Comments? Suggestions? Requests? Use the Paper and Pen Open Page!

Have requests?  Comments?  Suggestions?  Now you can post them here on the new Paper and Pen page.

To comment on the Pen and Paper page, go to that page (click on the Pen and Paper menu heading, below the picture of the studio at top), scroll down to the end of the Comments, and add yours.  Newest comments are always at the bottom.  /CL

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At The World of Bluegrass in Raleigh—Part 1 of Our Trip South

Dr Janie and I flew down to Raleigh on Wednesday, October 1st.  We would have taken the train, but it required a very early 6 AM departure and late (9 PM) arrival, so we opted for the “two hour” Jet Blue flight, which still consumed about six hours, but got us to the Marriott in Raleigh just as Stan and Gayle Zdonik and Sheila Selby were gathering for dinner.  The Marriott was ground zero for the World of Bluegrass festivities, and the IBMA had thoughtfully reserved a room for Wednesday and Thursday nights for us (reserved, but not paid, I should add, and we had to move to the Red Roof Friday—about a two-mile hike, which gave us some exercise and Raleigh sight-seeing, so no misfortune at all).  We had dinner at a toney restaurant called, enigmatically, Bolt, entertained by a chattery hostess from Philadelphia.

Afterward, Stan introduced me to the joys of showcase suites, in particular the Quicksilver Productions room, where with a good Raleigh IPA in hand, the affable proprietress Martha Stracener Dantzic played MC to some of Quicksilver’s top acts, among them. .  .

I Draw Slow, a band as unusual as their name, a neo-old-timey, American-sounding, somewhat folky ensemble from Dublin (Ireland), surprisingly not a hint of bluegrass, but starring an absolutely captivating singer named Louise Holden, her brother Dave Holden on guitar and harmonies, along with Colin Derham, with playing clawhammer banjo, fiddler Adrian Hart, and Konrad Liddy on bass.  Here’s I Draw Slow (video from a different show):

More here from Quicksilver’s website.

Town Mountain, a genuine hard-drivin’ North Carolina bluegrass band.  I missed them at Joe Val in 2013, but if they get back this year, I sure won’t.  Robert Greer plays guitar and does most of the leads; Phil Barker writes a lot of songs, plays no-holds-barred Bill-Monroe style manolin, and sings tenor; Bobby Britt plays a mean but lyrical traditional fiddle, and Jess Langlais an inventive, fits-in-neatly banjo.  Bobby and new bass player Nick DiSebastian are familiar here in the Boston area from the hot Berklee bluegrass stewpot.  Here’s “Tick on a Dog”:

Now that’s country!  More here.

Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen, the virtuoso band from Washington, DC which won Instrumental Group of the Year at the Awards Show, with leader Frank also a nominee for Male Vocalist of the Year and Mandolinist of the Year, and banjo player Mike Munford a nominee for Banjo Player of the Year.  They are amazing players, capable of rejuvenating traditional numbers but also writing new music and pushing bluegrass to an improvisatory level on a par with the best jazz musicians in the world.  Here’s a promotional video from Compass Records:

Good introduction to the members of Dirty Kitchen (the name emblematic of Frank’s virtuoso cooking).  The others are bassist and vocalist Danny Booth, a longtime associate of Frank; and the amazing Chris Luquette on guitar.  More here.

There was more.  But it had been a long day, so I hove off to bed.  The next morning, Dr Janie and I took a leisurely stroll up Fayetteville Street toward the Capital, looking for a coffee shop for breakfast.  Finally happened upon a place called The Carolina Kitchen, where we savored the mild weather at an outdoor table, and then ambled back to the Marriott.  It was about 10:30, so I figured I had plenty of time to write out a short acceptance speech for the Awards Luncheon at noon.  But then I looked at the schedule, and saw that it was scheduled for 11 AM—oops!  I quickly scribbled down a few notes, threw on my jacket, and headed for the Convention Center, where we were treated to a chicken dinner (with tasty pecan pie) and a long series of speeches.

