Dear Diary ... The Podcast Archives: 2021

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Reunions and departures were major themes in Floodlandia in 2021.

Nearly 20 years after she first met the band and became its beloved "Chick Singer," Michelle Lewis performed her last show as a regular member of The Flood before moving away from the Mountain State to head off and to join her fiancé, Rich, who lives in Loveland, Ohio, just northeast of Cincinnati. To celebrate Michelle’s exciting new chapter and to commemorate our wonderful years with her, we had to have one more good show together. The nice folks at Edgewood Summit in Charleston, WV, provided us a venue for the afternoon, and we brought along a dear Flood friend, Jim Rumbaugh, for the party. The event also marked The Flood’s first show since the March 2019 Covid-19 pandemic shutdown.

Meanwhile, bassist/vocalist Randy Hamilton returned to the band after a 15-month hiatus. That happy event came after Randy dropped by to sit in with us at a public jam in Ashland, Ky. It was the during the deep, dark Covid Winter that our randysaxophonist Veezy Coffman came up with the idea."Once spring comes," she said at a rehearsal one night, "what if we had some public jam sessions out in the park?" People were really eager to get out again, she noted, and probaby would appreciate hearing some free music, she noted. As March came to end, the idea was resonating with us even more soundly.Of course, our notoriiously unpredictable Appalachian spring had something to say about that. Our optimistic plan to have a half dozen public jams between early April and mid-May were thwarted. Nonetheless, we did manage three times to share our come-back-out-and play message, using Facebook to tell folks, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood for a community jam! If you can strum it, toot it or tap it, bring it on down play along!" It was to the May 2 do in Ashland's Central Park that Randy made an appearance, had such a good time that he accepted our invitation to come back into the Family Flood.

With COVID-19 still raging, our performance schedule practically nil. We did manage a few shows. Besides the spring's public jams and Michelle's farewell party in Charleston, the band play a cool set at the 12th annual Diamond Teeth Mary Blues & Arts Festival and had a lovely morning at the Second Saturday Market at Heritage Station.

bashHowver, because of the pandemic, most of our 2021 projects were of the indoor, hunker-down nature, including a major new addition to the website: The Bowen Bash Fiims, a series of eight documentaries — Legacy Films from The 1937 Flood — built around the audio and photos coming out of parties that Pamela and Charlie Bowen hosted in their South Side home in Huntington, WV, almost a half century ago. These were the happy, hippy parties at which The Flood was born in the mid-1970s. Of course, we're using the word "film" lightly; we don’t have any actual film from those days — movie cameras were pretty much beyond our means and our kin in the ‘70s — so we go full Ken Burns for the eight videos that will make up the series. For that reason, we are so grateful for the contemporary photography of dear friend Jackie Jadrnak, who was on hand for almost all of the events recorded here and whose beautiful images gave us so much to work with. And while Pamela was responsible for most of the audio, we always will be indebted to Stew Schneider, John Koenig and John Klein, who also did their share of button pushing and knob turning on the tape recorders on all those evenings!

For a slew of random auto-selected numbers that we played that year, click here to tune into Radio Floodango's 2021 channel.


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Gary Coffman's Favorite Song

Jan. 6, 2021: Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I). Sixty years ago this October, Ray Charles released his last album for Atlantic Records called “The Genius Sings the Blues,” The album compiled a dozen tunes Brother Ray had recorded over an eight-year period at the Atlantic studios, showcasing piano blues, jazz and southern R&B. A standout cut on that remarkable album was the second tune on side 1 — “Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I),” a tune that’s since been covered by everybody from David Clayton-Thomas to Eric Clapton. And last night, it was the first tune we tackled at the first rehearsal of the new year.

Jan. 13, 2021: Blues for Toy Stores and Record Stores. Some songs don’t have names, just stories and moods. Here’s an example. Between the tunes at a recent rehearsal, we started reminiscing about some of the things we missed from our childhood. Well, listening to all that from the sidelines, our tribal elder, Doug Chaffin, started improvising an appropriately nostalgic blues lick from his own rock ’n’ roll roots. Take a listen and, as this track begins, you can hear our Mistah C, Paul Callicoat, wrapping up the conversation just before jumping in with his bass. This merry little ride — features Doug trading musical ideas with Veezy CoffmanSam and Paul.

Jan. 20, 2021: Black Coffee. A very happy moment for us in is whenever a new member of the band is comfortable enough to start suggesting new tunes for us to try. That happened a couple of weeks ago Paul and Dougwhen our newest Floodster, Vanessa Coffman, dropped Charlie an email saying, “Hey, just a though. Are you familiar with an old song called ‘Black Coffee”? I’m doing some music stuff here right now, and I thought I’d see if you wanted to give it a shot, too.” Well, yes, and yes, and oh my! Last night’s rehearsal was our first ride on this old Sonny Burke composition that the great Sarah Vaughn charted with in 1949. Ah, and just listen here as Doug Chaffin’s guitar and Veezy’s sax share some musical thoughts … well, over coffee, as it were…

Jan. 27, 2021: Backwater Blues. After a long rehearsal, with lots of new material to work on, it’s always good to end up back on familiar ground, which for us usually means the blues. And more often than not, the blues means a shoutout to The Flood’s household deity, Miss Bessie Smith. Here’s a tune that Smith recorded almost a century ago. It’s since been recorded by everybody from Lead Belly, Josh White and B.B. King to Bob Dylan, Dinah Washington and Count Basie. Here’s The Flood’s 2021 rendering of the song, with a couple of solos by everybody in the room last night, Doug, Veezy and the two Pauls.


