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Defining events of The 1937 Flood, told in stories, photos, audios and videos
over the years!


A band that traces its beginnings back nearly a half century has many entries in its scrapbook. Here are some of the high and low watermarks of The Flood's drift through the decades.


FIRST WAVE!

1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1983 | 1984

july4Highlights...
-- Dave and Charlie jam for the first time
-- Bill Hoke gets reeled in
-- Dave and Rog record "Banks of the Old Guyan"
-- Joe arrives
-- We discover jug band music
-- We open for Little Jimmy Dickens
-- We jam with Sen. Bob Byrd
-- Wallace Washboard arrives
-- "Music from the Mountains" debuts


SECOND WAVE!

1991 | 1996 | 1997 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011

2ndHighlights...
-- Doug joins the band
-- Chuck comes on board
-- Sam becomes a Floodster
-- Pamela becomes band manager
-- Jamming with the Huntington Symphony Orchestra
-- Michelle meets the guys
-- Jacob becomes the youngster Floodster

THIRD WAVE!

2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018

thirdHighlights...
-- Randy joins The Flood
-- We surprise Ken Hechler for his 99th
-- Marshall's "Tom Sawyer" welcomes us
-- Paul becomes a Floodster
-- Joe Dobbs passes away
-- We lose Roger
-- We become the house band for "Route 60 Saturday Night"

The 1970s

1971

Feb. 26, 1971: The inspiration for The Flood can be traced back to this specific Friday night at Ashland Community College. By that time, Charlie and Pamela Bowen had been back in the area for about two months, having moved home from Lexington, Ky., after Charlie had finished his courses at the University of Kentucky. At the newspaper where they were working as reporters they got a call from Nancy McClellan inviting them to a "mini-concert" held to raise funds for the fledgling Mountain Heritage Folk Festival 1971 - Dave & Rogto be held that June at Carter Caves State Park. As Pamela noted in her journal a few nights later, "We sat on cushions in front of the stage and taped most of it and took a lot of pictures." Alas, the recording is gone now, but Pamela's words recall the impact of the evening. Our dear friend Terry Goller was a headliner, coming on stage with his 1935 Martin and a slew of new and old songs, but the real hit of the evening was Dave Peyton with his Autoharp teamed up with a young man named Roger Samples who would pick the bejeesus out of a Guild 12-string.

The Bowens had known Dave for a long while. Charlie had met him four or five years earlier when Peyton regularly came to the music parties that Pamela hosted in the basement of her parents' house in Ashland, Ky. Dave was just starting to teach himself the Autoharp in those days. Roger, on the other hand, they didn't know as well. Pamela has sung and played at a few folk concerts at Marshall University at which Roger, a fellow student, had performed, but hadn't gotten to know him yet. So that night they were wowwed at all the music Dave and Rog could get from just two voices and two instruments. The Bowens went home with Rog and Dave's "Raggle Taggle Gypsy" still ringing in their heads.

Having graduated from Marshall, Roger was in a transition period in early 1971, with work taking him farther and farther from Huntington, meaning less and less time for music, so Dave -- who worked with Charlie and Pamela at the newspaper -- was open to new musical combinations. However, lately, Charlie -- an enthusiastic newlywed -- had been much more interested in playing with Pamela than playing guitar. He hadn't forgotten about music; in fact, before leaving Lexington, he'd traded in his old nylon-string classical guitar for a Gibson J-45 he bought from a cop, but its steel strings hurt his fingers, and the less he played the less he could play.

Throughout the rest of 1971, Dave and Charlie talked a lot of music during downtime in the newsroom, but it would take 10 months for Charlie to build up his courage -- and his calluses -- and actually pick with Dave in the wee hours of the new year. After that, their jamming would become a regular thing and eventually, Peyton's gravitational pull would draw Rog back into the orbit as well, making them a trio. But the was still more than a year away. For now, it was Dave and Rob’s music that was definitive. … “And one sang high and the other sang low and the other sang a raggle taggle gypsy-o…”

1972

Jan. 1, 1972: Peyton and Bowen picked together for the first time. Dave and Charlie had known each other for a while. Five years earlier, they had met at folk music parties that Pamela started hosting at her parents' house in Ashland, Ky., but in Dave and Charliethose days Dave had yet to really get started with the Autoharp. The following year, when Charlie left for school in Lexington, Dave met Roger Samples, who was an incoming student at Marshall University, and the two of them started working up tunes together. Several years later, when Charlie and Pamela -- who had married by then -- moved back to the area from Lexington to work at the same newspapers where Dave worked, Rog had moved away, and Dave was looking someone to regularly jam with. Dave and Susie invited the Bowens to a New Year's Eve party at their house on Mount Union Road and in the wee hours of Jan. 1, 1972, Charlie and Dave found a guitar-Autoharp groove that made them grin. (Within the next couple of months, the two were even invited to be pickin' and grinnin' at the front door of the Huntington Publishing Co. when then new publisher, Buddy Hayden, arrived in town.)

No recordings were made of those initial jam sessions, but there's little doubt that one of the first tunes they played together in the early hours of New Year's day was the Carter Family's "Cannonball Blues." Here's Dave and Charlie's version of the song as it sounded a year or so later as they prepared for their first real gig, a gathering of retired railroad men meeting at the Hotel Frederick in downtown Huntington. ("Solid Gone," May 3, 1974.)

1973

April 13-14, 1973: Pamela and Charlie hosted the second of the regular music parties that would come to be called “The Bowen Bash.” These weekend-long parties – usually held once in the spring and again in the fall – would nurture The Flood during its formative years in the hippy-dippy '70s. At the time of the April 1973 Bash, the Bowens were still living in not the greatest venue for raucous musical evenings – an upstairs apartment in a yellow brick South Side duplex – but fortunately, the old lady who lived alone on the first floor was mostly deaf. The landlord told the young couple that if they put down heavy rugs, they would not disturb their downstairs neighbor. Taking him at his word, the Bowens solicited Stew Schneider’s help and put down large carpets in the two main rooms. Then, confident of carpetting's note-absorbing properties, they invited in the pickers.

bash '73

It was an memorable weekend for many reasons, not the least of which was meeting Floodster-to-be Bill Hoke. Today Bill still remembers that evening in April 1973. “I got out of the Navy at the end of February and spent a few weeks checking into a couple of 'dream jobs" before landing in Lexington,” Bill wrote recently. “The dream jobs were the Cass Railroad and the Delta Queen. The timing was bad for both. Then, I went to Lexington and met Jim and Ralf Strother and later David, and Jack and Susie.”

Bill's cousin, Susan Lewis, said the bunch of them were traveling from Lexington for a party in Huntington, “and we needed to go 'cause there would be music, though, she said, Stewart and Charlie mostly sit around and play chess. Well, I don't remember the chess games, but I do remember hearing more music that night than I'd heard in every coffeehouse I had ever been to. Being just out of a six-year stint in Navy, I'm thinking, 'My God! Life Is good! I was hooked!”

1974

April 26, 1974: Jack Nuckols is the one who got away. For years, The Flood’s earnest anglers tried to reel Jack into their foolishness, but he always seemed to slip off the hook.

JackOne of the most versatile musicians he’s ever known, Charlie met Jack in 1963 in Miss Reynolds’ speech class at Paul G. Blazer High School in Ashland, Ky. (As the two tallest students, they were both invited to sit in the back of the room where they discussed that if the school ever had a play about Abe Lincoln, the two of them could arm-wrestle for the role.)

In those days, Jack was a star of the school band’s percussion section, following his father’s love of drums. Later, Jack would take up guitar and play in a local Chad Mitchell Trio cover band called The Wayfarers (with Jim Canfield and David Chinn), but then he was drawn to more traditional folk music.

By the time he got to college, Jack was playing the mountain dulcimer (“Waterbound and I can’t get home….”) at the college coffeehouse and would be part of the earliest incarnations of the great Kentucky Foothill Ramblers with David Holbrook, Jim Strother and Ronnie Sanders.

By 1974, Jack had taken up fiddle. In this track ("June Apple," "Angeline Baker" and "Lynchburg Town" April 26, 1974), David and Charlie sit in with Jack on a few fiddle tunes. Can’t you just hear Bowen and Peyton making their pitch to draw him into The Flood? “C’mon in, Jack. The water’s fine!” And then he swam away.

Incidentally, it wouldn’t be their last attempt to recruit Mr. Nuckols; five years after this session, we tried to net him to be The Flood’s rhythm section. Here he is playing spoons on a rowdy evening with Joe, Rog, Stew, Bill and Charlie.

BsshMay 18, 1974: David and Charlie played their first John Prine tunes at an annual music party called The Bowen Bash. The Bash — a semiannual three-day party hosted Pamela and Charlie Bowen for their musician friends — was central to the birth of The 1937 Flood. Over the next decade, the bashes would continue in the spring and autumn of each year in Big Blue, the only frame house in the 600 block of 13th Avenue in Huntington’s South Side.

It was in this house and among those friends — fellow musicians and a growing community of devoted fans — that The Flood evolved in the hazy hippy-dippy 1970s. And John Prine’s music would always be as much a part of the band’s DNA as it was part of The Bash’s foundational chemistry. At the very first bash in August 1972, Terry and Pat Goller came with a selection of interesting new folk albums to share, and it was John Prine’s self-titled first album, released a few months earlier, that completely blew everyone away. Charle and Dave immediately fell in love with Prine’s “Paradise” (“…. and Daddy, won’tcha take me back to Muhlenberg County, down by the Green River where Paradise lay? Well, I'm sorry, my son, but you're too late in asking. Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away.”) By the May 18, 1974, bash, we had started recording some of the music of The Bash, with Stewart Schneider at the helm of the recording equipment, and here’s what Stew recorded of Dave and Charlie’s rendition of "Paradise" May 18, 1974).

Oct. 12, 1974: The Flood has never had a dobro in the band, but we came close in our earliest days. In the early 1970s, Charlie — in rare moment of disposal income in the Bowen household — bought a beautiful National Steel Body guitar. The reason wa a movie; he had jut seen “Sounder” in which Taj Mahal had torn it up with a resonator guitar, and Bowen had visions of a future in blues. Well, the instrument turned out to be much more guitar that Charlie could handle. In addition , the thing weighed a ton, so the diminutive Roger Samples wasn’t interested in fooling with it either. Enter Bill Hoke. Bill, who had more of a multi-instrumental Mike Seeger soul than any of us before or since, had just begun hanging out with David and Charlie, and Bill saw something in the new big bluesy guitar that had complete eluded all the rest of us. Bill borrowed the box from Bowen and added a extension nut to raise the strings so that the guitar could get in touch with its dobro nature when Bill brought it to the jams.

dobro

On this day in 1974, Bill bought the new dobro-enlightened guitar for the first time to sit in with Dave and Charlie. Here are two tracks from the tape of that night, first, Dave’s rendering of “Mary Golden Tree” (1974) (a variation of “The Golden Vanity”) and then Charlie and Dave doing the then-new John Prine piece, “Everybody” (1974). The dobro was only a short-time diversion with The Flood, but Bill would be back in a bit later to play upright bass for few of the goldest years of Floodishness.

Nov. 1, 1974: The core of what would become The 1937 Flood -- David Peyton, Roger Samples and Charlie Bowen -- introduced their first real arrangement of a tune ("If I Had a Troubadour," Nov. 1, 1974) during a party at the Bowens' house in the South Side of Huntington.

1974The guys had been jamming together off and on for several years at that point. Dave and Rog had played as a duo in the late '60s and early '70s when Rog was still a Marshall University student and Dave was a young reporter at The Huntington Advertiser. Samples moved away about the same time that Charlie and Pamela moved back to Huntington in January 1971, and soon afterward Dave and Charlie picked regularly. When occasionally Roger would drift back into town and the three of them would play.

It was all very casual in those earliest days -- variations on "parkin' lot pickin'," focused only on tunes they already knew -- but that summer of 1974, the three of them started acting more like a band. They practiced regularly, brought new tunes into the mix, worked on harmony vocals and begun to solidify actual arrangements that would be more or less predictable each time they played.

All that energy and effort came together first in this tune from The Flood's dusty archives, the boys' version of Tom Paxton's "Wish I Had a Troubadour," from his 1969 album, "The Things I Notice Now." They rolled out this rendition at that party in autumn 1974, featuring solos by Roger and Dave and vocals by Charlie.

Nov. 2, 1974: Dave and Rog recorded the first Flood classic, their duet rendition of Aunt Jennie Wilson’s beautiful “Banks of the Old Guyan” (Nov. 2, 1974) The setting was the second day of thatthree-day Bowen Bash. As a reporter for The Dave-Rog-JennieHuntington Advertiser, Dave had met banjo-playing Aunt Jennie in Logan County a few years earlier, had interviewed her a number of timesfor stories and, along the way, had fallen in love with her music.

When he and Rog starting playing as a duo in the pre-Flood days of the early 1970s, Dave just naturally brought a number of Jennie’s tunes to the mix. Roger — who always had the heart and head of an arranger/composer — created this extraordinary musical setting for the ring of Dave’s vocals on “Banks,” and as we look back and listen today, we know how fortunate we are that Stewart Schneider, running the recorder at most of the bashes over the next decade, pushed all the right buttons at just the right time to capture it.

1975

March 22, 1975: Charles lugged his suitcase-sized reel-to-reel tape recorder to the Peytons’ place, and David and Charlie sat down to record some of the tunes they had begun working on as a duo. The results show how diverse their musical influence were. The first number in this 10-minute audio track ("Reuben," "Mole's Moan" and "Diamond Joe," March 22, 1975) is Dave's version of Aunt Jenny Wilson's tune, “Reuben.” c1975By the way, this seems to be a fairly rare Aunt Jenny; we've not found another cover of it. That's followed by an instrumental, their version of Geoff Muldaur's “Mole's Moan,” which we'd heard on Tom Rush's class album, but learned from the generous sharing by Jim Strother who actually did the heavy lifting, working out the tune after hours of diligent LP listening. The final track on the audio is an Eric Von Schmidt composition called “Rattlesnake Preacher,” the story of the mysterious Diamond Joe who could “make the men folk weave and moan, make them women shout.” We thought it resonated with some of Dave's recent reporting on West Virginia and Kentucky snake handlers.

Incidentally, this recording was almost a month to the day before Dave and Charlie's fateful meeting of Joe Dobbs and these are the kind of songs the fiddler heard the two of them playing when their paths crossed at Huntington's annual Dogwood Arts and Crafts Festival.

April 24, 1975: Dave and Charlie first met fiddlin' Joe Dobbs under a circus tent down by the Ohio River where the city of Huntington held its annual Dogwood Arts and Crafts Festival in the first few years of the show before the Joe-1975civic arena was built.

On that day in April 1975, Dave and Charlie, who had been picking together regularly for about three years by then, had just finished their work day in the newsroom of The Huntington Advertiser and headed down to the festival encampment near the floodwall to play some tunes for the crafts people.

As Joe later recalled the encounter in his autobiography, "A Country Fiddler," Joe and his wife, Amy, were checking out the crafts when they spied a woman weaving cane in the bottoms of ladder-back chairs that she sold. "Sitting in two of the completed chair was a tall man playing a Guild guitar and short guy playing an Autoharp," Joe wrote. "Both of these musicians looked to be about 30 years old, a hippy version of Mutt and Jeff. The guitar player had medium long hair and an untrimmed beard. The Autoharp player wore a beard but his hair was neatly trimmed. They seemed to be very good friends." Joe himself was quite memorable too that day, in his bib overalls and Chuck Taylor tennis shoes and with, of course, a coffin-like wooden fiddle case under his arm.

In the book, Joe reports he was reluctant to ask to sit in, thinking his fiddling had gotten a bit rusty in recent years, so instead, he pulled up a finished chair next to Dave and started taking his fiddle out of the case. Initially, no one said a word, until after a moment Joe said, "Would you play an A chord, please?" At first, Joe played along quietly behind some of the tunes Charlie and Dave had worked out, then Dave said, "So, you know 'Soldier's Joy'?" Of course he did. Soon the three of them had drawn a crowd. By summer, Joe was jamming regularly with Dave and Charlie; soon, not wanting to be left out, Roger Samples, the other founder of The Flood, was driving into from Mason County, WV, to be part of it all.

tapeSept. 5-6, 1975: The new, improved Flood — by now expanded to feature its first tribal elder, the 42-year-old Joe Dobbs, on fiddle (ah, adult supervision!) — made its first public appearance. This would inaugurate Joe's four decades of Floodishness. The venue was a weekend-long party at Pamela and Charlie’s house in the South Side of Huntington, a bi-annual event that regulars called “The Bash.” As noted, Joe had met Dave and Charlie the previous April and had jammed with them and Roger throughout the summer and by September 1975, they had tunes worked out together to share The Bash’s regulars. Here are two numbers from that magical weekend ("Blow of Your T.V." and "Gospel," Sept. 5, 1975). First, Rog leads the way on a John Prine tune was still relatively new in those days, “Blow Up Your TV.” Then Dave steps up with a tune that we learned from the great old Goose Creek Symphony called “The Gospel.” Meanwhile, the first recording of a Joe Dobbs solo piece with The Flood was at the same party. Here's Joe's September 1975 rendering of "Sail Away Ladies" (Sept. 6, 1975) with Roger, Dave and Charlie as the supporting cast.

