ANOTHER ARCHIVAL HILLBILLY AT HARVARD
It’s October 24th, 1992. The Boston Bluegrass Union is bringing in Kate MacKenzie and her band Stoney Lonesome from the Twin Cities, to play at the First Church Congregational, on the corner of Garden and Mason Streets in Cambridge, “The Big Brown Church with the Rooster on Top,” along with a local band also called ‘Stoney Lonesome’. That made for jokes like ‘Stoney Lonesome squared’, and ‘Stoney Lonesome opening for Stoney Lonesome’. In any case, getting Minneapolis’s Stoney Lonesome into Sumptuous Studio A was a real treat for us, especially Kate MacKenzie’s wonderful singing.
Kate left Stony Lonesome in 1995, and the band broke up. The core of Boston’s Stoney Lonesome (Dave Dillon, Richard Brown, Margaret Gerteis) became the core of The Reunion Band. But there’s another Stoney Lonesome bluegrass band, in Ontario, Canada. Dr Janie and I wondered at the popularity of the name. Turns out it was at times slang for prison. But I reckon it was because Bill Monroe named an instrumental ‘Stoney Lonesome’. Then, where did Bill get the name?
But that’s not all we’ve got on that Saturday morning! The night before, legendary Cajun singer D. L. Menard held forth with his Cajun Aces, Dick Richard on fiddle and Paul D’Aigle on accordian, at Johnny D’s. That evening they’re due in Providence, Rhode Island. It was good luck and Rounder Records that got D. L. into our studios for an extended set that will get you up and dancing. It’s all in Cajun French, but it’s just great music. D. L of course sings his signature ‘La Porte d’en Arriere’, ‘The Back Door’, And he also does a Cajun ‘Wildwood Flower’. I’ll have to look and see how he sings “twine with the mingles” in French.
D. L. Menard died at the age of 85 in 2017. His last album was Happy Go Lucky on Swallow Records in 2010. He was known throughout his long career as ‘The Cajun Hank Williams’, and indeed he says his famous ’The Back Door’ from 1962 was inspired by Hank. We were privileged to have this legendary icon of Cajun country music in Sumptuous Studio A in 1992.
We ran out of time that Saturday for much music from guitar whiz Pete Kennedy, then touring with Nancy Griffith’s band, but Sinc does get him to play his guitar version of ‘The Orange Blossom Special’ and do the closing Country Calendar over it: a DJ tour-de-force, to be sure. /CL