New Feature: Open Page(s)!

Have requests?  Comments?  Suggestions?  Now you can post them here on the new

Paper and Pen

page.  Just look at the menu below the header picture, and click on the page.  You can post your comments and discuss the comments of others.  If the page gets too long, I’ll just add a new one.  Try it!  /Cousin Lynn

UPDATE: Not many taking advantage of this new feature yet, so I’m making it a ‘sticky’ post for a while. /CL

UPDATE 2: Some are confusing this announcement post with the post on the actual Pen and Paper page.  Unfortunately, the free version of WordPress does not allow me to move comments, so I am closing comments here.

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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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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Banjoist Jayme Stone Launches Alan Lomax Project

Email today from a banjo player (sorry, ‘banjoist’) named Jayme Stone:

Big Day, Cousin! I just launched my first-ever Kickstarter campaign to make an album with Grammy-winning singer Tim O’Brien, Bruce MolskyBrittany Haas, Moira SmileyMargaret Glaspy, Eli WestGreg GarrisonJulian Lage and more. We’d love for you to share the campaign on your blog, on Facebook and Twitter. Be among the first to feature our short documentary. Here are links for a high res photo and the campaign.

Well, we know some of those folks, so what’s this all about?  To find out, I click on a link and go here:


Focusing on songs collected by folklorist and field recording pioneer Alan Lomax, this “collaboratory” brings together some of North America’s most distinctive and creative roots musicians to revive, recycle and re-imagine traditional music. The repertoire includes African-American a cappella singing from the Georgia Sea Islands, Bahamian sea shanties, ancient Appalachian ballads, fiddle tunes and work songs collected from both well-known musicians and everyday folk: muleskinners, roustabouts, sawyers, prisoners, homemakers and schoolchildren. . .

The plan is to put together an album of these songs collected by Alan Lomax (how to choose amongst the hundreds, probably thousands, of songs—must be quite a challenge!).  Jayme plans to raise funds for this project using Kickstarter.  For those not familiar with Kickstarter, as I understand it you set an account goal and a deadline.  If you don’t raise the dollars you’ve set as a goal, the contributors don’t get charged, and you’re back to square one.  For a recording, it’s a form of ‘pre-selling’ the album in order to raise money for recording and producing.  In the Internet age, you can have the help of a Web agency like Kickstarter to keep it all up front.

Our Kickstarter goal of $25k will cover only the essentials: studio time, engineering, editing, mixing, mastering, modest musician fees and manufacturing. Because Kickstarter is all-or-nothing funding, we felt it important to set a goal that will ensure the album gets made and that we hope is within reach. That said, we would love to surpass our ask and secure the funding needed for the full expression of the project. The actual budget is $50k, so all pledges beyond our goal will go towards other key elements: design, a national publicity campaign, scholarly liner notes, a double album, documentary film and an interactive website with exclusive interviews and links to listen to source field recordings. . .

Well, that’s a lot more than just a CD.  But now it’s up to you.  If you think this is a worthy project, and want to support it, go to the link above and read about the contribution levels and what you’ll get for them (beyond supporting the project), starting with a download of the recording and arriving at (for $5,000 backers) a concert in your home.

Jayme Stone describes himself as “Banjoist, Composer, Instigator.”  He’s not just a banjo picker, and maybe doesn’t know any tuning jokes.  He and other virtuoso artists have been making albums of world folk tunes and original compositions—to learn more, go to his website.

The Lomax Project seems to me a worthwhile endeavor; the work of Alan (and his father, John) was essential to bringing to light and preserving the vast amount of traditional music from which country and bluegrass stem.  If this will bring the Lomax legacy back into public consciousness, that’s all to the good.  My only worry is the tendancy of folkies to lose the rough-and-rowdy edge of our musical roots in favor of overly sophisticated—not to say ‘boring’—renditions.  Remember that the performers of dance tunes or a capella ballads of the past were not afraid to cut loose, nor to worry about wrong notes.   Let’s hope that in reinterpreting the originals, Jayme and his colleagues don’t stray too far from them. /CL

UPDATE: Jayme responds:

Thanks so much for your support, Lynn.  Really.

I appreciate your “warning” at the end.  I too like rough-hewn edges and some grit in this music and we’re definitely aiming to keep it real.  Lomax used to say he liked his bluegrass “with the bark still on.”  We recorded the first session all in one room, with no headphones and the vocals and harmonies sung live around a single mic.  Good times.

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IMG_7284 copy_thumbWe had to put our dog Tia down last Wednesday. Tia and her brother Ali came to us back in 2004, when Number Two Son Nathan called from Logan Airport and asked for a ride. “Take the shuttle,” we said. “Well,” he said, “I’ve got a present for you. It’s a puppy. Actually, it’s two puppies. And they screamed all the way from Newark.” We picked him up.

