- Bowling Green: From Cousin Emmy. You can find the original on a recording she made with the New Lost City Ramblers, Smithsonian/Folkways 31015. Tuning: gEADE.
- Little Birdie: This version is mainly influenced by The Coon Creek Girls–but also by the whole universe of Little Birdies. Tuning: aDAC#E.
- Old Kimball: From Texas Gladden. You can hear the original on the Rounder CD Texas Gladden: Ballad Legacy. I added the banjo. Tuning: dADAD.
- Rocky Hill: I heard Stu Jamieson play this when he was at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes some years ago. I wrote down the words and the tuning, but not Jamieson’s source. I also did not record it, so this re-creation is probably inaccurate. Tuning: aEABE.
- Johnny Gordon: From Dan Tate, who calls it “Old Gray Goose.” You can hear him play it on Field Recorders Collective #506. He does the “lost his cow” verse, the “sick today” verse, and a not-for-mixed company (he says, giggling) verse about Mr. Gordon’s wife. I made up the other verses, because the song needed more. And I don’t play the banjo like Tate. Oh well. Tuning: aEADE.
- Scat Tom Kitty Puss: Another from Cousin Emmy. Tuning: aEAC#E, capo 2.
- I Went Down to Raleigh: From the Kimble Family. You can hear them play it on Field Recorders Collective #106. Tuning: fDGCD.
- Golden Willow Tree: From Justus Begley. You can hear it on the Rounder album Anglo-American Ballads, Volume 2. Mike Seeger also does a great version on his album, True Vine. Tuning: gCGCD.
- Old King Cole: From Jean Ritchie. When I was growing up, we had a Folkways 10-inch record of Ritchie’s, Children’s Songs and Games from the Southern Mountains, which had this song on it. Loved that record. Still do. Tuning: aEADE, capo 1.
- New River Train: From the Monroe Brothers, with influences of Doc Watson and also Mike Seeger & Paul Brown. I was fooling around with this tuning and thought this song worked well in it. See if you can find the way too corny hammer-on. I couldn’t resist. Tuning: aEG#BE.
- Old Bald Eagle: A play-party song from Jean Ritchie, same source as “Old King Cole,” above. I don’t do all the verses Ritchie does, and I added some verses that I adapted (Appalachian-ified and made more singable) from rhymes I found in Christina Rosetti’sSing-Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book. If you can’t make out the words to those verses, here they are: “There is but one May in the year / May is dark and cold / There is but one May in the year / Before the year grows old.” “I have but one rose in this world / Now it droops so low / When my single rose is dead / Only thorns to show.” “Baby lies so fast asleep / That no pain can grieve her / Put a snowdrop in her hand / Kiss her once and leave her.” Tuning: aDADE.
- Doney Where You Been So Long. From Ola Belle Reed. You can hear it on the Rounder album Ola Belle Reed and Family. Tuning: g#EG#BE (“Reuben,” or open D tuning, up one whole step to E). Oops, on the actual physical back cover of the CD, there’s a typo in the tuning for this one. Sorry!
- London Bridge. From Peggy Seeger. You can hear it on her album Love Call Me Home. Tuning: fCFAC (G tuning one whole step down).
- Family Song: We thought this old nursery school favorite would be a nice one to end on. Tuning: aDADE.
About the banjos:
Cuts 3, 7, 8, 10, and 13 are played on a 1933 Tu-ba-phone with a reproduction neck made by Doug Ungar sometime in the 1970s. The other cuts are played on a 12″-pot banjo made by Kevin Enoch in 1991.