Old Timey Tuesdays! Station Blues/Sitting on Top of the World
We are THRILLED to welcome our beloved drummer Tyler Core to his first Old Timey Tuesday! To feature him, I picked an old country blues number called "Station Blues" or "Sitting On Top of the World." Written by the great Walter Vinson, "Station Blues" meandered it's way through many different musical traditions, particularly fife-and-drum and bluegrass. "Sitting on Top of the World" IS "Station Blues," done bluegrass-style. Vinson himself meandered through the different blues styles including Delta, Memphis, New Orleans eventually ending up in Chicago where he spent the rest of his days.
Something I love about this piece is that it is both decidedly blues and decidedly country. It's been performed by the likes of Bill Monroe, Ray Charles, Doc Watson, Jack White, Howlin' Wolf, Dylan...I could go on. But with a line like, "You don't like my peaches?/Don't you shake my tree./ Git outta my orchard/ Let me peaches be," well, that's too tempting for me and my peaches to ignore. I wanted to give it a little feminine perspective, too. (That lyric, by the way, is an example of a "floating lyric" or "maverick stanza" which is a classic feature of folk music. Floating lyrics are, according to the Journal of Folklore Research, “lines that have circulated so long in folk communities that tradition-steeped singers call them instantly to mind and rearrange them constantly, and often unconsciously, to suit their personal and community aesthetics." You'll find a version of this lyric in everything from Irving Berlin to Blind Lemon Jefferson.)
I decided to combine the fife-and-drum blues and bluegrass styles into one number. We made snare the heart of the blues section, and guitar the heart of the early country/bluegrass section. We traded fife for pennywhistle (as played by Tyler Thompson), and we used the fiddle to transition the two pieces (thank ya Ted Kitterman). We hope you enjoy our rendition of Station Blues/Sitting On Top of the World.
Come see us Saturday night at the Andersonville Arts Weekend! We'll be performing at 8:30pm on Berwyn in between Clark and Ashland at First Free Church Chicago 's block party. We've put together a really fun set that we can't wait to share!
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