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Dear Diary ... The Podcast Archives: 2016

CDAnother item on our bucket list -- the recording of a "live, in concert" album -- was finally achieved in 2016. Joe Dobbs would have loved it! It was one of our late fiddlin' friend's favorite comment that the band he co-founded 40+ years ago always sounded better at parties and concerts than it did in rehearsals and in studios. “It helps that everybody’s a ham,” Joe would say with a smile. Well, that and the Joe-Rogkazoos...

So it's not at all surprising that we sensed Joe was very much among the spirits present that magical January Friday night at Woodlands when we recorded this new CD, our first without Joe. In the space of 22 weeks, The Flood lost two of its founding members, the eldest and youngest. Joe passed away Sept. 21, 2015, at age 81, and Roger Samples died Feb. 12, 2016, at 66. We got our love of performing from Joe and Rog and, as the new CD testifies, that Paullove of good times carries right on now to the newest generation of the Family Flood. It's fitting, then, that this album is dedicated to Joe and Rog.

That the new album -- called simply enough "Live, In Concert" -- came into being also is a tribute to our newest Floodster. Paul Martin has remarkable ears. In fact, he started running sound for the band regularly four years before he joined the band as a picker and singer. And in addition to handling the sound at the Woodlands show Davewhere the CD was recorded, he also handled all the mixing and editing in the studio he keeps in his home near Ironton, Ohio. The new CD, The Flood's sixth since 2001, simply would be have existed without Paul.

Meanwhile the picture for the album's cover was shot by our manager, Pamela Bowen, during a gig in April at the Red Caboose in downtown Huntington.

In addition to being the first Flood album without Joe, it also is the last with David Peyton. Dave took a bad fall at his home in early September 2016, shattering his elbow. Surgery was needed to actually replace the injured elbow, and Dave's doctor warned him that he had to give up his playing. While we still regularly see Dave, to hear his jokes and share his story, we to this day grieve the loss of that essential element of the band's sound and soul.


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Michelle-ChasJANUARY

Jan. 6, 2016. Calling Summertime. After a springlike December -- here in The Valley, it was in the 70s on Christmas Day -- winter this week seriously reasserted itself, and the plunge in temperatures was ever on our minds at the rehearsal last night. There was grumbling about scraping car windows and changing furnace filters. So it's no wonder that in the middle of things, we found ourselves reaching out to the Brothers Gershwin for a little summertime respite.

Jan. 13, 2016. Abilene. Well, the weather kept us from getting together for a practice session last night. That's always disappointing, but here at the podcast, that does afford us an opportunity to check the files for a number from an earlier session. Like this one -- a wistful old tune that somehow seems just right for these long winter nights.

Jan. 20, 2016. Peaceful Easy Feeling. Glenn Frey was much on our minds last night as we sat down for our weekly rehearsal. Like everyone, we were stunned and saddened by the death of The Eagles' co-founder. In fact, one of Glenn Frey's first hit singles with The Eagles -- the Jack Tempchin composition, "Peaceful Easy Feeling" -- new guitarwas among the first tunes The Flood ever tackled. Now, a year before The Flood came into being, Roger Samples and David Peyton had already worked up a sweet rendition of the song, which around that time was playing on the radio every 15 minutes or so. Then a year or so later, when Dave and Rog came together with Joe Dobbs and Charlie Bowen to form The Flood, "Peaceful Easy Feeling" was naturally a regular on the set list. Well, neither Rog nor Dave nor Joe was in the room last night, but Randy and Sam and Doug and Charlie dusted off that fine old song, thinking of them, and especially of Mr. Frey, whose music was so much a part of our growing up.

Jan. 27, 2016. Channeling 1958. Lately, we've got our Doug Chaffin returning to his roots. Doug's been making music in the Tri-State Area for more than 60 years, starting out in great young rock 'n' roll bands of the 1950s. Over last couple of decades, Doug has played all manner of instruments with The Flood -- from guitar and fiddle to upright bass and mandolin -- and just recently he bought a sweet little Paul Reed Smith guitar from our friend Glen Perkins over in Kentucky. Well, now, Doug wailing on that solid body electric lets us seriously channel 1958. Check this out.