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"You Got Me Slippin'"

Feb. 3, 2021: Wayfaring Stranger 3.0. In our world, songs — or at least, their musical arrangements — evolve. A case in point is the wonderful old 19th century gospel song called “Wayfaring Stranger.” Now, back in the 1970s, Roger Samples and Charlie Bowen used to do this one as a duet, with the simple, folksy chords and harmonies that we did back then. Over time, we moved on to other tunes, and this one got put on the shelf for, well, a couple of decades. Then about 10 years ago,“Wayfaring Stranger” came back into The Flood world when Randy Hamilton joined the band. We whipped up a new arrangement with more interesting chords, and the song became a show piece for his beautiful tenor voice. In fact, Randy’s stellar performance of “Wayfaring Stranger” claimed its rightful place on our “Live, In Concert” album, which we brought in 2016. Well, when Randy left the band about a year and a half ago, we kind of thought maybe the song went with him. But lo and behold, it’s back. And this time it’s evolved into an instrumental. Listen to this moment from a recent rehearsal and the moody, lovely improvisational meditations by Doug Chaffin, Vanessa Coffman and Paul Martin.

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"Satin Doll"

Feb. 10, 2021: Cry Me a River. Here’s a song that’s been kicked around a bit, but like any good jazz ballad, but it has kicked right back. “Cry Me a River” was written by Arthur Hamilton originally for Ella Fitzgerald to sing in the 1955 jazz-infused movie called “Pete Kelly’s Blues,” but when that scene was cut from the film, the song had to go hunting for someone else to love. It was pitched to song stylist Peggy King, but Columbia Records A&R chief Mitch Miller didn’t like it, so that didn’t happen. Well, the director of that Pete Kelly movie, Jack Webb — yep, THAT Jack Webb, Sgt. Friday on “Dragnet” — was married at the time to an up and coming jazz vocalist named Julie London. And when Miss London took a turn with the tune, it turned to gold, hitting Billboard’s top 10 in 1956. Since then, there have been nearly 500 different recordings of the song over the past 65 years. Take that, Mitch Miller. Now, we first started playing with the song at last night’s rehearsal, and, hey, we were not 15 seconds into Veezy’s scintillating sax solo when we knew we had a new number for The Flood’s regular been repertoire.

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"God Bless the Child"

Feb. 17, 2021: (When She Wants Good Lovin') My Baby Comes to Me. Many of us grew up listening to The Coasters, the iconic 1950s band that bridged the gap between doowop and R&B, that brought humor and sass to the birth of rock ’n’ roll. “Yakety Yak” and “Charlie Brown,” “Along Came Jones” and “Poison Ivy,” “Wake Me, Shake Me” and “Little Egypt.” But, you know, before any of those tunes topped the charts, it was a lesser known Coasters cut that grabbed us. Picture it: Hot summer, 1957, and into our new transistor radios, The Coasters came sashaying into our ears with a sexy little song that said, yeah, she may go to the baker for cake and to the butcher for steak, but when she wants good lovin’? …well! Now, back in The Flood’s beginnings in the ‘70s, Dave Peyton, Rog Samples and Charlie Bowen started playing around with this Jerry Leiber / Mike Stoller composition because it definitely had jug band vibe going on, but the song’s been asleep in our consciousness, well, until this winter when it started popping up again at our practice sessions. Here then is a take from a rehearsal just a few weeks ago, with Doug and Veezy trading riffs between the verses.

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"Don't Get Around Much Anymore"

Feb. 24, 2021: Willow Weep for Me. It’s uncommon for a songwriter to dedicate a composition to another composer, but Ann Ronell said she had to dedicate her 1932 masterpiece to her friend and mentor George Gershwin. ““George was sacred to me,” she said many years later. “He was my idol. I became like a sister to the family, and I was his protege.” And, man, what a wonderful song to speak to anybody’s memory. Ann’s “Willow Weep for Me” has been lovingly treated by nearly every jazz great of the past 90 years, from Art Tatum and Sarah Vaughn to Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday, from Wes Montgomery and Tony Bennett to Oscar Peterson and Etta James. So, here’s the tune from a recent Flood rehearsal. Listen as Veezy Coffman sketches out Ronell’s beautiful melody and takes the first flight, then hands it off to Doug Chaffin for a couple of choruses before the two of them bring it on back home.


March 3, 2021: At Last. One of the many frustrating things about this time of COVID, of course, is that we so seldom have gotten to see some of our dearest companions. And as you can imagine, for a band, well, that’s just devastating. It’s been months, for instance, since we’ve had another of those sweet evening with Michelle Lewis that only a year ago we just took for granted. But yesterday evening — at last! — Michelle came sailing back into the loving arms of her Family Flood, and to celebrate that moment, she brought with her the perfect song. “At Last,” indeed!

March 10, 2021: Golden Apples of the Sun. More than a century ago, the Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote an amazing verse called “The Song of Wandering Aengus.” In it an old man remembers a mystical experience in his youth, in which a silver trout he’d just fished from a stream suddenly transforms into a glimmering girl, who called him by his name and then vanished. To this day, he looks for her, through the long green dappled grass of hilly lands and hollow lands, search the silver apples of the moon, the golden apples of the sun. Many years later, folksinger Travis Edmonson set Yeats’ words to a lovely, ephemeral melody, which the Family Flood sat down with last night.

