Back in the 50s a young country singer named Cast King, with his band The Country Drifters, recorded a number of sides on Sun Records, but never made a huge splash.
In fact I would not have heard his music at all if not for a guy named Matt Downer, who came across Cast King living in Old Sand Mountain in Alabama, and discovered King not only still played but had numerous original tunes.
Downer recorded King, and played electric guitar along with King’s acoustic on a recording, which became Saw Mill Man, released in 2005. I stumbled upon it on a music blog shortly after it was released. The recording, stark, raw, powerful, stopped me in my tracks.
Apparently King was preparing another set of tunes, but unfortunately he died in 2007 at 81.
I often think that there is a wealth of fantastic music around we rarely get to hear. It was serendipitous that I stumbled across Cast King, just when he reappeared out of the blue with great collection of tunes. It’s already a decade since Saw Mill man was released although to me it doesn’t seem nearly so long. It’s a very personal album, rough around the edges, tough as nails. I hope you enjoy this taste.
We have a long backyard with a wooded section at the back. I was out there stopping the woods from taking over the yard when I noticed some strange fungi beside an old maple stump. I happen to know this weird item. It’s Xylaria polymorpha, better known as Dead Man’s Fingers.
These are young specimens, pale in colour with whitish tips. As summer progresses, they will start blacken and dry out, changing quite a bit through the season. I come across these from time to time in my foraging, and they always surprise me, simply because they are so odd-looking. They’re tough, woody fungi. I don’t know if they are poisonous but certainly they are not edible.
Well, summer has arrived. I mostly missed spring this year, more or less couped up and healing my messed up ankle. In the last couple weeks I’ve been getting out into the garden, and yesterday I did my first bit of garden work. We have a barberry hedge on the south side of our property. There was one along the north property line as well, but last year we removed it and planted a garden between our property and our neighbour’s.The hedge has been growing tall, and it’s my job to keep it under control. I was determined to do this yesterday, although I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stay on my feet long enough to do the work. As you can see I did get it trimmed. By the time I was done, I confess I was sore and my leg had swollen up some, but I’m counting this as a major accomplishment.
Barberries are red, but trimmed as radically as I did it yesterday they appear green for a while. The barberry hedges came with the house. I think the garden we have in place of the old hedge is much more attractive than the hedge ever was. That garden is sporting some additions from our friend Ruth, who had to give up a wonderful secret garden beside the building in which she lives, due to construction. The old barberry had started behind the fire hydrant, and the bit of the garden in the front was a huge clump of your basic orange daylilies. The daylilies were nice enough during their blooming period, after which they turned to mundane floppy greenery. I removed all I could, moved some to the back yard, and gave some away last year, but you can see to the right, a few have come back, some of them actually growinug out of a crack between the garden and the driveway.
Meanwhile, a mysterious object has appeared in the garden, a clay globe.
Of course, Tuffy P is behind this. I’m not sure where in her travels she found it, but it’s a fun object and it seems to work well in the front gardens.
This morning is cool and I’m going to try doing a little more garden work out in the back.
Here are the Brothers Lazaroff performing Bob Dylan’s Summer Days…
Let’s head down to Texas. Here’s Joe Ely performing Indian Cowboy.
That’s Shadow above…. AKA The Old Man
Because the internet is all about cat pictures, right?
That is Finest Kind performing The Goodnight Loving Trail by U. Utah Phillips. It’s introduced by the late Utah Phillips himself on the second episode of his radio show, which was called Loafer’s Glory.
The Goodnight Loving Trail is a cowboy song. It refers to an actual historical trail used in cattle drives in the 1860s and it was named after Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving. The trail went up through central Texas, north into New Mexico up into Colorado and eventually into Wyoming.
Goodnight and Loving had this idea that there would be enough demand for beef in the north to make huge cattle drives possible. The song, however isn’t so much about the cattle drive though, as it is about getting old. The song goes, “your old woman’s lonesome tonight”. The so-called old woman on the cattle drive was the cowboy who was “too old to wrangle or ride on the swing”, so instead he was the cook and the doctor and the camp musician too.
I know that some day I’ll be just the same,
Wearing an apron instead of a name.
There’s nothing can change it, there’s no one to blame
For the desert’s a book writ in lizards and sage,
Easy to look like an old torn out page,
Faded and cracked with the colors of age.
On the Goodnight Trail, on the Loving Trail,
Our Old Woman’s lonesome tonight.
Your French harp blows like the low bawling calf.
It’s a wonder the wind don’t tear off your skin.
Get in there and blow out the light.
Earlier today, I was in the car, off to get an x-ray and ultrasound on my shoulder – 3 months on crutches were not kind to some of my muscles. As usual I had music blasting in the car. Today is was Rosalie Sorrels tribute to Utah Phillips, Stranger in Another Country, and her lovely performance of the Goodnight Loving Trail was on it, which got me thinking I should check out some other versions of the tune once again.
This song has been fairly well recorded. Some time ago I posted an Ian Tyson version that somebody had put up on YouTube (it’s gone now), along with a lovely version by Joe Ely with Joel Guzman on squeezebox. Curiously, Tom Waits also performed it once upon a time….
Enjoy this wonderful video I found on the YouTube machine, about accordionist and accordion maker extraordinaire, Marc Savoy, from Eunice Louisiana. A few years ago we had the pleasure of visiting his shop and meeting M. Savoy on our drive from San Antonio to New Orleans. We were with our pals Candy and Stagg, and we enjoyed a fantastic roadtrip. I have a lot of respect for M. Savoy and his family, who are looking after the traditional music of Cajun Louisiana.