Nathan and some college friends had taken a spring break in Baja, Mexico. There they encountered a street dog with a litter of new puppies. A kid claimed they were his, and said he’d sell them for $5 apiece. Nathan took two. He stopped at a vet on the way home and got some treatment, then managed to smuggle the pups across the border and drive to Phoenix. At the airport, the attendant said, “You can take only one animal on the plane, not two.” The puppies were cuddled up together in a basket, so Nathan offered, “Hey, they look like just one!” Nathan can be very convincing, so on they went. I think they slept on the first leg to Newark, but from there to Boston caterwauled for the benefit of all the passengers.

We were at first somewhat appalled at having two new dogs. We had two older ones, Rikki, a half-lab, and her well-mixed daughter Sophie; they tolerated the pups, and even mothered them. I can remember one time when they were wrestling in the dog yard, and Tia managed to get her lower jaw caught under Ali’s collar, choking him. Sophie started barking in an alarming way; fortunately I was home, and was able to get the collar off, and Ali was able to start breathing again.

Tia was a sweet, friendly dog, and I think we gave her (and her brother, who’s still with us) a much better life than they would have had on the streets of Baja. In 2012 Tia tore the tendon in her right hind leg on Thanksgiving Day.

We got the leg repaired at the Foster Hospital, part of Tufts Veterinary School, and helped Tia through a long convalescence in a pen we put in the living room. She regained full use of the leg, and all was well until last fall, when she developed a limp. Turns out it was osteo-sarcoma in the left front leg. There is no cure, as the cancer cells eventually end up in the lungs. The only treatments are palliative: amputate the leg, or treat it with radiation. We elected radiation, and that helped. Tia limped, but was pretty mobile, and able to get out to the park with us now and then.

But a month or so ago, the leg swelled, and she was clearly having more pain. After one more radiation treatment, the oncology vet said it would not avail her any further. Finally, when she could barely get herself up on the remaining three good legs, and when she started moaning at night, we decided it was time to spare her further pain.

Rikki and Sophie died a few years ago, but Ali is still with us. Whether he misses his sister I cannot tell. But we do.

The two puppies are up top; here’s one of Tia this winter:

IMG_6677_thumbOn the show Saturday I played Red Foley’s “Old Shep.”*  It’s too sad a song to play often, but the time seemed right.

/Cousin Lynn

* Written by Clyde J. (“Red”) Foley and Arthur Willis

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It’s Opening Day—Time for “The Red Sox Song”!

Yes, we should be playing it tomorrow (the 5th).  The Red Sox lost their first game today, but it was a day of much ceremony and significance (with remembrances of the two firemen who died just a few days ago on Beacon St., and the Boston Marathon bombing still too recent; and, of course, the World Series win last fall), all masterfully described by Chad Finn, here:  Red Sox drop home opener, but no matter, for there was so much worth celebrating

But I’m staying home, HAH will be pre-recorded (see here), so “The Red Sox Song” will have to wait until next week.  Except for a few years when we lost the single, we’ve been playing Pine Tree John and the Designated Hitters since the record was released back in 1976.  From Wikipedia:

The Red Sox Song was written about the Boston Red Sox right after the 1975 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. It was written, copyrighted and published (BMI) in 1976 by Wayne Ulaky, a founding member of the rock band The Beacon Street Union.

Wayne Ulaky produced the recording with studio musicians under the fictitious name of Pine Tree John and the Designated Hitters. The lead vocal was performed by John Lincoln Wright, also a former member of the Beacon Street Union.

The recording was pressed into 45 rpm records and released as a single. It was played occasionally on many radio stations around New England, and appeared in many juke boxes in night clubs at the time. Boston TV channel 38 (WSBK) was broadcasting the Red Sox home games that year, and used The Red Sox Song (A Day In Fenway Park) as a theme song for their promotional video about upcoming game broadcasts. It was also played occasionally at Fenway Park by organist John Kiley.

The song was sold in a few record stores around greater Boston, including the Strawberries music chain. It was also sold at Twins souvenir shop on Yawkey Way next to Fenway Park.

Fortunately, someone called ‘Fenway146891427′ has uploaded the single to YouTube, so here it is:



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Terry Eagan Presents His 18th Annual Healing Garden Music Fest

It’s been almost two decades since Terry Eagan began his series of music festivals to raise funds for Healing Garden patios for cancer patients.  The first Healing Garden was at Waltham Hospital (now Children’s Hospital Boston at Waltham); others are underway or planned for Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge and hospitals in Canada.  See the list here.