1976

May 16, 1976: The Flood recorded its first jugband tunes ("Jug Band Music" and "Rag Mama", May 16, 1976), stirring in perhaps the most important ingredient to the witchy brew that would become The Flood’s music.

1976


Up until 1975, The Flood (then just three years old) had been playing what most hippy-born string bands in Appalachia played: traditional folk songs (“Gypsy Davy” and “John Riley”), Dylan tunes (“Girl from the North Country,” “Don’t Think Twice”), new songs by John Prime, Steve Goodman, Arlo Guthrie, even a smattering of “radio songs” from James Taylor, Elton John and Pure Prairie League, Marshall Tucker Band. Meanwhile, Joe, who had joined us less than a year earlier, had brought a fine repertoire of fiddle tunes for us to explore, and of course, Dave continued to contribute some great numbers from that West Virginia original, Aunt Jennie Wilson. All of that seemed like such a ripe, rich variety of music that would sate us for years. Who needed anything else?

But then came the autumn of 1975. Starting in October, Roger moved into the Peytons’ place on Mount Union Road to house-sit for the next six months (while David and Susan were in Louisiana, where Dave was working on an extended Alicia Patterson project down in Cajun country). That half year proved very fertile for The Flood. Every few days, Joe would come by to jam with Rog; when he didn’t, Charlie did. Sometimes Stew would join them; sometimes all four of them would pick. About the same time, Charlie started revisiting albums he had been introduced to in the late 1960s by his friend Dwight Collins: the crazy, wonderful music of Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band. This led him to the music of Stefan Grossman and Peter Siegel’s Even Dozen Jug Band, and then back to their source material, the old recordings by Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers, the Mississippi Sheiks, the Memphis Jug Band and so many others.

When Charlie began bringing a few of these zany tunes to the picking sessions on Mount Union Road, new lights came on. “I remember talking to one old guy,” Joe commented a bit later, “who told me the happiest music he ever made was the stuff he played back in the 1920s!” The Flood set about to channel that vibe. It gave the guys songs that almost no one else was playing. When Peyton got back in the spring, he was greeted with an entire new section of The Flood canon to teach his Autoharp. Needless to say, he wa a quick study and caught up quickly.

Here are the first two jug band tunes The Flood ever recorded: “Rag Mama” and “Jug Band Music (Certainly Was a Treat to Me!)” recorded at Dave and Susie’s house before their return from Louisiana. There are Rog and Charlie on guitars and vocals, Joe on fiddle and Stew on bass.

July 4, 1976: As the nation was celebrating its bicentennial, The Flood was invited to take part in a huge Fourth of July community picnic in Huntington’s Ritter Park, sponsored by the Huntington Publishing Co. Joining David, Joe july 4and Charles for that strolling gig was The Flood’s newest member, Stewart Schneider.

Actually, Stew had been around The Flood since its earliest days, having been a regular at the “Bowen Bash” music parties in the early 1970s. It was at those three-day gatherings that the band was the born in the smoke and beer of all-night jam sessions.

As seen in this photo, taken near the arched entrance to Ritter Park, Stewart played bass in the early days of his Floodishness, though by the end of the decade he had switched to harmonica. Incidentally, the headwear in this picture was supplied by the picnic organizers; as surprising as it is, The Flood did not — and does not — have a reservoir of straw hats.

Meanwhile, also near the Flood zone on that Independence Day 1976 was a future Floodster. Tenor banjoist Chuck Romine was leading his local dixieland contingent, The Lucky Jazz Band, on stage in another part of the park. We didn’t hear Chuck that day nor did he hear us — in fact, it would be 25 years before we all hooked up — but it was Chuck’s old dixieland roots that inspired our nickname for him when he was drawn into The Flood in the early 21st century: Doctor Jazz.

1977

March 17, 1977: Toward the end of his 82 years, Joe Dobbs was fond of saying, “You know, I think I’ve finally learned how to play this fiddle.” Okay, but those of us fortunate enough to have known Joe at the mid-point of his life were pretty impressed with what he already knew. Here’s evidence: in a recording from a party at the Bowens’ house, it’s a rendering of Bill Monroe’s “Jerusalem Ridge” (March 17, 1977) that Joe and Roger worked out in a winter’s worth of woodshedding.

Joe and Rog


July 22, 1977
: The Flood played at Huntington’s old Memorial Field House, one of several local bands opening for West Virginia country music legend Little Jimmy Dickens who was in town to headline a benefit concert sponsored by Cabell County Sheriff Ted T. Barr. Reporting on the evening in his regular column in The Herald-Dispatch a week later, Dave wrote about socializing and jamming backstage with the Bolt, WV, country star before the show. Dave described how Jimmy joined in on the chorus when the band played and sang, “I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight,” and how he listened intently to the words of “Barbara Allen,” and then how he told Joe, “Play ‘Sally Goodin’ and then I’ll leave you alone.” Floodster Roger Samples could not drive in from Mason County, WV, to join us for this particular gig, so Joe’s brother, Dennis Dobbs, stood in for him, offering up beautiful guitar solos when The Flood took the stage at the field house. About a year earlier, Dennis moved up from Texas so that he and Joe could open their Fret ’n Fiddle music store on Huntington’s West 14th Street. A few days before the Little Jimmy Dickens concert, H-D photographer Lee Bernard came by the store to get these pictures of Dave and Charlie, Joe and Dennis practicing for the show.

Little Jimmy


July 30, 1977: The wonderful, crazy three-day music parties at which The Flood was born and nurtured in its first years went public with a concert at The Huntington Museum. To host what would become a series of annual public bashes, The Flood was invited by the locally legendary Roberta Emerson, director of The Huntington Museum of Art.

1977 bash

How it came about is interesting. Barbara and John Koenig were regulars at those parties, and John was a third of the group Front Royal (with Charlie and Stew), which also performed in the parties. Barbara worked at the museum and told Roberta about all the great music she heard as these gatherings. Now, Roberta believed that the culture cooked up at "The Huntington Galleries" (as it was called in those days) could go stale without a little local seasoning, so she called for homegrown string band music to freshen the mix. Because of Roberta's vision, we saw amazing things from the amphitheater stage that night, such as sight of boys in tuxedos sitting next to girls in bib overalls.

David and Charlie kicked off the weird and wonderful evening with a few tunes, then we gradually stirred in more musicians. The Flood came together, first with Stew and Roger joining them at the mikes, then Stew and Bill.

Before the night was over, dozens of local musicians had crossed the stage -- Dave Holbrook and The Kentucky Foothill Ramblers, Bob Toothman, Mack and Ted Samples joined Rog to perform as the Samples Brothers, John Koenig came to do some Front Royal songs with Charlie and Stew and more -- ending with a massive sing-along reminiscent of the hootenanny days of the 1960s.

Here's a tune from The Flood's set early in the evening, with Joe leading us on “Sweet Georgia Brown,” (July 30, 1977) accompanied by Dave on Autoharp, Charlie on guitar and Stew on bass.

Nov. 19, 1977: The Flood had a jam session that made headlines, first in Huntington, then around the state and ultimately across the nation. It all started that afternoon when Bowen, who was then city editor of The Huntington Advertiser, spotted U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd at a United Press International Byrdmeeting. Sidling up, Charlie asked the senator what key he fiddled "Soldier's Joy" in. "Why, D, of course," Byrd said. "Great," said Charlie. "Wanna play some music?" Byrd grinned. "Got an extra fiddle?"

It all sounded very casual. Actually, though, Bowen and Peyton had been plotting this maneuver for more than a week, ever since they had learned that Bob Byrd was coming to town. Now, just about everyone in West Virginia knew that Robert C. Byrd was a fine fiddler, that he had played most of his life, starting out in square dance bands as a teenager as he grew up in Raleigh County. But few people on the national level had a clue about Byrd's fiddling past, mainly because the senator had no time for music once he had become the U.S. Senate majority leader. But now the nation would know what we West Virginians knew.

On that day in 1977, as soon as the senator showed interest in jamming a bit, Dave and Charlie went to work. They called their Flood co-conspirator Joe Dobbs to come quickly to the Huntington newspaper office lunchroom and to bring along an extra fiddle and to pick up our buddy David Holbrook, who hands-down was the finest banjo picker we knew. Shortly before 4 that afternoon, the foursome was playing "Flowers of Edinburgh" when the senator and his assistants arrived, followed by dozens of newspaper employees who wanted to hear this. Byrd happily took the fiddle Joe handed it, said, "Get in A, boys," then launched into a tune called "Red Bird." That was followed by a half dozen more tunes, from "Old Joe Clark" and "Cumberland Gap" to "Amazing Grace" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." After 45 minutes or so, Byrd said, "I have to go, boys. I really enjoyed it. I'd like to play some more some time." But, like any good musician, he couldn't leave the listeners wanting more. The crowd went crazy with his rollicking "Cripple Creek" encore.

Joe Dobbs grinned as his watched and listened. "I wish my grandma could be here now," Joe said. "She didn't think any fiddle player was worth a damn!" In the years come,

The Flood never knew what, if any, role that afternoon's jam session played in Byrd's decision the following year to come out with his debut album, "U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, Mountain Fiddler." After the LP's release, Byrd went on to perform at the Kennedy Center, on the Grand Ole Opry and on TV's "Hee Haw." And he continued to play publicly until 1982, when symptoms of a benign essential tremor began to affect the use of his hands. Sen. Byrd died in June 2010, and music was still a huge part of his legacy. Our friend Bobby Taylor, a West Virginia fiddle champion, played the senator's favorite tunes during a public visitation in the W.Va. capitol rotunda.

1978

Dave and DennisMay 5, 1978: After five or six years of being one of the “party bands” at the biannual “Bowen Bash” gatherings, The Flood found its weird tunes becoming standards — even sing-alongs — among that select community of esoteric music fans. So familiar had Floodishness become, in fact, that by now when some of the band members were absent, regular listeners could take up their parts.

Here’s a case in point, a Bowen Bash at which two key bandmates were not on hand, and yet the tunes rolled on, as this two-song ("June Apple," "Gospel" May 5, 1978), three-minute track attest.

The first is David’s performance of “June Apple,” which usually was a showcase for Joe’s fiddling. However, Joe wasn’t there that night; in his place was his baby brother Dennis Dobbs, flat-picking phenom who matched the regular fiddle solo note-for-note.

In second track, Dave takes off on his Goose Creek Symphony tune, “Gospel,” which ordinarily was a great duet opportunity for Rog Samples, who also wasn’t on hand that night. To save the day, an impromptu assemblage of partiers jumped in to fill the void with their own harmonies. You can hear David Holbrook calling Bill Hoke ("G.W.!") up to the mike to join in. Ah, we thought the party'd never end...

July 7, 1978: Joe and Dennis Dobbs performed at the opening dayof the annual Pocahontas County Mountain Music and Bluegrass Festival with hammer dulcimer player Mary Faith Rhoads. The performance was recorded and that West Virginia State Archives video was later incorporated in a West Virginia Public Broadcasting series calld "Sugar in the Gourd." Here's the video of that performance:

 

Dave-1978Aug. 26, 1978: The 1937 Flood was asked to host another party at The Huntington Museum of Art, following up on the series started the previous summer.

David Peyton kicked off that weird and wonderful evening with a solo set with his Autoharp. Then we gradually added more musicians. Roger Samples and Charlie Bowen joined Dave after a few tunes, then Dennis and Joe Dobbs and Stew Schneider came in.

Before the night was over, dozens of local musicians had crossed the stage -- The Kentucky Foothill Ramblers, the Samples Brothers, Front Royal -- ending with a massive sing-along reminiscent of the hootenanny days of the 1960s. And it all started with Dave and "Simple Gifts," which you can hear right here.

1979

May 5, 1979: The Flood did a little preaching, using as its text the Old Testament story of "Samson and Delilah." Actually, it was The Flood's take on a classic Rev. Gary Davis tune, a slightly milder version of which had appeared a decade and a half earlier on the first Peter, Paul and Mary album. But as you'll hear here, there was nothing mild about The Flood's "tear-it-down" rendition, complete with Roger' show-stopping guitar solo and Dave's cosmic commentary on everything from urban renewal to "old-fashioned head honey." How did this recording come to be?

Thereby hangs a tale. At that Saturday night party in May 1979, Joe had been telling the story of how Charlie had recently been mistaken for a fire-and-brimstone preacher. It was all because of the band's performance of this particular song a little earlier at Hannan High School in Mason Countyy, WV, where Roger was teaching. Rog had wrangled an invitation for The Flood to play at an assembly at the school, during which the "Samson" performance seemed to persuade some of the listeners of Bowen's Bible-thumping prowess. Well, the partygoers were skeptical -- to them nothing about Bowen seemed especially ministerial -- so they demanded a re-enactment.

For years afterward, recording of The Flood's take on "Samson" circulated on tape among friends; later the song wound up on the band's "Hip Boots: The Flooded Basement Tapes" CD. And now, nearly 40 years later, the tune refuses to die. Its latest incarnation in a video above, which the guys made for inclusion in the 2011 "Wade in the Water" DVD.

June 5, 1979: PM Magazine, a syndicated TV series with a news and entertainment format, aired a feature on Fret 'n' Fiddle, the then-2-year-old Huntington, WV, music store operated by Joe and his brother, Dennis. The feature, produced by the show's Steve Shannon, offered extensive interviews with both the brothers as they worked on repairing guitars and fiddles, then ended with some great footage of a typical Saturday jam session at the West 14th Street shop. Here is that complete seven-minute feature:

 

Aug. 19, 1979: On a brutally hot and muggy August Sunday afternoon, The Flood hunkered down in the air-conditioned living room of an old South South house in Huntington to play some tunes into a reel-to-reel tape recorder. After being primarily an impromptu “party band” for the first five or so years of its existence, The Flood had finally decided to get a little more serious about itself. It was broadening the repertoire and working on regular, dependable arrangements of tunes, but without forsaking the spontaneity that had made the picking fun in the first place. On this particular Sunday, Brother Peyton wasn’t in his pew — he and Susie were out of town — but there was nonetheless a healthy number of Floodsters in the congregation.

Joe, Rog and Charlie were on hand, of course, along with Bill Hoke on bass and Stew Schneider on harmonica. And joining them that day was Jack Nuckols, a veteran folk music, with mad skills on guitar, dulcimer and fiddle; however, for this recording, Jack went minimalist, turning to the simplest instrument imaginable.

As noted earlier, Charlie and Jack had known each other since high school, and in those day, Jack Nuckols was an extraordinary drummer — both in the marching band and in the jazz stage band — so it was only natural that for his Flood session, Jack held down the rhythm section. Here it is, “Mama Don’t ‘Low,” featuring Jack Nuckols and his irrepressible, irresistible spoons!


The 1980s

1980

April 24, 1980: Huntington’s Dogwood Arts & Craft Festival has always been a sentimental favorite of The Flood. Back in the early 1970s, David and Charlie performed annually at the first few shows — in fact, the crafts fair was among their first public performances as a duo — and, of course, it was at the 4th Dogwood Festival in 1975 that they met Joe. For many years, music was a prime element of the annual festivities, and The Flood was always happy to do its bit.

Dogwood 1980

A particularly good Dogwood gig -- exactly five years to the day after meeting up with fiddler Dobbs -- was the 1980 show, when that original Peyton-Bowen aggregation tripled in size, with Joe, Rog, Bill and Stew joining them on Wallacestage.

The show also illustrated not only how diverse the boys’ repertoire had become by then, but also how the band’s instrumentation was expanding. Brother Dave, who had been studying Cajun first-hand in trips to Louisiana with Susan and David Jr., had been giving lots of thought to Cajuns’ use of the venerable washboard in their music and figured the same instrument — with some modifications — could give a new texture to The Flood’s jug band tunes. Starting in the autumn of ’79, he started experimenting and by the spring of the new decade, Wallace the Washboard was born, with a rich assortment of horns, kazoos, whistles, shakers and other implements of general grin-inducing rowdiness. Now he could switch from Autoharp to Wallace as the different tunes inspired him.