It was a bit unnerving waiting for my turn (“Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking,” at least where I can see the audience) , but eventually Ken Irwin, co-founder of Rounder Records, got up and generously lauded Hillbilly at Harvard, while a neat slide show (produced by Joe Lurgio at the IBMA from photos submitted by Cousin Stan, Ol Sinc’s former wife Helen Clougherty, and others—was the hot tub picture from Helen?) played on left and right screens, and I managed to ad lib a few remarks from my notes.  Everyone said they were fine, so I believed them, and now that was over, settled down to enjoy the rest of the festival.

Here are a couple of shots by the ubiquitous bluegrass photographer Darwin Davidson at the Awards Luncheon:

The camera shows off the suitcase wrinkles more than I knew. That’s Ken Irwin, basking in my fleeting glory.

That’s Ol’ Sinc in the photo over to the right.  Thanks to Darwin for the use of these shots.  More about the award here.

More to come!  /CL

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Check Out The Harvard Gazette Slideshow on HAH!

Back in July, Harvard Gazette (and Boston Globe) photographer Jon Chase arrived at Studio BC at WHRB on Saturday morning, and snapped a bunch of photos.  Larry Flint turned up, as well as Buck MitchHAH in Gazetteell, and erstwhile Nashville (now back in Maine) country singer Mike Preston—they were in town for a benefit Robin Right was putting together for Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan.  Mike sang a couple of tunes, and Jon captured the unexpected summer gathering for posterity—visual, anyway; the audio blew away over the airwaves.

The plan, according to Jon, was for an article on Hillbilly at Harvard, but at some point that became a ‘slideshow’.  The Gazette is now an online publication (except for Commencement Week), so a slide show becomes a real possibility without anyone turning pages.  Jon wrote an introduction, and paired up his photos with our opening theme (“Foggy Mountain Special,” of course), which he had recorded off his radio at home.  It wasn’t the same date, so you’ll hear me announcing the imminent arrival of Jim Rooney, who doesn’t look at all like Larry, Buck, or Mike—a minor incongruity that will go over the heads of most viewers.

Aside from the images of the “39 and Holding” DJ, which he always finds unsettling (a more pedestrian reason for “I Never Go Around Mirrors”), Jon did a fabulous job.  It’s a great way to inflict HAH on the thousands of Harvard folk who may not be aware of this bastion of honky-tonk country and bluegrass in their very midst.  Here’s the link:

Take a look; read Jon’s introduction, and watch the slideshow (just two minutes), and add your click to the count. Links via your favorite ‘social media’ will help, too. /CL

PS You can see more of Jon Chase’s excellent work here.

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The Dry Branch Fire Squad Are Coming Back!

It’s been a while since we’ve seen (and heard) Boston-area favorites Ron Thomason and company, but they’ll be making an appearance for the Boston Bluegrass Union in Lexington, Saturday, October 25th.  From the BBU:

The Dry Branch Firehouse SquadThe Boston Bluegrass Union


The Dry Branch Fire Squad

With special guests Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys

Saturday, October 25, 2014

National Heritage Museum, Lexington, MA

The Boston Bluegrass Union’s 39th concert season kicks off on Saturday, October 25th with a performance by longtime Boston area favorites The Dry Branch Fire Squad, along with Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys, at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, MA.

In thirty-five years of music making, the Dry Branch Fire Squad has become an institution in American acoustic music. Inspired by a fierce and uncompromising loyalty to the most traditional aspects of bluegrass, old time and southern gospel music, Dry Branch Fire Squad is fueled by the musical vision and cultural commentary of Ron Thomason. Unlike most bluegrass groups, Dry Branch Fire Squad sells neither itself, its members, nor even particular bluegrass songs. What it markets are the emotions which stimulated the creation of bluegrass and mountain music as well as a taste of the culture in which this music evolved.

A native of southwest Virginia, Thomason founded the Dry Branch Fire Squad in 1976. To date, the band has recorded over twenty-three projects and performed at the most prestigious acoustic music venues and festivals in North America. Most bluegrass observers agree that Dry Branch’s current line-up is one of its strongest ever: in addition to Ron Thomason on mandolin, guitar and lead vocals; other group members are Brian Aldridge on guitar, mandolin and harmony vocals; Tom Boyd on banjo, Dobro and harmony vocals; and Danny Russell on bass and harmony vocals.

