Saturday, January 17, 2009

Whoopie Ti-Yi-Yo

here's a great old cowboy song for you guys, called "whoopie ti-yi-yo". while i've never been a cowboy, it's still an incredible song you can dig without knowin a lot about the references they're makin. for those of you living out on the plains, though, i'd guess some of these things would still mean somethin to you, but as for me i've never had to tangle with jimson weed or prickly pear. i've heard woody guthrie and peter la farge sing this song, but i'm sure others have too. it's a great american tune, bein a cowboy out west and all of its joys...

when i was out walking one morning for leasure
i spied a young cowboy come riding along
his hat was tipped back and his spurs were a jinglin
as he was ridin a singin this song

whoopie ti-yi-yo, get along little doggies
it's your misfortune and none of my own
whoopie ti-yi-yo, get along little doggies
don't you know that wyoming will be your new home

it's early in the springtime we round up the doggies
we brand them ere mark them and bob off their tales
round up the cavie, load up the chuckwagon
and throw them doggies out on the trail

some boys they goes up the trails for a pleasure
but that's where they got it most awfully wrong
for they got no idea of the troubles they gives us
as we goes a drivin those doggies along

your mother was raised a way down in texas
where the jimson weed and the sand burs grow
will fill you up on that prickly pear and choya
and throw you on the trail down to mexico

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Anthology of American Folk Music

well some of you might be wanting an anthology here instead of individual albums of these folksingers, so here's the anthology to get. pretty well known, it's harry smith's "anthology of american folk music," volumes 1-3. it's a good place to start if you want a general overview of some of the artists playin around the 30's, divided into 3 volumes, 2 discs each. the first volume's labeled "ballads," which is pretty much the same as the third volume labeled "songs." each are compilations of different songs from solo artists and groups, traditional folk songs played by the classic artists of the heyday, like buell kazee, clarence ashley, the carter family, dock boggs, and so on. the second volume, though, is labeled "social music," and is a bit different than the other two. it's a pack of dances, sing-a-longs, string band tunes, stomps and such. betraying the label at times, though, are some actual songs, ones by the carter family, blind willie johnson, bascam lamar lunsford and others. it's a great compilation, an extensive, yet casual way of listening to a lot of these older artists. a good place to start, once you play it to death you'll be wanting to dive into the individual artists, but until then, it will surely wet your appetites. the file below is all the volumes, six discs altogether.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Clarence Ashley

here's an old one for you. clarence ashley, a guitar and banjo player from the 20's-30's. he lived into the 60's and played with doc watson in the folk revival, but this is a compilation of his older recordings called "greenback dollar. the versions on this comp of the songs "house carpenter" and "coo coo bird" were included on harry smith's "anthology of american folk music." he played old traditionals with some alternate lyrics that made em more graphic than the originals, like a man gettin overtook in jericho for blowin down his girl with a .44 in "little sadie" and john louise kickin, chokin and drownin naomi in "naomi wise." they were some desperate times back then and clarence ashley makes em sound that much more brutal. it's some gritty old folk and one of the classic artists from way back then.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Peter La Farge

this post here is incredibly important. in order to right the wrong that has befallen this world, i am posting two albums recorded by the late cowbody indian, peter la farge. as i have found over the recent years, this man has been all but forgotten...pete seeger honored la farge by playing one of his songs on rainbow quest and johnny cash played a few of his songs on his album "bitter tears," but that was the 60's. if la farge hadn't been included briefly in the "no direction home" dylan documentary, i don't know if anyone would still know of him. peter la farge was part of a dying indian tribe, and in the 60's he played native american protest songs and old cowboy songs in greenwich village. he didn't have an amazing voice which is probably why he's been forgotten, but what he said was what mattered. even though the songs seemed humorous, they're really brutal looks at the history of our relations with the native americans. download his music and spread it around if you dig it. it took me a year till i found and downloaded these albums...shops can't order his cds, the only place to get em is off the internet but it's repackaged as a double album and even that's hard to get. the link below is a folder that has both albums in it, "as long as the grass shall grow" and "on the warpath."

The Jaw Harp

for those of you who have an interest in learning to play the jaw harp i'd like to try to teach you. for those of you who don't have an interest in it, i'd suggest you become interested. it's a fun instrument to play, easy enough once you figure out the right way to do it, and it's easy to carry around and whip out when ya need it.

well i'll start by giving you a little picture with numbers on it for easy reference. i started out with a primitive lookin murchunga that i ordered from nepal (the murchunga's the nepalese jaw harp) and it worked out fine, but the big steel ones you get around here end up being easier to use. the thing in the middle is the tongue. the two rods on each side of the tongue are what you put your teeth on, so you'll want to wrap the rods in a little bit of duct tape where your teeth'll touch. you tape them almost completely around but you leave little spaces open on the insides near the tongue. if tape touches the tongue it'll deaden the sound and you won't be able to use it. you'll definitely want to tape the rods, though, because that's steel and you won't want to clamp your teeth down hard onto it without some kind of cushion protection. well, now is the time to play it.

