Dick Fariņa & Eric von Schmidt
Folklore (F-LEUT/7) 1967(?)
CD re-issue: Solano Records (1722) May 2007
Production: Tom Costner
Recording: Don Sollash
Sleeve design: Eric von Schmidt
Liner Notes: Dick Fariņa
Recording Supervision: Doug Dobell
Running time: 42:49
CD running time: :81:10

This was an impromptu recording made in London on January 14 and 15, 1963. Joining Fariņa and von Schmidt were Ethan Signer (of the Charles River Valley Boys) on fiddle, mandolin, and guitar, and occasionally Blind Boy Grunt. Blind Boy Grunt was of course the pseudonym of Bob Dylan, whose Columbia contract prevented his real name from appearing on the album.

This is a crude, one-track, one-microphone recording, and although it is an enjoyable collection of American folk songs, it's quite a stretch from the unique style that Fariņa later developed with Mimi. It doesn't offer any great revelations into Fariņa's art or vision, but it does provide some early samples of his dulcimer playing, which is featured on "Old Joe's Dulcimer," "Wildwood Flower," and "Lonzo N'Howard," and less prominently in "London Waltz." Fariņa sings lead vocal on "Wobble Bird," and "XMas Island" and unaccompanied vocal on "Riddle Song." He contributes back-up vocals and harmonica on other tracks. Fariņa gives himself a writing credit for "XMas Island" and "London Waltz," but ironically these are two of the most negligible tracks. The most interesting songs for Richard & Mimi fans are the medley "Old Joe's Dulcimer," which is a forerunner of "Celebration for a Grey Day," and "Wobble Bird," which is an adaptation of "The Cuckoo," upon which "The Falcon" was based. His alteration of the lyrics in "Riddle Song" also gives a foretaste of his creative adaptation of traditional tunes. Another interesting connection with later work is "Stick With Me, Baby" (an adaptation of Furry Lewis' "Dry Land Blues"), which includes the lyrics,

"I been down so long, seem like up to me,
Gal of mine got a heart like a rock in the sea"
But, again ironically, it is Eric von Schmidt who sings this song. In fact, the songs featuring Eric solo or prominently are the most professional-sounding tracks!

Dylan fans should be advised that Bob's contributions are minimal, and his presence on the record really cannot be felt in any significant way. He supplied back-up vocals and/or harmonica on four tracks: "Glory, Glory," "Overseas Stomp," "Xmas Island," and "Cocaine."

The CD re-issue of 2007 contains the original album on one disk, and the remainder of the recording session--some 21 tracks--on a second disk. Of particular interest are the previously unheard songs "Old Paint" and "Lemonade Lady." The CD also includes extensive notes by Tom Costner, who produced the original album and was a friend of Richard and Mimi.


SONGS:

Side One:
1.) JOHNNY CUCKOO (4:27) adaption of a children's game song learned from Bessie Jones, a negro woman from St. Simon's Island, Georgia
2.) JUMPING JUDY (3:55) an ax song, sometimes called "Drive it On," from the unaccompanied singing of convicts, Cummins State Farm, Arkansas, 1934. Played in an open G-tuning.
3.) GLORY, GLORY (2:34) traditional negro hymn, the tune relating closely to the Southern white hymn, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?"
4.) OLD JOE'S DULCIMER (2:55) a medley of dance tunes including "Old Joe Clark," "Swing and Turn," "Darlin' Corey," etc.
5.) WOBBLE BIRD (2:44) a variation on "The Cuckoo," in 3/4 time.
6.) WILDWOOD FLOWER (1:56) instrumental on the well known Carter song.
7.) OVERSEAS STOMP (2:43) in the spirit of the 1927 Memphis Jug Band.

Side Two:
1.) LONZO N'HOWARD (3:30) learned from Tom Shoemaker of Harlan, Kentucky, who heard it there from a mountain fiddler called Blind Jim. This is probably its first recording.
2.) YOU CAN ALWAYS TELL (3:00) a tune based on Furry Lewis' "Dry Land Blues," with additional verses.
3.) XMAS ISLAND (3:18) a twelve-bar written by Fariņa.
4.) STICK WITH ME BABY (3:32) played in an open G-tuning, adapted from the 1928 Lewis, "I Will Turn Your Money Green."
5.) RIDDLE SONG (1:10) traditional, with new answers to fit the old questions.
6.) COCAINE (4:03) learned from Rev. Gary Davis at Indian Neck, 1960.
7.) LONDON WALTZ (3:10) a blues in 3/4 time, music by Fariņa, words spontaneous.


Finally, here is Ron Gould's recollection of the album:
"Well, as I remember it, the people that were playing were von Schmidt, Fariņa, Ethan Signer and Bob Dylan... I sang choruses on some of the things -- I definitely sang on 'Glory Glory' -- but I can't make any claims to fame... There was the tape-recorder, sitting on the shop counter, and just one microphone, into which everyone in the room had to sing and play. We were all so primitive that everything was done pretty much in one take... What happened was that Richard and Eric von Schmidt were there first and they recorded a blues... then Signer turned up... and then, about two tunes later, that's when Dylan came in with the bottles of Guinness... but he didn't have an opener... Then Rick von Schmidt handed Dylan an already opened bottle of Guinness, and Dylan took it up to his mouth, took a swig, pulled a face and said, My God what is this? And then he tipped the rest of it on the floor... Doug [Dobell] didn't like his shop floor being messed up... But after that, it seemed to calm down and there was just a lot of playing and drinking. Basically that was it. It was just a one-off that we did and nobody thought it would ever come to anything..."

(From an interview by Brian Wells in the Dylan fanzine, The Telegraph, No. 49, Summer 1994, pp. 8-14.)

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