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Old Aunt Jenny With Her Nightcap On

Whoooooa cool tune alert! Butch and I were asked to come play at McCallie tonight, and Joseph DeCosimo was also on the bill. Lucky us! Joe taught us this tune outside before the show, and even though Butch is just finding his way around the chords in this video, we nailed it in the performance, and I thought it sounded great. I hope we get a chance to play with Joseph again soon! Chattanooga doesn’t know it yet, but this place is full of young talented musicians, some of whom, like Joe, are into keeping the old traditions alive and rockin’. This must be what it’s like to live in the same town as Bruce Molsky… Lucky lucky lucky….



Just ran across this video on Youtube…. Gotta love the way these Swedes interpret Poor Man’s Troubles, an American fiddle tune. Also, I think I recognize that percussionist from the Swedish band who crashed the festival in Gooik, Belgium, last summer. Incredible music.

The Home Rulers

Luxury of luxuries!  I stepped out my front door the other evening and saw that my across-the-street neighbors, Rick and Brandy, had their front door open.  So of course I peeked in to see what they were up to, and their dining room was full of Irish musicians!  And they were all working at learning a tune together.  And it just so happens that I bought a fiddle this week, so I ran back over to my place, grabbed my fiddle, and ran back to learn the tune with them.  This is the tune they were learning, a hornpipe called “The Home Rulers” (which I assume is a handy tool used by homeschoolers).  After that we did a slip jig, and I went home a happy bug.  Yay for awesome neighbors!!


We could call this my St. Paddy’s Day special. And this time I’m reaching even further back in time to Spring, 2002, when five non-Irish people formed an Irish traditional band, and called themselves, “Raar,” meaning “strange” in Dutch… of course.

The band was a palindrome. Same backwards and forwards. Tom Spackman (USA) played mandolin, guitar, and bodhran, and opposite him was Robin Turk (UK) with the same arsenal. Move in one place and you have Stella Rodrigues (Holland) on fiddle, and opposite her was Emma Small (South Africa) also on fiddle. I landed in the middle of the group with my freak instrument. All of us sang, all of us played with all of our heart. We had two phenomenal gigs, and that’s all. By the summer, we all kind of scattered and went back to our other pursuits. I still listen to these recordings and think, “Dang, we were really good.” And we sure did put a ton of time into items like arrangement. What if we’d had more time together? What if Cork really was home to all of us?

The following are all of the sets we performed at the UCC Traditional Music Society student concert at An Spailpin Fanach, Cork, Ireland, May 2002. Introduction by Mel Mercier. Special guest, Elin Skoglund (Sweden), on nyckelharpa.


The first time I heard this tune, Snowbird, I was sitting in the all-purpose room of an elementary school in Gainsborough, England, and the guy playing it was a fiddle/banjo player from Vermont.  I had recorded it then, back in 2004 with just me and him playing it, and have loved the tune ever since.  But I’ve never found anyone else who knows it, so I’ve kept it to myself, just played it maybe a few times on my own, but never in a session… until yesterday.  Fred, Ouida, and I paid a visit to Lucy Long’s cabin at the Breakin’ Up Winter festival in Lebanon, TN.  We brought instruments and the birthday bourbon, sat down and had us a few great tunes.  Luke of Lawrenceburg was also there pulling out all kinds of tricks on the guitar, banjo, and harmonica.  I was so delighted when Lucy started playing Snowbird!

I recorded it on my iPod, experimenting for the first time with the new Belkin recording attachment I just got for it.  I wasn’t using an external mic, although I think it would sound better if I had.  Still, not a bad job for just a little guy.

What do I like so much about this tune?  It’s rather plain… not crooked, not in the key of A, no surprise key changes in the second part… I don’t really get what gets me about it, but I’m got.  It’s a sweet tune.