Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thank You, Shirley!

As we've said before, friends Norman and Shirley Davis have brightened our lives in so many ways, coming out to be with us almost every Wednesday night for nearly four years now.  Well, we lost Shirley earlier this week -- her 96 years ended peacefully at the hospice house here in Huntington, and last night Norman and all of Shirley's children, traveling here from all over the Eastern United States, came together for a magical evening to remember Shirley just as she'd want us to -- with laughter and smiles, and only a few tears. From all of us: Thank you, Shirley.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Dear Companion

Whenever The Flood has been doing a tune for several decades, we're a little reluctant to go back and listen to the original from which we learned it. That's because we prefer to let a beloved song evolve in our care, with the lyrics and the tune changing subtly -- and sometimes not so subtly -- with the ever-altering currents of our moods and latest band membership. Here's a case in point -- this tune, which has been a Flood standard since the 1980s, has been reborn recently, largely because of the tasteful vocal harmonies of our new Floodster, bassist Randy  Hamilton. So here's it is: The 2012 version of the Jean Ritchie classic, "My Dear Companion."

Friday, December 14, 2012

This One's for Shirley

We were just beginning the rehearsal this week when got the news that the health of our dear friend Shirley Davis has taken a bad turn and she's now in hospice care here in Huntington. Shirley and her husband, Norman, have been regulars at the Flood's weekly rehearsals for almost four years now. It was in early 2009 when our mutual friend, Rose Riter, brought Norman and Shirley to their first Flood practice, and they've been coming back almost every week. A Wednesday night isn't complete with their smiling faces in the corner. In fact, The Flood dedicated its latest CD to the Davises and Rose Riter to commemorate how much a part of our lives they've become. Usually, when there's a lull in the action and we ask Shirley what she'd like to hear, she calls on Joe Dobbs for a lively fiddle tune. Here's what we sent out to her this week. This one's for you, Shirley -- feel better, sweetheart.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

West Fork Girls

The Family Flood has much to be thankful for, especially decades of friendship. Last night, rehearsing on Thanksgiving Eve, we were full of stories, nostalgia and old songs, some of which we've not played in years. One such piece was that great old West Virginia fiddle tune, "West Folk Girls," which also provided one of the best laughs of the evening, when… well, check it out for yourself: It comes about midway through the track. And hey, have a happy, safe Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

South Wind

Sometimes -- okay, MOST times -- the highlight of an evening's rehearsal comes from the totally unexpected. Here's a case in point: We had wrapped up for the evening. In fact, at the beginning of this track, you hear Dave Peyton and others saying their good nights. But Joe Dobbs and Doug Chaffin felt like doing at least one more tune. They picked the beautiful Irish aire "South Wind." Now, they both knew the tune, but had never played it together, and this was the result.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ashland, Ky., Here We Come This Sunday Afternoon!

The Flood's fixin' to roll into Ashland, Ky., this Sunday afternoon to play at "The Picnic on Judd Plaza" downtown. We'll also be helping out with a fundraiser for the community's remarkable "Clean Start" program, which has come to the rescue of so many down and out folks in these tough times. And listen, if weather doesn't cooperate, c'mon down anyway -- the picnic will just move indoors, so don't let a little rain keep you away. The band will be on hand from 2 to 5 p.m., playing old Flood standards, but also some new things in our repertoire, maybe like this one from the American songbook, featuring our star vocalist, Miss Michelle Walker.

Friday, October 12, 2012

4th Street Mess Around

A few years back, we started messing around with "4th Street Mess-Around," a 1930s classic by our heroes, The Memphis Jug Band. But somewhere along the way, the tune got dropped from the practice list. Well, at the rehearsal earlier this week, we dusted it off again for another try. Now, you tell it's a work in progress, because as the track begins, we're still schooling each other on the chords.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sentimental Journey (The Maiden Voyage)

Right now, we're preparing for a show this Friday night at Woodlands Retirement Community up the hill from us here in our hometown of Huntington, West Virginia, and we've been thinking about the music that folks there might like. At last night's rehearsal, Michelle Walker suggested "Sentimental Journey," a tune that Joe Dobbs has been doing his solo performances for years. Now, of course, the spirit of this weekly podcast is to share The Flood's not-ready-for-primetime moments -- that is, songs still in development -- and here's a prime example. This is literally the first time the band as a whole has tried this tune and obviously we have some … uh, opportunities. The harmonies need tightening, we need to work out better cues for the solos and smooth out the accompaniment, but for now, I love the enthusiasm everyone's bringing to the song. And  it may be fun in a year or so to look back and  see how the tune has evolved and mellowed with practice. But first, a voyage of discovery. All aboard! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Coffee Rush