In this five-minute audio sample of the afternoon’s performance ("Marie," "Black Eye Blues," Soldier's Joy," April 24, 1980) you hear Dave demonstrating Wallace’s entire range of options. The track enters mid-song (and mid kazoo break) on “Marie (The Dawn is Breaking)” (“the moon … the moon!”), then segues into a raunchy Ma Rainey tune called “Black Eye Blues” (highly inappropriate for the daylight hours…) and wraps up with a Joe’s ripping and roaring rendition of “Soldier’s Joy,” a sprint that left half of us in the shade, though do listen to how Bill and David pace him note for note on the bass and Autoharp. Whew!

June 20-21, 1980: The third weekend in June found the original three Floodsters — Dave, Roger and Charlie — in Glenville, WV, for the West Virginia State Folk Festival. The boys had been “doin’ Glenville” for years by then. For Roger, it was always a family thing; after all, his brother Mack, a professor at Glenville College, managed the festival, and his brother Ted was a Glenville alum. No wonder The Samples Brothers Band is still legendary in this part of The Mountain State. And this particular Glenville 1980 weekend, Dave and Charlie became hippy-hold-out poster boys for the festival. The two arrived in town that Friday in the ultimate old hippy conveyance: a VW microbus, which Dave had recently bought from Rog. Dave parked the minibus on main street, then the guys slid open the side doors and broke out the instruments. No wonder they drew the attention of roving photographers. In fact, made made the front page of The Parkersburg News the next morning.

glenville

Another fun memory of that particular afternoon: when Roger arrived and the three of them jammed around the bus, an old man who may or may not have been deeply in his cups (memories differ) asked Roger, “Can you play that ‘Spanish Fandango’?” Something about that request tickled Rob’s funny bone and for years afterwards, in a lull between tunes, Roger — always an expert voice impersonator — would echo that request perfectly: “Boys, do that ‘Spanish Fandango’!”

Incidentally, Roger would later write a beautiful song — “Ladies Sail Away” — about those magical moonlit Glenville nights, memories of fiddlers and dancing girls dressed in gingham. In the summer of 2011, during an evening’s reunion with his old Flood comrades, Roger played the song again, as seen in this video shot by Pamela.

 

1981

Sept. 19, 1981: The band played together in public for one of the last times before what would turn out to be a near decade-long drought of Floodishness. The occasion of the last of nearly 10 years of the semi-annual music parties called The Bowen Bash.

That September evening in 1981, no one knew for sure that change was coming, but there was definitely something in the air. Marriages were breaking up, and friends were moving away. Joe was moving Fret ’n Fiddle from Huntington to St. Albans. Roger was moving to Kentucky. Bill was heading to Virginia. Meanwhile, distractions were moving in. Stew got one of the first personal computers on the market. He hooked Charlie and Pamela. Charlie and Pamela hooked David. CompuServe, the online information service from Columbus, Ohio, hooked everybody with its modem-y goodness. Suddenly, music seems …. Oh, so 70’s…. Now, sure, after this last bash, there would still be occasional Flood reunions — we’d get together “once a season, whether we need it or not,” Charlie would tell Joe on his new “Music from the Mountains” radio show in a few years — but for all practical purposes, The Flood went into recess until the early 1990s.

But that was later.This partiular September night found The Flood is all its goofy glory, demonstrating the foundational foolishness, the serious silliness of arrangements and song selection that dated from its earliest days. For instance, Roger, until its dying day, had an abiding love for the wackiness of the great comic band leader Spike Jones, and he brought the same treatment to the band’s latest surprise for that evening's party, his weird and wonderful take on “Unchained Melody.” It’s pure Roger and Dave: Righteous Brothers cum Spike. Here’s a music video version of the tune that we put together a few years ago as a vide extra for our DVD, “The Making of ‘Wade in the Water.’”

 

1983

Nov. 12, 1983: Joe’s “Music from the Mountains” show hit with West Virginia Public Radio air waves. Joe had a long history with radio — he had worked on the air in the West in the ‘50s and ‘60s and had been manager of a radio station in Albuquerque, New Mexico — but he hadn’t wanted to get back into that business. Not, that is, until he moved to West Virginia in the late 1960s and began hearing Appalachian musicians. When Joe and his brother, Dennis, opened Fret ’n’ Fiddle music store in West Huntington, Saturday morning jam sessions with local pickers became a staple. Ultimately, the brothers bought some decent recording equipment and began taping the music and pitching the idea of a show to WV Public Broadcasting. In the late summer of 1982, Joe called his Flood family together — Dave, Rog, Charlie and Bill Hoke — and in the shop produced a full-fledged promo for a show, complete with live music and interviews.

c1983

In the demo, Joe called the show “West Virginia R.F.D.” The name didn’t stick; He later selected “Music from the Mountains,” because, as he wrote in “A Country Fiddler,” his autobiography, he wanted a title “that would give me the freedom to air any type of acoustic music I wanted, such as a folk group or a string quartet.” The Flood segment — edited with the new show name inserted — would be among the first shows aired in the series that would run for the next two decades on WVPB. Here’s a 9-minute chunk of that initial show ("Mississippi Sawyer," "Rag Mama," Jug Band Music." 1983).

1984

June 30, 1984: By 1984, we had begun to speak of The Flood in past tense, and it looks as if the band — after 10 years of rowdiness at parties, jam sessions and coffeehouses — would be put away with the other sweet things of childhood. That was certainly the mood when Roger and Charlie joined Joe on the radio for a couple of hours of talk and tunes in the summer of ’84. Here’s a 20-minute sample of that show (“Big Bad Bill,” “You Can Close Your Eyes,” “Down by the Sallie Gardens,” "My Dear Companion," “Fishin’ Blues,” 1984).

Charlie and RogerAt that time, Joe’s “Music from the Mountains” show was still brand new on West Virginia Public Radio, having started just seven months earlier. Initially Joe had followed a traditional format, simply playing recordings and talking about the music for his two hours every Saturday night from 8 to 10. However, increasingly Joe urged the network to let him bring West Virginia musicians into the studio to do live music on the show; when the bosses began to see the wisdom of his suggestion, Joe reached out to the pickers and singers he already knew, people like Mack Samples, Buddy Griffin, Sallie Sublette and, of course, his old bandmates in The Flood.

But by then, The Flood had become a sometimes kind of thing, playing “once a season, whether we need it or not,” as Charlie told Joe on the show. The truth was the Floodsters were all moving in different directions, perhaps sampling this idea of becoming adults, a notion that they had heard so much about. For instance, David and Charlie had begun writing books about personal computers for New York publishers like Bantam Books, exciting stuff but pretty time consuming, leaving little time for music. Roger and his wife Tammy, married two years by then, had their first baby, Emily, and their second child, son Kyle, was due in October. Stew Schneider — also married then, he and Kathy with a baby of their own — was busy with his career with the commonwealth attorney office in Kentucky and would soon be elected prosecutor. Bill Hoke was working at Cabell-Huntington Hospital, but plotting his own retreat; he soon would head to Abingdon, Va., and begin a new life with his wife Evelyn. And Joe had already moved away, relocating his Fret ’n Fiddle music store from Huntington to St. Albans.

So when Joe invited Roger and Charlie to co-host the MftM show that week, to pick a few tunes and tell a few stories, there was a hint of sadness in their voices. Of course, there was no way of knowing that this was not the end of The Flood, only the end of its first wave. In the ‘90s, the band would be back, eventually grower bigger than it ever was in its hippy salad days.


The 1990s

1991

Oct. 4-5, 1991: Ten years after the last of the Bowen Bashes — the weekend-long, semiannual music parties at which The Flood was born and nurtured — we had a reunion. Dave and Susie Peyton hosted the affair at their rural Cabell County home. We rented a tent with sides, tables, chairs and a porta-potty, and sent out the call for the pickers and their families to gather. We had a tub of ice and beer and soft drinks and lots of food (cold cuts and bread, veggies and dip, salsa and chips, pound cake and, of course, Pamela’s famous Bash favorites: her chocolate chip cookies. We built a bonfire outside the tent so people could stand or sit around it and stay warm (Appalachian weather in October is unpredictable) and still hear the music. Meanwhile, the musicians sat or stood around a kerosene heater inside the tent.

Not all the bash regulars could attend — over the decade since the last bash in 1981, people had moved in a lot of directions (geographically, emotionally, artistically and otherwise…) — but it was a good representation of the hippy fun that prompted The Flood spirit all those years ago, and the four original Floodster -- Dave, Rog, Stew and Charlie-- were on hand to dust off the old repetoire. (Rog liked to quote an old fellow he met one time, who would say, “Ahh, I see you play the old songs…”)

reunion

Meanwhile, Jackie Jadrnak, a beloved listener at almost of the original bashes and a photographer who had taken classic bash pictures over the years, got the prize for traveling the longest distance to the gathering. Jackie, who worked with the Bowens and Peytons the newspapers, had left Huntington for Columbus then moved on to New Mexico where she still lives today. Others traveled in from Florida and Indiana, Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. We had a boom box set up so we could play old bash tapes during lapses in the music, but there were no lapses in the music over the two days of reunion.

One effect of that night of music and memories was to plant a seed in Charlie and Dave’s mind to, as the saying goes, get the old band back together. And in another five years or so, it would happen.

Oct. 29, 1991: Joe was featured on a West Virginia Public TV show, aired on this date and filmed in Beckley, WV, "An Evening with Joe Dobbs," being interviewed by Andy Ridenour. Here's the 30-minute show:

 

1996

Jan. 27, 1996: At party in Ironton, Ohio, hosted by the late Cathie and Bob Toothman, fiddlin' Joe Dobbs hooked up again with Bowen and Peyton, leading to a major reawakening of The 1937 Flood in the months that followed. And it all happened because of Joe's chance meeting with another former Floodster, ToothmansBill Hoke, who was on his way to the same great party. Of course, Joe had been on hand 20 years earlier when Dave, Charlie and Roger Samples started the band in the early 1970s, and he had played with The Flood all along, as did Bill for part of that time.

But by the mid-1980s, band members started drifting off in different directions. Joe moved his Fret 'n Fiddle music store from Huntington to St. Albans; Rog left West Virginia, moving with Tammy and the kids to Mount Sterling, Ky.; Dave and Charlie put music on hold as they got busy writing computer books together for Bantam Books; Bill got married and moved to Abingdon, Va. So for about a decade, The Flood was more of a fond memory than a reality, a sometimes-kind-of jam session thing.

But then on Jan. 27, 1996, Bill was passing through and stopped at Joe's shop to visit and to check out instruments, and while there he said, "Hey, you ARE going to the Toothmans' party tonight, aren't you?" Honestly, Joe hadn't planned to -- he still didn't feel tip-top because of his car wreck the previous summer in which he had badly hurt his shoulder -- but, he told us later, "Bill Hoke kind of shamed me into it. I mean, I figured if he could come all the way from Virginia for a party, I sure as hell ought to go too." And we were all glad he did. After jamming a bit at the Toothmans' do with Charlie and Dave on some of the old tunes they'd played a decade earlier, Joe was eager for more, and by the following spring, the three of them had resumed weekly sessions at the Bowens' house. Joe then would play with the band for the rest of his life.

March 27, 1996: Stewart Schneider and Charlie sat down to record a few of a tunes they had been working on lately. Stew had been in The Flood off and on since its earliest days. When Joe joined up in 1975, Stew was already there, playing bass.Then, in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, when the guys got juggy with it and started exploring the after-dark hokum tunes of folks like The Memphis Jug Band, Gus Cannon and Tampa Red and Georgia Tom, Stew switched to a bluesy harmonica to be The Flood’s first woodwind section.

charlie - stew

Later still, Stew drifted away again to sample other instruments. By the mid-1990s, he had become quite a talented and tasteful Autoharp player, and he and Charlie regularly jammed on Wednesday evenings. This 9-minute track ("My Heart Belongs to She," Stewart's Song," "October Wind") recorded on March 27, 1996, illustrates the kind of tunes the duet was playing in those days. The first song is a composition by Andy M. Stewart and Manus Lunny, “My Heart Belongs to She,” which they’d heard on the late, great WOUB radio’s “Below The Salt” show with Keith Newman. Following that is an instrumental that Stewart wrote. (We’ve forgotten what he called it, so it goes down in history as “Stewart’s Song.”) The final cut is the guys’ rendition of the Irish lullaby, “October Wind,” featuring not only Stew’s harmonica, but also his vocal harmony. (And THERE's the evidence, so don’t let him ever tell you he can’t sing….)

1997

March 5, 1997: David, Joe and Charlie hit the road to entertain visiting young women from Marquette University who were spending their spring break helping out around the tiny West Virginia coal camp of Rhodell in Raleigh rhodellCounty. Planning for that evening actually started two months earlier when The Flood played a New Year’s Eve party at the home of Dave’s boss, newspaper editor Bob Gabordi.

One of the party-goers was Dave’s co-worker Marina Hancock-Mathews, who told Dave the band’s folk music would really appeal to her mother. In the weeks after that, the more he and Marina talked, the more Dave realized that this mom – an old-style activist and community organizer named Martha Thaxton – was a force of nature.

Largely because of Martha, Rhodell – a bedroom community of Sophia (home of the late Sept. Robert C. Byrd), itself a bedroom community of Beckley – had become a great little nest of lefties there tucked away in the foothills of Tams Mountain. It was also because of Martha that the Marquette students volunteered to come to West Virginia each year to work around a little health clinic operated by a Catholic sister, painting and fixing up. As a result of Dave’s friendship with Marina, Rhodell was a early March destination for The Flood for the next four or five years.

For that first trip, it was two and half hours in the rain with Dave behind the wheel on narrow, winding roads. But it was worth it. Martha had a fire going and, as Charlie emaled his cousin Kathy the next morning, the eight wide-eyed yankees "were blown away by Joe's fiddling and The Flood's peculiar, decadent jug band music. Martha fed us some fantastic mountain soul food and we played until 10 before turning toward home. It was after midnight when I got home, so I'm a little red-eyed this morning, but smilin' -- good memories.'

One particular memory of our Rhodell trips was a song that Martha Thaxton requested each year. Being old folkie herself, she loved the songs of Tom Paxton that were so central to the 1960s. “Do you guys do ‘I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound’?” she’d ask. “Just for you, Martha,” we’d say, and then play her request. And it turned out it really was just for Martha. After the annual Rhodell trips ended, the song drifted out of our repertoire. Then recently, the song popped back into Charlie’s head and, well … let him tell it; here’s the memory recorded in a 2017 episode of The Flood’s “Jam Logs” podcast.

Aug. 29, 1997: David and Charlie came to do a live performance on Joe’s “Music from the Mountains” radio show on West Virginia Public Radio. By then, Joe had been hosting the weekly show for a little over 13 years, and The Flood had been involved in it from the very beginning. (Or, well, BEFORE its beginnings, actually. Back in the late summer of 1982, when Joe was just thinking of pitching public radio on the idea of a weekly show, he called his Flood brothers together at Fret 'n Fiddle, to record a demo of how he envisions the show, complete with interviews and live music. That was more than a year before the show hit the air on Nov. 11, 1983.) Anyway, for the first decade or so, MftM was mainly a play-records-and-talk kind of event, but lately, Joe had wanted to bring more live music to the air in the time slot, and once again he called on the Family Flood to help out. On Aug. 29, 1997, the trio that was The Flood in those days came to the Charleston studios for an hour of music, stories and laughs. Here’s an eight-minute hunk of the evening in which Joe interviews Dave about his history with the Autoharp, followed by a live performance of a Peyton classic, “Furniture Man," Aug. 29, 1997.

1999

May 1, 1999: The Flood began a decade-long tradition of playing at the annual Spring Festival at Heritage Farm Museum and Village the first Saturday of each May. Earlier that year, the late Mike Perry, an old friend and founder of the farm, contacted David Peyton, saying that West Virginia's most eclectic string was a natural fit for what he hope to present at his new farm museum. We thought so too. The Flood's first appearance was at the 3rd annual festival in 1999, and Mike usually made a point stopping by to sing a few tunes with us as you see here.

farm

July 10 and 24, 1999: The re-united Flood – as the trio of Joe, Dave and Charlie – had been jamming together for several years by the summer of '99. However, except for the occasional freebie (picking at the early incarnations of the spring festival at Heritage Farm Museum and Village, making the March pilgrimage to Tams Mountain to play for visiting Marquette students), the guys stayed pretty close to home, picking mainly at Charlie or Dave's house. However, Joe was getting eager to get the group a little exposure, so he booked two out-of-town paying gigs.