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Flood Lite, "Peggy Day"

March 17, 2021: Dead Cat on the Line. While we are regularly reminded that they nailed Socrates for corrupting the youth, we do sometimes feel obliged to enlighten the younger members of our audience as to the origins of some of the bluer material in our repertoire. This song, for example — which we got from a 1934 recording by a couple of our heroes, Tampa Red and Georgia Tom — isn’t about what you might think it’s about. Don’t worry! The “dead cat” in the title isn’t Mittens or Fluffy. It’s about fishing. No, really. The Flood’s crack research department looked into this, oh, 10 or 12 years ago and learned — from no less an authority than the late, great word guru William Safire, writing in The New York Times — that the phase "dead cat on the line" appears to refer to a dead catfish on a trotline, evidence that a lazy fisherman hasn’t been checking his poles. In other words, the song’s just saying, look out, now — something's fishy...

March 24, 2021: Memphis in June. Back in the days when we would ride on — and occasionally even got to perform on — the good ol’ Delta Queen steamboat, it often meant a reunion with a dear friend, the boat’s band leader, the legendary New Orleans cornetist Connie Jones. We learned this song — an obscure Hoagy Carmichael composition — from Connie. On his album, it was an instrumental, but whenever we’d ask for it on board the boat, Connie would sing it. Now, The Flood’s only just begun learning this song — we started messing around with it a few weeks ago, so our arrangement is still evolving — but it’s already doing its magic, conjuring up memories of sunny days up in The Delta Queen’s Texas Lounge, seeing Connie, eyes closed and grinning as he purred those sweet Paul Francis Webster lyrics. Here then, in memory of Connie Jones in the week of what would have been his 87th birthday, is Hoagy Carmichael’s “Memphis in June.”

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Ritter Park fountain

March 31, 2021: I Almost Lost My Mind. Before rock ’n’ roll was a thing, it was rhythm and blues that was perking up the ears of a generation of young radio listeners, and tops among the early R&B songwriters was Ivory Joe Hunter, the original “Baron of the Boogie.” Ivory Joe — by the way, that wasn’t a nickname or a stage handle, but his given name — was born in Kirbyville, Texas, to a gospel-singing mother and a guitar strumming daddy. At 13, his piano-playing was already turning heads and his first recording was for Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress when he was still a teenager in 1933. He left Texas for the wilds of downtown Los Angeles in the early 1940s, just as R&B was starting to attract legions of fans hungry for more tunes, and in 1950, Ivory Joe got into everybody’s head with his new song “I Almost Lost My Mind.” The Flood’s been paying homage to this great old tune for a few years now. Here’s a rendition from last night’s rehearsal, with Michelle and me harmonizing over the rock-solid support of Doug Chaffin and Paul Callicoat. You know, if you’re going to lose your mind, those are the guys you want helping you find your way back to it.


April 7, 2021: Summertime. George Gershwin’s 1935 composition “Summertime” is probably the most frequently covered song in all the world. Some estimate that there have been at least 25,000 recorded versions, many of them classic jazz renditions, of course, but also in every other genre from disco to reggae. As the centerpiece of Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess,” the song is built around a poem by DuBose Heyward, the author of the novel on which the opera was based. But besides all these facts and figures, there’s some serious magic going on here, in that even after 85 years, “Summertime” still has fresh musical ideas to inspire, as Veezy Coffman so lovingly demonstrates here in a couple of choruses from last night’s rehearsal.

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Central Park, Ashland, Ky.

April 14, 2021: Lorena. Often at rehearsals, between tunes we’re planning to work on, Doug Chaffin will just start playing a song that’s been on his mind, and lately that tune has been a sweet antebellum melody called “Lorena.” Now, while the song is of decidedly Northern origins — it was written in Zanesville, Ohio, five years before the Civil War by a young man devastated by a broken engagement with his sweetheart — “Lorena” was equally loved by homesick southerners during the war. In fact, we know from diaries and letters that both sides claimed it as their own. Meanwhile, the song has special meaning for history lovers in our part of the world, because the final resting place for the subject of that lovely ballad — Martha Ella Blocksom, later Ella Johnson — is just across the river from us here, at Woodland Cemetery in Ironton, Ohio. So here, from a recent rehearsal, are Doug, Sam and Veezy contemplating this hauntingly beautiful melody that comes down to us from more than a century and a half ago.

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"Gypsy Doug"

April 21, 2021: Yellow Dog Blues. It’s not every song that has an historical marker devoted to it beside the highway. But then it’s not every song that has the privilege of being composed by the great W.C. Handy. It’s hard to imagine what the early days of jazz would have been like without the songs of William Christopher Handy. “Memphis Blues” and “Beale Street Blues,” “Careless Love” and, of course, the immortal “St. Louis Blues.” The Flood does a lot of those songs, and lately we’ve been drawn to one of Handy’s earliest compositions. In 1912 he wrote “Yellow Dog Blues,” which ends with the line “Your easy rider’s gone where the Southern cross the Yellow Dog.” Those are railroad references about the crossing of the Southern Railway and the local Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad, known thereabouts as The Yellow Dog. And to this day, down in Sunflower County, Mississippi, in the town of Moorhead, a bronze plate stands at the very spot memorialized in that classic blues line. So, here’s our take on the tune from last night’s session, with Doug and Veezy burning it up on the solos atop Danny Gillum’s rocking bass line.