                                Jim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysSongwriter and folk singer turned bluegrasser, Jim Gaudet and his band the Railroad Boys have been burning up the concert and festival scene in and around Albany, New York since 2006, and we’re thrilled to have them open this show. Joining him is Bobby Ristau on bass, Sten Isachsen on mandolin, guitar and dobro, and Mat Kane on fiddle.

Tickets are $25 (BBU Members $23) and can be purchased online at or by mailing a check (payable to the BBU) with self-addressed stamped envelope to Boston Bluegrass Union, PO Box 650061, West Newton, MA 02465. The National Heritage Museum is located at 33 Marrett Rd. (Route 2A), Lexington, MA 02421. If available, Student Rush tickets are $15 each with Student ID at the door beginning the night of the show at 6:30 PM. Doors open at 6:30pm and concert begins at 7:30pm. Directions can be found at or call (781) 861-6559.

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The Harvard Football Schedule—HAH Lightly Affected (Mostly)

Looks like the pre-game shows preempt only half an hour of HAH, except for 4Oct and 23Nov (an hour and a half).  Remember you (especially west-coasters) can record HAH, thereby freeing yourselves from the show ending right after you get up!  See here. /CL                

Football Airtimes 2014

* Fri 19Sep:    vs. Holy Cross FRIDAY night game Pre-game 6:30 pm, game 7:00 pm

(No effect on HAH Saturday)

* Sat 27Sep:   at Brown Night game Pre-game 5:30 pm, game 6:00 pm

(No effect on HAH)

* Sat 4Oct:     at Georgetown           Pre-game at 11:30 am, game at 12 noon

(HAH ends at 11:30—Prerecorded)

* Sat 11Oct:   vs. Cornell                          Pre-game at 12:30 pm, game at 1:00 pm

(HAH ends at 12:30—Prerecorded)

* Sat 18Oct:   vs. Lafayette             Pre-game at 12:30 pm, game at 1:00 pm

(HAH ends at 12:30)

* Sat 25Oct:   at Princeton                 Pre-game at 12:30 pm, game at 1:00 pm

(HAH ends at 12:30)

* Sat 1Nov:     at Dartmouth odd time Pre-game at 3:00 pm, game at 3:30 pm

(No effect on HAH)

* Sat 8Nov:     vs. Columbia            Pre-game at 12:30 pm, game at 1:00 pm

(HAH ends at 12:30)

* Sat 15Nov:   at Penn                   Pre-game at 12:30 pm, game at 1:00 pm

(HAH ends at 12:30)

* Sat 22Nov: vs. Yale                       (131th playing of The Game)

         Pre-game (1 hour long) starts at 11:30 am, game at 12: 30 pm

(HAH ends at 11:30)

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In Which We Win an Award . . .

From the International Bluegrass Music Association!

I have been remiss in not posting a note about “Hillbilly at Harvard” winning a Distinguished Achievement Award from the IBMA.  And we’re not even a bluegrass show!

It’s of course a considerable honor, and a great excuse to attend the IBMA’s World of Bluegrass convention and festival. Dr. Janie and I will be heading down to Raleigh on Wednesday, October 1st.  We would have taken the train, but it’s 15 hours, and gets in a little late, so we have elected to fly on Jet Blue.  We will be taking the train back, first Amtrak no. 80, the Carolinian, from Raleigh to Richmond on Saturday, October 4th, where we’ll be visiting with daughter Sarah and family in Powhatan; and then we return on Sunday the 12th, on Amtrak’s Northeast Regional no. 88.  So we’ll be getting a good deal of train-riding in.  But I’ll be missing two Hillbilly shows, on October 4th and 11th; those will be pre-recorded.

Want a chance for a free train ride to Raleigh (on the Northeast Corridor)?  Amtrak is sponsoring a ‘Rhythm of the Rails’ drawing for free round-trip tickets from Boston, New York City, and Washington, DC.  “Up to four tickets will be given away to a winner from each of the three cities.”  The sweepstakes ends Sunday, September 21st, so move quickly!  For the details go here, and click on the Official Rules link.

Maybe we’ll see you there!