The first (July 10) was a Saturday evening performance at Fort New Fort Salem, a reconstructed frontier settlement of 19th century log structures about three hours to the north of Huntington in the wilds of Harrison County, WV. The show, performed on an outdoors log stage with the audience in folding chairs and on the ground in front of the pickers, was primarily fiddle tunes and traditional Appalachian ballads and dance songs. A particularly sweet moment from the evening was the memory one of young lady coming up to the guys after the show; with tears in her eyes, she took Joe's hand and said, “That was my father's favorite song; I've not heard heard it since his funeral.” On the drive back to Huntington, Joe was still thinking about that sweet moment. “That's why we do this,” he said.

The second gig (July 24) was several hours to the southeast of town in Fayetteville. WV. The venue was a wonderfully restored old theater with great acoustics, a balcony and plush seats, and we were not accustomed to much we were catered to. We had a sound man working the board for us, a spotlight, a dressing room, and people even paid to get in and hear us, a first... We had a very good time. The music went well, the audience was warm and responsive. We played two 45-minute sets, with a 10-minute intermission, during which we chatted to som of the several hundred people in the audience. Following the second set, we even got two encores. It was a pretty magic evening.

Aug. 25, 1999: The trio played in a coffeehouse in the basement of a lovely downtown Huntington independent bookstore called Renaissance. It was the band’s first renaissancegig in that venue, and the guys drew a nice, enthusiastic crowd, including a sweet little family — mom, dad and wide-eyed little girl — that seemed to smile in unison whenever The Flood launched into yet another John Prine song. The family would return two weeks later to party with us again when we returned to the coffeehouse for another couple of sets in early September.

Also at that second gig, we were just setting up when in walked Dale Jones, leader of the great local Backyard Dixie Jazz Stompers. Recognizing the the mid-1999 version of The Flood was a little light on the bottom end of its chords — we were still four months away from hooking up with bass man extraordinaire Doug Chaffin — Dale brought along his tuba and sat in with us for the two hours as we played a steady stream of jug band and jump tunes. This time the family’s little daughter — maybe six or seven years old — got fascinated with the sound of the tuba and danced to one tune after another.

From that day on, Dale Jones would be a dear friend of The Flood. Incidentally, the poster we created to promote the Renaissance gigs was the first time we used the phrase that we would repeat often over the next couple of decades: The band, not the natural disaster, along with our faux Charles Darwin quote: “There ain’t nothin’ natural about these boys’ selections!”

Nov. 21, 1999: The Flood played its first show at Tamarack near Beckley, WV. The famed arts/crafts tourist destination — an economic development project of the West Virginia Parkways Authority selling homegrown craft products, as well as specialty food items, fine art and books and recordings — was only three years old at the time. tamarackJoe, representing the interests of musicians around the Mountain State, had been active in helping get the venue started, and he had no trouble persuading his cohorts Dave and Charlie to join him for one of Tamarack’s first free Sunday afternoon concerts. Many of the tunes the three played that day — “Rocking Chair,” “Fair and Tender Ladies,” “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Furniture Man,” Sally Garden,” Jug Band Music” — would appear on the band’s first CD two years later, by which time the trio had expanded to a sextet.

Meanwhile, this picture, one of our favorites, verifies that the gig featured one of the rare occasions when Joe not only switched from fiddle to mandolin but also sang. (We think the tune we were doing when this shot was snapped was Hazel Dickens’ “West Virginia, My Home,” a song for which Joe had found a high harmony he particularly liked to sing.) The Flood has played Tamarack many times since that November 1999 show; it remains one of our all-time favorite venues.

Dec. 31, 1999: The Flood jammed with Doug Chaffin for the first at a New Year's Eve party in Ashland, Ky.

Now, Dave, Joe and Charlie had been looking to add a bass for a while. Joe, who always said "if you don't have a bass, you don't have a band," doug-basswas nonetheless skeptical about our prospects. "We're not going to find a bassman who wants to play the weird stuff we're doing these days," he said, referring to the band's eclectic mix of folk, blues and swing. And so far he had been correct. (Oh, during the late summer, Joe had brought around one bass player to the practice. "Don't scare him away," Joe said. "He's a preacher." The only session we had with the fellow went well enough initially, but when we morphed into some of the rowdier jug band tunes, we could tell by his expression that he wouldn't be back. Joe just grinned and shook his head, and we never saw that guy again.)

So, by the end of the year, as the three of us headed to Nancy McClellan's 1999 year-end bash, we pretty much figured we'd have to remain bass-less. But at the party, we just kicked into some of of the swing tunes we'd lately been playing ("Sunny Side of the Street," "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Star Dust") and suddenly Doug picked up his bass and jumped in.

For years, we had been hearing Doug play behind fiddlers like J.P. Fraley, but we had no idea he was interested in swing stuff too. NancyListening as Doug's sweet bass lines just cleaned up all the ragged edges of what we were playing that night, Joe winked and nodded. Here, from Nancy’s recording of the evening, is the very first tune Doug played with us, a raucous rendition of “Somebody Stole My Gal” Dec. 31, 1999.

During a break at the party, Charlie sidled up to where Doug was sitting on the couch by his wife Donna. But now, Charlie had transformed into a frat boy and Doug was suddenly the prettiest girl in the room. "So, we usually play on Wednesdays. You wanna pick with us?" Charlie said. "Or, are Wednesday not good? We could change it. What night would be good for you?" Watching this little episode unfold, Joe edged closer and whispered, "Watch it, Charlie -- you're going to scare him away too." Fortunately, Doug doesn't scare easy.

Starting in January 2000, he become a regular, and Doug Chaffin now is our most veteran Floodster after band founders Dave and Charlie. Over the years, Doug has played bass, guitar, mandolin and fiddle with The Flood, and is still going strong .Here's a classic Doug Chaffin bass solo from a live June 2002 performance in Morehead, Ky. Check out the band's reaction when Doug kicks into gear, then hear how he continues to drive the tune under Dave's crazy kazoo work that immediately follows the bass solo. Too cool.


The 2000s

2000

May 7, 2000 -- The Flood for the first time played the Saturday morning breakfast session of the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks Fan Reunion Bash, a Huntington, WV, gathering of traditional jazz fans from all over the country. Coon-Sanders organizer Dale Jones, leader of Huntington’s Coon Sanders 2000Backyard Dixie Jazz Stompers (and the first tuba player to jam with The Flood, had a hunch that the reunion regulars would get a kick out of the jug band portion of The Flood’s eclectic repertoire, and he was right!

After that May 2000 performance at the breakfast session, The Flood would be invited back every year as a regular Saturday morning feature of the annual reunion for the next 13 years. The band would play at each May gathering until the final Coon Sanders Huntington reunion in 2012. The size and composition of the band showing up would change from year to year, sometimes just a minimalist trio of Joe, Dave and Charlie, other times a big eight-member ensemble, complete with guest artists and almost always with kazoos to share with the audience for hum-alongs.

One of our favorite Coon Sanders memories was our May 2008 appearance, when we persuaded the great ragtime pianist Jazzou Jones to join us for the entire hour-long set. Jazzou was visiting West Virginia from his hometown in Maine, on his way to a gig in Charleston. Here's some audio from that morning. In the track, the band starts its opening number (“Jug Band Music”) and midway through you can hear Charlie called Jazzou to the stage to be part of the fun. And fun it was!

May 29, 2000: The Flood for the first time played the Vandalia Gathering in Charleston, performing a 30-minute set on an outdoor stage in front of the state capitol complex. The guys’ program that afternoon, emceed by an old friend — West Virginia fiddling icon John Morris — featured mostly jug band tunes of the 1920s and ’30s, music that on one hand energized the crowd (we had dancers calling for more as the show ended), but on the other hand also brewed a mini-controversy among some Mountain State traditionalists. As we said that day — as we would say in many shows in the years to come — The Flood fervently believes jug band music has as much a legitimate place in Appalachian history as do the fiddle tunes and the square dances.

Vandalia

Sure, the jug band tradition is not always clearly defined in the history books, but it apparently began in the hills of Virginia before traveling on to more urban areas, immigrating in the late ‘20s to river towns like Louisville and Cincinnati (and Huntington, Ashland and Ironton, for that matter!) We told our Vandalia listeners that day that the tunes we played (“Rag Mama” and “Yas Yas Duck” among others), complete with Dave's cool kazoo solos,could be seen as mountain pickers imitating the jazz bands they heard on passing riverboats. In other words, it was another twist on the folk tradition that the Vandalia Gathering was born to celebrate. Sadly, not everybody bought what we were selling — over the years, some staunch folk purists (okay, Joe called them "folk Nazis") would continue to contend that West Virginia’s most eclectic string band just wasn’t “West Virginia enough” for them — and for our part, we just agreed to disagree.

Oct. 18, 2000: The Flood — at the invitation of then-Mayor Jean Dean and TTA Director Vickie Shaffer — entertained folks who were gathered to hear the exciting plans for construction of the new Pullman Square on Dave-1978Huntington’s long-delayed “Superblock” downtown. The day had a strange start. An hour or two before we were to play, we learned that Doug Chaffin, our new bass player, would not be joining us; earlier in the day he had broken his wrist while working on a car in his garage, and it developed that he would be out of commission for the rest of the year.

However, the rest of the old-line Floodsters — Joe, Dave and Charlie — soldiered on, playing a lively mix of fiddle tunes, folks songs and the great old swing tunes the band lately had been sampling. And it was those latter numbers that attracted the attention of a couple of especially well-tuned ears. Chuck Romine had never heard The 1937 Flood until that afternoon, and those songs — ranging from “Sunny Side of the Street” and “Up a Lazy River” to “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “My Blue Heaven” — drew him to the bandstand to chat us up during a break. Until recent years, Chuck had led his own group — The Lucky Jazz Band, a much-loved local Dixieland outfit — and lately he had begun to miss making music. He missed it so much, in fact, that two months later, Chuck, with trusty tenor banjo in hand, would show up at our door to sit in at a Flood practice. Subsequent sittings-in week after week throughout that winter ultimately would result in Chuck’s joining The Flood, playing with the band for the next six years. He'd be featured prominently on the band’s first three CDs and it all its shows. And it all started that October afternoon on 3rd Avenue.

2001

Jan. 31, 2001: Chuck Romine brought his well-tempered tenor banjo to jam for the first time with The Flood. We had known Chuck for a long time; not only was he one of Cabell County's representatives in the state legislature, chuckbut he also had famously fronted a beloved local Dixieland ensemble, The Lucky Jazz Band, in the 1960s and '70s. Until his Flood exposure that night, however, Chuck had never played with an acoustic string band -- he was used to making that banjo roar along with all that brass -- but it turned out Chuck also could turn it down and play a light precise style that clicked right away with The Flood’s swing/jugband/folk/country repertoire.

Jan. 31, 2001, was funny evening, though. It got off to a rocky start. Joe hadn't been practicing much the previous couple of weeks -- he mainly had been crawling around dealing with frozen water pipes at his house -- and even when David arrived and jump in with his Autoharp and kazoo, the session was still limping along.

However, when Doug showed up with the bass and then Chuck arrived with the party-in-a-box that was his banjo, the night instantly went from rocky to rockin' and it stayed hot for the next two solid hours, generating smiles all around.

Throughout that winter, Chuck continued jamming with us and by spring we were asking him to joined as a full-fledged Floodster. "Doctor Jazz," as we still call him when he returns to sit in with us from time to time, became a solid presence in the band for the next six years. One of the first tunes Chuck played with us that first chilly winter's night was "Bill Bailey," which also made its way onto The Flood's first studio CD that fall. Click here for a taste of Chuck's signature tune!

2001June 6, 2001: The Flood began recording its first CD, gathering in Charleston at the studios of Joe’s “Musicfrom the Mountains” radio show on West Virginia Public Radio. Working the controls that evening was the incomparable Buddy Griffin, who is not only a world-class fiddler, but also first-rate at fiddling with the knobs and levers of audio engineering.

At that initial session, The Flood was still a foursome — Joe, Dave, Doug and Charlie — though by the end of the summer, the band would grow by 50 percent when we were joined by Chuck Romine on banjo and Sam St. Clair on harmonica. Because of our population growth, many of the tunes recorded as a quartet in that preliminary session would have to be re-recorded as a sextet when we got together with Buddy again in the fall. However, a few of the tunes from that June 6, 2001, recording session found their way on to the introductory CD, including this rendition of “Fair and Tender Maidens.”

Incidentally, this number has its own long history with The Flood. The late Roger Samples helped Charlie come up with the unusual arrangement of this old folk song while sitting at the kitchen table of the Bowens’ house some time in the mid-1980s. It was a tribute to Rog’s long history with The Flood that we wanted to include the song on the first CD.

samJuly 25, 2001: Harmonicat Sam St. Clair joined the band. Earlier that month, Charlie had met Sam following a meeting of the Rotary Club where Bowen had been invited to speak about his up and coming web design business.

Fellow Floodster Chuck Romine, a long-time Rotarian, had gotten Charlie the speaking gig; Sam was a member of the same Rotary and in the audience that afternoon. After the talk, they chatted and Sam mentioned that he played harmonica. Charlie jumped at the chance to invite him to sit in at the next Flood rehearsal, where Sam so rocked the evening that the group by unanimous acclamation voted to invite him to join the family.

Over the years, many members have come and gone in The Flood, but Sam has been a happy constant, his solid harp lines a defining characteristic of the band’s sound, his humor one of the spices in its recipes. And the good times started right away.

Within days of joining the band, Sam started playing live shows with The Flood. For instance, less than a month after that first rehearsal evening, The Flood played a new club in downtown Huntington called Masquerade Dinner Theater. The club itself did not endure — it gone within the year — and there’s no recording of the band’s sets there. However, we do have this recording of our Aug. 11, 2001, audition for the gig. Here’s a snippet, featuring Sam’s memorable solo on “Sweet Georgia Brown.”

Aug. 19, 2001: By late summer 2001, The Flood quartet that was Doug, Joe, David and Charlie had expanded by two. Chuck had been playing with us since January and in July, Sam had joined the family, so when the group played at the short-lived Masquerade Dinner Theater in downtown Huntington, it was as a sextet.

The owner of the new venue was overly optimistic about his venture’s prospects; he expected to have a comedian on stage every weekend and a jazz band every Wednesday, and after auditioning The Flood in early August, he said he wanted to have us for two shows every Sunday evening for the next six weeks. Alas, Masquerade wasn’t around for six weeks; word quickly spread that the food was pretty bad and the kitchen even closed before The Flood’s second set at its first and last performance there.

Still the evening rated a spot in The Flood memory book because WSAZ-TV swung by and videoed this bit of our set for the evening news. It is the first video we have the 21st century edition of The Flood.

 

It is the first video we have the 21st century edition of The Flood.

Sept. 14, 2001: We honestly didn’t feel much like playing music. We were still in shock from the atrocity of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Images from that horrendous day were still fresh and raw, and silence seemed more appropriate than anything we could sing or even say. Still, we had already been booked to play a Friday evening’s educational show at Marshall University’s Jamie Jazz Center along with other area musicians. For the night, we altered our set list, removing the silly jug band tunes and upbeat comedy numbers in favor of ballads. Here’s a moment from that night, as Dave leads us on the old Appalachian folk tune, “Banks of the Ohio" Sept. 14, 2001

Sept. 19, 2001: The Flood finished recording its first CD, mixed and engineered by the incomparable Buddy Griffin. Actually, for most of the tracks we slated for the CD, Buddy had already recorded Dave Peyton, Joe Dobbs, Charlie Bowen and Doug Chaffin the previous June. However, in the several months since that first session, The Flood had grown by a third with the addition of two new Dave-1978members, Sam St. Clair and Chuck Romine, and now we needed to get them on the CD too. "Well, just come on back," Buddy said. "Once more, with feeling -- AND banjo and harmonica!"

It was a busy evening in that little Charleston studio, and it was about to get a whole lot busier before it was done. That's because after The Flood session was over and everyone was packing up for the drive home, Joe cornered Doug and Charlie and asked them to hang around because he had an idea to "record just a couple more things." Well, that "couple more" became another "couple more" and then a "couple more" after that until by midnight the trio (the little band within a band that would come to call itself "Flood Lite") recorded the dozen tracks that would be the core of Joe's own "Fiddle and the Flood" album.

So, Sept. 19, 2001, was the one evening that gave birth to two CDs. "The next morning," Doug recalled with a chuckle earlier this week, "I didn't have any feeling left in the fingers, but, I swear, I'll never know how Joe even held his fiddle for five hours, much less less played it like that!" Here's a link to one of the tracks from that memorable night.