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Flood at home, May 13, 2021


April 28, 2021: All of Me.
Here’s a song that’s celebrating its 90th birthday this year. “All of Me” was written in 1931 by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons. It was an early hit for vocalist Mildred Bailey, recording with Paul Whiteman’s orchestra, and for Louis Armstrong. Of course, the definitive version came a decade later when Billie Holiday made her great 1941 rendition of it. And then a brand new generation learned the song through Willie Nelson’s inclusion of the tune on his landmark 1978 “Stardust” album, which featured hits of the great American songbook. The Flood started doing the song a couple of decades ago, but it got a new burst of energy at a recent rehearsal in Michelle’s singing twinned with Veezy’s sax solo.


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"The 4th Street Mess Around"

May 5, 2021: Opus One.
Midway through his seven-year stint with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, the brilliant arranger/composer Sy Oliver wrote this tune which became a huge World War II-era hit for the band. The song — which Sy called simply “Opus One” — went on to be radio hits for many others, from Gene Krupa and Harry James to the Mills Brothers. Meanwhile, here’s a cool aside about the composer. Sy Oliver grew in Battle Creek, Michigan, in a very musical family. His mother taught piano, and his dad …. Well, his father was a multi-instrumentalist who made a name for himself in the early part of the century by demonstrating the versatility of saxophones at a time when the instrument was little used outside of marching bands. Well, we think the elder Oliver would be very pleased at how well our Veezy Coffman has learned that lesson. Listen as Veezy takes his son Sy’s tune and turns it every which way but loose! Here, a highlight from last night’s rehearsal, is Veezy Coffman wailing on “Opus One.”

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Flood at home, May 18, 2021

May 14, 2021: I'm Beginning to See the Light. The collaboration of composer Duke Ellington and saxophonist Johnny Hodges is legendary among jazz enthusiasts. Hodges’s recording of tunes like “Prelude to a Kiss” and “Passion Flower” are the graduate level seminars on how to construct smart, moving solos. But Hodges was also a keen composer in his own right. Take for instance the 1944 pop tune that he put together with Ellington and trumpeter Harry James — “I’m Beginning to See the Light” — which to this day remains an upbeat standard in most jazz repertoires. We just recently started playing around with it. Here’s our take on the tune from last night Flood affair.

May 19, 2021: Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You. Two of our all-time favorite musicians — Doug Chaffin and Bob Dylan — both turn 80 this year, Bob next week and Doug in August, and both are still going strong. Well, shoot, more than just going strong, these octogenarians-to-be are both still finding new ideas and inspiring everybody around them to do the same. For instance, check this out. To celebrate this momentous year, last night we dusted off this old Bob Dylan tune off the great “Nashville Skyline” album of 50 years ago. Listen how right from the start, Doug’s guitar work prompts his bandmates — first, Veezy Coffman, then Sam St. Clair — to find interesting new nooks and crannies in their own solos.

May 26, 2021: 4th Street Mess Around. One of Ray Charles’s first hits was “Mess Around,” released on Atlantic Records back in 1953, but actually Brother Ray was a little late to the party with that tune. Many of the ideas for that song can been heard in a whole mess of New Orleans boogie piano riffs, starting as early as, say, Cow Cow Davenport’s playing the late 1920s. But if you want to go have even further — and, well, we generally do — there are references to dances called a “mess around” as far back the earliest days of jazz. For instance, in his wonderful autobiography called “Trumpet on the Wing,” the great New Orleans jazzman Wingy Manone talked about watching people dance the mess-around at the fish fries of his youth in the Crescent City. Said Wingy, “The mess-around was a kind of dance where you just messed around with your feet in one place, letting your body do most of the work, while keeping time by snapping fingers with one hand and holding a slab of fish in the other!” Now, that’s a picture. Here’s a mess-around we learned from a Memphis Jug Band piece that was actually recorded 91 years this week.

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Flood At Home


June 2, 2021: One Red Rose. It’s been a little more than a year now since one of our heroes — songwriter John Prine — passed away at the start of the dreadful Covid-19 pandemic, and at last night’s Flood gathering, we paused to remember John with one of our all-time favorite Prine composition. “One Red Rose” is all about remembering. In fact, Prine once explained that the imagery in the song came from a childhood memory of time when he was nine years old and he and his family were visiting his cousin Charlie Bill back in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. “It was the back of a general store,” John said. “There was a tin roof and a wonderful thunderstorm going on above and around us. We were telling ghost stories and staying up late, and there was a curtain separating the bedroom from the mature adults' kitchen. Our light was off. Thus, their 'kitchen light fell asleep on the bedroom floor.’” Ah, only Prine would write that line. We miss you, John.

June 9, 2021: New Orleans. If you’d been around in 1932 and had your ears on, you might have thought that songwriter Hoagy Carmichael had already peaked. Oh, sure, he’d been writing for only for about eight years, but, shoot, by then he’d already published … let’s see… “Stardust” and “Georgia on My Mind,” “Rockin’ Chair” and “Riverboat Shuffle” and “Up a Lazy River.” Those songs right there were enough to warrant a legacy chapter in the Great American Songbook. So, you’d’ve been forgiven in 1932 for not realizing our man Hoagy had another half century of great originals to bring us. Ahead lay … oh, “Lazybones” and “The Nearness of You,” “Heart and Soul” and “Memphis in June,” “Hong Kong Blues,” “I Get Along Without You Very Well,” “Ole Buttermilk Sky,” “In the Still of the Night,” “Skylark.” Heck, we could do Hoagy tunes all night long — and, well, sometimes we do. Here, from last night’s Floodifying, is our first run at one of Carmichael’s 1932 compositions, a sweet, sexy little tune.Michelle

June 16, 2021: Moonglow. It’s summertime and about a third of the band is out of town right now, on vacation with their families. But hey, if you’ve got Michelle to the wail the vocal and Randy to lay down his signature rock-solid bass line and Doug to roll with the solos, gee, you got everything you need to make for a memorable evening. Here’s a favorite moment from last night’s rehearsal. Doug has switched to his sweet, soulful acoustic guitar and the four of us are grooving along on a Michelle Lewis special.

