Folk Roots

Thoughts of the “Freedom Summer” 50 years ago, lead to Eric Andersen’s “Thirsty Boots”


Mario Savio on Sproul Hall steps, 1966

Today, I wrote at Socialstudious about the murder of the three Mississippi Civil Rights workers in the summer of 1964. The trio of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were murdered on June 21-22, 1964 and it took 44 days until their bodies were found in the banks of an earthen dam, near the murder site.

In that post, I also wrote about Mario Savio who was a political activist and key leader in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. He is possibly best known for his speeches, with the most famous being his”put your bodies upon the gears” address given at Sproul Hall, University of California, Berkeley on December 2, 1964. In the summer of 1964 after the disappearance of the above trio, Savio joined the “Freedom Summer” volunteers. During that summer Savio….

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Remembering the Man who wrote, the best train John Prine song ever heard – Steve Goodman on his birthday – July 25, 1948!

Steve Goodman

So back in 1971 I found the music of John Prine. The liner notes on his début album were written by Kris Kristofferson whose music I knew and whose opinion I respected, I had also read great things about the album, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the album. That album started a 42 year and still continuing  love affair with John’s music. A year later, I read the following on the back on another début album:

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Lunchtime Music – “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down” – Kris Kristofferson!

Me and Bobby McGhee

Me and Bobby McGheeSo sometime in 1971 I discovered the music of Kris Kristofferson. The reason that I can pinpoint it to that year is that I have the album cover that you see here. The album had originally been released as Kristofferson in 1970 and it met with poor sales. Then Janis Joplin had her hit with “Me and Bobby McGee” and the album was re-released with that title and as they say the rest is history. On that album there were several songs that had already been hits for a variety of artists. In fact, “For the Good Times”  as covered by Ray Price) won “Song of the Year” in 1970 from the Academy of Country Music, and Johnny Cash’s version of “Sunday Morning Coming Down”  won the same award from the Country Music Association in the same year. This was the only time an individual received the same award from these two organizations in the same year for different songs!! Sammi Smith also had a big hit with “Help Me Make It Through the Night”

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This Day in Music – March 16, 1942 – Happy Birthday, Jerry Jeff Walker!!


JJW!So on this day in 1942 in Oneonta, NY, one Ronald Clyde Crosby, aka Jacky Jack, and more well-known as Jerry Jeff Walker was born!! Jerry Jeff’s music has been a part of the musical soundtrack of my life since the late 1960s. And his music has been with me as I walked across the campus of the University of Florida singing “High Hill Country Rain”, to rocking my children to sleep to “Mr Bojangles”, to sending my son’s best friend into hysterics over “Pissin’ in the Wind” and of course “Redneck Mother” is always just a moment away in that jukebox in my head! The first few songs on his album Navajo Rug can for some reason always pull me out of a bad mood. His music introduced me to songwriters like Guy Clark, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Bill Staines and the great Chris Wall as well as a myriad of other Texas musicians!! Ok so I could go on and on about Jerry Jeff but Jerry Jeff over the years has spread the celebration of his birthday over three days, performing concerts in Luckenbach and in Austin, so I think that it’s only fitting that I at least spread it over at least ONE day. So with that thought in mind, I will post Jerry Jeff songs throughout the day today. I can hear my wife now, oh joy! NOT!

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This Day in Music – Feb 14, 1943 – Happy Birthday No 71 – Eric Andersen!


So today is  the birthday of one of my favorite folk singers, Eric Andersen.(1943) Eric was one of the early pioneers of the Greenwich Village folk music scene, along with Tom Paxton, Tom Rush,  Fred Neil, Dave Von Rank and many others. He made his début in 1964 at Gerdes Folk City in a live audition for Vanguard Records.   I didn’t really start listening to Eric until his most commercially successful album Blue River was released in 1972. “Is it Really Love at All’ is still a favorite. But as soon as I heard Eric’s music I went back and picked up The Very Best of Eric Andersen on Vanguard Records and learned to love those early songs like “Violets of Dawn”, “Come to My Bedside” and many others, including “Thirsty Boots”

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Yesterday (now) in Music – Feb 8,1941 – Happy Birthday Tom Rush!

