Until Then

Pap and Paul keeping the music alive 
Pap and Paul playing in Gainesville GA

Paul's still working through old music recordings and videos of Pap. He's been uploading some of them to our Youtube channel. Thanks to the great folks at Ridgeline TV we have several complete concerts preserved on dvd from performances at the Historic Union County Courthouse in Blairsville GA.

One of the first times we played at the courthouse without Pap a lady came up and told us she'd give anything to hear Pap harmonize with Paul on the old song Until Then one more time in the courtroom. I think nearly every time they did the song there they received a standing ovation for it. Their harmony certainly did shine on that one.

Until Then was written by Stuart Hamblin. He also wrote It is No Secret. Hamblin was a very interesting man you can read more about his life here

Here's a video of the song, courtesy of Ridgeline TV


I took Granny to get her hair done yesterday morning and on the way back she asked me to stop by Pap's grave for her to check on the flowers. As I helped her get out of the car and walk up to the grave she said "Lord I miss you so Jerry and wish I had you back." I said "I know I miss him too, but he was ready to go-you know he was a doer and he was tired of not being able to do; of having to get help for every little thing he needed to take care of." Granny said she knew that was true and she knew he was tired of being in pain all the time. I wish I had thought to remind her of the first line in the song:  

My heart can sing when I pause to remember a heartache here is but a stepping stone along the way that's climbing always upward this troubled world is not my final home.

Tipper

p.s. We'll be playing at the Historic Courthouse on September 22 this year. Go here for more details. 

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Cash on the Barrelhead

Today's guest post was written by Paul Wilson.

Cash on the Barrelhead

Paul - Murphy, NC - July 2017

In one of our Youtube uploads a few weeks ago, I sang an original song about how Pap sang songs for me when I was little. Cash on the Barrelhead is one of the songs that I would often ask him to sing for me. He would sometimes try to get out of singing it because he didn't know all of the words. He sang the song in G major, which is three frets higher than I sing it here, in E major. Singing it in G would make it much easier to pick, especially the little intro, but I cannot sing the song that high.

This song is one of the few solo songs ever put out by the great Louvin Brothers while they were still recording as a duet. According to Wikipedia, it was released in 1956.

Ira sang the song in D major, which interestingly is two frets lower than where I sing it in the video. I think he clearly made that choice for the sake of the music (rather than for the vocal). The original recording features excellent mandolin picking by him as well as great steel work from Don Helms (Hank Williams, Sr.'s steel player), and the great Paul Yandell on electric guitar.

According to Wikipedia, it has been recorded by many other artists, including Dolly Parton, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Leftover Salmon, Bobby Lord, Ronnie Sessions, Rhonda Vincent, and Allison Krauss. Charlie Louvin also recorded the song a couple of times in his solo career. In the version I've heard, he sings the song comfortably in F, one fret higher than this video.

There are many versions of this song on YouTube featuring full bluegrass band accompaniment. I wanted to do this with a single guitar, similarly to how Pap did it for me when I was a kid. I added the pauses and extra beats in B and other places to give me extra time to think of the words. I apologize for my appearance. I had just gotten home from a tennis tournament.

This song always stirred my imagination particularly because I knew that Pap had personally experienced many things similar to those described in the song. As a young man, he did a lot of hitchhiking and navigating through situations where he had very little money. To me, this song shows how life can sometimes be unsympathetic when you don't have $.

The lyrics are below. I updated "six gun" to "9 mil" to make it more in line with present day. By the way, if you're wondering why I'm playing this Ibanez guitar, it's because this guitar may be given away in the coming months here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn. 

Cash on the Barrelhead

Got in a little trouble at the county seat.
Lawd, they threw me in the jailhouse for loafing on the street.
When the judge heard the verdict, I was a guilty man.
He said, "$45, or 30 days in the can."

"That'll be cash on the barrelhead, son.
You can take your choice. You're 21.
No money down, no credit plan.
No time to chase you. I'm a busy man."

Found her telephone number on a laundry slip.
Had a good, hardy jailer, 9 mil on his hip.
He let me call long distance. She said, "Number please."
No sooner than I told her, she shouted out at me:

"That'll be cash on the barrelhead son.
Not part, not half, but the entire sum.
No money down, no credit plan.
For a little bird tells me, you're a ramblin' man."

