In describing the recording session that I took part in for Bob's "Greatest Hits, Vol.2," I said that the song "Only a Hobo" didn't work out and was dropped. Happily, it wasn't lost forever! It just showed up on Bob's latest "Bootleg" release called "Another Self Portrait," and if I say so myself, it ain't half bad. Actually, I am surprised and delighted at how good it sounds! I played an easy-going clawhammer banjo accompaniment and sang high harmony on the choruses, and the whole thing sounds like it was intended to - like we were sitting around the living room just picking and singing for fun. This was something we did frequently during those years that Bob lived near us in Woodstock, and I relish those easy-going days. There's a really good cover story by Mikal Gilmore in the September 12 issue of Rolling Stone that beautifully describes those special times that I was lucky enough to be a part of. Check out this terrific and sometimes surprising collection. It's worthy of some deep exploration.
Back in the late ‘80s, Artie and I were playing an in-store CD release promotion at a Barnes and Noble in Albany while Bob was doing a sold-out concert at the Palace Theater. We hightailed it over there after our gig just in time to hear the last song, “Like a Rolling Stone.” Bob was already out of there long before the applause died out, but Victor Maimudes, Bob’s long-time road manager, spotted us and invited us to come down to West Point, where Bob was playing the next night. He graciously gave us backstage passes along with great seats for us and our family, and suggested we come to sound check to say hello to Bob.
The year was 1956. I had just graduated from high school and was already a dyed-in-the-wool folkie, having learned guitar, banjo and a large repertoire of songs from the recordings of Pete Seeger, the Weavers, Burl Ives, Josh White and other popular folk singers of the day. This led me to the more traditional (and more authentic) old-time music of the Southern Appalachians. I fell in love with the sounds of banjos, dulcimers and fiddles, and was intrigued by the long, often bloody ballads that could be traced all the way back to Elizabethan England. For a kid born and raised in The Bronx, the sounds from those distant mountains were as mysterious and otherworldly as radio signals from another planet.
In June of 1978, I was getting ready to go on tour in Europe with my group, the Woodstock Mountains Revue, when I got a call from Griff McKree, the studio manager of the famed Bearsville Sound Studio in Woodstock, a mile or so from my house. Griff said that some musicians would be working there and they were looking for “some kind of a harp” for one of their songs. Could I suggest something?