2002

Jan. 11, 2002: On a chilly winter evening, several hundred die-hard Flood fans came to a party at the Renaissance Ballroom in the old Huntington High School to celebrate the first of the band’s first CD. Earlier in the week, WSAZ-TV helped us spread the word about the party through a story by the late, great Steve Eschleman who came by the Bowen house to visit with Joe, Dave and Charlie. Below is the video of Steve’s Jan. 9, 2002, story and then the station’s quick snippet of the show itself.

 

Look quick and you’ll also see 7-year-old Zoey Stull in her first public performance as our featured dancer. Of course, we won’t take credit for inspiring the youngster, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t note that Zoey, daughter of Sam and Joan St. Clair, would continue her performing career, studying dance at Virginia’s Redford University, from which she recently graduated.

pamela




Feb. 2, 2002:
The Flood finally got the female supervision it had long been needing for so long when Pamela Bowen, Charlie’s wife, agreed to be the band’s manager, a position she still holds today.

It was a major shift in thinking for our original old-boy band. Up until Pamela’s involvement, we all tended to let people "low ball" us on the price for performance. Pamela, by contrast, had no qualms in marketing the outfit, getting higher paychecks, especially when jobs took us on the road.

And going into Flood control was a natural fit for Pamela, who had been in The Flood zone since the beginning. In fact, for many of those 30- and 40-year-old recordings we cherish from our collective youth, it was Pamela who was pushing the buttons on the old reel-to-reel recorder at all those parties.

 

 


March 3, 2002: The Flood was invited to help the Cabell County Public Library celebrate its 100th birthday one bright March day in 2002. Both WOWK-TV and WSAZ-TV swung by for pictures...

 

March 6, 2002: The Flood partied in Charleston with Gov. Bob Wise and his friends and foes in the Wwiseest Virginia Legislature and the state capital press corps. It was David Peyton who landed us the gig as part of “The Third House,” a popular annual spoof of the lawmakers orchestrated by Marshall University's W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communication Alumni Association. The evening of parody skits and songs, presented at the Cultural Center Theater, roasted state government leaders, most of whom were in the audience. The Flood not only provided accompaniment for some of the musical numbers, but also preformed a half-hour pre-show set. In a highlight of the night, as shown in the WSAZ-TV video click above, Gov. Wise — a clog-dance enthusiast — hoofed it during one of Joe’s rollicking fiddle tunes.

 

The Flood had such a good time that the band came back for an encore in the 2003 show, when Wise supporters presented him with a pair of "clogging shoes" to commemorate his Flood debut.

April 6, 2002: The Flood did the first of several gigs we would play in the pub at BrazenHead Inn. Will Fanning’s traditional Irish lodge in the old community of Mingo tucked in the Potomac highlands of southern Randolph BrazenheadCounty, WV, was already special to us, because the inn was one of the sponsors of Joe Dobbs’ “Music from the Mountains” radio show each Friday night on W.Va. Public Radio.

On our set list for the show were tunes from the band’s first CD, released earlier that year, as well as songs already being honed for the second CD, which would be recorded in seven months. But a highlight of that first gig at BrazenHead was not a musical number at all, but a story. It happened this way: While we were re-tuning between songs, David and Charlie noticed that Joe was wearing an especially snazzy sweater that night, and we asked Joe to tell us about it. From that very evening, here’s a rare audio of Joe’s yarn. Incidentally, as you'll hear over the laughter at the end of the story, Joe says, "If I ever write a book, I'm gonna put that story in it!" That's a promise he kept a decade later when he published his book, "A Country Fiddler." And if you were at BrazenHead that night, you heard it here first.

zita June 19, 2002: The Flood played for the first time at Roy Clark and Terre Thomas’ wonderful St. Zita Grille on downtown Huntington’s 10th Street. Roy and Terre served up an astounding spread of Creole cuisine and wanted music to match. The Flood brought a New Orleans-flavored set of jug band and ragtimenumbers, mixed with healthy dose of Appalachian fiddle tunes andAmericana folk songs. That June 19, 2002,performance also showcased 7-year-old Zoey Stull as our featured dancer. Of course, we won’t take credit for inspiring the youngster, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t note that Zoey, daughter of Sam and Joan St. Clair, would continue her performing career, studying dance at Virginia’s Redford University, from which she graduated this spring. Zoey -- then and now -- is shown in the accompanying photo. The Flood would perform at St. Zita a number of times in 2002, and a snippet of one of those evening shows would be included in a brief “Outlook” documentary about fiddler Joe Dobbs that aired on the “Outlook” show on a West Virginia Public Broadcasting later that year. Click the link below to see The Flood’s 90 seconds of fame on that show.

 

June 29, 2002: The Flood had the gig that the guys would talk about for years to come: Performing with The Huntington Symphony Orchestra down by the riverside. A standing Flood joke in the following months and years is that the size of the crowd on hand that night in Harris Riverfront Park would increase each time Charlie told the tale. (“3,000? Naw. 5,000! Easily!…”)

HSO

But what was really true about the June 2002 evening was what good sports maestro Kimo Furumoto and the HSO members were in hosting West Virginia’s most eclectic string, especially when we got them all playing kazoos for one number! All evening we had been talking about David Peyton, The Flood’s “voodoo Kazoo guru.” Dave even brought a special wizard’s hat to wear for the occasion and, finally after the sun went down, we brought together a kazoo consortium. We kicked it off with the old jug band tune, “Rag Mama.” After a few verses and choruses, we passed it to Dave to demonstrate his kazoory, after which we turned to the orchestra and shouted, “Play it, orchestra!” To the amazement (and perhaps horror) of the crowd, all the members of their symphony brought kazoos to quivering lips and let forth a real hummer of an ensemble, as Joe conducted them with his fiddle bow. And that moment of musical history was captured on a recorder in the audience. So, here’s the audio: ("Rag Mama," June 29, 2002) the debut (and the finale) of America’s best trained kazoo orchestra.

july6-2002July 6, 2002: The summer of the 2002 was a particularly busy time for the fellows of The Flood, as we moved about continuing to promote the release of our first commercial CD, “The Band, Not the Natural Disaster.” And the Saturday after Independence Day was especially busy, with two paying gigs in two different cities in the span of six hours under the broiling sun.

We started the day with an ealry afternoon show in Ashland, Ky., at the gazebo in Central Park as part of the city's annual Summer Motion festival. We were slated to play at 12:30, but arrived to find the organizers running a little behind schedule. Charlie didn't mind; he and Pamela had grown up in Ashland, and the delay enabled them to visit with friends and family who read about the show and had come down to catch the 30-minute performance.

Afterward a rollicking set, we headed back to Huntington, grabbed a quick lunch at the West End Cafe on W. 14th Street, across from where Joe's Fret 'n Fiddle music store began in the mid-'70. Then we freshened up and cooled down before reassembling at 7 to play a private party. The do – hosted by John and Ann Speer in the backyard of their spacious South Side home – turned out to be the social event of the summer, with some 250 people streaming in, milling around, chatting, and listening to the music. We played background music from 7 until it was too dark to see our chords.

July 20-21, 2002: In an irony well known to many bands, The Flood had one of its best gigs and one of its worst gigs ever back-to-back during a 400-mile roundtrip journey to the northern part of the state. The good gig was a Saturday night MtMoonperformance at the wonderful Mountain Moon Coffeehouse in Wheeling, located in the gorgeous Stifel Fine Arts Center, which looks like a Southern mansion. The venue was a private residence until the late 1970s, when it was given to the Oglebay Institute.

There are beautiful gardens in the back. The house is used for events and art exhibits.The huge living room is the coffeehouse, with lots of little tables, ad the event was sold out weeks ahead of time. It’s an honor to be asked to play at this coffeehouse. We had to spend the night 30 miles away in Washington, Pa., because this was the weekend of Festival of the Hills, a huge outdoor country music festival.

This memory-making evening was followed by a terrible gig in Steubenville, Ohio. It was a Sunday performance at Jefferson Community College, and the whole thing are fairly miserable. It was outside, and it was deucedly hot. The audience had to bring their own chairs, and they sat them up about 50 feet away from the stage, under some trees. The college hired a professional sound company, but the company let a kid run the board, and he thought he should turn up the knob every time a different instrument had a solo. At intermission, Joe and Charlie finally convinced the kid to leave the knobs alone and the second set sounded better. Still, memory of that job was so sore that it has entered Flood lore and to this day (with apologies for “The City of Murals”) any bad gig is called “a Steubenville.”

Sept. 4, 2002: The Flood has always occasionally moved its regular weekly practice session to a friends house and 16 years ago this week, the venue was the beautiful “river house,” the weekend home in Crown City, Ohio, of Bill and Nancy Meadows, about 20 miles upriver from Huntington on the Ohio side.

Meadows

Valley weather in September can be unpredictable, but it was quite cooperative that night in 2002, and the Family Flood had a wonderful time. The Meadows put the band on the deck overlooking the yard, where they set up lots of chairs for friends and neighbors. They grilled hotdogs and had baked beans and potato salad and a whole table full of assorted desserts. We told Nancy to feel free to invite friends, and she did -- 40 of them! So the practice turned into a concert. It was a sweet memory of an evening.

Sept. 28-29, 2002: The Flood wrapped up its busy summer of gigging and touring with a weekend in the mountains. On Saturday night, we returned to the Brazen Head Inn, Will Fanning's traditional Irish lodge in Randolph County, to play for a gathering of afficionados of the Lucia, an Italian sports car, and a bunch of other people who came in to hear the band. Then the next day, we trekked into the Monogahela National Forest to play for the first of what would become an annual outing for The Flood over the next few years, the fall festival at the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center.

cranberry

The events featured lots of craftspeople, and we shared the stage – actually, it was the parking lot – with The Old Dominion Cloggers. It worked out really well. The band encouraged the cloggers, and then we our sets, anyone who felt like it to get up and dance, and many did, especially to the fiddle tunes.

Oct. 3, 2002: The Flood headed into the studio to record one very special tune: An original song we wrote to be the new theme song for Joe Dobbs’ beloved weekly “Music from the Mountain” show on West Virginia Public Dave-1978Radio. The idea for the theme song came from Joe’s producer, the late great George Walker, who a month later also would engineer our second CD (“The 1937 Flood Plays Up a Storm”) on which this new tune would be the opening track. George thought it was a no-brainer that “Joe’s band oughta make up Joe’s theme song.” So David Peyton wrote the lyrics for “Music from the Mountains Sets You Free,” working with a melody that Charlie Bowen came up with. Then a few weeks later, the band rolled into the WV Public Broadcasting studios in Charleston and, in two or three takes, recorded the tune that would be heard every Friday night on radios throughout the Mountain State.

The theme song was just The Flood's latest association with the radio show. Since Joe was one of the founders of the band, it’s not surprising that on a dozen times or so during the show's 23 years on the air, the band or individual Floodsters appeared as guests. In fact, as noted earlier, The Flood actually appeared on "Music from the Mountains" before there even WAS a "Music from the Mountains." In the late summer of 1982, when Joe was just thinking about pitching WVPR on the idea of a weekly radio show, Peyton, Bowen and the late Rog Samples came together at Joe's shop, Fret 'n Fiddle, to record a demo of how Joe envisions the show, complete with interviews and live music. That was more than a year before the show hit the air on Nov. 11, 1983.

recordingNov. 16, 2002: On a chilly, rainy Saturday, we gathered in a Charleston studio with producer George Walker to record the band's second CD, a disc that would be released a few months later as “The 1937 Flood Plays Up a Storm.” It was a long day. The guys recorded 23 tunes in eight hours of staring at each other over microphones. We started early. Everyone -- Dave, Charlie, Joe, Doug, Chuck and Sam -- reached the studio by noon, but the setup took a while. It was complicated to set up mikes and cables for a six-piece band and then do the sound check, so it was 2 in the afternoon before we were ready to record. George used digital tape for the session, so the band would record five or six tunes in a 45-minute stretch, filling up one of the tape.

Then we had to take a break while George formatted the next tape, a process that took about 20 to 30 minutes. That gave us time to order some pizzas for dinner and then launched into it again.

Now, it is always fun when The Family Flood comes together and that night everybody did his best stuff, but by anybody’s definition, it was grueling day. In fact, some of the guys probably would have voted to end the session at 6 (when we had about 18 cuts in the can), but the majority decided to stay on for another two hours. And as it turned out everyone was glad we did. The final tunes we recorded -- despite our being tired and, yes, a bit grumpy -- were the best of the whole bundle, including this one, with the best solos of the day.

Nov. 29, 2002: The Flood gathered in the lobby of the beautiful old Frederick Hotel in downtown Huntington to help out with a very special cause: An art auction to benefit Sam St. Clair’s dear friend, sculptor Sinesia Lenac.

Sinesia was from Rejika, Croatia, the coastal city on the blue Dalmatian coast, Sinesiawhere he went to school to study engineering and ship design. When war came to Croatia, Sinesia volunteered for active duty, during which he was injured. At the end of the war, he headed out for New York City where he scrapped it out as an electrician's helper for a few months.

But more than anything, Sinesia wanted to become an artist. Things were set in motion when he met a professor from West Virginia professor who told him about Marshall University, where he could earn an art degree. Soon after that, Sinesia packed up and left New York for Huntington. It wasn’t easy at first. He struggled, sleeping on couches, spending his days vigilantly working on his art. Finally, his efforts started paying off. He got a partial scholarship, then a full ride. When he finished at Marshall, he got a slot as a graduate assistant in the art department at Miami University near Cincinnati, with a good year of teaching and working on art. But just when things were turning around, Sinesia was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma. By late 2002, his health had crashed and bills were mounting.

That's when his friends organized the benefit auction. For that night, Sam brought in his fellow Floodsters to entertain the crowd that came to the Frederick. The Flood donated time and the proceeds from the evening's CD sales to help off-set the medical expenses. The night's efforts raised nearly $5,000, which help ease at least some of Sinesia’s worries for the last weeks of his life. The artist died a month later, New Year’s Day 2003. He was 31.

2003

April 1 and 8, 2003: As the band prepared for the April 11 launch of its second commercial CD, "The 1937 Flood Plays Up a Storm," the guys decided to make the evening a combination CD party and fund-raising for the host venue, the Renaissance Arts Center (the old Huntington High School building).

To help spread the word, Dave shared a couple of The Flood's famed blue kazoos with his friend, Cabell County extension agent John Marra, who had a regular segment at noon on WSAZ-TV. John saw in his budding a kazoory a great opportunity for a little shtick with the broadcast's host (and all-'round good sport) Rob Johnson. Here was the result:

 

jim'sJune 7, 2003: The Flood was invited to help a local landmark — Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House — celebrate its 65th year in business in downtown Huntington.

Under a tent in front of the beloved restaurant, the guys played for several hours, serenading customers, staff and passersby, many of whom stopped to dance along to the music.

The activities attracted TV cameras; linked below is a video of the WSAZ TV segment that day. Jim Tweel — himself a musician (he played upright bass for years in his brother Bill’s orchestra) had long been a Flood fan.

Sadly, Jim was ill that day (he would pass away two years later at the age of 89), but his wife, Sally, was on hand, and during a break between sets, Dave gave Sally an official blue kazoo and read the certificate that proclaimed her and Jim to “ornery members of The 1937 Flood … authorized (and expected) to play the kazoo when called upon.” Good sport that she was, Sally took a kazoo solo on a tune later that afternoon.

 

July 31, 2003: Michelle Lewis sang with The Flood for the very first time, when she was brought to a band rehearsal by Joe Dobbs. She was Michelle Walker in those Michelledays, married to the late George Walker, producer of Joe’s “Music from the Mountains” radio show on West Virginia Public Radio.

When Joe — always looking out for new sounds for the band he helped found 30 years earlier — learned that Michelle, also a public radio employee, was a singer and that she particularly liked the swing tunes The Flood had begun playing, he invited the young woman to meet his bandmates.

In just a tune or two at the rehearsal, Michelle had captivated everyone and before the week was over, she was on stage playing her first public gig with the guys. The event occurred as the band traveled into the eastern mountains to play at Snowshoe Institute, a cooperative arts project by Marshall University, West Virginia University, the W.Va. Humanities Council and Snowshoe Mountain.

Joe asked George record the evening’s performances for use on “Music from the Mountains,” so we have this recording of Michelle’s first public performance with The Flood, "Sunny Side of the Street, "Aug. 2, 2003, complete with Joe’s introduction. Michelle was featured on The Flood’s third CD (“I’d Rather Be Flooded”) as a “guest artist” when it was recorded that autumn, but by the fourth CD, the beloved “Chick Singer,” as the guys began to call her, was a regular member of the band and nowadays she is an indispensable and treasured component of The Flood sound.