BigOrange

FEBRUARY

Feb. 3, 2016. Crazy. Sometimes you just have to wait, you know? We're always on the lookout for great ballads with which we can feature Michelle Lewis' wonderful voice, and for years we've wanted to do the Willie Nelson classic, "Crazy," which, of course, the great Patsy Cline made famous in 1962. Well, for some reason the song just didn't seem to want to become a Flood tune …. until last night. Ah, it was one of those evenings when it finally started coming together.

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R.I.P., Roger

Feb. 10, 2016. Misty. Doug Chaffin is having such a good time with his new guitar and it's inspiring us to revisit tunes we've not played in a while and others we never really worked out. For instance, a week or so ago, Doug started noodling around with Erroll Garner's perfect jazz standard, "Misty," then Michelle Lewis jumped in and the rest of us just happily went along for the ride.

Feb. 17, 2016. Remembering Rog Samples. Our old friend and bandmate Rog Samples has been buried on a hilltop overlooking his family's homestead on the Elk River near Clendenin, WV. Last night was The Flood's first weekly gathering since receiving the sad news that Rog had lost his five-year battle with cancer and much of the evening revolved around stories and songs we learned with Rog during his decade with us in those earliest days. Here's our tribute to Roger Samples.

MARCH

ukeMarch 2, 2016. Hear the Ukulele that Saved Chuck's Life. On his way home from a fancy do last night, Floodster Emeritus Chuck Romine dropped by the Flood rehearsal to show off the ukulele that literally saved his life 65 years ago. Listen to Chuck tell the story himself. After that, of course, Chuck had to sit in with us for the rest of the night. Here he joins on the last tune of the evening, "Wish I Could Shimmy Like my Sister Kate!"

March 9, 2016. Thank you, Billy Edd! We're often thinking about the great singers and songwriters who have come out of West Virginia and almost always our first thought is of Billy Edd Wheeler, the phenomenal singer/songwriter/writer/artist who was born in Whitesville, in neighboring Boone County 83 years ago. Billy Edd's many tunes include "Jackson," with which Johnny Cash and June Carter scored a Grammy in 1968, "The Reverend Mr. Black," which was a hit for The Kingston Trio in 1963, "Coming of the Roads," which Judy Collins made famous in 1965 and "Coward of the County," which even inspired a 1981 TV movie of the same name. But our all-time favorite Billy Edd song is one that's embedded deep in West Virginia culture: "Coal Tattoo."

March 16, 2016. I Got Mine. We had a houseful last night -- old friends and some first-time listeners -- and that always turns the weekly rehearsal into a party. It's also when we reach for the old songs that make us smile, tunes that are as comfortable as an old shoe and let us sit back and enjoy each other's company, like this 1929 Frank Stokes composition that blues legend Pink Anderson made famous enough for Jim Kweskin and Ry Cooder to later record it as well. "I Got Mine." Hope you got yours.

March 23, 2016. Remembering Tommy Thompson. Back when The Flood was just getting started more than 40 years ago, we were amazed to find that one of the best new songs about West Virginia was recorded by a North Carolina band, the wonderful Red Clay Ramblers. Well, when we dug a little deeper, we found out why. "Twisted Laurel," the title track of The Ramblers' third album, released in 1976, was written by none other than Tommy Thompson who was born and raised just a few miles away from us in St. Albans, West Virginia, near Charleston. Tommy passed away 13 years ago, but he's still lovingly remembered here in The Mountain State. In fact, he was posthumously inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2010. And his great composition, "Twisted Laurel," will always be a Flood favorite.

