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Dear Diary ... The Podcast Archives: 2013

Nancy

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Singing One for Nancy

2013 was a year of losses for us.

Nancy McClellan -- who with her husband Harvey, had been so central to the band since its beginning -- died in October. Nancy and Harvey had been at those rowdy music parties when then band was born in the early 1970s. We even dedicated our first CD to the McClellans back in 2001 and to this day, we can't sing Jean Ritchie's "My Dear Companion" without thinking of them.

George Walker, who produced The Flood's second and third CDs, died in May. George was also producer of Joe Dobbs' long-running weekly "Music from the Mountains" show on West Virginia Public Radio. Not only that, George was married to Michelle for a time. George even found us a Georgesong to record one time. We were in the midst of planning our third CD when George showed up with a rare recording of Duke Ellington playing the Cootie Williams novelty tune called "Lord, Ain't the Gravy Good?" We immediately fell in love with it and learned it in time for the recording session. In reminiscing about our old friend, we dusted off the tune and played one for George.

2013's series of podcasts also was abbrieviated bcause in early autumn, Charlie took a fall and broke his ankle, putting band out of commission for months. It would be mid-January of the following year before both would be back on track.

Before that, though, there were a few happier moments in the year, including visits from fiddler Buddy Griffin and singer Kathy Castner and gigs at Fairmont (the show the we'd always call "The Fairmont Freeze"), Woodlands and the great Diamond Teeth Mary Festival.


                                                               January | February | March | April | May | June | August


JANUARY

Jan. 3, 2013.  Giving Jacob a Good Send-Off. Our old buddy and former Floodster Jacob Scarr was back in town for a few weeks during the holidays and we all had a great time together. But it's the new year and, as you hear this, Jacob is already back in Boulder, Colorado, where he's into his second year of college. At a recent Wednesday night gathering, just hours before Jacob's early morning flight, The Flood had a raucous little going-away party for our former lead guitarist. Have a great year, Jacob -- your band of dutch uncles sends love.

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Buddy Griffin

Jan. 17, 2013.  Rachel. No one knows for sure, but tradition has it that the "Rachel" in the name of this grand old fiddle refers to Rachel Jackson, beloved wife of President Andrew Jackson. As fiddler Joe Dobbs says, any woman who inspires a duel should have at least one song named for her. Here Joe and Doug Chaffin end the evening by putting Rachel through her paces.

Jan. 31, 2013.  Buddy Griffin Comes Callin'. Fiddler Buddy Griffin is a dear old friend we don't get to see nearly often enough. Recently, Buddy was on the road from his home in Glenville, West Virginia, to visit another of our friends, former Floodster Roger Samples, and he stopped to spend some time with Joe Dobbs. That night, Buddy came with Joe to the practice session and the two of them treated us to an evening of great twin-fiddle tunes. Here, Joe and Buddy make a memory with the Civil War-era classic, "Lorena."

FEBRUARY

Feb. 21, 2013.  I Still Miss Someone. We don't do many commercial country songs, but ever so often a country classic shows itself to have the potential to be Floodified. For a while now, Michelle's been humming and whistling that old great old Johnny Cash tune, "I Still Miss Someone," and lately it's begun to resonate with the rest of the guys. So recently, we took it around the block. Sure, an arrangement is still evolving, but in the spirit of these informal podcasts, we thought we'd offer this progress report from the Flood subcommittee.

Feb. 28, 2013.  Peggy Day, 2013. One of the fun things about The Flood is that our tunes evolve. For instance, we've been doing Bob Dylan's "Peggy Day" literally for decades now. Back in the late 1970s, when Rog Samples was still with us, we did a version of the song that was fairly close to Dylan's original release on the 1969 "Nashville Skyline" album. In the 1990s, when Chuck Romine and his happy tenor banjo were front and center in The Flood, "Peggy Day" took on an almost-Dixieland feeling. Now, with Michelle Walker adding so much interesting vocal counterpoint to Flood playlist, "Peggy Day" is back with a brand new do. Check it out.

MARCH

March 8, 2013.  Since I Fell For You. It's great how songs can remind you of specific times and places. At this week's rehearsal, when Michelle Walker and Doug Chaffin launched into "Since I Fell for You," we were transported back to a snowy Saturday night in Charleston four or five years ago. We were playing a FOOTMAD concert, sharing the bill with another great band, Stewed Mulligan. It had been a fun evening of jug band songs and general silliness, blues and fiddle tunes and old-time string band music, so when Michelle started this classic 1940s jazz standard, a hush fell over the audience. In seconds, though, people were humming along, then they cheered so much for Doug's sweet mandolin solo that he had to take a second chorus. Finally, by the time Michelle got to the end of the number, people were on the feet to cheer her. What a sweet memory.

