Thursday, December 30, 2010

Moonshine in Those West Virginia Hills

Flood buddy Rose Marie Riter, a regular at our Wednesday night jam sessions, heads up our ministry of laughter and general tomfoolery. Miz Rose brought her brother and niece to last night's jam session and, at one point in the evening she requested this … oh, so beautiful old Roy Harvey ballad, called, "We've Got Moonshine in Those West Virginia Hills." Brother Dave Peyton was on hand and happy to do the honors.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Floodiz Navidad

It was Christmas Eve-eve-eve, and several dozen people were in the room to party with The Flood at our weekly jam session, when we turned it over to Dave Ball -- to us, he's known as "Bub" -- for a seasonal chuckle: a twisted Christmas parody from the great Bob Rivers. Later in the evening, The Flood's good buddy, Mike Smith, dropped in to favor us with a beautiful a cappella rendition of one of our all-time favorite carols of the season. Happy holidays, everybody!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

You Got Me Runnin'

One of the fun things about our weekly jam sessions is that there are often surprises. For instance, for years The Flood has used this simple little Jimmy Reed piece from 1959 as a warm-up tune, without thinking much about it. However, recently, Michelle Walker came up with an interesting harmony part for the vocals and suddenly it's like a new brand new tune for us.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ashokan Farewell

New Yorker Jay Ungar wrote "Ashokan Farewell" in 1982 and for nearly a decade, the sweet waltz, written in the style of a Scottish lament, was known mainly only to Jay's fellow fiddlers. But then in 1990s, filmmaker Ken Burns used it as the title theme of his Civil War series on PBS and suddenly the tune was an international hit. The song's always been a late-night favorite at the Flood jam sessions, especially when, like last night, Doug Chaffin moves over to guitar to partner with Joe Dobbs' beautiful fiddle.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 ... With Kazoos...

Twenty-seven people in one room. Pamela comes in with a baggie of kazoos. Orchestrated chaos ensues. That was last night at the jam session. It being the night before Thanksgiving, the crowd included friends coming from as far away as New York and Washington and as near as across town and from down around the block. Good friends... always something to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Flood co-founder Dave Peyton is bit under the weather right now and has not been able to attend the weekly jam sessions lately, and last night the guys were especially missing him. So, knowing how Dave's always been such a fan the great Johnny Mathis, Michelle Walker led us on a special musical get-well card for our old spiritual leader and kazoo guru.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Georgia on My Mind

The Flood has an abiding love for the music of the great Hoagy Carmichael. Sometimes nothing fits the mood better than one of Hoagy's tune, and last night was such a night. At a lull in the usual rowdy jugband action at the jam session, Joe eased into "Georgia on my Mind." On the break, we turned it over to Jacob for a couple of sweet choruses on the guitar before handing it back to Joe's fiddle, and in the process, made a memory.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Any Way She Done It

Our hero, Hudson Woodbridge -- known to millions as Tampa Red -- recorded his tune called "No Matter How She Done" in Chicago in 1932. Sixty or 70 years later, The Flood picked it up and flipped the polarity on the old number, doing it as "Any Way She Done," but, hey, that won't matter. Any way you do it, it's still Tampa Red's baby!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Got the Kansas City Blues

Because of travel and then, more recently, illness, we've not an a jam session for a couple of weeks. So this is a chance to reach back in the archives for a tune from an earlier session. Like this one, from last summer when our Missouri buddies Dave Para and Cathy Barton dropped in. This was at the end of the evening, when they took a ride on the first number ever recorded by the great Delmore Brothers in 1931.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Midnight Special

Our weekly jam sessions often let us get reacquainted with old friends. And sometimes the old friends are old tunes. We hadn't played that great old Leadbelly standard "Midnight Special" for five or six years, but one autumn evening recently it just sort of felt like the right song for the right night. Oh, it took us a minute or two to remember how we used to do it, but after a chorus or two, it drop right back into the groove.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ron Eldridge Gets Flooded

It's always interesting when dye-in-the-wool bluegrassers wander into one of our jam sessions. There's usually one of two possible reactions when they get a whiff of The Flood's thick jumbo of blues, swing and jugband music. They either about-face and head back to the door or they grin and grab a seat at the table. (The good ones even bring their own spoon.) You'd be hard-pressed to find a better bluegrass player today than Ron Eldridge. Ronnie grew in our area, started playing his daddy's fiddle in the late 1960s and by the mid-'70s was playing with the locally legendary Sweeney Brothers band. In the 1980s, Eldridge struck out for Nashville and has been there ever since, a solid citizen in that famed music scene and a frequent performer on The Grand Ole Opry. But last night it was The Flood's turn and Ron showed us he could put the BLUE(S) in bluegrass.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Ash Grove

Last weekend, Joe and Charlie traveled to Cincinnati to play in the wedding of Charlie's cousin, Andy Dronberger. Andy and his new bride, Melissa, wanted something different than the usual wedding music fare for their big day, so for the bride's entrance at the ceremony, they played a traditional melody, "The Ash Grove." That haunting, beautiful old Welsh tune was still very much on their minds at last night's regular Flood jam session, when Joe shared it with the guys.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