March 30, 2016. Roxanna Waltz. In the genealogy of great songs, "Roxanna Waltz" has royal bloodlines indeed. Bill Monroe wrote it. Kentucky fiddler Kenny Baker made it famous on his "Master Fiddler" album. Our Doug Chaffin learned it from his life-long friend, the late J.P. Fraley. When Doug and Paul Martin tried on the tune, it was a special moment, which we're happy to share with you.

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The Red Caboose

APRIL

April 6, 2016. We're Playing Downtown ... Just Because! One of our favorite local venues is the beautiful and historic B&O depot at Heritage Station in downtown Huntington, and we get to play there again this Saturday afternoon. It's all part of a special day of music and crafts in support of the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau. Now, our good friends in the Shadowshaker Band are playing there from 11 to 1 -- come early to hear them -- and then hang around for The Flood from 1 to 3. The address is the corner of 11th Street and 3rd Avenue and the day's music is free. Here's a sample of the tunes we're working up for the afternoon, just …. well, because…

April 13, 2016. Business as Usual in the Floodisphere. We love how this track captures the go-with-the-flow nature of our weekly rehearsals. As you'll hear, Michelle is already wailing on her lovely rendition of Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight" when Sam arrives. Listen closely and you'll hear him walk in and take his seat and then hear Charlie tell him the key we're working out of -- D -- and then a minute later, after

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The Red Caboose

Paul's sweet chorus, Sam's playing a solo.

April 20, 2016. Showing Off Our Polyglottery! The Flood is proud of being West Virginia's most eclectic string band, one that can swing from jug band tunes to jazz standards of the 1940s to, well, this French Canadian folk song of the 1840s that we learned from an Ian & Sylvia album, oh, many decades ago. Now, we make no claims to the preciseness of our French pronunciation. No, no -- on the contrary, whenever we do this song live, we ask if anyone in the audience actually speaks French. If anyone says yes, we say, "Okay, well, for you this song is in German."

April 27, 2016. Good as I Been to You. It was a dark and stormy night and about half the band couldn't make it to the weekly rehearsal, but for those who did, it was a memorable evening. While it was damp and cold outside, it was warm and bright around the table where we came for coffee and conversation and, of course, the tunes, like this great old Blind Blake number, "Good As I Been to You."

MAY

May 4, 2016. Sittin' on Top of the World. For our weekly rehearsals, there are tunes that tend to open the evening and others that often close a session. And then there are special tunes that -- like old friends -- make us happy whenever they drop by. This old number by the Mississippi Sheiks -- "Sittin' on Top of the World" -- is just such a song, perfect for starting or capping off a fun evening with The Flood.

May 11, 2016. Preparing for Vandalia. We are so happy that this year's Vandalia Gathering in Charleston will feature a tribute to our buddy, Flood co-founder Joe Dobbs, who passed away last September. And The Flood is honored to be invited to be part of that special tribute, set for Saturday night, May 28, at the cultural center on the state capitol grounds. We've begun to pull together the tunes we'll share in our part of the show, including -- of course -- this one.

vandalia

May 18, 2016. Up a Lazy River. Regular listeners know we've been experimenting with e-lec-tricity lately. Randy Hamilton usually provides the band's heartbeat with his beautiful acoustic-electric bass, and lately Doug Chaffin has been doing his gorgeous guitar work on his sweet new Paul Reed Smith solid-body electric. However, as we prepare for the Joe Dobbs tribute show at Charleston's Vandalia Gathering on May 28, we're going back to our acoustic roots. Doug has moved back to his upright bass and Randy is giving his acoustic six-string a workout, and we were playing with the new -- old -- sound at last night's rehearsal as we were going "Up a Lazy River."