you hold the harp on the ring with the tongue prong stickin away from you. you put your index finger by the 1, your middle finger by the 2, and your thumb on the 3. your thumb should be firm against the frame but shouldn't touch the toungue, or else it won't be able to move. your fingers don't need a good grip on the frame or anything, but they need to be able to hold it in place and press the rods hard against your teeth. this is the part that confuses people a bit, but i'll try to make sense. if you have a harp in your hand, this'll be a little easier. you basically just bite down on the rods, but not on the outside edges. think of it like this..if your left hand wasn't pressing it against your teeth, the harp would fall down, so you're not clamping onto the top and bottom of the rods. you're biting onto the sides that are slanting towards you. by biting onto these slopes, your teeth are open just enough to let the tongue pass freely between that space between your top and bottom teeth. the rods are held against your two front teeth, with the end of the rods being flush with the outside edge of your right front tooth. and i gotta be's not your teeth that are holding the jaw harp to your mouth, it's your left hand. you're not even really biting the rods, they're just being pressed against the edges of your teeth. you really gotta press the rods firm against your teeth. when you flick the tongue, the whole harp vibrates. if the rods aren't firm against your teeth, they'll vibrate and rattle against your teeth. if it's firm against your teeth, though, it'll stop the harp from vibrating and the tongue will be the only thing moving. this makes your mouth the resonator, which gives the harp its volume. through all of this, your lips will rest against the rods, and the only open part of your mouth will be the space between the rods and the gap that the tongue prong goes in and out of. you'll find out pretty quick if any part of your lip is too close to the tongue, because the tongue'll swing into it and it'll hurt like hell.

well now the harp should be firm against your teeth and ready to play. you want to be sure that the tongue and prong have nothing in their way when they pass in and out of your mouth. you really can mess up your teeth, but you won't if you make sure that no parts of your teeth are in the way of the tongue when it swings into your mouth. to play the harp, you just flick the prong on the end of the tongue, flicking away from your face with your right hand index finger. the tongue will swing and it'll make a sound, if you inhale or exhale while flicking it, the harp will be louder. to get the signature jaw harp sound, you make different movements with your mouth and your tongue. the harp's sound comes from the shape of your mouth, so if your mouth is bigger, the sound will be lower, if smaller, the sound'll be higher. try mouthing "oooo-eeeee". by mouthing "ooooo", your mouth makes the low sound, and with "eeeeee" you make the high sound. try flicking the tongue of the harp while mouthing that back and forth, like "ooooeeeeeoooooeeeee". there's your lowest note and your highest note, and the harp's range is made up of those two notes and anything in between. to play the jaw harp, you just flick the tongue to a rhythm, and alternate your inhales, exhales and mouth shapes to make different melodies. once you get that down, you can start the next and one of the last techniques, which is to flick the tongue prong both away from you and towards you. you're then able to get twice as many notes from the same amount of effort as for the one. if you flick it back and forth fast enough, you can get a continuous wave of notes, and as far as i know of, that's the best a jaw harp can be played.

once you're able to get sound out of the jaw harp, it's a fun little instrument to play. and you don't really have to "practice" the jaw harp or any instrument for that matter to get better, you just have to play it. if you can get a sound from an instrument, you're playing it. you might not be playing it good or how you're supposed to, but keep playin it and it'll keep on gettin better. practice will make you better too, though...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Diamond Joe

well folks, i'm gonna take care of all the cravings going around for more posts by posting some, and the only things i've got to offer this night are some lyrics. there will be a more diverse selection of posts later on, what with albums and lessons and thoughts and such, but here it'll be some more lyrics. a song called "diamond joe" it'll be tonight, a traditional, i know of it from cisco houston's singing but more have sung it. little bit of a warning to workers everywhere...hopefully you wouldn't have to deal with it all your life if you'd get in a situation like that, but if you've got a family or the like it's not too easy to just up an leave, but it'll all even out in the end.

there is a man you hear about most every place you go
his holdings are in texas and his name is diamond joe
he carries all his money in a diamond studded jaw
and he never was much bothered by the process of the law

i hired to diamond joe boys, i did offer him my hand
he gave me a string of horses so old they could not stand
i liked to die of hunger, he did mistreat me so
and i never earned a dollar in the pay of diamond joe

his bread it was corndodger, his meat i could not chaw
he drove me near distracted with the waggin of his jaw
by the tellin of this story i aim to let you know
that there never was a dodger who lied like diamond joe

i tried three times to quit him boys, but he did argue so
that i'm still punchin cattle in the pay of diamond joe
when i'm called up yonder, and it's my time to go
give my blankets to my buddies, give the fleas to diamond joe