San Francisco Bay Blues

The first time we ever heard the kazoo played on the radio was in the mid-'60s when Peter, Paul and Mary took a kazoo break on "San Francisco Bay Blues." And it turns out the kazoo is generally associated with this great old tune. One-man band Jesse Fuller, who wrote the song, took a kazoo solo on his original 1962 recording of it. And then, 30 years later, super-cool Eric Clapton even took a kazoo break when he recorded it. Of course, in The Flood, it's Brother Dave Peyton who's our hoodoo kazoo guru, and last night he spun a little of that old kazoo magic on the tune when it popped up at the jam session.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ditty Wah Ditty

Precious little is known about Blind Blake. There's only one photograph. We don't even known where he was born or when and how he died. But between 1926 and 1932, Arthur "Blind" Blake left a slew of wonderful blues recordings for Paramount Records. And Blake penned one song that for 80 years now has tickled the fancy of eclectic performers like Leon Redbone and Ry Cooder. Recently The Flood took a ride on the same great song on an evening when our old buddy Chuck Romine dropped by to sit in with us on his tenor banjo.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Heaven's Radio

The Flood's Dave Peyton was a good friend of country music stars Molly O'Day and her husband, band leader Lynn Davis. Columbia Records artists who were signed by the legendary Fred Rose himself, Molly and Lynn were much in demand in '40s and early '50s, but left at the height of their career, deciding instead to devote themselves to their church and gospel music. Dave met them in the 1970s, when Molly and Lynn settled in our town of Huntington and spent their last years performing on a local Christian radio station. Molly's name came up again at a recent Wednesday night jam session when our friends from Australia, Rod and Judy Jones, dropped in and dusted off a Molly O'Day classic. Here, with Joe Dobbs on fiddle, is "Heaven's Radio."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Somebody Stole Mah Gal

Our good friend Richard Cobb says our weekly jam session reminds him of an old-fashioned "happening." Every week, the music that happens is solely determined by who walks through the door that night. And last night was a good example. About a third of The Flood couldn't make the session, but those of us who did were joined by buddies who came just to sit in for the evening, good folks like Jim Rumbaugh on harmonica and Randy Brown on guitar. All that music got stirred up and the next thing you know, we were whipping up a new batch of "Somebody Stole My Girl."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Bayou Sara

It was on the good old steamboat Delta Queen that we first met Missouri folksingers Cathy Barton and Dave Para. Most recently, Dave and Cathy shared the stage with us at a concert in Fairmont, W.Va., then a couple of weeks later, on the way home to Boonville, Mo., from Virginia, they stopped to spend the evening with us and shared a few tunes at the Wednesday night jam session. Cathy and Dave know a passel of riverboat songs. Here's a sweet one from Mary Wheeler's 1944 collection of roustabout tunes called "Steamboatin' Days."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Martha Campbell

Fiddler and educator John Harrod once called the fiddle tune "Martha Campbell" the Kentucky national anthem. The haunting melody does seem to have a remarkable resonance for the fiddlers of the Bluegrass State. It was one of the first tunes recorded by the great Kentucky fiddler Doc Roberts back in 1925. Researchers believe Roberts learned it at least 10 years earlier from his mentor, the African-American fiddler Owen Walker of Madison County, Ky. The Flood's Joe Dobbs has been playing "Martha Campbell" for decades now, and recently when our banjo-picking buddy Judy Jones was visiting from Australia, she and Joe dusted off the tune again.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ain't The Gravy Good

Trumpeter Cootie Williams wrote and sang this novelty tune back in 1938 when it was recorded by Duke Ellington's orchestra. The Flood did it regularly five years ago or so, but only recently have we dusted it off again. We forgot how much fun it is to play. Now, our harmonicat Sam St. Clair often says about our racier songs that they're actually just "about food," but, hey, this one really is. Or, at least, we THINK it's about food...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Katy Dear

It was international night at this week's Wednesday gathering. Veronica Smith, mother of Flood buddy Mike Smith, was visiting from England and taking in her first Flood jam session. And from Down Under, old friends Rod and Judy Jones were back in town and sittin' in. It's hard to believe that it's been more than 30 years since The Flood first met Rod and Judy when, on their first visit to the states, they ended up on stage with us in a concert at the Huntington Museum of Art. Back home in Australia, along with another old friend, Lindsay Mar, they play in the popular My-T-Fine Stringband. Here fiddlin' Joe Dobbs joins them on an old-time classic.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

St. Louis Blues

By the time of his death in 1958, W.C. Handy was earning upwards of $25,000 a year in royalties on his best-known tune, "St. Louis Blues." Not bad for a child that had been bringing home the bacon since its birth in 1914. Here's a spin around the block with Michelle Walker from a recent Wednesday night's jam session.