Here’s the official press release for the Distinguished Achievement Awards.  As you can see, we’re in mighty good company; how we ended up amongst such luminaries of bluegrass and country music, I don’t know, but it’s gratifying nonetheless.  Besides, it’s a free lunch!  /CL

August 13, 2014

NASHVILLE, TN – Each year, the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) recognizes up to five individuals for their significant contributions to bluegrass music with its highest honor outside of induction into the Hall of Fame–the Distinguished Achievement Award. This year’s recipients of IBMA’s Distinguished Achievement Awards include:

Deering Banjo Company: Greg and Janet Deering started the Deering Banjo Company as a family business in 1975. In its 39-year history, the company has created more than 100,000 banjos, all built by hand in Deering’s Spring Valley, California facility. The company’s mission statement is “to champion the banjo and inspire creativity around the globe by supplying the best quality, American-made banjos to players of all abilities.” Noted Deering players are many, and include Béla Fleck, Jens Kruger and Eric Gibson.

The Delmore Brothers: The brother-style duets of the Delmore Brothers have influenced generations of performers, but many would argue that it is their superb songwriting that cemented the duo’s stamp on bluegrass history. Artists from Vince Gill to the late Doc Watson have recorded songs from brothers Rabon and Alton Delmore’s rich catalog. “Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar,” “Blues Stay Away From Me” and “Big River Blues” (also known as “Deep River Blues”) are just some of the signature songs that have left a lasting impression on bluegrass music.

European Bluegrass Music Association: Since its inception in 1995, the European Bluegrass Music Association has worked to support bluegrass music across borders, both regional and national. The non-profit organization produces a magazine (Bluegrass Europe) for its members, promotes bluegrass festivals held throughout Europe, and holds regular gatherings, known as Bluegrass Summits, aimed at supporting and encouraging the burgeoning bluegrass scene across Europe.

Hillbilly at Harvard: The radio show Hillbilly at Harvard, broadcast weekly over Harvard’s student-run radio station, WHRB, has been an influence and inspiration for generations of bluegrass and country fans in New England since it debuted in 1948. Billed as “Boston’s original Saturday morning country-music jamboree,” it directly influenced the founders of Rounder Records (now in its 44th year) and the Boston Bluegrass Union, formed in 1976. The show has also had an ongoing impact on many generations of musicians in the fertile Northeastern scene, and now, via the Internet, can be heard all across the globe.

Bill Keith: Bill Keith has had a great impact on modern banjo playing, particularly in what is often termed “newgrass.” Influenced by both Earl Scruggs and Pete Seeger, Keith developed his own unique style, which became known as the melodic, chromatic or “Keith”- picking style. Keith has toured and performed with top bluegrass bands – including a brief stint with Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in the early 1960s – and with artists like Jonathan Edwards, Ian & Sylvia, Judy Collins, The Jim Kweskin Jug Band, and Muleskinner.

The IBMA’s Distinguished Achievement Awards will be presented at a Special Awards Luncheon on Thursday, October 2 during IBMA’s World of Bluegrass event. Those who would like to attend must purchase a business conference pass for Thursday.


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Jim Rooney Has a New Book Out, and Is Coming to HAH to Talk about It!

Old friend Jim Rooney will be coming in this Saturday, 13Sep, to talk about his new autobiography.  He’s bringing a CD full of songs he performed, recorded, produced, published, or which influenced him over his long (continuing) career.  We’ll listen to them together, between 10 AM and noon.

From the University of Illinois Press blurb:

In It for the Long Run: A Musical Odyssey
The memoir of the songwriter and Grammy-winning record producer

Inspired by the Hank Williams and Leadbelly recordings he heard as a teenager growing up outside of Boston, Jim Rooney began a musical journey that intersected with some of the biggest names in American music including Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Bill Monroe, Muddy Waters, and Alison Krauss. In It for the Long Run: A Musical Odyssey is Rooney’s kaleidoscopic first-hand account of more than five decades of success as a performer, concert promoter, songwriter, music publisher, engineer, and record producer.

As witness to and participant in over a half century of music history, Rooney provides a sophisticated window into American vernacular music. Following his stint as a “Hayloft Jamboree” hillbilly singer in the mid-1950s, Rooney managed Cambridge’s Club 47, a catalyst of the ‘60’s folk music boom. He soon moved to the Newport Folk Festival as talent coordinator and director where he had a front row seat to Dylan “going electric.”