Aug. 13, 2003: The Flood played all day at the West Virginia State Fair in Fairlea, near Lewisburg. On the stage to which we were assigned, we alternated our 45-minute sets with performances by a trained dog act. That scheduling allowed us to learn a few things. For one, (1) not all dogs have the same appreciation of carefully crafted kazoo solos. Secondly, The Flood is not as high on the performers’ food chain as we thought we were; while between sets we were left to fend for ourselves in the 90-degree heat, the dogs retreated to an air-conditioned green room.

fair

Aug. 29, 2003: After serenading the visit Delta Queen on several occasions from outside on the banks of the Ohio, Her Highness finally invited us onboard to for a little impromptu concert for the passenger for the old girl's Forward Cabin Lounge. Cruise director Jazzou Jones, who facilitated our appearance that afternoon, was pleased that the place was packed and the audience seemed to love the music.

DQ 2003

During a break in the show, we presented Jazzou with a kazoo and a framed certificate proclaiming him an “ornery” member of the band, entitled to play the kazoo whenever possible. (The certificate – which we would later use to honor other band buddies, from Rose Marie Riter to Ken Hechler, Nancy and Bill Meadows and Dale Jones to Jim and Sally Tweel – was patterned after the certificate the DQ folks gave people who “learned” to play the calliope on cruises. Jazzou was very flattered and took it around the room showing it off to people.

Sept. 1, 2003: The Flood was invited by Paul and Lynne Mayer to come to Smokey's on the Gorge near Fayetteville, WV, and help celebrate the wedding of their daughter Debbie.

Dave-1978The Mayers were wonderfully lenient about letting The Flood to be The Flood in selecting decidedly eclectic entertainment for the day, but the parents did have one request. "You know," Lynne said, "you will need to play 'Hava Nagila' at least once during the afternoon." No problem, we said confidently. Surely our fiddler, Joe Dobbs, had that old Israeli folk song in his repertoire. Uh, no. And while we didn't see Joe sweat much during the 40 years he played with us, THIS was turning out to be a rather tricky tune. In fact, he still hadn't gotten it down when at a rehearsal just days before the wedding, Sam St. Clair and Chuck Romine said, "Here. Let us take a shot at it," and they nailed it the first time. And that's how The Flood became surely the first (and perhaps only) band to do "Hava Nagila" with a harmonica and a tenor banjo leading the way, a rendition that was the hit of the afternoon.

The Mayer party led to several more wedding gigs for The Flood, including several more at Smokey's, most of which featuring the happy couple joining us on the bandstand. After one such party, during which the new bride and groom happily played kazoos along with Dave Peyton on "Somebody Been Using That Thing," Sam wondered aloud, "You know, we may be doing serious damage to our karma." But what happens at Smokey's….

Oct. 29, 2003: It was a dream come true for Charlie Bowen. For six or seven years by then, he and Pamela had been frequent passengers on the historic steamboat Delta Queen as it sailed the Mississippi and Ohio, and many a time during a cruise, Charlie had sat in the riverboat’s classy Texas Lounge listening to tunes by Connie Jones or Phllis Dale, Bob Schad, Bud Black or Mike Gentry and wishing that someday The Flood could play in that sweet venue.

Well, some day came on Oct. 29, 2003, at the invitation of the cruise director, the venerable ragtime pianist Jazzou Jones. Earlier in the week, he had called to say the boat would be at Huntington’s riverfront all afternoon and asked if The Flood would like to entertain the passengers. The “yes” was resounding. We’d already played on board once by then, but just barely. Late in the previous August we’d finagled our way onboard for a quick jam in the forward cabin lounge. That gone well enough that Jazzou felt more confident in The Flood’s chops so he felt comfortable in inviting the guys this time to come up the grand staircase to the legendary Texas Lounge.

Delta Queen 2003

About 3 that afternoon, The Flood contingent started arriving and we set up in front of the piano. It was a little bit of a tight fit, getting six of us -- including Doug’s upright bass -- in that narrow space, so we moved the piano back a few inches and commandeered three of the front bar stools. Not only did that give us something to sit on, but it also made some extra space in front of the bar. By 3:30, the lounge was already full, so even though we weren’t scheduled to start until 3:45, we launched into our first tune, and the steamboatin’ crowd responded immediately, laughing at the funny words and cheering the soloists.

After the first couple of tunes, we handed out kazoos and got the passengers playing along with us. Then we persauded Jazzou to come to the piano to join us for the last 45 minutes of the set, and of course, he just rocked on those old tunes. We gave him a break on every tune from then on, and the crowd went wild each time. At the end, the folks didn't seem to want it to end, but the boat was ready to leave and we had just 10 minutes to get all the equipment back down two flights of stairs, so we said our goodbyes.

2004

Aug. 2, 2004: The band got a little river cruise as we played again in The Delta Queen's cozy Texas Lounge. It all started when an acquaintance of ours, a guest lecturer on the boat, recommended The Flood be invited back on board to play. He had heard us the previous October and saw how well the passengers enjoyed that show.

This tim we would have to board the boat upriver in Point Pleasant, about a hour from Huntington, so The Delta Queen Co. hired three taxicabs to pick up us and our instruments from Huntington to Point Pleasant. They scheduled it so we would get there in time to join the passengers and crew for lunch in the Orleans Room – picnic-style ribs, fried chicken, fried catfish, pecan pie – after which, we moved up to the Texas deck to play our 45-minutes set in the lounge. We then stowed the instruments again and were free to enjoy the rest of the cruise down to Huntington.

DQ August 2004

The gift shop sold the new CD and passengers wanted them autographed and to chat with us during the leisurely four-hour downstream cruise. The boat wasn’t scheduled to stop in Huntington, so when we got to Harris Riverfront Park, the pilot just pulled over to the bank and lowered the stage long enough for us to scamper off. As we did, the passengers on deck (who had been told the reason the boat was making the brief stop) shouted and applauded, and the captain blew a whistle salute. Very nice memory!

Aug. 12, 2004:, Thinking of our old companion, the late Joe Dobbs, on his birthday, we're remembering one particularly bright day. Being the senior Flood founder, Joe was the first of us to reach the age 70, and we celebrated that event with a wonderful party in the backyard of Sam and Joan St. Clair, a gathering of Dobbs family and friends from a half dozen states. A highlight of a day was this visit from Marilyn Monroe (“Happy birrrrth-daaaay, Mister Fiddler….”), channeled by The Chick Singer, Michelle Lewis.

Marilyn

We saw Joe smile a year’s worth of smiles that fine day. If you want to see more of Pamela Bowen's pictures from Joe’s 70, you can dig back into the Internet’s dusty archives by clicking here.

Sept. 29, 2004: The Bowen’s young neighbor, Chip Sweeney, jammed with the band. And when we say “young,” we’re talking 5 years old. The accompanying pictures show Chip sitting in on the "kinder-music" cardboard dulcimer that he had made in school. He had come over to the rehearsal room that evening with his father, Bo. A few days after the pictures were taken, Charlie was talking to Chip’s mom, Patty, out front and she said, "Get this: Bo asked Chip if he'd rather go to the Marshall game Wednesday night or play with The Flood and catch the end of the game on TV. And Chip said, 'I'm gonna play with The Flood!'" Uh-huh…. Like Socrates, we have a long history of corrupting the youth... Chip is grown now, and last month he left for his freshman year in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina, where he’s studying to be a broadcast journalist.

chip

Oct. 23, 2004: We gathered in Ashland, Ky., to give a hearty send-off to the one of our oldest, dearest friends. Harvey McClellan and his wife Nancy were at all the parties in the 1970s when The 1937 Flood began evolving into Harvey and Nancythe band it is today. Harvey, who even recommended tunes the Family Flood could tackle over the years, was especially excited when in 2000 The Flood began regularly playing at the Coon Sanders Nighthawks Reunion Bash, an annual gathering of traditional jazz fans in Huntington. While a native of Henderson, Ky., Harvey spent much of his early years in Chicago and even had family members associated with that gathering’s namesake, The Coon Sanders Original Nighthawks Orchestra. Harvey had great original stories to share from the late ’20s and ‘30s and loved The Flood's jugband tunes of that era. So it was only natural when Harvey passed away in October 2004, at the age of 89, that Nancy would ask The Flood to play the background music at the memorial service for her partner of 60 years. It was a busy weekend for us — we played in Huntington earlier in the day and in Lexington, Ky. the next day — but there was no question that we would be there for Harvey and Nancy; they had always then there for us.

2005

June 5, 2005: The Flood went a little Hollywood, entertaining guests at Huntington’s Appalachian Film Festival, playing at a party at a riverfront barge restaurant called Holdersby’s Landing. It already had been a busy day for the boys; earlier in the day the group played a gig at the Cabell County Public Library, then grabbed a bite to eat before heading down to the Ohio River for the evening show, rocking with the filmmakers and aspiring filmmakers with an eclectic mix of tunes.

film

A highlight of the evening was schmoozing with actor Ray McKinnon, who was at the festival to introduce his new film, “Chrystal,” which had a featured spot at the week’s event, showing on the big screen at the Keith Albee Theater during the festival. After The Flood’s set, Charlie, Chuck and Joe hung rayaround to chat with the artists attending. Getting a few minutes outside the restaurant to chat with McKinnon, Charlie was especially eager to tell him how much the guys enjoyed the singing in the film by its star, Lisa Blount, who also was McKinnon’s wife of seven years. Ray said that Lisa’s music and her Arkansas family stories inspired much of the beautiful film and that he appreciated our kind words.

A snippet of the film -- which was written and directed by McKinnon -- is at right, with Lisa just killing it on the old southern Appalachian tune, “Red Rockin’ Chair.”

This story has a sad coda: Just five years after the film’s debut, Lisa died at her and Ray’s Little Rock home. Her mother, who found Lisa’s body, said the actress suffered from idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), in which low levels of platelets keep blood from clotting and lead to bleeding and bruising. Lisa was 53.

June 25, 2005: The Flood was invited to Charleston to be part of the first annual FestivALL. This inaugural three-day event celebrated regional music with more than 120 performances and exhibits all around the capital city. Our venue was a covered stage outside on Slack Plaza for a 40-minute show -- and 20 seconds of fame on WVAH-TV:

 

July 26, 2005: The Flood met its soul-sister-cum-den-mother when the irrepressible Rose Marie Riter hired the band to play at her 70th birthday party.

We knew we were in for something different when she told us the venue for the afternoon's do: The Lawrence CountyAirpark, near Chesapeake, Ohio, where Rose intended to celebrate her seven decades by leaping from an airplane. She toldus arrive early and play before the jump, in case, beause .... "Well, you know, if things don't go well, at least the folks would have heard the music and eaten."

The food for the party was catered by Hillbilly Hot Dogs. Then, she added, if she survived the leap, there would be more food and champagne. The jump did go well, as reported by the local TV reporters that evening and the next morning in the clip at the left.

Rose Riter continues to be a warm and wonderful presence in our lives, a frequent listener at the weekly rehearsals (often feeding the band cookies and cake), and it was only natural that we dedicated our 4th CD, the 2011 "Wade in the Water" disc, to her. And of course, Rose has brought many other people into the Flood circle, as illustrated in Tim Irr's 2009 feature on the band.

Dave-1978Sept. 7, 2005: It was 15 days after Hurricane Katrina began devastating New Orleans, and The 1937 Flood joined other local musicians in a benefit concert at PullmanSquare that would raise more than $16,000 in disaster relief.

Dave Ball, a retired firefighter who played bass with The Flood at the time, organized the show, the first of a numberof Katrina fund-raisers to be held in the Tri-State Area in the months to come. Along with The Flood, the Pullman Square show featured Backyard Dixie Jazz Stompers and Big Rock and The Candy Ass Mountain Boys, among others.

Speaking with The Herald-Dispatch on the morning of the benefit, Dixielander Dale Jones said what was in the hearts and minds of many of the musicians that Wednesday; "The music that comes out of that place is in my heart,” Dale told writer Dave Lavender. “I have been playing this music for more than 20 years now and it is heartbreaking to see all of the disasters in all of the states along the Gulf. The best we can do from far away is help out. This is just a natural for us."

Nov. 11, 2005: For most of its long life, The Flood has been a rather large band (safety in numbers and all that…), and while it’s cool to have all the musical options that a plus-size aggregation offers, size also sometimes presents problems. The logistics of getting a half dozen folks and their instruments on stage and properly miked has always Flood Litebeen a challenge at our live shows. The band also routinely loses potential paying gigs to less expensive trios and duos. And, oh, the scheduling! Just talk to our long-suffering manager Pamela Bowen about the nightmares of trying to arrange appearances for the band when you have juggle so many individual calendars. So it’s only natural that over the years The Flood has also supported break-out ensembles for special occasions, such as background music for parties. We even gave these mini-Floods their own names. Whenever four Floodsters gather, it is Flood Plain, but more frequently it is downsized down to a trio as Flood Lite.

Throughout much of the 2000s and early 2010s, Flood Lite was usually Joe on fiddle, Doug on bass and Charlie on guitar and vocals, as it was in these recordings ("Up a Lazy River" and "Somebody Stole My Gal") Nov. 11, 2005, when the threesome played eating-drinking-schmoozing music for a swell party in Huntington’s southern hills.

Dec. 24, 2005: We threw a surprise Christmas Eve party -- complete with Floodsters in Santa hats -- for the Nancyband's Mother Superior, Nancy McClellan. Some background: After Harvey, Nancy's husband of 60 years, passed away in 2004, Nancy began spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with Charlie and Pamela Bowen. Over the next decade, the tradition evolved into what we called "Nancymas," and before Nancy died in 2013, Rose Riter was welcomed into the annual festivities. That year, Christmas Eve 2005, was the First Nancymas. We had all known that Nancy was sad heading into that holiday season -- it had been her first full year without Harvey -- and it was Joe who suggested The Flood do something special for her. So, that Saturday evening, Nancy arrived at the Bowens' house about 6 for what she fully expected would be just a quiet dinner. And it was. But then about 7:30, the musicians began arriving. And along with the band came friends from the neighborhood and from as far away as California and Texas. All told about a dozen folks gathered around the table, playing music, talking and joking, eating and telling stories for hours. Later, around midnight after everyone had gone home and Nancy was heading upstairs to bed, she stopped on the landing, grinned and said, "Best Christmas present I could possibly have!"

2006

fretJan. 11, 2006: The Flood gathered to record a few tunes in "The Bunker," which is what Joe Dobbs called the new studio he had just opened in his Fret 'n Fiddle music store in St. Albans, WV. At the time, we thought this might lay the groundwork for a new Flood album, a followup to CD #3, "I'd Rather Be Flooded, which we recorded a few years earlier.

It didn't work out that way -- The Flood was still in a bit of a transition at the time -- but it was, nonetheless, a memorable night, due in no small part to the fact that Cincinnati fiddler/photograph Ed Strelau came along for the ride and took these great pictures. We also got a few good tracks from the session, including this one ("Jelly Roll Baker," Jan. 11, 2006) , which ultimately found its way to The Flood self-produced bootleg album, "Hip Boots."

Feb. 10, 2006: On the eve of a Saturday night FOOTMAD concert in Charleston -- in which The Flood would share the bill with the good folks of Stewed Mulligan -- WV Public Radio's “Music from the Mountains” aired a preview, an hour of fretful frivolity with Joe, Dave, Charlie, Doug, Sam, Bub and Michelle. It was a full hour of live music, stories and smart-assery; here's an extended excerpt ("Didn't He Ramble," "Dead Cat on the Line," "Walking After Midnight" and "Blue Moon," Feb. 10, 2006) of the fun and foolishness, “live from Studio B,” as Joe used to say.

Feb. 11, 2006: In 2006, Michelle Lewis (Michelle Walker in those days) was not yet a full-fledged member of the band. For three years, she had performed with us as a featured artist, the guest vocal or, as Joe lovingly called her, “Da Chick Singer.” But her Michelle, Dougrole with The Flood was rapidly evolving; the more she sang with us, the more we wanted her to sing with us and, through her sharp musical instinct and her formal vocal training, Michelle was starting to create tasty harmonies in Flood standards.

And nothing made clearer Michelle’s ever-growing importance to all things Floodish than one particular performance on this snowy Saturday night in Charleston. 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 and the like, so when Michelle started the classic 1940s jazz standard “Since I Fell For You”, 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. Here’s the tune, "Since I Fell For You," Feb. 11, 2006, which was later incorporated in our “Hip Boots” CD. In fact, it was the live performance of that particular tune that inspired us to put "Hip Boots" together.