The drink of choice at The Flood's weekly rehearsals is Community Coffee from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. But there is a downside. After a few cups of this strong, rich, dark brew, the tunes tend to get a bit livelier. There's a standing joke that after Charlie's had a coupla mugs of joe, he starts kicking the tunes off too fast. Here's a case in point. We don't usually do "Blue Moon" at such a lively clip as this. But, hey, some of us kinda like it like this -- it's got a nice kick, though we're not sure you'd wanna dance to it. Oh, see what you think.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Taste of Honey, Take 1

During a break at a gig last summer, our good friend Wendell Dobbs dropped by the bandstand and said, "Hey, I know a great song for The Chick Singer -- 'A Taste of Honey.'" As soon as he said, our eyes lit up. Yes indeed. It's a wonderful ballad that's been recorded by everyone from Sarah Vaughan to the early Beatles. Our Michelle Walker had never really tried the song before, but she was game to give a go and last night, at one of The Flood's occasional vocal-only rehearsals, we tested the waters. As you'll hear in this track, Randy and I are still figuring out some harmony parts, but Michelle is already nailing the lead. In the months ahead, this podcast may be revisiting the tune as we introduce it to the rest of band, but for now, here it is: "A Taste of Honey, Take 1."

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Flood Teaching Moment

These days the weekly rehearsals are largely about figuring out what tunes we'd like to put on the next Flood CD which we hope to start working on later this year. That means checking out new songs but also revisiting pieces we used to play a lot but some reason have let slip away. A case in point is Dave Franklin's classic fiddle tune, "Cincinnati Rag." It was a regular of ours at gigs 10 years ago or so, but it never ended up on a CD. At last night's practice, Joe Dobbs brought it out again. This resulted in an obvious teaching moment -- you can hear us discussing the chords as Joe lays down the melody -- but by the end, everyone was in agreement: this tune needs to be back on the regular set list.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Doug and Randy Trade Places for the Evening

The Flood has a lot more options in instrumentation these days. Doug Chaffin can play mandolin and guitar, even fiddle, not to mention his superb work on the upright bass. And our newest Floodster, Randy Hamilton, usually plays bass these days, but also is an excellent lead guitarist. Last night, we decided to mix things up a bit -- we asked Doug to bring his bass and Randy to bring his six-string. The results were memorable -- but hey, judge for yourself. Here Michelle Walker leads us through Gershwin's "Summertime."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Joe Dobbs Gets His Happy Birthday Song from The Flood

It all started at a gig a few years back when a Flood fan said, "Hey, my brother's in the front row and it's his birthday -- would y'all play 'Happy Birthday' for him?'" We had to admit we didn't know "Happy Birthday." Well, that's back exactly true -- we recognize it when we hear it; we just never learned to play it. Then the fellow said, "So, what DO you play for birthdays?" Right there on stage, we huddled a minute and then said, "Well, how about that old jug band tune, 'You Can't Get That Stuff No More"? That got a laugh, we played the song and a new Flood tradition was born. From then on, The Flood has marked birthdays with that Tampa Red tune. Well, last night, one of our own celebrated a birthday -- Flood co-founder fiddler Joe Dobbs turned 78 -- and we had him playing on his own birthday serenade.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

We Do Requests .... Even from Facebook!

The Flood occasionally gets and plays requests, but here's a first -- a request that came in from Facebook! Our old friend Strat Douthat lives in Plainfield, Vermont, these days, but back in the early 1970s, he lived near us here in Huntington, West Virginia, where he was in charge of the local Associated Press bureau. Strat and wife Gail were regulars at the parties where The Flood was being born, serving as spiritual advisors, if you will, in the band's formative years.  Well, recently, Strat was checking out our Facebook page and left a message saying, "You guys still do 'Blackberry Blossom'?" Joe Dobbs remembered that was always one of Strat's favorite fiddle tunes, so he ran off a fresh batch for him at last night's rehearsal. By the way, if you haven't checked out our Facebook page, we hope you will. And we've made it easy for you. Just visit our website -- -- and click the Facebook logo (the little "F") on the left side of the front page.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

June Apple .... Then and Now....