June 23 2021: Make Me a Pallet On Your Floor. The great Jelly Roll Morton once told folklorist Alan Lomax that the song “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor” was one of the earlier country blues to come rambling into the big city of New Orleans, that it was being played in the Crescent City many years before he was born there in the 1880s. The song was even known to be favorite of that jazz forefather, the legendary cornetist Buddy Bolden. But it wasn’t only in New Orleans; up in Memphis, Jelly Roll’s rival songwriter, W.C. Handy, must have heard it too, because, well, he re-appropriated big chunks of the same song for his “Atlanta Blues,” which Louis Armstrong put on a disc in 1954. The Flood got its version from a recording made a half dozen years later for Folkways by the late great Boston bluesmen Rolf Cahn and Eric Von Schmidt. Here, then — with some sweet soloing by Veezy, Sam, Randy and Doug — is our little homage to those earliest days of jazz.

June 30, 2021: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? We always love having Charlie’s cousin Kathy Castner sing a few tunes with us. Well, it never happens nearly often enough — usually only a couple of times a year, maybe once in the summer and again at Christmastime, when she comes in from Cincinnati to sit in with the band — and, of course, Kathy’s visits were another casualty of Covid. Because of the pandemic, we’d not seen and heard her for more than a year. But, bless her heart, as soon as the restrictions were loosened earlier this month, Kathy came hightailing it from Ohio to reunite with her extended Flood family. Here’s a sweet moment from that night, Kathy’s take on a 1960 Carole King classic that The Shirelles took all the way to No. 1. For us, this first tune of the evening is pretty strong evidence that whenever Kathy asks, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” our reply is a rather resounding, “Oh yes!”


July 7, 2021: You Don't Know Me. Eighteen years ago this month, our late fiddler Joe Dobbs brought a young woman to a rehearsal to meet the band. The plan was to work out just a couple of tunes for her to sing with us at a gig we would be playing that weekend at Snowshoe Resort in the mountains of West Virginia’s Pocahontas County. Now, needless to say, we all fell in love with Michelle — she was Michelle Walker in those days, later to be Michelle Lewis —and that one evening led to a rich musical life together. Now, right now these are very busy days for Lady Michelle — she’s packing up to move away to join her fiancé, Rich, who lives in Loveland, Ohio, just northeast of Cincinnati. But recently she made time to join us at Doug Chaffin’s house for an evening of reminiscing on all her favorite songs from over the years. Here’s a highlight of that night.Doug and Randy

July 14, 2021: Creative Listening with Veezy ("Around the World Waltz," "Yellow Dog Blues.") When she’s not playing with The Flood or working on her double-major at Marshall University, our saxophonist Veezy Coffman can often be seen and heard playing solo jazz sets at cool venues all around the Tri-State Area. For instance, she’s performing twice this weekend: Friday night in The Guitar Bar at The Winchester in Ashland, Ky., and then Saturday night back here in Huntington at the New Jockey Club downtown in The Frederick. Now, it was in just such a jazzy solo set that we first heard Veezy a year and a half ago and we couldn’t wait to get her into our band. We learn a lot from this 20 year old, especially about creative listening. Here’s a cool example of what we mean by that. At a rehearsal a few weeks ago, Doug Chaffin started playing “Around the World Waltz,” a tune that he learned from a 1990s Byron Berline album called “Jumping the Strings.” (Oh, incidentally, we were sad to hear of Byron’s death last week; what an amazing, influential fiddler he was!) Anyway, Veezy had never heard the tune before, so at the start of this track, just listen to her listen to it, and then, when it’s her turn, hear how she improvises her lovely impressions of that melody. Of course, Veezy learns some stuff from us too, such as how to rock along on a blues with the give and take in an ensemble of bandmates who are all just making it up as they go! You can hear it on the second half of this track, after the waltz, in her wailing in these final choruses of “Yellow Dog Blues.”

July 21, 2021: "Lovin' You Would Be So Good for Me." About 20 years ago this summer, Joe Dobbs asked the boys in his band to come up with a theme song for his show, “Music from the Mountains” which by then had been a huge weekend favorite on West Virginia Public Radio for decades. Honestly, we were fresh out of ideas for a new song until Charlie remembered a tune he had written maybe five years earlier, one he’d never done anything with. So in the summer 2002, we re-appropriated that melody, Dave Peyton wrote some cool new lyrics for it and The Flood just sort of put it all together one evening in the studio. In fact, the show’s producer, George Walker, left the recorder running and happened to capture the moment as that particular sausage was being made. From then on, that theme was used every week until the show ended its quarter-of-a-century run about a decade ago. But long before Joe Dobbs’ passing six years ago, we’d pretty much stopped playing the song. Still, lately that old melody has been on Doug Chaffin’s mind and he’s been urging us to resurrect it. So, as a hoot, we’ve tarted playing a bit with my original composition, a silly little song from the ‘90s that Charlie called “Lovin’ You Would Be So Good for Me.” So, for the record, here’s a little taste of it. From a jam session at the Chaffin house a week or so ago, this is the tune that reinvented itself as Joe Dobbs’ theme song.