Feb. 22, 2006: We began searching through The Flood's archives for material that would eventually come together as the band's first and only bootleg album. Everybody's mother always said (usually with a pretty heavy sigh), if you want something Done Right, do it yourself. Well, in our case, the real truth is that after decades of making music, we just got tired of waiting for Hip Bootssomeone else to produce The 1937 Flood bootleg album, and (with a pretty heavy sigh) we decided that if it was going to happen, it looked like that we would have to make it so. The result was "Hip Boots: The Flooded Basement Tapes," a collection of nearly two dozen cuts from various drop-in points during the first three decades of the band's foggy history. In the finest tradition of bootlegs, the recording quality on this disc isn't always the greatest. These field recordings were made on the fly at coffeehouses and parties, clubs and concerts and in people's living rooms, using whatever equipment was available, from cheap cassette recorders to reel-to-reel machines that were pretty nice for the day to (later still) digital recorders of all stripes. Setting aside the sometimes suckiness of the recording quality, the tracks do capture the spirit and madness that brought The 1937 Flood into being in the first place and has kept it together today. The disc continues to be popular with diehard Flood fans. Meanwhile, here's a track from the Hip Boots, one of the earlier Flood recordings in existence. It features Roger Samples and Dave Peyton doing The Eagles' "Peaceful Easy Feeling," with Bill Hoke adding some tasty dobro licks!

2007

Aug. 3, 2007: The Flood has played at Prickett's Fort near Fairmont, WV, a number of times over the years, starting in the summer of 2003. The 2007 gig there was the first time Michelle joined us on stage there and the first time we got some video of the do:

   
Summertime Moonshine in Those WV Hills

 
Sittin' on top of the World / Clarinet Polka

Oct. 10, 2007: Fourteen-year-old Jacob Scarr picked with The Flood for the first time. The guys in the band already knew Jacob as the polite young man who lately had been coming to listen at the weekly jam session (usually brought by his friends Tom Pressman or Rose Marie Riter) and who more recently who had been helping out with the sound system at gigs, but until that night, none of us knew the youngster could play. That autumn Dave-1978evening, Doug Chaffin had brought both his mandolin and guitar and midway through the session, he noticed Jacob eying the guitar. "Pick it if you'd like," Doug whispered and in the next few minutes, everyone in the room was grinning as sweet, round, funky blues figures started rolling from the boy's fingers. "Damn!" Dave Peyton muttered appreciatively. "Play it again, Youngblood," Charlie said. The nickname would stick because Jacob became a regular at the weekly jams throughout the winter. Jacob played his first major gig with us the following spring when The Flood played its annual Saturday morning breakfast show at the Coon Sanders Nighthawks Reunion Bash. Here's a sample of his solos from that fun May morning. Jacob would officially join the band in early 2009 (we wanted to wait to make sure he kept his interested in playing music with people his parents' and grandparents' age) and would play with us as our youngest member until he left for college in Colorado in 2011. At 23, Jacob, now a Floodster Emeritus, is attending law school in Boulder, but he still regularly sits in with us when he's back in town.

Kathy-RoseDec. 1, 2007: Kathy Castner sang with the band for the first time. The Christmas season usually brings Kathy to Huntington to visit her cousin, Charlie, and that year, Flood Fan Extraordinaire rose Marie Riter said, "We gotta celebrate with a party." Now, when Miz Rose wants something to happen, it usually does, and she made this night memorable. While Kathy has a beautiful voice, inherited from her mom, she was always a bit shy about performing in public, but encouraged by the band (and perhaps fortified with an eggnog or two; we can't remember, and wouldn't tell if we did), she stepped up and brought the house down with her spot-on vocals. A bit later, urged especially by her super-fan, fiddler Joe Dobbs, Kathy sat in with The Flood at a rehearsal. Here’s a tune, "Loving Arms," Dec. 1, 2007, recorded that evening by Bo Sweeney and featuring Joe, Doug, Bub and Charlie as the supporting cast.

2008

March 7, 2008: For the third time, the band was invited to entertain at the Cabell County Public Library's Ohio River Festival of Books (ORFOB) at the civic arena.

We took up a larger than usual space for the band, with eight of us on hand, Doug and Charlie, Joe and Sam, Bub and Mickey, Jacob and Michelle. That made for a little more complicated sound check, but Mickey Ellis handled the board and made it go smoothly, ready to rock when folks started arriving.

We kicked off with a blues, followed by a fiddle tune and then a swing tune with Michelle doing the vocals, and we just never looked back. It was a great evening, and the people really appreciated it.

Oct. 19, 2008: The Flood played one of its favorite venues, Tamarack, the beautiful state-run arts and crafts center in Beckley. The center always offers a free Sunday afternoon concert and a lot of locals go there for dinner (provided by the Greenbrier resort) and a show. We've played the Sunday show many times over the years. In fact, we played in its first years of operation back in the 1990s.

This time it was special because Joe Elbert, our friend who recently retired as assistant managing editor for photos from The Washington Post, drove over (5 hours each way!) to film the concert for a music video he gave to the guys. Linked here are two songs – “Didn't He Ramble?” and “Moonshine in Those West Virginia Hills” – from that Oct. 19, 2008, appearance.

 

jamDec. 21, 2008: We started our weekly "Jam Log, Freebies from The Flood" podcast. The idea began with Sam St. Clair. Earlier that year, Sam noted that the price of good digital recorders had come down dramatically, and he thought we should buy one and have it running during the weekly rehearsals, just … you know … in case somebody might commit some art. To launch the podcast, we combed recordings of the previous few months and just picked a tune that grabbed us. For instance, for this first episode, released a chilly December day in 2008, we chose a typical recording from a warmer June evening, a track from near the end of the night when the rehearsal had morphed into a jam session. On the track, you'll hear Doug and Charlie start picking a blues and and Mickey Dee and Bub hopping in. Before it was over, Joe has joined, then we hand it off to Jacob. And somewhere along the line, we determine that we must be playing is “St. Louis Blues.” The weekly Flood podcast lives on today -- we now done more than 300 of them, a new one released for free almost every Wednesday morning -- and you can hear the latest ones on our web site, right here where you also can subscribe to the podcast.

2009

Jan. 7, 2009: The Flood trekked down to Bluegrass Country to play for the first time on the famed syndicated Red Barn Radio show. Produced and directed by the great Ed Commons, the show has made a home for good acoustic music for nearly 20 years now at the Performance Hall at Arts Place in downtown Lexington, Ky.

Red Barn

The Flood brought not only seven folks to the stage — one of the larger ensembles Red Barn had presented to-date for the live show — but also a fair portion of the audience. Doug’s wife, Donna, was on hand, as well of their son Greg, who lives in Lexington, and daughter Pam, who lives in nearby Florence. Meanwhile, Jacob’s uncle and his friends also rolled in for the evening. Here’s audio of the intro for the show, "France Blues," Jan. 7, 2009, as we kicked off with a wild jug band tune.

Feb. 18, 2009: Anchorman Tim Irr of Huntington's WSAZ-TV dropped by one of the Flood's weekly rehearsals tim irrand produced a feature story that beautifully captured the fun and foolishness of such evenings at the Bowen Bower. Charlie and Pamela had invited Tim -- who lives nearby with his family in the South Side -- to simply come by and listen to the music some night on his dinner break between his 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts. They never meant to suggest that he should come and work, but work he did! He filmed for more than hour, catching a number of tunes and interviewing members of the band and the audience.We were fortunate that there just happened to be a particularly good turnout that evening. Susie and Ervin Jones were on hand, as were Rose Riter and her friends, Shirley and Norman Davis. From Ashland, Nancy McClellan and Zoe Brewer drove in as well as Donna Chaffin, Doug's wife. And Mike Smith was sitting in with Joe on fiddle. In his report, Tim interviewed Charlie, Dave and Jacob from the band, as well as Rose and jam session first-timers, Shirley and Norman. Here's the broadcast: 

Jacob-2009March 14, 2009: Jacob Scarr became an official member of The Flood. The young guitar whiz already had been picking with us for a year and a half, but since he was just 14 years old (!) when he started, we fully expected he would get bored with us at any time. After all, we told each other, for Jacob it had to be like jamming with his grandparents. Weren't these kids of the new millennium supposed to have infamously short attention spans? Well, not Jacob. So when he reached his 16th birthday and still was a regular at the weekly jam sessions, we decided to make it official and invite Jacob -- whom we by now had dubbed "Youngblood" -- to become the band's youngest member ever. It was one of the best decisions we ever made. Jacob played lead guitar with The Flood right up until a recording session on the night before he left for college in Colorado in August 2011. The actual decision to ask Jacob to join us came while The Flood was playing a birthday do for long-time Flood fan and photographer Larry Kendall (who incidentally took the accompany picture of Jacob circa 2009). Meanwhile, here's a Jacob Scarr solo from The Flood rehearsal the week he officially became a Floodster.

April 8, 2009: Joe seemed to go into 2009 with a new burst of energy. "I think I'm finally learning how to play this fiddle," he started saying about them. Of course, his old Flood comrades, who had been picking with Joe since 1975, thought he already had a fairly good handle on the fiddle, but we grinned at his fresh enthusiasm. Here's a sample from a spring evening at the Bowen house, during a Flood rehearsal. Someone -- probably Joe -- had brought a Hardanger violin (a product of Norway) to pass among the room's fiddlers. You'll hear and see Joe playing it at the beginning and end of this clip. It's been passed to visitor Mike Smith during the "Star of the County Down" section of the video. Incidentally, that opening tune, though not identified in the video, is an celtic melody called "Gentle Maiden."

 

April 19, 2009: The spring of 2009 brought devastating news for Charlie: his mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and had but months to live. Joe Dobbs and the other founding members of The Flood all knew Peggy -- she had been at all those grand parties int he 1970s and '80s when the band was forming -- and when he heard the news, Joe immediately said, "I want to play for her." So on a sunny Sunday in April, Joe and our friend Zoe Brewer drove into Millville, Ohio, near Cincinnati, by way of Lexington; Charlie and Pamela were already there and Charlie's cousin, Kathy Castner, drove over from Hamilton to sing with them. Here, from video shot by Pamela that day, are eight minutes from the bittersweet afternoon in Peggy's living room. It would be the last time Joe saw her; Peggy passed away a little more than a hundred days after that day.

 

Oct. 5, 2009: The guys were invited down to Huntington's Harris Riverfront park to again greet a beautiful riverboat, the Belle of Cincinnati, and her evening's passengers. The following video features The Flood's version of a great standard introduced by Louisville' Whistler's Jug Band back in the 1920s. (And the band has NO COMMENT on the police car in the background of this video... As always, the less said the better...)


Oct. 15, 2009: The Flood launched into an especially busy period, playing three gigs in a week, including one show, one background music set and one wedding. The active week began with an invitation to play at an open house at the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce's Business After Hours at The Cabell Huntington Convention &Visitors Bureau at Heritage Station downtown. A highlight was that our dear fiddlin’ friend Mike Smith sat in with us, as seen in this wonderful Tori Lavender photos from the evening.

Tori

Oct. 19, 2009: The Flood continued a busy period of gigs in downtown Huntington, landing this time for a lovely evening performing as part of a Create West Virginia conference at “The Depot,” a now-defunct gift and Mountain State craft shop in the Morris Building on 4th Avenue. The show started with a classy set by Marshall University's elegant classical guitar ensemble, six student musicians who classed up the joint beautifully. Only after a half hour of such tastefulness did the crowd get a little edgy and eager for something a bit rowdier. That's when the Flood came on, more than ready to ramp up the rowdy. We opened with "Somebody Been Using That Thing,” followed by "Dead Cat on the Line" and thr place rocked. Our buddy Larry Kendall was on hand for some great pictures. Here's a sample.

Create

Nov. 25, 2009: We sat back and appreciated the fact that improvisational acoustic music was in good hands, as demonstrated by a couple of teen-agers. Now to be honest, when our buddies Ervin and Susie Jones told us that matt-jacobtheir teen-aged grandson Matt would be visiting from New York City for Thanksgiving, that he had been taking guitar lessons and would love to sit in with us, we were all sure-that'd-be-great … but, uh, not really. After all, we had shoes older than this kid! Now, sure, we suddenly now had our own teen-ager in the band; 16-year-old Jacob Scarr, whom we called “Youngblood,” had been a full-fledged Floodster for eight months by then and anyone with ears knew that Jacob was killing it on his guitar solos and getting better by the minute, but surely, he said, Jacob was one-of-a-kind. And when the night of the visit came and we saw that Matt looked even younger than his 15 years, we were not encouraged. But then we had a happy surprise when Matt unpacked his guitar and we found that -- wow -- he, like Jacob, had serious chops. Over the next couple of hours, these two youngsters traded licks on one tune after another. Here’s a sample. Listen as they worked through an old David Bromberg standard. Sandwiched between the vocals, that's Jacob taking the first ride, then Doug cleans the palate with a tasty bass solo, after which Matt takes charge of the final chorus. Meanwhile, Matt's parents — Larry and Maria Parker — shot this video snippet to remember that fun evening.

 

Dec. 22, 2009: Here's a Dave Peyton classic, his rendition of John Prine's "Come Back to Us, Barbara Lewis, Hare Krishna Beauregard, recorded at a Christmas time jam session at the Bowen House:

 

Dec. 29, 2009: We invited Flood fans to the Renaissance Ballroom at the old Huntington High School building in the South Side to be an audience for what we hoped would be our first live concert album. The show didn't work out as a CD – we just weren't happy with our playing that night (too much holiday cheer, perhaps?) – but we all had a good time visiting with friends and family, sharing tunes and stories. (It would be another half dozen years before we finally got our “Live, In Concert” CD, based on a show in early 2016.)

attempted CD

But that 2009 show did have a few nice highlights, such as Michelle's rendition here of “Glory of Love” (Dec. 29, 2009) with solos by Sam St. Clair and Jacob Scarr.


The 2010s

2010

Jan. 27, 2010: Despite a cold winter's night, Flood friends and family came out to face the new year together with laughs and tunes. Here are two blues from the evening. The first is Dave's rendition of "Furniture Man, "which he found on a 1929 recording by Dick Justice, a Logan County coal miner and a white blues singer who was heavily influenced by black musicians, especially Luke Jordan from the hills of neighboring Virginia. The second tune, "Suffer to Sing the Blues," comes from David Bromberg's debut album back in 1971.

   

March 17, 2010: In much of 2010 and 2011, The Flood's gatherings evolved from simple rehearsals to weekly jam sessions, with more and more visitors, some playing, some just listening. A regular at the sessions was guitarist Randy Brown, as on this recording of the Blind Blake tune, "Good as I Been to You," a song we had been playoing for about a year at this point. This is a lovely example of the Wednesday nights in those days:

 

April 17, 2010 – We flooded the newly renovated Alban Arts & Conference Center in Joe Dobbs' adopted home town of St. Albans, WV. It was an evening of folk and jug band songs, swing and fiddle tunes, along with some Albanlaughs and stories among old friends and special new ones. Here's audio of our opening number followed by Joe's brief welcome to the audience. Photographer Larry Kendall got some great shots that evening, as you see in this collage.

Our buddy singer-songwriter Doug Imbrogno opened the night with a solo set of original compositions and some innovative arrangements of traditional music. But we also have a special bittersweet memory of that evening: It was the night we met the beautiful, mysterious person we still call "The Hobo Girl." A 29-year-old vagabond named Patulla Williams – a young woman who travelled across the country with her dog Ashes, hopping from one train to another like a footloose wanderer from another era – had rambled into West Virginia the night before. Ambling into Joe's Fret 'n Fiddle music store the next morning, she happened to meet singer Jim Snyder who would be hosting The Flood show at the Alban theater that weekend, and Jim invited her to the concert. Backstage that evening, Patulla visited with The Floodsters and instantly won everybody's heart with her brilliant smile and with her stories from the road, where her friends called her "Hermit." We were, each of us, enchanted. Then she went on stage with Jim to share some of her own tunes with a wowed audience. After that night we n ever saw Patulla Williams again. In a few days, she hopped another train and was gone again, saying she was heading west maybe, Nebraska, maybe. Eight months later she was found dead in a jail cell in Texas, where she had been taken after being caught illegally riding another train. Controversy still surrounds the details of her lonesome death. At least it was a happier story for Patulla Williams in St. Albans that April night in 2010. Here's a different perspective on the young wanderer's life. A week or so before she came to West Virginia, Williams was in Winston-Salem, NC, where she and Ashes caught the eye of filmmaker Martin Tucker, who spent the day with her. Linked at right is the trailer for Tucker's 22-minute documentary film called, “Patty: This is My Normal.”

