Old Timey Tuesdays*! Little Stream of Whiskey
So much to talk about today!
First, give a warm welcome to our new fiddler, Ted Kitterman! You'll hear more from him next week. In the meantime, we'd like to welcome our very first special guest on Old Timey Tuesdays: Micky York! Micky is a multi-instrumentalist, but today he is sharing the good ol' mouth harp. Micky hosts a cabaret at Davenport's focused on late-night exploits, ("this is a cabaret about drinking"), so we thought what better tune than "Little Stream of Whiskey?"
"Little Stream of Whiskey," also known as "The Dying Hobo" or "The Western Water Tank", is one of the great old train songs of American folk music. This tune is based on the 19th century poem, "The Dying Hobo." I have a lot of affection for train songs. Not only do they appeal to my musical sensibilities (I love that sense of musical movement and the potential for big harmonies), but I'm also reminded of my Gramps who worked on the ol' B&O railroad, and who also loved a good train song.
The hobo song, a sub-genre of the train song, is a little window into an entire sub-culture that is still alive and well today. The word "hobo" is often used as a synonym for "bum" but that is, in fact, inaccurate. The hobo is a transient worker who travels by hitchin' an empty boxcar. They live by the Hobo Code, an honor system of sorts, with its own festival and even slapdash court system of sorts. As a performer, I can relate to many tenants of their creed including:
1. Decide your own life, don't let another person run or rule you.
5. When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.
In a happy coincidence, Britt Hobo Days meets this very week! http://www.britthobodays.com/
The etymology is somewhat unknown but there are many theories as to the origins of the word "hobo." My favorite? It's short for homeward-bound.
As a kid back in the early eighties, I used to play near some train tracks and I met a hobo. He said, "hey" and went on his merry way. And then I got yelled at by my mom for talking to hobos, but NOT I repeat NOT for playing near the train tracks. How anyone survived the early 80's is beyond me, but I did and here I am telling you about it.
Someday I'll write a song about that fella, but for now my little hobo band and I tip our worn hats to those folks that are down on their luck as we present: "Little Stream of Whiskey."
Our August 25 & 26 shows are drawing nigh, so nigh in fact, that we are encouraging people to purchase their tickets asap. We've learned that they are going very quickly! We are so excited about that, but we want you to snag yours before it's too late! Only $15, and oh yes, there will be a train song.
*On Old Timey Tuesdays we feature old North American folk, bluegrass, country, blues, ballads, and work songs we love. Some we grew up singin'. Some we've discovered along the way. These songs don't appear in our live shows. But we love them too much not to play them. We hope you love them too.
Do you have an old-timey tune you love? Let us know and we might give it the She's Folks spin!