July 28, 2021: "Honeysuckle Rose" At a recent rehearsal, we tapped Veezy Coffman to choose the last tune of the night. Without hesitation, she called for “Honeysuckle Rose.” You know, sometimes we’re amazed at the affinity she has for songs that are, some of them, nearly five times older than she is. But then again, listening to her loving, lively treatment of this great old Fats Waller jazz classic affirms for us all over again that music has a lot more to do with head and heart than it does with ticks on a clock or numbers on a calendar. Ah, tell it, Veezy!



Aug. 3, 2021: "I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone" In blues parlance, the term “easy rider” is code for …oh, well, many things. Maybe a rovin’ gambler or a lover, maybe a pimp… Y’all just talk among yourselves and let your imagination gallop away with that one. The easy rider starts appearing in blues songs more than a century ago. W.C. Handy featured an easy rider in his great “Yellow Dog Blues” back in 1912, but of course, that text was covered in an earlier sermon from this pulpit. Well, a decade or so after Handy, another of our heroes, Hudson Whitaker — better known to the denizens of night music as Tampa Red — brought out a new version of the story and it’s that tune that’s been rattling around our heads lately. Well, last night our old buddy, hamonicat Jim Rumbaugh dropped by to sit in and we just had to introduce him to the tune. Here’s the result, with tasty solos and fills by Jim, Randy and Veezy.

Aug. 11, 2021: "Down by the Salley Gardens" There’s nothing at all wrong with doing public shows — shoot, we in the band are such hams that we all get a charge out of puttin’ on and showin’ off on stage — but we live for the weekly jam sessions, when we just kick back and play for each other. These nights are a musical crazy quilt, zigzagging all over our eclectic repertoire, zipping from a zany jug band tune to a sweet ballad and then back again in the span of dozen minutes. Here’s a typical moment. Fresh from a raucous blues stomp, we suddenly land out the softest sod of our evening’s stroll together, this gentlest of all Irish tunes, compliments of the poet William Butler Yeats.

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Three from Diamond Teeth, Aug. 21, 2021

Aug. 18, 2021: "St. James Infirmary" We started playing the wonderful Diamond Teeth Mary Blues & Arts Festival in downtown Huntington… oh, it’s been seven or eight years ago now, and we always love coming back, but lord, and never more than this time. After the seemingly endless Covid shutdown, this’ll be our first public show in more than a year. We’ll be on stage at the festival at 2 o’clock this Saturday afternoon. Come on down for blues, food, art and good fellowship. To get in the mood, here’s a tune we’re working up for our set. We join in progress as The Flood finds its way to St. James Infirmary. Remember, we’re at the Diamond Teeth Mary Blues & Arts Festival at 2 p.m. Saturday at Heritage Station, at 210 11th Street in beautiful downtown Huntington.

Aug. 27, 2021: "Ookpik Waltz"  More than a decade ago, Doug Chaffin taught us a beautiful, mysterious waltz called “Ookpik.” At the time, he usually played it on fiddle or mandolin, but it’s had many configurations for The Flood, depending on who was sitting around the table when the tune comes up. Lately Doug’s brought the song to his guitar for a lovely duet with Veezy Coffman’s sax. Now “ookpik” is an Inuit name for the “snowy owl” that is native to Alaska. The late British Columbian fiddler Frankie Rodgers used the word for his title when he composed the piece back in 1965, and ever since then there’s been magic in a melody that seems to somehow capture a stately dance of wings in a cobalt blue sky.


Sept. 3, 2021: "Stormy Weather." There are some nights when the music just can’t wait to get out, when everybody seemed to come to the room in the same groove. Last night was such a night, and I think we all knew it from the first notes of the first tune.

Sept. 10, 2021: "Ramblin' Boy." So much about a good evening of music depends on the chemistry of the people in the room, and last night there were some wonderful people in the room. Our dear old friend, Floodster Emeritus Paul Martin dropped in with his sweet fiancé Gina Raynard. Man, any room that Gina and Paul are in is suddenly brighter. And, of course, when Paul unpacks his mandolin, we’re all ready to trot out the old tunes. Of course, chemistry is also about the elements that are not in the mix; this was our first get-together since last weekend when we learned of the Covid-related death of our mutual friend, the extraordinary banjo picker Rick Harmon. Stories of Rick went around the room, and perhaps the best tune of the night was this one, sung his honor.

Sept. 17, 2021: "Abilene." Singer/songwrirer Bob Gibson was a very early arrival on the folk music scene in the late 1950s. In fact, Bob was already so well established by the time of the 1959 Newport Folk Festival that it was he who introduced the crowd to a then-unknown Joan Baez. His songs were recorded by everybody from Peter, Paul and Mary and Simon & Garfunkel to the Byrds and Bob Dylan. Perhaps Gibson’s best-known song is “Abilene,” which he wrote with Lester Brown and John D. Loudermilk in the early 1960s. Bob always said he was inspired to write the song after watching cowboy star Randolph Scott’s film “Abilene Town,” which was set in Abilene, Kansas, the railhead town at the end of the Chisholm Trail. The Flood’s been doing some version of this tune for at least a decade now. Here’s the 2021 rendition, with Randy rocking the vocal harmonies, supported by sweet solos from Veezy, Doug and Sam.