March 14, 2013.  Lady Be Good ... and Fast. When you've been around as long as this band has, you learn a few things. One thing we've learned is that songs sometimes rehabilitate themselves. Here's a case in point. About 10 years ago, we put the tune "Lady Be Good" on a CD. Perhaps we didn't like the song after that, or maybe we just got tired of it, but for whatever reason, for more than a decade, it fell off The Flood's playlist. Until recently. One night, as we were getting ready to rehearse, Doug Chaffin started playing the tune on his guitar and, in a flash, the lady was back. And she was good. Now, we don't want to say she was better than she used to be, but she certainly was was faster.

March 28, 2013.  Don't Let Your Deal Go Down. The Flood is back in the studio, working on the new CD. This will be our fifth album in 12 years. For this one, we're returning to Huntington's Trackside Studio to call on the production assistance of the extraordinary Bud Carroll, a young man with wonderfully old, educated ears. Anyone who's attended a Flood rehearsal lately knows we've been focused like a laser on the material we're planning for this new release, like this old Charlie Poole tune, "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down.

APRIL

April 4, 2013.  Solid Gone. The first song Dave Peyton and Charlie Bowen ever sang together was "Solid Gone," also known as "Cannonball Blues." It was at a New Year's Eve party in 1972 and they were trying to figure out if they knew any trainsongs in common. Dave had learned it from old Carter Family records and Charlie knew it as a Tom Rush number, but it was the same tune. Now, this was all very antediluvian -- before The Flood. By the following spring, Dave and Charlie would hook up with Joe Dobbs and Roger Samples and the four of them would start The 1937 Flood. "Solid Gone" would a standard for the band for a good long while, but then it drifted away for a few decades. Only recently have we started playing it again, and we're having such a good time with it that, for all times' sake, "Solid Gone" just might find its way onto the new CD we're currently working on. Stay tuned.

April 11, 2013.  Abilene. Funny how it happens. It was essentially as a warm-up tune that we started doing that old Bob Gibson/John D. Loudermilk song, "Abilene." You may remember it -- George Hamilton IV had a monster hit with it back in 1963. We never intended The Flood version of it to go anywhere, but then Michelle Walker and Randy Hamilton (uh, no relation to George... at least, not that he's told us about, anyway…) really got into the harmony Georgevocals and suddenly the tune's started climbing up our personal weekly hit list. Don't know if "Abilene" is going to make it onto the new Flood CD, but we are expecting to add it to the list for possible recording when we go back into the studio next week, so we'll see it goes. Here's our take on the tune at last night's rehearsal.

MAY

May 9, 2013.  Remembering George Walker. We 've lost an old friend. The late George Walker was the producer of our second and third CDs, but he was much more than that. He was also producer of Joe Dobbs' long-running weekly "Music from the Mountains" show on West Virginia Public Radio. Not only that, George was married to Floodster Michelle Walker for a time. George's passing had us sharing stories at a recent rehearsal, like how George even found us a song to record one time. We were in the midst of planning our third CD, "I'd Rather Be Flooded," when George showed up with a rare recording of Duke Ellington playing the Cootie Williams novelty tune called "Lord, Ain't the Gravy Good?" We immediately fell in love with it and learned it in time for the recording session. Now, we haven't played the song in a while, but last night's reminiscing had us dusting it off and we think "Gravy" is now back on the menu for this summer's upcoming shows. Meanwhile, here's serving just for you, George.

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Kathy Castner

May 16, 2013.  A Tune with Kathy Castner. Charlie's cousin, Kathy Castner, has never been an actual member of The Flood, but she's sung with the band frequently. Now, of course, she's too shy for some reason to get up on stage with us, but we can talk her into singing in small, informal groups, like the one that gathered this week when Kathy came in for a little visit from her home near Cincinnati. Oh, this song -- "The Rose" -- is the first tune Kathy and Charlie ever sang together. They worked out an arrangement some 30 years ago to perform it at a wedding, and we still trot it out every chance we get.

May 23, 2013. Clarinet Polka. The Family Flood is on the road this weekend, playing one of our favorite out-of-town venues: the amphitheater at Prickett's Fort State Park near Fairmont, WV. This will be the fifth or sixth time we've played this gig over the years and we always get such a warm greeting from the folks there. In fact, we were told early on that The Flood was one of their most popular returning acts, second only to the polka band that comes down from Pennsylvania. Well, that got us thinking. Of course, The Flood doesn't have an extensive polka repertoire, but if youf have a fiddler, you've probably got some polka possibilities. Since the earliest days, then, we never go back to Fairmont without Joe Dobbs' rollicking rendition of "Clarinet Polka," which we dusted off for the show at last night's rehearsal.Fairmont Freeze