Our dear friend, Floodster Emeritus Chuck Romine, dropped by last night to show off his new tenor banjo and that got us nostalgic for the old tunes -- including SOME tunes that even pre-date Chuck's six-year stint with the band by, oh, several decades or so. For instance, The Flood has featured Dave Peyton and Joe Dobbs on this version of "June Apple" since its earliest days. Last night, Michelle Walker called for the tune and Joe and Dave delivered. Oh, and here's a little extra -- and an interesting footnote on that tune. Just this week, The Flood officially released its first-ever DVD, called "Making of 'Wade in the Water.'" While most of the DVD features videos shot last August as The Flood recorded its latest CD, it also includes a few videos built around some of The Flood's earliest recordings. Among them is a version of "June Apple" recorded at a party more than 30 years ago. For a hoot, you can compare last night's rendering with what we did with it in 1981. Just visit the web site ( and click on the "Our Digital Jam" link on the front. The entry about "June Apple" contains a link to a YouTube video. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Come to the Joe Dobbs Book Tour This Week! We're in Ashland, Charleston and Huntington!

Flood co-founder Joe Dobbs has written a highly-acclaimed memoir called A Country Fiddler, which is causing quite a pleasant stir in the music community. Now to help spread the word, The Flood is launching its three-day "Joe Dobbs Book Tour" this week. The tour kicks off this Thursday evening in Ashland, Ky., with a 7:30 show at the Paramount Arts Center's Marquee Room. On Friday at 6: 30 p.m., we're in South Charleston at The Daily Cup.  And then on Saturday we wrap up the tour with a morning show -- 10 a.m. -- at the wonderful old Heritage Station in downtown Huntington. See our web site -- -- for all the details. Meanwhile, to get us in the mood, here's a track featuring Joe from The Flood's latest "Wade in the Water" CD.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Welcome Back, Youngblood!

Our good friend and Floodster Emeritus Jacob Scarr is pretty busy with his new life -- college in Colorado and at home right now working a 40-hour-a-week summer job in Charleston -- but Youngblood's still got time for his old buddies. He sat in with us last night. AND Jacob's going to be on hand as a guest performer at all three of the free concerts next month in our Joe Dobbs Book Tour. Oh, wait a minute -- you didn't know fiddlin' Joe Dobbs has written a book?!  Well, we'll be telling you all about it in the weeks ahead. For now, though, just mark your calendar for the days between July 12 and July 14 when The Flood will be playing shows in Boyd County, Ky., and Cabell and Kanawha counties in West Virginia to help spread the word about Joe's new book.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, West Virginia!

Yesterday was West Virginia Day, the 149th anniversary of our state's birth, and that was much on their minds last night as Michelle, Randy and Charlie got together for one of The Flood's occasional vocals-only practices. They found ourselves thinking of little-known West Virginia tunes, like this rare gem from the great singer/songwriter Holly Near. Now, obviously, this arrangement is nowhere near ready for general consumption -- we're eager to hear what Joe and Doug, Dave and Sam bring to it in the weeks ahead -- but one of the things we'd like to do with these little podcasts is to sometimes document the evolution of an arrangement. So, with that mind and for the record, here's our first take on "West Virginia Friend."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Flood Heads to Romney, WV, with Guest Artist Paul Martin

The city of Romney -- population 5,873 -- is West Virginia's oldest town, celebrating its 250th anniversary this year. In fact, the Hampshire County community's main week of celebration kicks off this Sunday and The Flood is honored that we're invited to be part of it. We head to Romney this weekend to play a free concert at The Potomac Center at No. 1 Blue Street at 5 p.m. this Sunday. Check out our web site -- -- for the details. Oh, we're so pleased that our old buddy, singer/songwriter Paul Martin, is joining us for the trip and will be a guest artist at the concert. Here's a sample -- at a recent Flood rehearsal, Paul led us on a moving rendition of a great Bob Dylan standard.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

We're Heading Back to Tamarack This Sunday !