The annual music festivals have always included fine local musicians as well as guests from Canada and (more recently) Nashville.  This year Jennifer McCarter, of the fabulous McCarter Sisters, will headline.  With any luck, we may be able to get her and guitarist Scott Neubert down to Hillbilly at Harvard on April 26th, to play live in the studio.

“The Sourmash Special Guesters Band” are essentially a combination of top pickers and singers from John Lincoln Wright’s Sourmash Boys (and girls), and from The Country Masters, who regularly hold forth in Waltham.  Also on the bill is Canadian Todd Sterling, who has a new album produced by Scott Neubert.

It’s all happening Sunday, April 27th at 2 PM at the French American Victory Club in Waltham.  All the details about the Healing Garden Country Music Fest are here (click on this link).

Great music, in a great cause. /CL

UPDATE: Had a great time with Jennifer and Scott in the studio Saturday.  I hope many of you got to hear them.  Funny, friendly, folks, who play music like angels.  Dr Janie and I also got over to The French Club Sunday afternoon (before hurrying back for granddaughter Aviva’s third birthday dinner!) to hear Jennifer, Scott, and what I guess we should call the ‘Sourmasters’ band.  Good fun, and a great cause.

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Thyroidectomy Update

Endotracheal tube (from Wikipedia)

“I’ll be back on April 5th, for sure.”  That’s what I said.  But “The best laid plans. . .”

While Dr. Randolph says my vocal nerves are fine, and while his (expert) attack on my neck is healing up, I’ve still got a very sore throat, painful cough, and hoarse voice.  I think a virus may have exacerbated the damage from the endotracheal tube, though that’s not an official medical opinion.

So after much fence-sitting, I’ve decided to take another Saturday off.  But never fear: you’ll still be treated to (almost) “Four hours of the very best of that good old-time, down-to-Earth, country music”—and less talk!

I’ll put some of the calendar notices I get by email on the Country Calendar Page, so go there to see what’s happening.  And I’ll be back on the 12th, for sure!

Special thanks to David Elliott for putting these pre-recorded shows together. /CL

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Crescent Moon and Morning Star

Moon and Evening Star

Taken with my iPhone from the 11th Floor window of my overnight room at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear building, after I was awakened at 5 AM Thursday for ‘vitals’ or something.  As Larry Flint tells me, “Hospitals are not for sleeping.”  Not a great photo, complete with smudges from the window, but the sight of the crescent Moon and Venus in the morning was worth waking up for.

Fortunately, it was only one night in the hospital; I’m now back on the river in Saxonville with one less thyroid gland (yes, we have only one each, though with two lobes, so some people lose only half).  It was extracted by Dr. Gregory Randolph, acknowledged by everyone at Mass Eye and Ear as “The best.”  Dr. Randolph is a developer of  “recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) monitoring during thyroid surgery,” which (as his audiologist explained to me before the procedure) enables the surgeon to identify and avoid damaging the nerves to the vocal chords in the larynx, a common risk in thyroid surgery.  But though I can talk, I’m pretty hoarse from the endotracheal (or breathing) tube, so as I mentioned on the show last Saturday, tomorrow’s will be pre-recorded.  I’ll be back on April 5th, for sure.

Looking at the lunar calendar, I see that what I thought was a waxing crescent moon was actually a waning one.  Nevertheless, I thought of it as a New Moon, which should be quite dark, but clearly the one in the great old song written by Governor Jimmy Davis (first recorded by Tex Ritter) was plenty visible:

“There’s a New Moon Over My Shoulder”

Click on the title if the YouTube video doesn’t show up.  I’m never sure why sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. /CL

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Lightning Struck Twice

UPDATE: Snopes has also declared the video a fake, and includes a demonstration video that shows how it  was done: Double Trouble.


There’s a YouTube video getting some currency, showing a fellow hit by lightning twice in a couple of minutes.  Astonishingly, he gets up and walks away each time:

It’s almost certainly a fake, as he wouldn’t be getting up after a direct hit:

But that reminded me of a recitation by Curtis Leach we used to play back when the WHRB studio was in the basement of Memorial Hall.  It was called “Lightning Struck Twice.”  Unfortunately, the single disappeared many years ago.  But to my delight, some enterprising fellow has posted it on YouTube: has an article about Curtis Leach (just click on that link).  From the article:

. . . Dewey Groom, owner of Saran Music publishing company and Longhorn Records mentioned to Mr. Cooper that Bobby Bare was going to record three tunes written by Curtis – “Big Railroad Man”, “Two Sinners”, and “Lightning Strikes Twice”. It was said that Tex Ritter was set to record a tune called “Ginny Pour The Wine”, said to be a gunfighter ballad.

