Welcome to the Blue Ridge Bakery Boys' CD liner notes page! This site is a general collection of thoughts, comments and trivia related to our first CD. We feel lucky to have been able to include John Austin in this project since he so often joins us at the bakery on Friday mornings and brings another dimension to many of these tunes. We sort of think of the four of us together as being "The Blue Ridge Bakery Band"!! We hope you have fun with our thoughts and abstract ramblings as well as the detailed instrument listings for each tune. For the sake of brevity (and when did that ever become an issue with me?) I have used only the last name initial below which can be translated into either Austin, Burger, Carter or Rollins. OK, I'll change my last name to begin with a "D" when Don changes his first name to "John"... Enjoy!!! John R.
This is the initial recording of The Blue Ridge Bakery Boys and its purpose, content and style is probably best expressed by the band members themselves.
John Carter and I’ve enjoyed friendship and musical collaboration since 2004 or so, when we met at the Essence of Thyme Café in Brevard, NC. A couple of years later, I produced John’s solo album, Song Catcher, on the label of the same name. When the Essence closed, we found a warm welcome from John and Katina Hansen at the Blue Ridge Bakery, where John Rollins and John Austin eventually joined the mix. One day, a customer said, “Does your group have a name?” I looked up at the sign on the wall and said, “How about The Blue Ridge Bakery Boys?” The guys nodded, and that was it. I can’t say it’s lead to a “lot of dough,” but it has provided lots of good times, regular customers who sing (and dance), and a zillion mugs of coffee. I now drive from East Tennessee each Friday to play with them, and it’s worth every mile. Though I’ve played everything from piano bars to contra dances to art galleries, my musical passion is preserving fine folk music, especially that composed by artists hardly known to the general public, so that their work might be appreciated and not lost. This CD is dedicated to that pursuit.
John, Don and I are, first and foremost, good friends and musical partners and less a trio than an "ensemble of three" in which each supports the others in various ways - contributing vocal support and/or additional instrumentation. It was a pleasure to record this music with my fellow "Bakery Boys" who energize you and complement what you hear in a song. The musical journey for the Bakery Boys began in the halcyon years of the 60's and continues: an informal, non-competitive, affectionate sharing of music with others who had similar musical values. The songs and tunes are both traditional and contemporary, the approach is thoughtful and the performances are without pretension or the obvious devices of commercial intent. The focal point here is the music, the songs, and we hope the spirit lives on.
This project was a true melding of tunes and techniques. Coming from a technical background and having done demo recordings in the 70s for Boston-area musicians, I was most concerned about recording the individual instruments and vocals in an "isolated" manner so that those tracks could be adjusted in terms of EQ and volume without affecting the other tracks. In a perfect world that would have been done but in practical terms, it was impossible. The instruments themselves posed challenges with their relatively low natural sound levels; contact pickups helped isolate the sound but presented other issues which produced a more "unnatural sound" and, in some cases, noise and signal breakup issues. In the end, we tried to simply use microphones to record the instruments to preserve their natural tonal qualities. This presented another issue - that of "bleed-through" when vocals were recorded at the same time. When this happens, adjusting the volume level of an instrument will also adjust the volume of the vocal signals also present on the track; I guess this is all why recording studios and their engineers make the "big bucks" (or at least charge for them)!!! The end result is somewhat a compromise between a true, live recording of the group and a more, polished studio production. I like to think of it as what we "could" sound like "live" with a good sound system and engineer at the controls. There are, of course, a few exceptions to this statement where one of the members plays more than one instrument or sings more than one vocal part but I hope you'll forgive this anomaly and enjoy the end result - after all, it's all about the music...
The CD Tracks Themselves
Jack's Maggot/Saint Anne's Real - Traditional
An English Country Dance Tune dating to the early 1700's. We pair it with St. Anne's Reel a popular French Canadian Dance Tune. John C.
I heard Greg sing this in concert in 1980 – adapted it to the dulcimer and I’ve been singing it ever since…. Don B.
I first heard this song from Don Burger when he and John C. did it for the local Unitarian Church music program. In terms of writing, I consider it to be another example of Greg Brown at his best - still one of my favorites... John R.
Gold Watch & Chain - A. P. Carter, Traditional
By combing the hills, the hymnals, their own memories, A.P. and the Carter Family took the songs of their mountain community and presented them in a way people could understand and call their own. This song was the title to the complete Carter Family Victor recordings of 1933-34. The pathos of desperate, seemingly unrequited, love still comes through after almost eighty years. John C.
