I wrote this song shortly after dear April Brown passed away. She was the devoted and extremely artistic wife of Paul Brown, super musician, super friend and now a member of The Waterboys. The song stayed with me for a while before I realized is was a musical soundscape, minimal lyrics by design, about April. This is a demo of the song Paul and I recorded in tribute to his amazing partner in life.
This is a live performance of Indian Dream, with native American flute player Fred Keams and percussionist Jordan Ellis. NATIVE AMERICANS were FIGHTING FOR WATER in the Dakotas … and it occurs to me that the Appalachian people have been waging a very similar fight as our native American friends for clean water, clean earth, protection of community and culture and have not really been heard … there’s a certain amount of dignity that comes with acknowledgment and I do not feel our friends in Appalachia have had their concerns acknowledged. See the APPALACHIAN ROAD video below.
INDIAN DREAM is on the companion 12-song CD that comes with the new 176 page book WOODSONGS III. If interested click here for details, chapter and song samples and ordering information
WATER OF LIFE
Here is a demo I recorded back in 1995 when I was in the middle of performing over 4,000 “Earth Concerts” in 14 states. I think I played in virtually every community theater, college and high school across Appalachia. You might be able to tell I was singing in my best David Gates voice I could muster (this was also the beginning of my dislike for working with “producers” during a session. I hate drum machines.) To record this track, the state of West Virginia brought over 1400 high school kids to the Capital in Charleston WVa to record the chorus.
I actually recorded a song with Sam Bush, a tune inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson who said “The Earth Laughs in Flowers.” Performed on a long neck banjo with a flute quartet (in honor of Emerson’s friend Henry David Thoreau) and Sam Bush on mandolin. From the Ravenwood CD
Our lives are filled with memories that linger, many that never go away. Electricians call residual images that stay on a screen “ghosts” and that is pretty much what this song is about. Before I moved into my log cabin, I remember standing inside the empty wooden shell … I could almost hear the sounds of the family that built it, children running, coffee being made in the morning. It was like the walls still reflected the sounds and images of its own past. That is what this song is about …
Written at the height of the Cival War, this is how I present the story and the historic song, later recorded by Elvis Presley under a new name with revised words … the story is as amazing as the song itself …
MOUSIE HIWAY – The Adventures of Banjo Mouse
Yes … I want to write a series of children’s books that will have original art and a music CD about the story. Here is the first one, a way to introduce kids to the sound and instruments of bluegrass music. It all started with the sound, Mousie HiWay, which I’ve been playing in concert as a solo banjo piece for years. I can up with a rhyming story of an adventurous banjo playing mouse that meets several musical friends. You can read the story HERE.
The modern day dilemma: employing people with good paying jobs without destroying the environment. This is a song about a “process” called Mountain Top Removal … and not about the families and communities that mine the coal. “Appalachian Road” was a difficult song to compose, hoping to capture the issue without condemming the innocent people just trying to feed their families in a region devoid of other kinds of jobs. This is the music video based on the song off the Front Porch album, produced demonstrate and to explore the issue.
NEW WOOD video filmed with Odetta
This was done on 35mm film at a farm late at night in Versailles KY. Odetta was so kind, she flew to Lexington to record the song (by Si Kahn) and film the video. Recorded with Homer Ledford on mandolin plus a cello quartet. I remember getting finished about 4am. Exhausted I was ready to go home but Odetta wanted pancakes, so we ended up at a Perkins restaurant on Richmond Road until 6am. I so miss that amazing lady.