May 24, 2016. Happy 75th, Bob Dylan! The Flood always takes note of Bob Dylan's birthday, and today's is an especially significant one. Happy 75th, Baby Blue! Bobby was born on this day in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1941. I'm sure a few Dylan tunes will be on the agenda at tonight's regular weekly Flood rehearsal, like this one that we uncorked a few weeks ago, letting Doug Chaffin and Paul Martin stretch out on the choruses. Happy birthday, Mister Z.

jacobJUNE

June 1, 2016. We're Set to Play at Jewel City Jamboree. The Flood is pleased to be part of the opening night of Huntington's Jewel City Jamboree this weekend down by the riverside. We'll be playing at 5:30 Friday evening at Harris Riverfront Park as part of a great lineup of more than a half dozen bands on that night alone, including Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time and Riders in the Sky! We in The Flood plan to try out a few new arrangements during our set, including this one that we worked out last night for a classic Tom Paxton tune.

June 29, 2016. The Jacob Reunion. It's always special when Floodster Emeritus Jacob Scarr comes home from Colorado for a Flood family reunion, and last night we had a little surprise waiting for Youngblood. It's been since his last trip home that Doug Chaffin got his sweet little Paul Reed Smith electric guitar, and Doug was eager to put it in Jacob's hands for a few tunes, like this one. Back a few years ago when Jacob was a regular in the band before he left for college in Boulder, we combined a couple of classic blues numbers -- Willie Dixon's "Hoochie Coochie Man" and Muddy Waters' "Seventh Son" -- to make a special showcase number just for Jacob, and last night we revisited that tune for the first time in years, with Jacob wailing on Doug's guitar.

JULY

July 6, 2016. The Jam of the Youngest and Eldest Floodster Emeritus. When word got out that our buddy Jacob Scarr would be heading back to his Colorado home at the end of the week, his fans came out for last night's Flood rehearsal, including his old friend Chuck Romine. So we had the youngest and the eldest Floodster emeritus jamming at the same table, just like old times. And of course, Jacob always brings out our better blues moods, so, naturally, we had to get a little jelly roll going in his honor.

July 20, 2016. Dedicated to Love. We're always looking for new tunes that we can jug-i-fy, and sometimes that means digging deep into the recesses of our collective memory. We in The Flood are long-time Bob Dylan fans and recently, while discussing the subject of love and its multitudinous ramifications and variations, we stumbled upon memories of this old Jesse "Lone Cat" Fuller tune that was dougpaulthe opening track of Bob Dylan's very first album, released in 1962, when Bob was not yet 20 years old and still probably learning a thing or two about love himself.

July 27, 2016. Blues to Pass the Time on a Summer Night. We've been emphasizing our vocals a lot in the last couple of years -- that's only natural with Michelle Lewis and Randy Hamilton singing such powerful harmonies and leads in our newer tunes -- but the instrumental side of The Flood is doing some pretty interesting things too. For instance, a couple of weeks ago, while we were waiting to get the regular rehearsal started, Doug Chaffin and Paul Martin launched into a little musical conversation that the rest of us were pleased to eavesdrop on -- and we thought you'd like to listen in too-- just a nameless blues to pass the time on a summer night.

AUGUST

Aug. 3, 2016. Lulu's Back in Town (Again). Okay, we're not saying we're getting old and forgetful or anything, but we ARE saying that sometimes we have to, uh, re-learn tunes that we recorded 14 years ago. And too about half today's Flood Randywasn't even in the band a decade and a half ago so they just haven't not had the same opportunity to forget what some of us have. Anyway, this leads to some interesting each-one-teach-one moments at the rehearsals nowadays, like this from last night's get-together. We join, in progress, "Lulu's Back in a Town," a nifty 1935 tin pan alley number that we put on our second CD -- "The 1937 Flood Plays Up a Storm" -- way back back in 2002. This track is complete with a little 30-second workshop regarding the chords right in the middle of things. Enjoy.

Aug. 17, 2016. These Days. Jackson Browne was just 16 when he wrote "These Days," a song so rich in themes of loss and regret that you would have to believe it had to come from someone at least three times that age. The song was recorded by so many people back in the '70s. Greg Allman has a wonderful rendition, but we always loved the lesser known version recorded by Tom Rush in 1970. Today "These Days" is often a warm-up up tune for The Flood as we're waiting for the rest of the band to arrive for the weekly rehearsal, as it is in this simple track taken from an evening's workout a few weeks ago.