Sept. 24, 2021: "Harlem Nocturne." Our Vanessa Coffman has grown up in a very musical family. Her mom, Julianne, is a singer and today teaches music in the Cabell County schools. Her dad, Gary, also an educator, played saxophone in Marshall University jazz bands back in the 1990s. So it’s not surprising that both her young siblings also play assorted instruments and sing. Now, Veezy’s memories of childhood are filled with the sounds of her dad playing music around the house, some of the greatest jazz standards of all times — “‘Round Midnight,” “Take Five,” “Georgia on My Mind” — and when at about 7, Vanessa too wanted to be a sax player like her dad, it was Gary who taught her those very first notes. The two of them still regularly jam together; some of our favorite new pictures in the Flood album are of the Coffmans playing duets, at home and even barefoot on the beach last summer. Well, today is Gary Coffman’s birthday, so here’s a little surprise for the old man from his extended Flood family: His favorite saxophonist playing his favorite tune. From a recent Flood gathering, this is Earle Hagen’s classic “Harlem Nocturne.” Aw, tell it, Veezy!


Oct. 1, 2021: "Somebody Stole My Gal" One of our heroes — the great jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke — died 90 years ago this summer. His was a short but brilliant time on the planet; he was just 28 when he died, but even before he was gone, he was already a legend, and still today, his music is loved and imitated by players around the world. Some tunes we play always have us thinking of Bix, especially this one, which The Flood started fooling around with, gee, probably 40 years at those crazy, smoky music parties of the 1970s where the band was born. The song was a decade old when Bix and his buddies recorded it in 1928. A Leo Wood composition, it had already been a million-selling for Ted Weems and his Orchestra in 1924. It would go on the be recorded by everyone from Cab Calloway and Fats Waller to Count Basie and Benny Goodman. Jim Kweskin even made a cool jug band version in the ‘60s.Veezy-Doug

Oct. 8, 2021: Happy Birthday, Veezy! "Good as I Been to You" We were so pleased that our newest band mate, Vanessa Coffman, chose last night to spend part of a very big birthday — her 21st — with us. It’s also her first anniversary as a member of The Flood, and, to celebrate, she also brought a special guest. Now, ordinarily in the Floodisphere, Veezy plays “Blue,” her sweet and mellow tenor, but last night it was Blue’s big brother, the bari, that tagged along with her. All evening that the baritone sax, which Veezy named “Viper” (for its reptilian tubing), rocked the walls of the Bowen house just the way they love to be rocked. Listen the magic Veezy and Viper bring to this century-old Blind Blake tune midway through last night’s jam. Happiest birthday, Miss V, from your Family Flood!

Oct. 15, 2021: "Georgia on My Mind"   We say it all the time — music is as much about listening as it is about playing — and here, from last night’s weekly Flood affair, is a lovely example of what we’re talking about. Now, midway through the evening, Doug Chaffin quietly picks a few notes from our all-time favorite Hoagy Carmichael song, and within seconds, Vanessa Coffman is right there, weaving in and out of Doug’s opening statement with her own memorable replies. Yeah, we say it all the time: listening to Doug and Veezy’s musical conversations makes you glad you have ears. Come on along and just listen to them listen to each other.

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Four from Heritage Station, Nov. 13, 2021

Oct. 22, 2021: "My Blue Heaven"  You wonder if songs you hear today will still be around a century from now. Well, if Walter Donaldson wondered that about the song he penned back in the 1920s, he needn’t have worried. His tune — “My Blue Heaven” — was a hit for crooner Gene Austin when the ink was still wet on Walter’s pages, selling five million copies worldwide. That was pretty much unheard of in 1928. Then, over the next 90 years, the song has gone on to be hits for everyone from, oh, Frank Sinatra and Coleman Hawkins to Fats Domino. Here in Floodlandia, we sometimes use the song to start the weekly jam session, being a kind of barometer. If it rocks, then the whole evening’s gonna rock. Last night, it did — and it did.

Oct. 29, 2021: "Bye Bye Bloes"  Last night was not a great evening for our Veezy Coffman. No sooner had she arrived for the rehearsal at Doug Chaffin’s house near Ashland than she discovered one of the tires on her truck had been punctured and was growing flatter by the minute. Well, inside and out of the rain — oh yeah, it was also raining last night — Vanessa waited for a rescue in the form of her dad, Gary, driving in from home with the spare. Meanwhile, being the empathetic lot that we are, we switched the night’s musical menu to match her mood, meaning heavy on the blues. But after an hour or so of that, we realized that perhaps the blues might not be the best therapy, so we eased on over the jollier side of our spectrum. Now, we can’t say the operation was a complete success — it turns out even the most rigorous application of “Bye Bye Blues” won’t pull a nail out of a tire — but as illustrated here when Veezy’s sax just rocks the concluding choruses, it did manage to raise her spirits for at least a few minutes. Not surprising, that. After all, this old jazz standard has been generating grins and giggles for nearly a century now. And that’s good medicine.

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Three More from Heritage Station


Nov. 5, 2021: "Blue Moon"  Last night we got to meet another member of Vanessa Coffman’s saxophonic family — a sexy silver soprano sax that Veezy’s has named “Savoy.” And what an excellent moniker that is for this lovely instrument, which is a refurbished 1920s sax that was in its infancy when New York’s great Savoy Ballroom for which it was named was just starting to showcase the century’s greatest jazz musicians. Well, so in honor of this venerable guest, you know we had to come up with an evening of appropriate tunes which would let it rock but also roll, like this, an alternately rollicking, then prancing rendition of the 1930s classic, “Blue Moon.” Set us up for us, Savoy!