One of Leach’s first recordings was a tune he did called “The Highway Man”. He was co-writer on two tunes that Phil Baugh recorded on Longhorn Records as well – “One Man Band” and “Country Guitar” – sharing songwriting credits with Phil Baugh.

All told, Texas Jim Cooper mentions that Curtis Leach left behind about 20 recordings. Ten of which originally appeared in a Longhorn LP which was titled “The Indescribable Curtis Leach” – which summed up the difficulty they had coming up with a title for the album.

On December 14, 1965 in Mesquite, Texas, the musical career and life of Curtis Leach came to a tragic end and many are left to wonder what may have been if he had lived on.

His death was even reported by the New York Times, via UPI. The article reports that he was stabbed in his left leg. The cut severed an artery and Mr. Leach was said to have died on the way to the hospital. The article noted that no arrests had been made at the time.

Dewey Groom noted, “I think his name will be immortal, like that of Hank Williams. Curtis was a genius and left enough writing to take care of his children.”

Mr. Cooper also tells the readers that other notable songwriters such as Willie Nelson and Hank Thompson felt Curtis was “…unique as a master of the musical word.”

“Lightning Struck Twice,” but only once for Curtis Leach.

Hat tip to Paul F. and Sam3 on the MacResource Forum for the lightning-video hoax and the Live Science link; and to Speedy for the Snopes Update above. /CL

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Time for the JVF!

From Gerry Katz at the BBU:

29th Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, February 14 – 16, at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel, Framingham, MA

Master Classes and Fast Track Classes

Details on

Main Stage

Main Stage lineup is now posted. I think you’ll agree that we have a pretty stout lineup of familiar friends, new faces and a couple chestnuts thrown in for good measure.

Just a few of the Main Stage highlights – Here are just a few of the exciting things on tap. . .

·         The Gibson Brothers – Two time and reigning IBMA Entertainers of the Year, Eric Gibson was named Songwriter of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year as well as Song of the Year for “They Called it Music” written by Gibson and Newberry. This will be their first Joe Val appearance with Jesse Brock on mandolin. Gibson Brothers – They Call It Music EPK

·         Blue Highway – just released The Game on Rounder Records. Blue Highway at Joe Val – Monrobro, Blue Highway  – Some Day

·         Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice – Junior’s the 2013 IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year and will present his brand of hard driving, traditional bluegrass.

·         Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme OutBillboard Magazine has released it’s Best Of 2013: The Year In Music, documenting the best-selling albums for the year, including the Top 15 Bluegrass Albums. Timeless Hits From The Past Bluegrassed, the latest release from Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, ranks #5 alongside artists such as Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Alan Jackson, and Old Crowe Medicine Show. Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out – Old Home Place

·         Spinney Brothers – having a breakout year, IBMA Emerging Artist Nominee, the #1 Album again this month on the Bluegrass Unlimited charts with their newly released project No Borders, and they also have the #1 song on the chart with  “Grandpa’s Way of Life,” from their album on Mountain Fever Records. Spinney Brothers – Grandpa’s Way of Life

·         Desert Rose Band – A rare area appearance from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Chris Hillman, along with bandmates Herb Pederson, John Jorgenson and Bill Bryson. They will perform all the DRB hits (“He’s Back and I’m Blue,” “One Step Forward,” “I Still Believe In You,” “Ashes of Love,” “She Don’t Love Nobody,” “Love Reunited”) and a healthy dose of classics from Hillman’s Byrds/Gram Parsons/Flying Burrito Brothers era (“Wheels,” “Sin City”) as well.  Desert Rose Band – Love Reunited, The Byrds – So You Want to be a Rockin Roll Star

·         Balsam Range – First time at Joe Val.  Winner of the 2013 IBMA Album of the Year for “Papertown” and 2012 IBMA Song of the Year for “Trains I Missed.” Balsam Range – Papertown

Showcase Stage

This fan favorite continues to expand, both in a larger venue as well as in terms of an expanded lineup.

Workshop Schedule

BBU education staff are still hard at work on the sixty or so workshops and directed jams planned for this year’s festival. . .


We’ll have over a dozen vendor covering all your bluegrass needs and much more.

All the details on these festival activities available via

And, if you get this far, you deserve an ode to my dog the Duke of Cambridge – Desert Rose Band –  Hello Trouble

All the best,

Gerry Katz

Boston Bluegrass Union

29th Joe Val Bluegrass Festival

February 14 – 16, 2014

USATODAY picked Joe Val as one of Ten Great Places to Go to Bluegrass Festivals

PS Notice the new logo above!

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