Aug. 31, 2016. The First Time with "The Last Time." Paul Martin is such a joyous addition to The Flood. He brings us beautiful mandolin and guitar work, wonderful vocals, a great sense of humor -- and often very interesting new tunes to try out. For instance, a few months ago, Paul said, just in passing, "Hey, y'all ever heard this one?" and launched into a gorgeous song with a Civil War theme called "The Last Time," one that recorded some time ago by the McPeak Brothers and by The Rarely Herd. Well, the first time that we heard "The Last Time," we fell in love with the song, and we've been playing with it all summer long. Here, from last night's rehearsal, is its latest incarnation. That's Paul on the lead vocal and everyone jumping in on the chorus. We suspect you'll be singing along too before it's done.

SEPTEMBER

Sept. 7, 2016. Yas Yas Chuck. Whenever Chuck Romine buys a new banjo -- and he now has five of them, which we think might be the legal limit -- he brings it around to show it off to his old bandmates. Last night the star of the evening was Chuck's gorgeous new Bacon & Day Silver Bell #2. Built in the early 1920s, the banjo had been living in St. Louis until it just recently came to its new West Virginia home, and Chuck brought it out to break in by jamming with the Family Flood.

Sept. 14, 2016. The Water is (still) Wide. Rivers are big deal us in the band. We live near them. We play by them and on them and we sing about them. We're always on the lookout for river songs. Two years ago, when we were invited to perform in Marshall University's theater production of "Tom Sawyer," we dusted off this old folk song for our show, "The Water is Wide," and instantly our Michelle Lewis made it her own. Last night in a quiet moment at the weekly rehearsal, we brought it out it again.

Sept. 21, 2016. Remembering Joe as He'd Want to be Remembered. There was a somber moment at last night's rehearsal, thinking about our bandmate and running buddy Joe Dobbs. It was exactly a year ago today that he … flew away, as they say in the old hymns, and not a day has gone by in the past year that we haven't thought about him. But, you know, Joe wouldn't approve any kind of morbid anniversary of his death. The man just didn't like funerals and wouldn't go to one -- unless someone roped him into playing at it. So instead, last night we remembered Joe in a few of the rowdy tunes he loved for us to play, like this one.Sam

Sept. 28, 2016. Medicine and Candy. Being in a band means knowing that the best minutes of the week will be those spent sitting in a circle making music with your friends, each note coming with a chuckle and smile. It's medicine and candy all in one. Here's a little sample of the joy from last night's circle.

OCTOBER

Oct. 5, 2016. Blues for Mr. Got Rocks. We try to keep politics out of the rehearsal room, but this week's news -- that one of the presidential candidates lost nearly a billion dollars and so may not have paid income tax for 18 years -- seeped even down to the Flood bunker, where, you know, we're nothing if not sympathetic to downtrodden billionaires. Chin up, Mr. Got Rocks. If you lose your money, please don't lose your mind.

Oct. 12, 2016. Visit with Sallie and Linda. Musically speaking, Sallie Sublette is part of the family. Sallie met Joe Dobbs in 1976, just a year after the late fiddler came into our lives, and she and Joe had many memorable adventures together over the years. Sallie also had long and loving history with The Flood's mother superior and guiding spirit, the eternal Nancy McClellan. She was long time buddy of Rog Samples and his brothers Mack and Ted. The list of our connections is great indeed. So whenever Sallie comes back east from her home in Idaho, we look forward to at least one evening with her. Last night, when she and her sister Linda joined us, it was a time of laughs and tears, stories and, of course, songs. Here are two.

Oct. 19, 2016. You Don't Know Me. Sometimes a song comes back into our lives like an old friend. We had that moment last night with a classic Eddie Arnold number, a tune we hadn't played in more than a year. Listen to this, as Michelle re-introduces us to "You Don't Know Me" in the sweetest three minutes of the whole evening.

