Old Time Picking Styles & Techniques
Tom Paley was a founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers, he shared with Mike Seeger and John Cohen the adventure of discovering the El Dorado of American country music - the wealth of songs and tunes commercially recorded in the 1920s, '30s and '40s. Most of the pieces Tom plays on this CD were taken from old 78 records. They have often been distanced from these models by years of creative miss-recollection or deliverate recasting. Tom plays guitar, banjo and fiddle on this solo venture into old time picking.
Track Listing: (click on tracks for mp3 sound samples)
1. Franklin Blues
2. Browns Ferry Blues*
3. Little Rabbit
4. Jimmy Sutton*
5. Mississippi Heavy Water*
6. Wreck of the Tennessee Gravy Train*
7. Early Morning Blues*
8. Mourning Blues*
9. The Road To Austin*
10. Salty Dog*
11. Medley: Mississippi Sawyer & Rocky Mountain Goat
12. Louis Collins
13. Roll On The Ground
14. Rev. Gary Davis Medley: Light Of This World & I Belong To The Band
15. Sad and Lonesome Day
Those tunes marked with a star ( * ) are included in the tab/music PDF booklet on this CD.
You will need Adobe Acrobat (a free download) to open and print this file from your computer.
Review: Cult heroes: Dylan's a big fan, so why isn't Tom Paley a folk celebrity?
He turned 87 in March and has been living modestly in the same little flat in north London for more than 40 years. He is still a fine singer and impressive multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, banjo, fiddle and autoharp, but he doesn't have the status he deserves, despite a revival of interest in his music over the past couple of years.
Then there was Woody Guthrie, whom he first met after one of his friends had dared to knock on Guthrie's door at his house on Mermaid Avenue. Guthrie invited him in, and they got on well. Later the friend took Paley along, and Guthrie was impressed by his playing. He asked Paley to "do some bookings with me", and they played together at schools and union halls, and at a memorial concert for Leadbelly at New York town hall in 1950. Paley described Guthrie as "easy-going but not terribly responsible is some ways. Politically he was responsible; he would stick with his political views. But sometimes we had a job and there was no sign of Woody, and I'd ring Marjorie [his wife] and she'd say, 'I don't know. He went out on Tuesday to get some cigarettes, and might be back next week!'"
Paley recorded his first album for Elektra in 1953, and towards the end of the decade he joined Mike Seeger and John Cohen in the New Lost City Ramblers, one of the most successful and influential bands of the US folk revival, with an eclectic repertoire of "old-time music", some of which would later be popularized by Ry Cooder.
After leaving the Ramblers, Paley visited Sweden in 1963, and decided not to return to the US, where he would have been drafted to serve in Vietnam. Then he moved to England, where he recorded with his fiddler son Ben, the New Deal String Band and Peggy Seeger, and played on the folk circuit. But his legendary history seemed to have been forgotten, until artist and music fan Ski Williams saw him playing at the Tuesday-night sessions at Cecil Sharp House in London, the home of the English Folk Song and Dance Society. "He consistently blew me away," Williams said, "and the more research I did, the more important I realized he was. But he was doing maybe two songs a night, and maybe falling asleep, and people were not really appreciating him, and I thought, 'This is wrong, this guy should be immense.'"
Williams started a record label, Hornbeam, along with a few like-minded friends, and Paley was their first signing. Given his age, the recording was deliberately slow, with sessions taking place over a year in the house of producer and percussionist Dave Morgan. On the day I visited, Paley sat around eating and chatting with the young band that Williams had helped assemble, before producing an impressive version of The Midnight Special.
The resulting album, Roll On, Roll On, was released in 2012, and helped to boost Paley's career. He went on tour with his new band (which included his son Ben on fiddle), and by now he was on impressive form. Back in the studio, he recorded eight tracks in one day, and these will form the backbone of his next album, Paley and Son, which features solo fiddle work from Ben, and a duet between Tom and Cerys Matthews. It's due for release this year.
Not bad going for a musician in his late 80s. So can he switch from cult hero to a folk celebrity? I hope so. - Robin Denselow/The Guardian