30 days in the jailhouse. 4 days on the road.
I was getting mighty hungry. My feet a heavy load.
Saw a Greyhound comin'. Stuck up my thumb.
Just as I was being seated, the driver caught my arm.

"He said that'll be cash on the barrelhead, son.
This old grey dog gets paid to run.
When the engine stops, Lawd the wheels won't roll.
Give me cash on the barrelhead, I'll take you down the road.
Give me cash on the barrelhead, I'll take you down the road"

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I hope you enjoyed Paul's guest post and his picking and singing as much as I did! I can remember Pap singing the song to Paul when we were little so that makes the whole thing seem extra special. Yet when I watched the video for the first time after Paul uploaded it, it wasn't Pap that I thought of it was Uncle Henry. I've never once thought Paul looked like Uncle Henry in any way shape or form, but something about his mannerisms and expressions in this video is Uncle Henry to a T. 

Today would have been Pap's birthday. It seems fitting that Paul wrote the guest post and sung the song even though we sure didn't plan for it to be published on his birthday-that's just how it worked out. 

Tipper

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Chasing Dreams

The Pressley Girls are chasing their dreams in Appalachia

A few years back I shared one of Chitter's original songs Where the Wind Blows with you. Its still one of my favorite songs from their ever growing list of original songs.  

Since the girls graduated from college they sometimes feel bad when somebody asks them what they're going to do with their lives.

They both have part-time jobs (actually multiple part-time jobs) and each of them are passionate about their personal enterprises of jewelry making and natural beauty products-not to mention their music. I say "Tell those folks you're chasing your dreams."

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Where the Wind Blows written by Corie Pressley

Just because you know where you're from doesn't mean you know where you're going. I guess my dreams are to big for this small town.

I gotta run I gotta go I gotta see where the wind blows I gotta get out of here. I gotta follow my dreams even if they're not meant to be I gotta run I gotta go I gotta see where the wind blows.

We collect pieces of life as we go, to make the puzzle fit as a whole, but even then we loose pieces and have to start all over. There's a good road and a bad road one's paved with gravel one's paved with gold but sometimes you gotta follow the wind and not what you're told. 

I gotta run I gotta go I gotta see where the wind blows I gotta get out of here. I gotta follow my dreams even if they're not meant to be I gotta run I gotta go I gotta see where the wind blows.

But you can't live for the past you gotta live for the present cause there's no promise that we'll see another sunset and that's why...

I gotta run I gotta go I gotta see where the wind blows I gotta get out of here. I gotta follow my dreams even if they're not meant to be I gotta run I gotta go I gotta see where the wind blows.

------------

 

When the girls first started singing Where the Wind Blows it made me think back to when I was their age. The world seemed stretched out before me with an infinite number of paths all of which lead to my dreams which were filled with unlimited possibilities. 

The great thing about life is you're never to old to dream and although my dreams may have changed from the ones I had in days gone by, I still have a few worth chasing. 

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing TODAY Sunday July 9 @ 1:00 p.m. at the Festival on the Square in Hayesville NC.

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Branded

Pap loves music

Since I first started the Blind Pig and The Acorn we've put so many videos on Youtube that sometimes I forget which songs we've filmed and uploaded. Receiving comment notifications from Youtube is a daily occurrence. Folks are still finding the videos we've put up over the years and thankfully they still seem to be enjoying them. 

Every once in a while I'll get a comment on a song that I'd forgotten we put up. When that happens I always go watch the video. I guess as Pap used to say I see the video anew, almost like I've never seen it before even though I'm the person who put it on Youtube.

It's been almost a year since Ron left this comment on the Roy Acuff song Branded. A video we uploaded in 2010.

Love it!! I believe that is my first listen for that song by anyone. I've been listening to Acuff since a boy in the 1940's and can't remember that one. Beautiful harmonizing by dad and son. thanks, Ron.

After reading Ron's comment I jumped over and watched the video. Does it sound silly that I was totally blown away? I mean just wow. Pap and Paul's harmony will give you chills; Paul's lead has a longing that makes you want it to all be okay for the old boy; and the music ain't half bad either. 