In the 1970s Rooney’s odyssey continued in Nashville where he began engineering and producing records. His work helped alternative country music gain a foothold in Music City and culminated in Grammy nominations for singer-songwriters John Prine, Iris Dement, and Nanci Griffith. Later in his career he was a key link connecting Nashville to Ireland’s folk music scene.

Writing songs or writing his memoir, Jim Rooney is the consummate storyteller. In It for the Long Run: A Musical Odyssey is his singular chronicle from the heart of Americana.

“Rooney is best known for producing records by people like John Prine, Townes Van Zandt and Nanci Griffith. . . . Fortunately for readers, he’s also a gifted storyteller, with a humorous sense of perspective and wry self-awareness. Could you really ask for anything more from a musician’s memoir?”–Nashville Scene

“A love letter to friendship and music.”–The Tennessean

“Wonderful fellow with an interesting life equals great story.”–John Prine

“Without Jim Rooney’s early encouragement, I would not have a career.”–Nanci Griffith

To purchase a copy of In It for the Long Run and Jim’s other books, go to Jim’s website.

UPDATE: Rooney got in a little early, but still stayed until noon.  He was his usual affable self, and told many stories from In It for the Long Run.  Rooney may be the easiest interview I’ve had, with the possible exception of Jim Hurst: wind him up, and it’s hard to get a word in edgewise.  Which is fine, as we heard lots about performing and recording with dozens of artists most of us know only from their music.  Only one caller complained about too much talk (not enough music); the rest of the calls were enthusiastic: “The best show I’ve ever heard!” said one.  It was a lot of fun, and a great opportunity to experience, vicariously, some of the highlights of that “Long Run.”  And long may it continue!  /CL

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The Complainer-in-Chief Strikes Again

Gordy Brown is an old friend of Hillbilly at Harvard, and has done enormous service to country music in the region as historian and keeper of memorabilia with his New England Country Music Historical Society (now defunct).  But I’ve had to give him the unofficial title of Complainer-in-Chief, because the only time I hear from him is when he feels impelled to complain about something.  Today’s complaint concerns the classic Bob Wills instrumental, “Big Beaver.”  Gordy writes:

MA Hall of Fame DJ, Lynn Joiner played a big band jazz piece on the 10:30 AM Hillbilly At Harvard show today–not a fiddle or a guitar throughout. Could have been by Bob Crosby & the Bob Cats, or any other big band pop artist of the 40’s if you did not hear the Bob Wills intro.

You will not, however, hear any of the many country standards featuring steel guitar and 5-string banjo from any of the 70 or so albums by Mass. native, Danny Davis his Nashville Brass. Just one of many idiosyncracies and country/bluegrass disconnects Lynn suffers from.

Care to voice your opinion?  Email —

Now I wouldn’t ordinarily post a personal email on this public blog without the writer’s permission, but in this case Gordy obviously sent it to a mailing list (not individually identified), and even invites his recipients to email me with their opinions.  That’s fine.  I like hearing from listeners, pro and con, though I’m happy that there aren’t too many cons (and most of them are from Gordy).  But as far as I’m concerned, it’s already published, and fair game.

In this case, Gordy is absolutely right: Bob Wills’s 1940 recording of “Big Beaver” is big-band, what I call ‘Eastern’, swing.  Yet somehow it fits.  How can that be?

It will take a bit of explanation.  Back in the day, Steve Morse, then of The Boston Globe, asked us what our criteria for including songs on HAH were.  “It’s got to be good, and country,” Sinc said.  Obviously ‘good’ is subjective. It may surprise you to know that ‘country’ is, too.  I spend a good deal of time listening to ‘Americana’ releases, many of which are touted as having country roots, recorded in Nashville with well-known country musicians and producers, and yet few tracks make the ‘country’ cut.  Sometimes, even though it’s iffy, to my ear, I might try out a track on HAH, because I think it might work; it may not be very country, but it might be very good.

