Etta Baker on Guitar and Banjo (MP3s)

I’ve become a regular visitor to the Old Blue Bus audio blog. It continues to turn me on to some real good musicians I probably would not have otherwise been exposed to. The latest is Etta Baker who plays guitar and banjo in a style that reminds me of Elizabeth Cotton and Mississippi John Hurt.

A young Taj Mahall was a college student in the early 1960s when he first heard those recordings. “I was immediately taken by her version of Railroad Bill. She is the greatest influence in my guitar playing.”

In 1962, Paul Clayton brought his friends, Bob Dylan and Susie Rotolo to visit Etta at her home in Morganton to celebrate Dylan’s 21st birthday. After his visit, Dylan rewrote Clayton’s song Whose Going to Buy You Ribbons, When I’m Gone into his classic Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, in which you can clearly hear Etta’s guitar influence.

Old Blue Bus provides three MP3 downloads of her songs: One Dime Blues, Railroad Bill (recently covered by Greg Brown), and a sweet little banjo number called Going Down the Road Feeling Bad. She has three albums available at CD Baby (with plenty of samples). I’ve ordered Railroad Bill.

A few notes: (1) Etta Baker can be requested on Whole Wheat Radio. (2) The above MP3s are posted on Old Blue Bus for about a week, then they’re gone. So these direct links won’t be valid much longer. (3) This probably won’t be the last time I post about a musician I discovered on the Old Blue Bus audio blog.

Charlie Parr and ‘Who Killed Cock Robin?’

Greg Brown recorded a traditional song called Who Killed Cock Robin on his Honey in the Lion’s Head album. (What does that mean, anyway, honey in the lion’s head?) I love the album and I love the song. While doing some research on the story behind the song, I came across a guy named Charlie Parr. Some other guy named Alan Sparhawk had this say about him:

Charlie Parr is one of the greatest musicians and human beings I know. So many country-blues artists are crippled with retroism and purism, but he has brought wonder and excitement to this music. Even Charlie’s foot coming down on the floor boards screams with more soul and life than most anything — past or future.

CHARLIE PARRThat’s another way of saying he’s real good. He has several songs available for download on his site. I recommend starting with Bethlehem (MP3). His take on Who Killed Cock Robin ain’t too shabby either.

In the past couple weeks, I’ve downloaded a bunch of songs from his site (Jesus at the Kenmore is hilarious), but most of them don’t seem to be available anymore. Too bad. However, an entire concert can be downloaded at the Live Music Archive. Check it ’em out.

Roots Music from Old Blue Bus

REELTIME TRAVELERSI don’t remember how I came across Old Blue Bus, “an audio blog with no particular destination.” Might have been through Whole Wheat Radio. Might have been when I was trying to figure out where I’d downloaded “Little Bird of Heaven,” by the Reeltime Travelers. (Great song, though I still haven’t found it online.)

Anyhow, the guy posts decent quality MP3s of all kinds of good music and seems to know what he’s talking about. Not a bad place to go to hear stuff you probably haven’t heard before.

Update: I should have guessed it (and just did); I got the Reeltime Travelers MP3 through a J-Walk post.

Heavy Metal For Kids

The Thunderlords:

What would happen if the Wiggles met White Zombie backstage at an Iron Maiden concert and decided to form a band? I’m not really sure, but I’d bet they would sound a lot like The Thunderlords. The Thunderlords play loud heavy music with goofy fun lyrics that everyone can enjoy, except those looking for some peace and quiet.

Lyrics from their song I Like Dirt!

I Like dirt and dirt likes me
I Like the mud stuck in my teeth
All in my fingers between my toes
I even like it up my nose
I Like dirt! (4 times)

Poorly produced based on their samples. I’ll just let my kids discover the variety of music in my collection.