See what you think:

 

Our music hasn't ever been about trying to make a living nor even make much money from it. Oh don't get me wrong we'd sure sign up for the money if it was knocking on the door but that hasn't ever happened.

The music we made and make is about something more. What? I don't know. I've tried to study on it. Of course there's the pure enjoyment of making music, of being together as a family, but truthfully we enjoy many other activities and we could sit around and watch tv together as a family or do any other number of things that would be easier than picking a guitar. I don't know if our music comes from a need, if it's a creative outlet, or maybe it's just a habit that keeps getting passed on to the next generation. 

The things that I love about this video:

  • the smirk of smile on Mark's face at the beginning-it makes me wish I remembered what that was about
  • Pap's signature guitar runs
  • harmony so sweet it might make your ears melt
  • Paul's flat-top picking that somehow makes the words seem even more lonesome and sad
  • the way Paul looks at Pap as though looking at him will make the harmony easier on them both
  • the way Paul sings In three years my sentence will be over the gates will swing open for me just after his guitar break
  • the way Mark nails his mandolin break and then looks like it was nothing
  • the way Pap really gives it his all on the last chorus and lets his tenor go even higher
  • Pap's last pick of the strings

Tipper

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Ragtime Annie

The Pressley Girls Music

Ragtime Annie is a fairly common fiddle tune-its catchy beat makes it easy to see why the tune has stood the test of time. Not to mention the fact that it's rhythm is perfect for the feet on the dance floor. 

The Fiddler's Companion website has some interesting information about the song's history:

  • The earliest appearance of “Ragtime Annie” that can be documented, in print or otherwise, is the recording by Texas fiddler Eck Robertson (along with Henry C. Gilliland) in 1923, and a few years later by the Texas duo Solomon and Hughes. Robertson’s release was backed with “Turkey in the Straw.” “Ragtime Annie” was later recorded for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph from Ozark Mountain fiddlers in the early 1940's.
  • “Ragtime Annie” was the first tune learned by itinerant West Virginia fiddler John Johnson (1916-1996), originally from Clay County, from fiddler Dorvel Hill who lived in a coal-mining town called Pigtown, not far from Clay, W.Va. Left handed fiddler Walter Melton played all three parts at square dances around Dunbar, W.Va., in the 1930s.
    ***
    "I was bashful back then and wouldn’t go in anybody’s house hardly. I’d sit on the railroad and listen to Dorvel play the fiddle at night. And I learned most all of Dorvel’s tunes. I just set down there and listened to all his tunes and then go home and play them." (Michael Kline, Mountains of Music, John Lilly ed. 1999).

The Fiddler's Companion website also discusses all the various ways and parts to play the song-and let me tell you they are varied! Take a listen to our version.

 

We recently added Ragtime Annie to our line-up for performances. We've been playing the song for several years, but it was one that Chitter sometimes wanted to play and sometimes claimed she wasn't a good enough fiddler to figure it out. We'd always tell her that was hogwash, but she had to gain her own confidence on playing the song. 

I actually wrote about her frustration over the song a few years back. I'll always remember the way Pap encouraged her on the day we filmed that version. If I had to make a wager, I'd say she hears his encouraging words in her head on a regular basis. I know I do.

Tipper

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I'll Fly Away

The pressley girls I'll Fly Away

The old standard I'll Fly Away was written by Albert E. Brumley aka gospel song writer extraordinaire. According to the Brumley website, I'll Fly Away was the first song Brumley actually sold and one of the songs he is most famous for. The song's steady popularity over the years since it was written, has to be a source of pride for his family.

The girls have been singing the song for years, it's become one of their most requested songs at performances. Chitter first learned to play it on the piano and it was the first song they learned to sing harmony on. 

Harmony is a must for the type of music we perform, but harmony isn't an easy thing to master. Pap and Paul were old pros, but trying to explain what they were so good at to two silly girls was a different story.

One day Chitter and Chatter surprised us all when we overheard them singing harmony on I'll Fly Away. Almost in unison we said "When did you learn to do that?" To which Chatter replied "Oh I've been able to do that for a while now." Of course we asked her why in the world haven't you been doing it?