Tamarack is a West Virginia treasure. Based in Beckley, W.Va., it is a rich deposit of Appalachian crafts, food, music and just plain pure joy. And The Flood is honored to regularly be invited to perform there in the Gov. Hulett C. Smith Theatre, one of our all-time favorite venues. We're heading back there this Sunday, June 10. At 2 p.m., The Flood will be back on stage for our 8th performance at Tamarack. And we're especially happy that our long-time buddy, guitarist Jacob Scarr -- home from college in Colorado -- will on hand to sit in with us for this very special show. Come on out and party with us at Tamarack, this Sunday afternoon! Visit us on the web at for the details. Meanwhile, here's a tune from last night's rehearsal as we prepared the set for Sunday's show.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Flood Celebrates Bob Dylan's Birthday

Today's Bob Dylan's 71st birthday. Who saw THAT coming? Bob has always been a huge part of The Flood's musical landscape. Hardly any weekly Flood practice goes by without at least one Dylan tune. For instance, last night Michelle, Randy and Charlie had a rare vocals-only Flood practice and before the night was over, they were trotting out this favorite Dylan number from the "Nashville Skyline" period.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Our Annual Jug Band Breakfast

The Flood always keeps open the third Saturday morning in May in order to play our favorite gig of the year. The Coon Sanders Nighthawks Fans Bash is an annual gathering of traditional jazz players and fans who come to our town from all over the country for three days and nights of good music and good times. The Flood's so honored be part of this. For more than a decade now, we've played the Saturday morning session with what we call "the jug band breakfast," serving up generous helpings of hokum with their bacon and eggs. Here's a tune from last year's gathering. By the way, if you're in the Huntington area, come for the fun Saturday morning. See our website -- -- for the details.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Blue Skies

As we noted in a recent podcast, The Flood's at the start of another reconfiguration -- new instrumentation, new tunes -- and so lately the weekly rehearsals have been especially interesting as fresh ideas come to the fore. Here's a case in point. For a while now, Joe Dobbs and Charlie Bowen have messed around occasionally with Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies" and at last night's practice session, Michelle Walker stepped up to put some vocals on top of that. Oh, it's still a work in progress -- consider this a report from The Flood's New Projects Committee.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Walk Right In

At a gig last week, a thing that we've been using just as warmup tune got such a nice response that we're thinking it's gonna start making its way onto The Flood's regular set list. "Walk Right In" was a monster hit back in the 1960s for The Rooftop Singers, but it's originally a jug band tune. The great Gus Cannon wrote the song and recorded with his band, The Jug Stomper, back in 1929. Most recently the tune was revived by The Carolina Chocolate Drops. Here's our take on it from last night's rehearsal.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Red Wing/Snow Deer

Brother Dave was tired after nearly two hours of practice last night and was ready to pack up his Autoharp and go home. But then we persuaded him to put his picks back on for one more tune. He did, only to find Joe laying in wait for him. Check it out.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Georgie Buck

I was a little ticked at myself for forgetting to have us record "Georgie Buck" when we made our newest CD last August. Dave Peyton brought us this Aunt Jennie Wilson tune several years ago and we'd been doing it regularly in shows, but when it came time to record the album, it completely slipped my mind. Well, I guess everything happens for a reason. Lately, we've been reconfiguring The Flood, and now we've got stronger harmony vocals from Michelle Walker and Randy Hamilton, so suddenly old Georgie Buck's got a whole new lease on life. This is one of our takes on the tune at last night's practice session. I think by the time we record that next CD, "Georgie Buck" will be front and center.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Basin Street Blues

Sometimes before the song's even over, you know you're hearing the highlight of the night. This time there was something about the grin on Michelle's lips as she launched into this great old jazz standard that told us all this was going the keeper of the evening.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dennis Dobbs Revisits The Flood with Brother Joe

"Floodsters emeritus" is what we call all former members of The Flood, but the truth is there's no such thing as a former member. Once a Floodster, always a Floodster. One of the earliest members of the band was Joe Dobbs' younger brother, Dennis. In fact, Dennis Dobbs was on stage with us at one of our very first gigs back in the mid-1970s, a weird and wonderful night when The Flood was among the warmup acts for country music legend Little Jimmy Dickens when he played Huntington's Memorial Field House. Nowadays Dennis and his family live in East Texas and don't back north all that much. But this week Dennis was visiting up here and, fiddle in hand, he came with Joe to the practice last night. Here the Dobbs brothers trade solos on a Bob Dylan standard.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Come Back to Us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard

