One of Happy Traum's best albums, recorded in 1979 with an astounding group of backup musicians and singers.
With Pat Alger, Larry Campbell, Jan De Smet, Caroline Dutton, Amy Fradon, Arti Funaro, John Herald, Doug James, Richard Manuel, Maria Muldaur, Billy Mundi, Andy Robinson, Roly Salley, John Sebastian, Artie Traum, Merle Watson.
Songs: Monday Morning Blues, The Bounty Hunter, Twelve Gates To The City, One Row at a Time, Silver City Bound, Hills Of Isle Au Haut, I Shall Be Released, Bad Luck Blues, Daddy's Violin, My Home's Across The Smoky Mountains, Passenger Pigeon, Bright Morning Stars.
A Word About The Songs:
A few of these songs are recent acquaintances, but most are old, faithful friends that have stuck by me through the years. Several evoke in me the image of a guitar-picking hero: John Hurt in the back room of the old Gaslight Cafe, sipping bourbon and smiling under his sweat-stained fedora as he fingerpicked "Monday Morning Blues;" Gary Davis, cigar stub clenched tight, picking unbelievable runs and singing "Twelve Gates to the City" on Sixth Avenue while passersby obliviously toss coins into his tin cup. "Bad Luck Blues," sung by Lemon Jefferson on a scratchy reissue of an old 78, brought the sounds of East Texas c. 1929 into a Bronx apartment c.1959, and Leadbelly, with his booming 12-string and powerful tenor, sang about that same Blind Lemon in his "Silver City Bound."
Then there was Frank Proffitt of Reese, North Carolina, picking his home-made fretless banjo with work-scarred hands and singing "My Home's Across the Blue Ridge Mountains" in his rumbling bass voice.... "One Row at a Time" by Red Lane and Dottie West could have been sung by the dust bowl migrants of the depression, while Ray Sisk's "Bounty Hunter" ranks with "Buffalo Skinners," "Texas Rangers" and other classic cowboy ballads in its bone-chilling tale...
I first heard "I Shall Be Released" sung by The Band around a piano in a Woodstock living room, and I'll never forget my stunned reaction. Some years later, I played and sang harmony on Bob Dylan's own version of his song ("Greatest Hits, Vol. 2") and now it's come full circle with Richard Manuel backing me on the song he helped make famous.
Finally, there's "Bright Morning Stars," an old shape-note spiritual that's traditionally sung unaccompanied, which accounts for its odd meter. I've added a guitar arrangement and some new words to bring it a little more into line with my view of the world.
Note: Since this album was recorded in 1979, we have lost two of the dear friends who did me the honor of playing on it. Here's to the enduring memory of Merle Watson and Richard Manuel."