For today's pickin' and grinnin' session I'm sharing a video of the girls doing I'll Fly Away in the greenhouse. If you listen close you can hear the pit-pat of rain hitting the plastic. Just after they finished the song a frog strangler came down and we were stranded in the greenhouse with our instruments until it was over. 

I hope you enjoyed the song!

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing on Saturday June 10, 2017 @ 8:00 p.m. at Vogel State Park - Blarisville GA.

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Remembering on Memorial Day

Memorial Day was created to honor fallen soldiers of the Civil War and was originally called Decoration Day. John L. Logan is largely responsible for organizing the day, and in 1868 declared:

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

As time, and wars, went by people began honoring all fallen soldiers on the day no matter when or how they had served their country. In 1971 Congress declared Memorial Day to be an official holiday occurring on the last Monday in May to honor all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice serving in the Armed Forces of The United States of America.

Tipper

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Crying Holy Unto the Lord

On the rock where moses stood
The girls have been doing the old gospel song Crying Holy Unto the Lord for more than a few years. If you've been around the Blind Pig and The Acorn for a long time you may even remember them performing the song in the historic Lufty Baptist Church

I knew the song was old, but when I first went looking for information about its history I had a hard time finding anything solid. The song is sometimes called On the Rock where Moses Stood or simply Crying Holy

I finally stumbled upon the following information about the song on the Bluegrass Messengers website

NOTES: "Crying Holy Unto The Lord" is a traditional spiritual from Norfolk Jubilee Quartet in 1924, the first recording made of this gospel song. This spiritual was popularized in early country music by the Carter Family who recorded the song twice (1930 and 1935) under the title, "On the Rock Where Moses Stood." The Carters collected and learned spirituals from several African-American sources including Pauline Gary and Leslie Riddle.

The first closely related versions were recorded by African-American groups like the Norfolk Jubilee Quartet in 1924- "Crying To The Lord." The Birmingham Jubilee Singers' first record in 1926 was He Took My Sins Away and Crying To The Lord and it sold almost 5000 copies.

Recently we changed up our arrangement to the song Crying Holy Unto the Lord and its become one of our favorite songs to play.

Hope you enjoyed the history and the song!

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be performing TODAY Sunday May 28 at 12:00 p.m. in Blairsville GA at the Spring Arts and Crafts Festival.

*Source:  Bluegrass Messengers website

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Sing that one about that Ole Boy that went and got in Trouble

The Pressley Girls If it hadn't been for Love

The Pressley Girls - Fall 2016 Marble, NC

We've been learning the Steeldrivers song If it hadn't been for Love for the last two years. It's an awesome song and man did the Steeldrivers do an amazing job on it. Their version is just wow.

The girls and I thought we'd never get the hang of the song, but Paul kept encouraging us and Pap said Paul and the girls' three part harmony really made the song come alive so we kept at it.

We didn't even know Granny had noticed the song until one day she said "Sing that one about that o'le boy that went and got hisself in all that trouble in Birmingham and Louisiana." 

Every time we practice Granny makes us sing If it hadn't been for Love before we quit. 

Paul put up the video below a couple weeks back. It's full of mistakes-Chitter swaps two of the lines and Chatter says the wrong word at some point, but the video still ended up with a good feel to it. We filmed it just before Christmas and if you watch the bloopers at the end you can see it was a stormy day with the lights trying their best to go off. 

I hope you enjoyed Granny's favorite song. 

Tipper

p.s. Today is the last day to enter the book giveaway-go here if you missed it. 

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Blackberry Blossom

Blackberry blossom - blind pig gang

With the blackberries blooming behind the chicken house and Blackberry Winter making me wish I hadn't put up all my winter clothes I was reminded of the old tune Blackberry Blossom. The tune is upbeat and does indeed make you think of spring dotted with blackberry blooms after a long tough winter.

We haven't done the song in years, but Paul and Mark used to have fun playing around with the tune back in the day. I went back and found the video we uploaded in 2009. Hard to believe how young my nephew Mark was.

Chitter hadn't even picked up the fiddle when the video was filmed. I'm thinking she needs to give the old tune a try and see what is sounds like when a pretty fiddling girl plays it. 

Tipper

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