Ships - Greg Brown, Hacklebarney Music, ASCAP
I heard Redbird do this on their only CD and really liked the harmonies and feel of it. What a shock to discover it as being penned by Greg Brown! In any event, I changed in only slightly in arrangement and lyrics from their version. However, the production on this somewhat tends to channel Phil Spector's "wall of sound" in a way - I hope it doesn't suffer for it... John R.
My Darling Hometown - John Prine/Rodger Cook, Tommy Jack Music (BMI)/Four Music admin by Peer Music (BMI)
I grew up in a small city, in a neighborhood where we were like one big extended family. Years later, after both Big City life and Living in the Woods failed to give me that feeling of home, though I kept listening to songs like this gem from Prine, full of vivid, simple imagery. I found my way back. (This song can also be heard on Appalachian Dulcimer - 2008 Fellenbaum, #1086.) Don B.
New Harmony - Craig Johnson, 1977
New Harmony in Southern Indiana, was Craig's Grandfather's home and this song captures Craig's fond memories of going home from New Harmony down to the tow boat landing in Mt. Vernon, Indiana. John C.
Living On The River - Jerry Rasmussen, Crystal Springs Music Co.
Love's A Word I Never Throw Around - Robert Earl Keen, Jr., Universal Music Publishing Group (BMI)
I first heard this song done by The Greencards as, basically, a bluegrass tune done in a somewhat upbeat tempo with mandolin and fiddle driving the tune. The more I listened to the lyrics, the more I thought of it being more of a love song, requiring a more thoughtful rendition. About two years ago I re-arranged it for DADGAD tuning and, while I liked the suspended chords this brought, it made it more difficult to do as an ensemble piece so I changed it back to standard tuning but kept some of the suspended and added ninth chords I so dearly love; that's the version you'll hear on the CD. The funny thing is that I recently saw a YouTube video of The Greencards' current lineup doing this tune and they are now doing a version that sounds closer to mine than their original arrangement. Go figure... John R.
Gentle Annie - Stephen Foster/Martyn Wiyndham Read, Public Domain
The original song and melody was written by Stephen Foster in 1856. The tune made its way to Australia and this version was first recorded by Martyn Wiyndham Read. John C.
Seamus O'Brien - Traditional
A lovely old Irish Waltz. The lyrics to the tune were published in 1867, by Will Hays as an answer to Hays' earlier song, Nora O'Neal. John C.
Waltz Across Texas - Earnest Tubb, Earnest Tubb Music Inc. (BMI)
One of the great sing along chorus'. Always enjoyable to play and sing. John C.
Sweet Song from Yesterday - Bob Zentz
I first heard Bob do this one at the Old Songs Festival in 1990 or so, and it became an enduring favorite for me, lending itself easily to singing along and celebrating the traditional folk music that I play and listen to myself. I’ve played it thousands of times since & never get tired of it. Don B.
Our Little Town - Greg Brown, Hacklebarney Music, ASCAP
Another Greg Brown song - this one I heard on his CD "One More Goodnight Kiss" and immediately felt a connection with it. To me, it describes the conditions I see here every day in my rural, western NC community. It states simply the events seen all across our nation and asks the question often left unspoken - "What's going to happen to our little town?". Greg's version was so compelling that I tried not to change a thing except for a minor lyric change to allow this to be done for all audiences and a slightly more nostalgic ending. Thanks, Greg... and I hope you approve. John R.
Pack Up Your Sorrows - Richard Farina and Pauline Marden, Vogue Music c/o Welk Music Group/BMI
I heard this done by Richard and Mimi Farina back in 1965 on a compilation album (yes album - and I still have it!) and always loved the sound of the dulcimer on it. We have changed very little from that original version other than the instrumentation. John R.
It's Great To Be Alive In Transylvania County - Don Burger
Don Burger's anthem for Transylvania County and all its residents - a great tune, masterfully written! John R.
As always, we'd like to thank Rocky for hanging around and taking pictures for us while we attended to the business at hand.
We thank her for her patience and understanding when things didn't go as planned and took longer than we'd originally thought
they would ... way, way longer ...
Please remember that your comments and suggestions are always welcomed. We take requests; we don't promise to play them but we take them, none the less... Keep those electronic cards and letters comin', folks!
Send comments to: BRBBoys@comporium.net
Changes last made on: Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 12:05pm