Rockland County Roots Brigade
Brand new album of roots rock inflected folk, filtered through the soil of the Lower Hudson Valley --
Now that I’m living in New York state again, I’ve definitely set out to learn what it is to be a Yankee. The weekly folk session I belong to in Nyack thrills me with just how crazy-quilt the scene can get around here - plenty of Irish tunes, seafaring Anglo ballads, old time from up and down the Appalachians, ragtimey jugband & early jazz, country blues and cajun stuff, I could go on all night - and we do!
To further represent Rockland County I felt like this set of recordings should Rock! And, sure I’m being silly with that statement, but no really - this here is rock territory, classic rock up and down my radio dial, Bruce Springsteen was born only a bit more than an hour from here, and every old warehouse you drive past is full of battered drum kits and old ruined tube amps. The Anglo and Irish material I’ve worked up here has a history of rocking out - the Pogues come to mind immediately, but definitely, let’s pay tribute to the ancestors like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, Pentangle and Silly Wizard. The ballad Molly Bawn (track 12) draws from deep deep roots, at least two centuries in the British Isles with versions in Canada and even closer in the Adirondacks, but my first experience hearing it was actually a somewhat lesser known English folk rock group, the Oysterband.
My upbringing in New York City made me constantly eager for a diversity in the languages around me, so in trying to represent this Rockland County area I definitely wanted at least one song in French, one song in Spanish and one in Yiddish. And I got em, with help! I’m really pleased to be playing acadian tunes like ‘Les Fraises et les Framboises’ (track 2) hereabouts with a real life canuck, and my friends on Facebook helped coach my Yiddish pronunciation, ah, brave new world that has such creatures in it!
Of course I wasn’t gonna turn my back on my southern repertoire - in a way, the south is the battery that powers ‘Americana.’ Pleased to have tunes on here from the southern Appalachians, the Blue Ridge Mountains where I was living before this, and also some tunes I associate with the roots of jazz, blues and ragtime-type songs from Gulf States, Louisiana and Texas specifically. I get to do both with 'Just A Closer Walk - I Shall Not Be Moved' (track 9) cuz that second tune does double duty as a bit of New Orleans street gospel as well as showing up in North Carolina, in the Round Peak style of fiddling.