Tom Rush

Tom RushSo as soon as I saw this video at YouTube with Tom Rush performing “Merrimack County”, I thought, yes, that’s a great song to use as we celebrate  Tom Rush’s 73rd birthday today! Yes, little Tommy Rush was born on February 8, 1941…from Wikipedia…

Rush was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the adopted son of a teacher at St. Paul’s School, in Concord, New Hampshire. Tom began performing in 1961 while studying at Harvard University after having graduated from the Groton School. He majored in English literature. Many of his early recordings are versions of Lowland Scots and Appalachian folk songs. He regularly performed at the Club 47 coffeehouse (now called Club Passim) in Cambridge, the Unicorn in Boston, and The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

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This Day in Music – December 7, 1941 – Happy Birthday, Harry Chapin!!



Harry ChapinHarry’s epitaph is from his song “I Wonder What Would Happen to this World.” It is:

Oh if a man tried To take his time on Earth And prove before he died What one man’s life could be worth I wonder what would happen to this world

Today we celebrate the 71st anniversary of the birth of Harry Chapin (December 7, 1942) unfortunately as we all know (well at least us boomers) Harry only lived to celebrate 38 of them. His life was cut short on that day in July of 1981. But let’s not dwell on how we wished things could have been, rather let’s celebrate the music that we loved and remember. From the release of his first album Heads & Tales  released in 1972,on Elektra,.an album that brought us “Harry the taxi driver and his ex-love Sue to Sequel  his final release before for his death, that completed the “circle” and reunited the two! Let’s remember all those characters from a sniper, the morning DJ at W*O*L*D, Mr Tanner the cleaner and would be singer, the midnight night watchman at Miller’s Tool and Die, and of course Mail Order Annie. Some background on Harry’s early life from Wikipedia :

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2013 Blues from Oakland’s – No – Austin’s Birdlegg


BirdleggA review of the Roots Music Blues Chart this morning led me to the blues of , Eugene “Birdlegg” Pittman and his 2013 Dialtone release Birdlegg.(#38) Since 1980 Birdlegg has been playing the blues in and around Oakland, California with his band the Tight Fit Blues Band. The band’s lineup would change from time to time but regularly included Texas-born bass player and singer Country Pete McGill and even once featured legendary Chess session guitarist Luther Tucker. Through the years he often told folks:, “I don’t do floors, windows or shoes—I play the Oakland blues!”Birdlegg was named Blues Harmonica Player of the Year by the Bay Blues Society in 2004 While a many blues harpist try to mold their playing around the sound of Little Walter. Birdlegg goes back a little further in time and his muses are Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) and Sonny Terry – two of mu favorites!! I knew I liked his playing!! A few years ago after 35 years in the Bay Area Birdlegg packed his bags and moved to Texas. He reunited with his ex-wife, who he hadn’t seen in years and started playing around town. It didn’t take long for him to establish himself as a favorite on the Austin blues scene! From KXAN  – Blues make a comeback on 6th St. Birdlegg2

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Today in Music – Oct 31, 1937 – Tom Paxton was born – Happy Birthday, Tom!!

Tom Paxton

Tom PaxtonSo another year has gone by and today we celebrate.the 76th birthday of Tom Paxton, and this year is the 44th year that Tom’s music has been a part of the soundtrack of my life! To tell you how ingrained Tom’s music is in my head, I can’t meet a woman named Jennifer without Tom’s “Jennifer’s Rabbit” popping into my head! (You can watch a cover of the song as performed by the University of Pittsburgh’s Heinz Chapel Choir from a Concert, October 11, 2009. Solo: Benjamin Miller here)  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Tom and his music here’s some background information from Allmusic:

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Morning Music – Tom Paxton with memories of The Lions Head

Tom Paxton

Tom PaxtonSo once again as I closed in the market at Target, for the second night in a row, a forgotten song came on “the jukebox in my mind”. This time it was Tom Paxton;s “You should have seen me throw that ball”. Certainly the song is not one instantly recognized as a Paxton standard but never the less one I
always liked! I guess it popped into the mix because of thoughts about Prine and Goodman and maybe even thoughts about whether the Eagles would be throwing the ball today! So this morning I looked for a video, knowing that I’d never find one, but I did find the song on Tom’s MySpace Page and you can listen to it here.

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