Obviously there is plenty of good music that is in no wise country, and plenty of country music that is no wise good.  It comes down to a question of judgment.  In the old days (I guess I have to call them that, now that it’s been more than a decade since we lost him) Ol’ Sinc and I agreed about 97 percent of the time (that, by the way, is a spurious statistic, the kind that junk ‘scientists’, like climate alarmists, are fond of making up).  What it comes down to is this: All radio programs reflect choices.  Commercial country radio plays what program directors decide to play, for reasons that may have little to do with content, and much to do with what the record labels are pushing.  Specialty programs like Hillbilly at Harvard reflect the choices of their hosts.  In this case, the host is me, and I play what I like—not just what I prefer, but what I enjoy.

And why not? If I didn’t enjoy the music I play, I wouldn’t bother getting up at 6:15 AM on Saturday morning and schlepping in to spend a good part of the day at WHRB.  At the same time, it has to fit the show.  I like classical music, but I won’t play Bach or Piston on HAH.  Sinc used to like Jimmy Buffet, but he didn’t play him on HAH.  I adhere to our rough-and-ready rule: if it ain’t good, and if it ain’t country, I won’t play it—except. . .

Except when I will.  I make the rules, so I can break them, too.  I play novelties, like “The Combine Harvester Song,” and Vast Variety Vault singles that aren’t very good (though of course, some are), because I like introducing variety, keeping the listeners on their toes (and keeping me awake).  And I play singer-songwriters who aren’t very country, like Brigette DeMeyer, because they have a country feel, and are interesting, maybe even compelling.  And, to get back to the ostensible topic, I will play an instrumental like “Big Beaver,” even though Bob recorded it in his big-band period (probably envious of the enormous national stature of performers like Benny Goodman), because (a) Bob wrote it, and (b) it’s become a part of the Western Swing and Country Music repertoire, and (c) it didn’t seem jarring or horrendously out-of-place at the time, and (d) I was in a hurry because I was chatting with Sheila Selby and didn’t notice the previous record ending, and (e) it was the half-hour and break time, and I needed an instrumental (part of our ancient, self-imposed format), and (f) most important of all: I like it!

A Texas historian named Sam McIlhaney writes,

. . . During the time in which Wills was at his peak of popularity, it also was the era of the Big Bands. Ballrooms and radio broadcasts across the country featured the Big Sounds of bands such as Tommy Dorsey, Bennie Goodman, Guy Lombardo, Wayne King, Harry James, Woody Herman, and of course, Glenn Miller and his Army Air Corps band.
It should come as no surprise to learn that some of the recording cuts of Wills sound as good as any of the famous Big Bands of the era. Complete with saxophones, clarinets and trumpets, Wills and his outfit WAS a big band, with anywhere from 14 to 20 instruments, and the men to play them — the Texas Playboys.
Get someone to listen to the recording of “Big Beaver” for the first time, and tell them it is from a recording of ANY of the above-mentioned Big Bands, and they should have no trouble believing you. But it would not be the truth. “Big Beaver” is a Wills recording.**
The only clue it belongs to Wills is the famous yell in the middle of the piece. When Wills felt enthusiasm for a song, he would let loose with a holler. That enthusiasm was infectious, and the fans at the dances or listening to the music on records picked up on that enthusiasm. This was the heart and soul of his success. . .
** “Big Beaver,” music and lyrics by Bob Wills, recorded April 16, 1940 with a 16-piece band by Wills and the Texas Playboys

Now you’ll note that, according to Mr. McIlhaney, there were 16 musicians in the band.  There was obviously a rhythm section, and despite what Gordy says, there were probably also fiddles and guitars, maybe even a steel guitar—I can’t hear them, as the mic is on the prominent horns and winds.  See for yourself:

The tune was a hit for Bob Wills, and covered by many others over the years.  Here’s Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadors with Leon Rhodes and Buddy Charleton on guitars (no video; just click on the audio link):

Here’s Hank Thompson’s Brazos Valley Boys, string band and winds:

And a more modern revival group, The Tulsa Playboys:

Obviously all these groups think “Big Beaver” is a Western Swing tune.  So what the heck.  I play plenty of Eastern Swing tunes done by Western Swing musicians, but I don’t play Benny Goodman.  But this is Bob Wills, and he even hollers throughout the song (not just once), to make sure you know who it is.  Fair game for HAH, I say.

