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Monday, January 30th, 2006

Time Event
6:26p
State of the Union Drinking Game / Rooftop Singers
Every time George W. Bush mentions 9/11, take a shot. Bet you're as drunk as a spoiled frat boy by the time he's done.

It's always fun for us political wonks to guess the talking points of a political speech, but poor W is just so predictable. (Alas, I won't be able to join the game, as it's the last day of my New Year's Resolution to not have alcohol in January; a tradition five or six years old.) And perhaps Bush is too unpleasant a speaker to listen to. But what the heck.

In other extraneous January news: With the completion of Phase 2 of the Antarctica pictures, I've been listening to the CDs that have piled up. I just got to The Best of the Rooftop Singers. I, like most people, know them for their one hit, "Walk Right In". They weren't together for very long and produced only three albums 1963-65. They were formed by Erik Darling (who had replaced Pete Seeger in The Weavers) and other pros.

The CD is great. The Rooftop Singers never quite caught on, but should have. They introduced 12-String guitar to folk, and their harmonies terrific and song selection varied. 1962 was right at the beginning of the folk revival (though many would say it never went away) and at the end of the 50s beat era. Imagine the harmonies of Peter, Paul and Mary with the jazz vocals of Manhattan Transfer with dialog coach Maynard G. Krebs.

Interestingly (to me), one of the songs on the CD, credited to Darling, I'd just heard the week before. The American Folksay vinyl wasn't worth getting at the time, but the CD releases are better. The sound is still awful, but at least they put two records on a CD, and the digitization means I can try to clean up the tracks myself. American Folksay 5-6/Chain Gang, is one of several CDs in the series. I was unable to find when this was originally released, but Leadbelly died in 1949 so I'm assuming the recordings are from the late 30s or early 40s.

Both CDs have a version of Ham and Eggs and Froggy Went A'Courtin'. The latter is simply "Adapt. with new music" while the former is stolen. A common occurrence with folk music, alas. The obvious connection -- Pete Seeger -- isn't on either song. Still, I'm vastly amused that two records, from as much as 30 years apart are mining the same material. Circa 1963, Depression Era music and Chain Gang work songs weren't quite as popular as they had been in the days of Woody Guthrie.

Well, I'll review the CDs more formally for my regular Bartcop-E column, but I thought LJ might be interested.

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