Nov. 12, 2021: "Sunny Side of the Street"  One of the coolest rooms we’ve ever played in Huntington is the beautiful, historic B&O depot downtown at Heritage Station. And so we are awfully pleased that our old buddy Tyson Compton, who runs the Huntington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is that building, has invited us back to play there tomorrow morning at the November edition of the monthly Second Saturday Market. The Flood will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Come on down and party with us. Here, from last night’s rehearsal, is a tune we’re polishing up for the day.

Nov. 19, 2021: "Twisted Laurel."  A good song sometimes seem like a train, with people getting on and off all along the way. And kind of like a distant train whistle, it might resonate differently with everybody who hears it. Here’s a tune I started doing 40 years ago with Dave and Rog and Joe soon after it was released on a Red Clay Ramblers album. Doug and Sam met the song probably 20 years ago, Randy 10 years after that. And for Veezy? Well, last night was the first time she’d ever hear the song. So, here’s our latest ride on the late Tommy Thompson’s poignant modern Appalachian lament.

Nov. 26, 2021: "Minor Swing"  A long time ago, sitting in his hilltop home near Ashland, Ky., Doug Chaffin started noodling around with some ideas he got from the great Django Reinhardt in his classic "Minor Swing” recording of 1937. Well, over time, as these things do, the melody has grown and changed into something distinctly Chaffin-esque. Doug’s never given it a name, but his band mates in The Flood have taken to calling it “Django Doug.” The piece is not finished yet. Oh gosh, far from it! It keeps on evolving. Just listen to what Veezy Coffman’s tenor sax has brought to this rich mix of ideas, as recorded here at a jam session at the Chaffin house just a couple of weeks ago.

Heritage Station


Dec. 3, 2021: "Dink's Tune / Loch Lomond"  `Have you ever notice that there’s magic in folk melodies, that they are both ancient and stunningly contemporary at the same time? But the magic’s more than that. Besides this wonderful timelessness, these well-worn melodies also seem to be almost universal in their emotional appeal. About a year ago when Vanessa Coffman first heard us noodling around with an old song called “Dink’s Tune,” which is quite deeply rooted in the American folk tradition, she heard a compatible twin from the other side of ocean, Scotland’s venerable ballad, “Loch Lomond.” Ever since then, we’ve been inviting these stately cousins to dance with each other. Here, from a recent rehearsal, listen as everyone in the band provides the setting for Randy Hamilton’s lovely, haunting vocals.

Dec. 10, 2021: "Sister Kate / Heebie Jeebies"  The mood of last night’s jam session was set before we even walked through the door, because our host, Doug Chaffin, had already gotten a good head start on an amble down memory lane when he dug out his mother’s old guitar. You’ll need some background here. In the 1940s, Doug grew up listening to — and then playing — string band music with his mom and her banjo-picking sister. Years later when he was all grown, Doug bought his mom the best guitar she’d ever play, a big, beautiful Gibson Dove, a study of love in maple, mahogany and rosewood. Well, we’ve not seen that guitar — it’s been in its case for decades — but at its coming out party last night it jumped right into the mix. Just listen to it shimmy on this jive tune from about a hundred years ago.

Dec. 17, 2021: "(When She Wants Good Lovin') My Baby Comes to Me"  Because of travel and all the usual holiday hullabaloo, we couldn’t work out a rehearsal this week, but that’s okay. The lull lets us pick up a tune that got left on the shelf earlier. Here from a gig last month at Heritage Station in downtown Huntington is an old 1950s Coasters number that we learned from folksinger Tom Rush’s treatment of it in the ‘70s. Penned by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the song can be a real head-turner in a public show.

Dec. 24, 2021: "Greensleeves (What Child Is This?)"  On this Christmas Eve, our gift to you is a beautiful old carol. Now, in our country, we often know it as “What Child Is This?” based on a Christmas verse that was written more than a century and a half ago. But its melody is even more deeply enshrined in our common human experience. In fact, think about it! This tune — “Greensleeves” — is one of the oldest melodies that we in the western world even know. Dating back to at least the Elizabethan period of English history, “Greensleeves” was, in fact, so well known by the time of William Shakespeare that he could refer to it by name three times in his play, “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” Meanwhile, this ancient, beautiful melody started being associated with Christmas and New Year’s as early as the 1680s. And yet, this tune never really seems to get very old, does it?

Dec. 31, 2021: A 2013 Flashback to Joe Dobbs' "South Wind."  From almost a decade ago, here’s the late Joe Dobbs fiddling the last of the many tunes he taught us over his 40 years of playing with us. Now, Joe’s tune here is an old one — it goes back at least 300 years — called “South Wind,” an Irish aire that Joe learned from a nice lady in Beckley, WV. And like many a good Irish tune, it prominently features a few ghosts along the way. The story of “South Wind” goes like this. It’s seems that there was a ghost ship bringing back home the souls of Irish exiles, men the Irish called The Wild Geese who had been killed in battle in foreign wars. As this haunted ship continued around southwestern County Cork, it was driven up the west coast by a southern breeze. And legend has it that the ghosts of these brave expatriates could be heard intoning this particular enchanted tune, which was picked up on the shore by the pipers and the fiddlers who handed down to us today.