So why not Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass?  Pretty simple, for me.  They’re not very country, and to my ear, they are not very good: as far as I am concerned, they are unadulterated schlock, the Lawrence Welk of country music.  If you don’t believe me, take a listen:

Of course, as they say here on the Internet, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).  Or as Ol’ Sinc would say, “Tweak his own.”


Posted in Administrivia, Hillbilly History, Program Notes, Radio Talk, Random Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Independence Day 2014

It’s a cloudy day, with heavy rain predicted for this afternoon and evening, thanks to Hurricane Arthur, now out to sea eastwards.  It was a prettier day last year.  See here, and remember why we celebrate the Fourth of July. /CL

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How to Record HAH—and Listen Whenever You Want!

I am often asked whether WHRB archives Hillbilly at Harvard, and whether the shows are available as ‘podcasts’.  The answer is: No.  The reason is that making copyrighted music available for download over the Internet would require the station to become a vendor, like iTunes or Amazon, and sell it.  Some stations do archive their programs, and make them available for listening online, but not for downloading, maybe for a couple of weeks.  Conceivably this could happen at WHRB, but probably not any time soon.

So in the meantime, here’s the solution.  Fly-over folks and west coasters especially, pay attention!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard complaints about missing the first hour or two of HAH because listeners are in earlier time zones.  Here’s what you can do:

Record the show!  The computer age and the Internet has made recording easy.  Of course if you’re in our broadcast area, you can record from your radio/receiver directly to a tape deck, if any of you still have those.  But for those who have computers, and that obviously includes anyone listening to our Internet stream, it’s easy and inexpensive to record on your computer.

First you need software, an audio-recording program (or application).  I recommend two:

• For Macintosh users, use Audio Hijack Pro, from a company called Rogue Amoeba (click on ‘Audio Hijack Pro’ to get there).  You can download the program from Rogue Amoeba for a free trial, but the free ‘demo’ version is limited to 10 minutes at a time, so go ahead and buy it: it costs just $32.  With Audio Hijack Pro, you can record any Internet stream, or from your connection to a radio or TV, or audio from any application, like Skype.  And you can schedule your recordings to take place automatically whenever you want.

System Requirements: For Mac OS X 10.7 or higher.  [Update: For earlier versions of OS X: You can download legacy versions of Audio Hijack Pro for older operating systems, back to 10.2. Go here.  Hat tip to Chris Barajas at Rogue Amoeba.]

• For Windows users, use Total Recorder, from High Criteria (click on ‘Total Recorder’ to get there).  You can download the program for a free trial, but the demo version is crippled, so go ahead and buy it; the Standard Edition is only $17.95; the Professional Edition is $35.95 and includes more audio-processing/editing features.  Like Audio Hijack Pro, you can record any sound from your computer, or from an external source.  See the website for details.

System Requirements
Total Recorder Standard Edition requires: a sound card, and a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Microsoft Windows XP (SP2 or later), Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. If you want to use Total Recorder with an older operating system, please follow this link.

I record from my receiver to my iMac; it’s easy.  Once you have the program on your computer, you can sleep in Saturday mornings, and listen any time you wish.  Try it!

Any questions, post in the Comments, and I’ll try to answer them. /CL

UPDATE: Steve Bartlett comments on the Paper and Pen page, here.  I’m repeating his comment here, as it’s an important addition:

More on Recording HAH:

I use Winamp, a free download program, to listen to the HAH stream.

It is extremely stable and does not hiccup or hesitate when I use the computer for other, simultaneous activities. However, if the stream is interrupted, Winamp in its natural state will not restart the stream. If it stops, it stays stopped.

I found this extremely frustrating, as it usually happened, per Murphy’s Law, when I had to leave the house.

Searching the web last year, I found The Silence Detector, a third-party plugin, that runs in Winamp and will restart the stream after a brief gap. It works well. Its only drawback, it it is such, is that if I hit the Winamp stop button, the play will always resume after the timeout. I don’t consider that to be a fatal flaw…

You can check it out at

Incidentally, Total Recorder easily starts itself, Winamp, and the web stream when recording by its timer function. All you have to do is set it up and have your computer running.

Steve Bartlett

The link to The Silence Detector is here.  I’m not sure how iTunes or other audio software handles stream interruptions, as I normally record off the air (from my receiver to the computer).  I’ll ask around. /CL


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