources.  I realize that both Bob Dylan and Shane MacGowan did the same thing early in their career, but I felt that a lot of the material was too close to the original lyric-wise.  “Sally Ann” is pretty much the Scottish “Johnny Lad” (which you can search for on this site on the Robin Hall/ Jimmie McGregor record).  “Sweet Mary Jo” is basically “Roll in my Sweet Baby’s Arms”.  AT the very least, these should be credited as traditional(Arranged by Okun and co.).  This no doubt-ably led me to have a slightly less than positive view of this record.

The song I picked as a sample, and one of the reason’s a bought this record, has the same kind of issue, but I was still real impressed with the number.  It is “Paddy”, a traditional folk song of Irish- American origin.  I tried to spend five minutes researching this song.  From the best I can tell, it was a work song song by Irish rail workers in the US which migrated up to sailors in Newfoundland and found itself back in Ireland where it became a common folk song, “Poor Paddy Works on the Railway”.  There are two deviations of this song, one done by Cisco Houston and one done by such acts as the Dubliners and the Pogues.  What I like about this version is it marries the two versions into one. Both are posted linked above. As a side note, I totally hated their version of “The Gallow’s Tree”.

What to say about this album?  Well, I mean it is a pretty good collection of new interpretation of folk songs and the Trio has a lot of talent but the song writing credits still rub me wrong.  So meh,  Sorry.

Jim Cameron’s Scottish Dance Orchestra- Folk Dances of Scotland

This week, if it isn’t Scottish, it’s crrr-rap. Here is a 10″ a got for a dollar.  I got it to expose myself to a wider range of Scottish music, which at the time of purchase I knew little about.  I almost felt guilty that I had leaned more towards the music of Ireland as opposed to the land of my heritage.

I could not find much of Jim Cameron and his Scottish Dance Orchestra other than he was from Kirriemuir (also the birthplace of Peter Pan creator, J.M. Barrie), was on the biggest star of Beltona Records during the post-war years, and was at least active from 1949 to 1951, which I believe this record falls around. A closer inspection of the record shows it was indeed 1951.

The songs are pretty straightforward.  They are a collection of numbers grouped around dance styles, including Broun’s Reel, La Russe, Dundee Reel, as well as the Pride of Erin.  The songs are all right.  Probably would be better with dancers.

For a sample, I went with a collection called The Glasgow Highlanders featuring “The Glasgow Highlanders”, “The Sherwood Rangers”, and “Phil the Fluter’s Ball”.

Overall, it is a decent enough album considering the price.  Satisfactory.

Andy Stewart- Andy Stewart’s Scotland

As I have been doing themes all month (and year for that practical matter) long, this week, in anticipation to Burn’s Supper, this week’s theme is Scotland, the land of my peoples. Before I did this blog, I had really no concept of Scottish folk music despite having a comprehensive knowledge of the Irish’s. Now, I have at least some basis on the songs and can even sing a few.  Not an expert by any means but hey, that’s progress. Oh yeah, I paid $3 for this.

Andy Stewart (1933-1993) has been described as the Englishman’s image of Scotland.  Born in Glasgow, his gift for imitation at a young age lead him to the business of show.  His music hall style along with his kilt made him an international star in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  He had several hits all over the world.  He also was known for imitating famous singers during his shows as well as letting loose a little Elvis in his first big hit “Donald, Where’s Your Trousers”.

Link to an awesome home page with a lot of music for Andy Stewart

This album, released in Full Dimensional Stereo by Capital Records, came out in 1962 and was a US variant of his first album, released in the UK a year prior.  In the UK, it would go to #13 on the charts,

For some reason which will appear more absurd later in the week, I did not like this album much.  I thought it was a bit to slow.  But it did have some decent songs such as “Nae Sae Bad” and “Bonnie Lass O’Fiyvie” . The Scottish music is a bit less polished than the Irish.  There is a bit more gruff to it but I do not think that is a bad thing.

For a sample, I went with “The Heart Of Midlothian”, based on the mosaic that adorns a section of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.  In a previous life, executions used to take place at that point and it was common for people to spit on the heart.  Now, it is seen as a gesture of good luck.

As far as this album goes, it was really meh which come Friday will sound strange.