We've been John Prine fans forever. In fact, Prine's debut album came out 40 years ago just about the time The Flood was stumbling into existence back in those hippy-dippy days of the early '70s, so it's only natural John Prine songs have been on our set lists since the very beginning. Dave Peyton, our Mount Union Road crooner, took this tune as his own as soon as it came out, and all these years later, it's still a regular at our weekly jam sessions.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Paul Martin Sings His "Seein' Ain't Believin'"

At a recent jam session, we were running through old tunes that were as comfortable as well-worn shoes. Part of the joy of the jams is revisiting melodies and lyrics are as familiar as dear friends. Then suddenly our buddy Paul Martin dropped into a beautiful song that most of us had never heard. As it went on, grins and winks were exchanged around the room, and at the end, when we asked, "Whose is that one?" Paul quietly acknowledged, "I wrote that." Now, Paul doesn't make it to the weekly sessions nearly as often as we'd wish, but you can bet that from now on, when he does, there will be a standing request for a repeat performance.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sallie Sublette Brings Some Sweet Western Air

Our old friend Sallie Sublette doesn't get back to us very often. It's all day in airports -- it takes three flights to get to her native West Virginia from her home in Pocatello, Idaho -- but this week, Sallie blew back in and gave us another taste of that sweet western wind. Here she does "I Want to be a Cowboy's Sweetheart." While it was a great evening, it was all too short, because Sallie was flying out the next day. But before she went to cross the Great Divide, she also left us with a beautiful rendition of a Kate Wolf song on that very theme.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Joe Dobbs Plays Tunes About The Ladies

One of the things we all love about the weekly jam sessions is how related tunes tend to come up in bunches like wildflowers. Last night was the perfect example. At one point, Norman Davis -- who, with his beautiful bride, Shirley, are beloved regulars at our Wednesday night gatherings -- asked Joe Dobbs to play that old fiddle tune with a girl's name in it. Well, that led to 10 minutes of fiddle tunes named after women, from "Rachel" to "St. Anne's Reel" to "Red Wing" and more. Let's start the track at the moment with Norman asked his question.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Roger Samples Sings "Chemo Blues"

A band that's been around for 40 years has a lot of graduates. And the undisputed valedictorian of the class of Floodsters Emeritus is Rog Samples. Roger is one of the four founders of The Flood, and his vocals and beautiful guitar work, along with the great songs he writes, were central the band's sound for its first 10 years or more, before Rog and his family moved from West Virginia to the green pastures of Mount Sterling, Ky. We still get together as often as we can, and Rog and his brothers, Mack and Ted, are treasured friends. Now, for the past year, our brother Roger has been making a remarkable, inspiring stand against cancer, and with his typical wit and artistry, he decided there had to be a song in there somewhere too. And so, out of the fight of a lifetime comes his original tune, "Chemo Blues."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I'll Fly Away

Wednesday night means The Flood's regular practice session, but it's become so much more than that. The jam session has evolved into a weekly reunion of old friends and new friends, folks we see often, others we see only occasionally. Last night a recently departed friend was much on Michelle Walker's mind when she suggested this great old gospel number. In the playing of it, it quickly grew into a celebration of all the friends who had come together on that particular rainy winter night.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Flood Celebrates the 75th Anniversary of Its Namesake

Seventy-five years ago this week, most of the streets of downtown Huntington -- and many other cities along the Ohio River -- were under water, devastated by the great 1937 flood. So, if you're a band named about that natural disaster and you have a jam session on its poignant anniversary, what do you play? Why, one of the fine flood songs of Bob Dylan, of course. Take it away, boys.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It was a Night for Newcomers!

It was a night for newcomers at the Family Flood's jam session last night. At the recommendation of Joe Dobbs, bluesman Chris Sutton and his buddy Mike Lyzenga dropped in to share a few tunes. And from Princeton, W.Va., singer/songwriter Albert Perrone came his friend and jam session regular Doug Imbrogno. Finally, in the spirit of all things new, The Flood introduced its new band mate. Bassist/guitarist/singer Randy Hamilton of Willow Wood, Ohio, has become our newest member. Randy's been sitting in with us since late last summer, and we figured it was high time we made an honest Floodster out of him. You'll hear him on both of these tracks from last night's do. First up is Chris with a bluesy original called "Elevator." Then come Doug and Albert with a wild and woolly rendition of that 1940s standard, "Enjoy Yourself." Doug calls our jam sessions the region's only weekly Irish caili. Well, thank to you guys, we certainly DID enjoy yourselves!