May 30, 2013. The Fairmont Freeze. Last week we had one of the strangest gigs we've had in a long time. After days of temperatures in the 70s and 80s, the temperature plunged as we were driving north to Fairmont, WV, for the Friday night concert. It was down to the 50s when we took the stage at the amphitheater at Prickett's Fort State Park, and by the time the shop was over 90 minutes later, the mercury had dropped to 45. That along with a pretty brisk west wind made for a fairly frigid Flood, but it also made for some laughs. For instance, we've been singing the song "No Ash Will Burn" for some time now -- it's featured on our new CD -- and to be honest, we've not thought much about the lyrics for a while. But Friday night, as we were shivering on stage and Charlie sang the opening lines -- "I have seen rain on a cloudless day / I have seen snows that fell in May" -- Dave Peyton leaned over and said, "Damn straight!" We cracked up and so did the audience. In this cut, we're rehearsing the song a few days before the big Fairmont Freeze.

JUNE

June 13, 2013.  Un Canadien Errant. David and Susie Peyton's son, Davy, was town recently and, when he dropped by the weekly rehearsal, The Flood got a bit nostalgic, reaching for tunes we started playing back when Davy was just a baby -- like this beautiful old French tune that we learned from the great folk duo, Ian & Sylvia. Now, honestly, being proud products of these Appalachian hills, we're a little shaky and self-conscious about our French pronunciation. In fact, whenever we play this song in a show, we always preface it by asking if anyone in the audience speaks French. If anyone raises a hand, we point and say, "For you, it's in German!"

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Waverly, WV, June 2, 2013

June 20, 2013.  White Rose Waltz. Doug Chaffin is one sneaky character. Many an evening at the weekly rehearsal, we'll be chatting between tunes -- telling stories and thinking of what to work on next -- and quietly Doug will start picking something on his guitar. At first it just blends into the room's chatter, but soon it's captivated everyone. Listen to this track and hear how Doug's rendering of the old J.P. Fraley standard "White Rose Waltz" works its charms. After a few dozen notes, the room goes quiet. Next you can hear Michelle Walker humming along, looking for a harmony part. (Maybe for a future outing with the tune,we'll find some words for her. If you know any, give us a holler.) Next Doug nods to Joe Dobbs, who takes a turn for a beautiful fiddle solo in the middle before handing it back to Doug. If you don't believe in magic, you probably have never played music.

June 27, 2013.  St. Louis Blues. The arrangements of our tunes evolve, and here's a case in point. We've been playing around with W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues" for a while now and honestly, it just wasn't gelling. At last night's rehearsal, we ran through the tune pretty much the way we've done it all along, and then Charlie got up to refill the folks' coffee cups. When he came back into the room, Michelle Walker had had a new idea about the song. She suggested we should try it again and this time…. well…. hey, let's just let Michelle tell it.

Woodlands


AUGUST

Aug. 8. 2013.  I Got Mine. the Family Flood is back from its month-long break and getting ready for the next gig. We're so pleased that we've been invited to be part of the 4th annual Diamond Teeth Mary Blues and Arts Festival, which will be

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At Woodlands

held right here in Huntington later this month. In preparation for the show, we're putting together a set of old and new jug band tunes, along with some material perhaps not usually heard at a blues fest. For instance, here's a Frank Stokes composition from the late 1920s that was recorded blues giants from Pink Anderson to Jim Kweskin to Ry Cooder. We like the tune so much, it'll be featured on our new CD, which will be released this fall. Here's a take from last night's Flood rehearsal.

Aug. 15, 2013.  Happy Birthday, Joe Dobbs! On the eve of his 79th birthday, Joe Dobbs was where he is most Wednesday nights, sitting down with the people who have known him more than half his life -- his Family Flood. And my, but Joe was in fine form and rarin' to go, as you'll hear in these two tracks from that night's rehearsal.  In the first one -- an old jug band tune we were dusting off for an upcoming gig -- listen to how Brother Dobbs takes a couple of extra helpings when the solos are being passed around. Then at the end of the evening, Michelle offered up a special message for Joe that let us all wish him a happy birthday.


Aug. 22, 2013.  Preparing for the Diamond Teeth Mary Festival! Preparing for a gig this Saturday night, we're trotting out a lot of the old stuff -- especially the jug band tunes -- but we're also polishing up some of our newer tunes, like this one, which will also be on the new CD when it comes out this fall. Bob Dylan's "Down in the Flood" seems especially appropriate for us. And about the gig -- we're pleased to be part of this year's Diamond Teeth Mary Blues and Arts Festival. The Flood plays from 7 to 8 Saturday night at Heritage Station in downtown Huntington. Come on out -- we'll have a ball!

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