Oct. 26, 2016. I Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound. Last night, while making the coffee and waiting for the guys to come play, Charlie heard himself humming a song he hadn't thought of in at least 20 years. Back in the '90s, Dave, Joe and he would take a trip one night each spring to a little place near Beckley, WV, where they played an evening of music for visiting volunteers who had come for a week from Marquette University to help out with post-winter projects around the little town. The hostess for the party was a wonderful old folkie who each year always asked the guys to play the same tune, this grand old Tom Paxton composition. Before that, they probably hadn't played it for another 20 years. And yet it seems as fresh today as it did all those decades ago. Here's "I Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound."

NOVEMBER

Nov. 2, 2016. Remembering Mississippi John Hurt. The great Mississippi John Hurt died 50 years ago today. We grew up loving this blues master's syncopated fingerpicking style, and his music has always been part of The Flood's DNA. One of John's songs -- "Payday" -- was on The Flood's first CD 16 years ago and it remains in our repertoire. In fact, just last night, as you'll hear, "Payday" opened the weekly rehearsal. michelle-mama

Nov. 9, 2016. Some Kind of Change... We love that Midnight Special. So did Carl Sandburg, who published two versions in his 1927 "American Songbag," but it was from Lead Belly's recordings a couple decades later that we learned the tune. There's always been a bit of controversy over what it means for that "ever-lovin' light" to shine on you. Some folks says it's about some kind of salvation. Others think it means that dang train's about run you over. Either way, as Bob Dylan once said in another context, "imagine it would be some kind of change."

Nov. 16, 2016. Outlaw Blues. Sometimes the most memorable moment of an evening happens when you are waiting for something else to happen. Last night, as we were waiting for the Chick Singer to arrive, Doug, Paul, Randy and Charlie started noodling around with a nice, slow version of Bob Dylan's old album-filler "Outlaw Blues" and we ended up passing a lot of smiles around. Right in the middle of the tune, Michelle and her mama came in -- in the track, you can hear us saying howdy -- and Michelle jumped right in the mix. Sweet moment.

Nov. 30, 2016. Flood Lite Night. We love having a large band, but one of the downsides is that we can't always get all seven of us together in the same room at the same time, especially during the busy holiday season. So The Flood has always had a tradition of smaller breakout combos. For instance, whenever we can assemble only four of us, we call it "Flood Plain." Any combination smaller than that is "Flood Lite." Last night was a Flood Lite night!

DECEMBER

Dec. 14, 2016. Kathy Brings Christmas. Charlie's cousin, Kathy Castner, brings the holiday spirit with her on her annual Christmas visit to the Bowen household, and, if we're lucky, the visit coincide with a Flood gathering, as it this week. Now, Kathy sings in public only a couple of times a year -- usually only during these Huntington visits -- but, wow, listening to her beautiful voice, you'd think she was singing every evening. Here she's shares her rendition of "The Rose," with wonderful solos by Paul Martin and Doug Chaffin.

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with Jacob

Dec. 21, 2016. Doug's Les Paul. Doug Chaffin was still a teenager when his daddy bought him a brand new 1958 Gibson Les Paul. Now, more than 50 years later, Doug's still got that guitar -- heck, he's still got the original sales receipt! -- and on special occasions, Doug brings that beauty out to jam with The Flood. Last night was one of those occasions. Listen as Doug sets off Michelle's beautiful vocal on a jazz standard.

Dec. 28, 2016. Jacob's Latest Homecoming. Jacob Scarr first played with The Flood in the fall of 2007 when he was just 14 years old. Eventually he joined the band as its youngest member ever, playing with us until 2011 when he left for college in Boulder, Colorado. These days, we don't get to see Youngblood nearly often enough -- he's busy as a first-year law student at the University of Colorado -- so one of our joys at Christmas time is Jacob's annual homecoming, when he always makes time for a couple jam sessions with the old crowd, and he's sounding better than ever.