Dec. 4, 2010: We never understood why folks always wanted to book Joe for gigs around Christmastime. We figured it might have been his unparalleled ability to lay his finger aside of his nose. Or it could have something to do with his having his own extensive collection of Santa hats. For whatever reason, Flood VERY Light (that is, just Joe and Charlie) were booked to do a Christmas show along with guitarist Robin Kessinger and one of his students at Huntington’s Heritage Village and Farm Museum. It was a picturesque afternoon. We played inside the village’s beautiful little log church, where The Flood has played often over the years, and just as the music started, so did the snow.

heritage

2011

Jan. 22, 2011: The Flood originals – Joe, Dave and Charlie – traveled to Mount Sterling, Ky., for a warm and wonderful afternoon of music and stories with their dear companion and co-founder Roger Samples. It was a bittersweet reunion. A month earlier Rog told of us of his critical diagnosis: his doctor found evidence of lung cancer. Despite bitter cold weather, two dozen friends and family came in from three states to gather around the roaring fire that Roger and Tammy had built in the living room fireplace. Gathering with the Samples Brothers – Mack and Ted – fiddler Buddy Griffin, John Preston and others, the music continued all day. The whole day was exactly what Roger needed. He started his treatment at Lexington’s Markey Center the following week. Here’s a video from that memorable afternoon.



March 9, 2011: Flood fans Shirley and Norman Davis had moved to Wyngate, a retirement village, and wanted the band to come out and entertain some of their new friends. Since Jacob's grandparents were also residents there, it sounded like a natural for us. Here are some tunes from that evening:

   
   
 

March 17, 2011: The Flood celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at the city’s first “Party on the Patio” event of the year at the gazebo at Heritage Station downtown. Here’s a video of the band’s show that afternoon, with Joe Dobbs tearing it up with his "Miss McLeod's Reel" for the dancers on the patio below the bandstand.

 That show was part of the band’s long-time relationship with that particular downtown Huntington venue. In fact, 35 years earlier, The Flood’s Joe Dobbs, Charlie Bowen and Bill Hoke played at the dedication of gazebo when Heritage Station — the converted B&O railway depot — opened for business. Joe later moved his Fret ’n Fiddle music store from West 14th Street to Heritage Station, where it stayed until the move to its current location in St. Albans, WV, in the mid-1980s. More recently, The Flood has been happy to return to Heritage Station often. In fact, the photo on the cover of our latest CD, "Live, In Concert," was taken in the beautiful lobby of old depot.

May 14, 2011: Chuck (“Dr. Jazz”) Romine joined us on stage at the wonderful old Coon Sanders Nighthawks Reunion Bash in Huntington. Since the spring of 2000, at the invitation of C-S organizer Dale Jones, The Flood had been playing the breakfast session of the annual national gathering of traditional jazz fans. Chuck’s affiliation with the group pre-dated that — he’d been a Coon Sanders enthusiast for decades — and once he joined The Flood in 2001, Chuck was a regular presence at what Dale liked to present as the Saturday morning “Jug Band Breakfast.” By 2011, Chuck had been retired from his regular Floodishness for five years or so, but he still sat in with us often, especially at Coon Sanders. In this video, Bowen tells a little of the history of Chuck’s time with the band, then turns it over to Romine and his tenor guitar for his signature tune, “Hello, Central, Gimme Dr. Jazz.”

 

On sad note, we didn’t know it at the time, but the Coon Sanders reunion’s time in Huntington was coming to an end. There would be one more gathering in May 2012; The Flood would play its breakfast session as always, but Chuck couldn’t sit in for that one, so the above video represents Chuck's last Coon Sanders performance with The Flood. After 2012, the curtain came down on the C-S bashes.

Meanwhile, here are a couple more videos from the 2011 show, including Dave's rendering of "Moonshine in Those West Virginia Hills" (a Dale Jones request) and a portion of "Somebody Been Using That Thing."

   

June 8, 2011: Jacob Scarr had finished high school and would be heading off to college in Colorado at end of the summer. To celebrate the four years that “Youngblood” had been playing with us, his parents, Tom and P.J. Scarr, arranged a party in the front yard of their home in the Timberlake area of Huntington, and the entire extended Flood family arrived to pick for the friends and neighbors throughout the night.

jacob

Here are a couple of the previously unpublished videos from the evening.Honestly, not the greatest of the audio quality, but they do capture a bit of the party atmosphere:

   

cdAug. 17, 2011: Jacob Scarr — our youngest-ever bandmate — was fixin’ to leave the nest, heading off to Colorado for college. The night before his red-eye flight to Denver, the Family Flood gathered in Bud Carroll’s Live at Trackside studio in Huntington to record all 15 tracks that would become the band’s fourth CD. “Wade the Water.”

It was The Flood’s first trip to the studio in eight years. To recognize the influence young Mr. Scarr had had on The Flood, the disc even featured a novelty picture of Jacob on the cover (showing him with a strategically positioned hat as he waded the sweet waters of the Greenbrier River).

The August 2011 Trackside session also provided The Flood with its first DVD, “The Making of ‘Wade in the Water,’” through the good work of Adam Harris and Michael Valentine. At left is a sample video from that magical evening.  For more videos from the evening, click here.

Go here for more on the CD and DVD. This session marked the end of chapter in The Flood’s long story. With Jacob’s departure, Doug Chaffin moved to guitar and mandolin for extensive solo work, and Randy Hamilton came aboard to play bass and sing outstanding harmonies. Randy would play a major role in The Flood’s next CD, “Cleanup & Recovery,” just 19 months later.

2012

RandyJan. 18, 2012: Randy Hamilton joined The Flood as its new bass player. We'd had known Randy for a good long while before he joined the Family Flood. In fact, Randy and his previous band, Sheldon Road, started occasionally jamming with The Flood six years before that, and Floodsters were often in the audience whenever that wonderful trio played. (A few years later, another third of that awesome threesome -- the incomparable Paul Martin -- became the newest Flood member, joining us two years ago. Meanwhile, Paul and Randy's old bandmate, Ken Adams, has reorganized and expanded Sheldon Road. You can catch this excellent country/classic rock band at gigs throughout the Tri-State Area.) Randy, in joining The Flood, brought us not only a rock solid bass line -- "the heartbeat of the band," Joe liked to call him -- but also stellar vocals, including spot-on harmonies and great leads. In fact, a highlight of our new CD, "Live, In Concert" features Randy's gorgeous rendition of "Wayfarin' Stranger." Here's a sample from the new album, a CD that, by the way, Paul Martin masterfully mixed and edited.

 

June 17, 2012: The city of Romney -- population 1,940 -- is West Virginia's oldest town, celebrating its 250th anniversary this year and The Flood was honored that we're invited to be part of it. We headed to Romney to play a free concert at The Potomac Center. Our old buddy, singer/songwriter Paul Martin -- three years before he joined the band -- traveled with us to work the sound AND perform as a guest artist at the concert. Here are a half dozen videos from that memorable day in the eastern panhandle:

   
   
   

July 12-14, 2012: The Flood launched the three-day Joe Dobbs Books Tour, with consecutive shows in Ashland, Charleston and Huntington to promote the release of our bandmate’s autobiography, “Country Fiddler.” Each show featured Joe’s performance of favorite fiddle tunes, followed by his reading of excerpts from the new book. Then the band continued entertaining the crowd while Joe met readers and signed books. The tour brought back Jacob Scarr, home from college, to sit in. Also present was future Floodster Paul Martin, on hand to work the sound system for each of the three shows. A favorite souvenir for the event was the online publication of these “Flood Funnies,” built around photos taken by Lindsey Marshall.

funnies

Sept. 28, 2012: We've played at Huntington's Woodlands Retirement Community many times over the years and always have a good time. Here's a selection of videos from an especially happy 2012 show, Randy Hamilton's first Woodlands outing.

   
   
 

 

2013

March 13, 2013: Armstrong Cable's Doug Morris dropped by a regular Flood rehearsal to produce a fun, 1-hour video feature on the band as part of a series he produced on area musicians. The video still pops up on local cable stations occasionally (though perhaps later and later in the evening...). Here's Doug's recording of that evening, made just days before we went into the studio to begin work on our fifth CD, "Cleanup & Recovery."

 


cleanupMarch 27, 2013:
The Flood walked right into Bud Carroll’s Live at Trackside Studios to begin recording the band’s fifth commercial CD, the album that would be released as “Cleanup & Recovery.” The CD would the first for then-new bassist/vocalist Randy Hamilton. And it also would be the first onwhich Doug Chaffin, who played bass on the first four Flood CDs, moved to guitar and mandolin. Randy and Doug also helped Bud with the mixing of the new album. And the disc, sadly, would be Joe Dobb’s last album; our co-founder and long-time fiddler passed away less than two years after the disc’s December 2013 release. The album also featured The Flood’s new emphasis on tighter vocal harmonies, as you can hear here in the album’s opening tracking.

June 28, 2013: Our regular harmonicat Sam St. Clair couldn't our gig at Woodlands Retirement Community, we talked our friend Jim Rumbaugh into sitting in for him and, as always, Jim rocked it. Here are a half dozen video from that nice summer evening on the hill.

   
   
   

Aug. 17, 2013: The Peytons and the Bowens traveled to Mount Sterling, Ky., for a memorable afternoon with Roger and Tammy Samples, a time of laughs, stories and, of course, music. And Pamela was wise enough to capture videos of some of the tunes we did together, songs that dated back to the very beginning of the band. Of course, that day we had no way of knowing that this would the last time we would all be together … but perhaps there was an unspoken suspicion of that sad reality. By that August 2013 afternoon, Roger was mid-way through what would be a five-year battle with cancer. There were good days and bad days for him, and, sadly, after that summer, more bad than good. But this was a decidedly good day. At the end of a music session, Roger often liked to quote the opening lines of a favorite Ian Tyson song: “Play one more and then I'm leaving, boys. Pick one more — let those guitars ring…” Well, ring they did on this sunny summer day in Kentucky.

Sept. 22, 2013: The 1937 Flood crossed the state and quietly slipped into Romney, WV, to play a part inKen history.Legendary statesman Ken Hechlerwas turning 99 that weekend, and his wife, Carol, along with Bob Nelson and Carter Taylor Seaton, arranged for Ken's closest friends to come together from all around the East Coast for a surprise party at a local hotel. The Flood was booked to provide the background music, starting with Ken's favorite song. That Sunday, as Ken and Carol strolled into the room to cheering well-wishers, we greeted the Hechlers with "Don't Fence Me In." It was a memorable afternoon.

 

And then, showing he could arrange a surprise or two of his own, Ken was back a year later with a more public birthday party -- his 100th -- this time held in Huntington at Marshall University's student center with hundreds of friends and admirers in attendance. Once again, The Flood was brought in as the house band. And sitting in with us for that show was Floodster Emeritus Chuck Romine, who goes back a long way with Ken. Chuck was a student in Professor Hechler's very first political science class at Marshall in the late 1950s.

Dave-1978

 

2014

Tom SawyerOct. 8-11, 2014: The Flood was part of Marshall University’s wonderful stage production of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” performing a 30-minute pre-show set each evening of the run in the beautiful Joan C. Edwards Theater.

Director Nicole Perrone got the idea to add some Floodishness to the show after seeing a staging of the Irish romantic musical “Once,” in which live music is an integral part. During the summer, Nicole sounded us out on the idea and we jumped at it. She actually had two requests: that entire band be on stage to warm up the crowd each night with some acoustic folk sounds before the play started and then that Joe Dobbs hang around and play background fiddle throughout the show each night. They even outfitted Joe with his own costume, since he would be playing on-stage as well as behind the scenes.

Work began in earnest in September as the band honed its pre-show set and Joe worked with the young cast to weave his fiddle tunes into the play’s action, then we opened on Oct. 8, 2014. It was a ball.

We were all a little concerned that we were over-working Joe — and it turned out to be The Flood’s last public performances with our venerable co-founder — but Joe loved it. In fact, sitting alone with Charlie in the green room before the show's last performance on Saturday night, Oct. 11, Joe confided, “I wish we were going on for another couple of weeks! I’ve always wanted to see what it would be like to do a nightly show like this. It’s something else off my bucket list!” Here’s Joe rocking it on “Golden Slippers,” Oct. 10, 2014, a tune we played as the house opened and the audience began streaming in for the show.

2015

Jan. 26, 2015: Two of The Flood’s original members — Roger and Joe — played together for the last time, and we are fortunate to have a video from that bittersweet reunion.

Earlier in that January 2015, Joe and his dear friend Margaret Ray had escaped the cold West Virginia winter for a little while with a trip to the South, and on their way home to St. Albans, they swung by Mount Sterling, Ky., to spend a day with Rog and Tammy. It had been a rough time for Roger; he was entering the last year in his five-year battle with cancer. He had been feeling pretty bad, but he perked up with

margaretJoe and Margaret arrived and filled the morning and afternoon with stories and songs. Rog and Joe always had an especially close relationship. Right from the start, they beautifully complemented each other’s music, but it was in another long winter — the winter of ’75-'76 that Joe and Roger became even closer. During that cold, dark winter, Roger was house-sitting for Susan and David Peyton (Dave was working on an extended Alicia Patterson project down in Cajun country), and every week, Joe would come by to work out fiddle-guitar duets with Roger. Joe also credited Roger with introducing him to Beatles tunes during those winter workshops, but it was another song — Bread’s “If,” the 1971 David Gates composition — that would come to be the big memory from that winter. We have 40-year-old recordings of Roger and Joe playing “If” at party after party, and it was natural for them to play it again on this day of reunion. We’re thankful Margaret was there to record it with her phone. This was last time, Joe and Rog saw each other; Joe passed away eight months later, and Roger was gone four months after that.

March 31, 2015: Paul Martin officially joined the band. The operative word here is "officially," because Paul paulalready had been part of the extended Family Flood for at least a decade before that. As early as 2006, Paul was occasionally jamming with The Flood. Later, when his old friend, Randy Hamilton, came on board as The Flood's bassist, Paul started running sound for the band at gigs. In addition, as an extraordinary singer-songwriter, mandolin and guitar soloist, Paul became a regular featured guest performer at shows around town and on the road. But it was after he actually joined the band that Paul's remarkable talents began to inspire the next direction for The Flood's evolution, starting with his mixing and editing skills on the band's latest CD, "Live, In Concert." And the best is yet to come! But let's go back in the archives. Here's a Paul Martin-Randy Hamilton tune a jam session in September 2011, before either of them was a Floodster, a take on a 1978 tune, "Ready for the Times to Get Better."

Sept. 21, 2015: Joe Dobbs died almost 40 years to the day after his first public performance as the band’s newest member in the fall of 1975. Until just before his passing, we honestly didn’t realize how ill Joe was this time. Generally, he didn’t like it if people — even, or maybe especially, his bandmates — knew when he was not well. Over the years, we had watched as Joe occasionally dropped out of sight , only to turn up again a few weeks later to say, “Sorry to be out of touch, but I was really sick!” We’d groan — “You could TELL a fellow, Joe!” — he would chuckle and say, “And what would YOU have done?” and that would that. So in September 2015, we thought it was just a repeat of that familiar refrain.

So, because this time was different, Joe slipped away before we could say any lengthy goodbyes. We suspect he preferred it that way. To us, Joe always seemed thoroughly uninterested in death. He wasn’t especially afraid of it — he liked calling it “being beamed up” — but he generally didn’t go in for funerals and the like. There was always too little time and too much to do, from learning a new tune to riding his old motorcycle.

Since he wasn’t big on memorial services either, we don’t know how he would have felt about this video tribute we put together for him, but this time, he didn't get to call the tune. Besides, you don’t spend half your lives with a formidable presence like Joe Dobbs without stoping to mark his passing.

Nov. 8, 2015: A contingent of The 1937 Flood played on board the riverboatsValley Gem during a pleasant autumn afternoon cruise. It was the just the latest in a long, happy affiliation the band has had with riverboats over the years.

Growing up along the beautiful Ohio River (and of course, taking our name from one the Ohio's less lovely moments), we naturally head down to the riverside every chance we get. And through the kind efforts of good friends who have worked and lived on America's rivers, we've had some memorable chances. For instance, 13 years earlier, invited by our buddy Jazzou Jones we started playing regularly aboard the legendary Delta Queen steamboat whenever she sailed anywhere near us. We played on the decks, in the forward cabin, in the Texas Lounge. And most memorably, in September 2005 our dear friend Phyllis Dale invited us to play the evening show in the steamer's beautiful Orleans Room during the boat's visit to Ashland, Ky., as part of Phyllis' extraordinary heritage cruise of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers. And while the DQ was always our sentimental favorite riverboat, we also came down to the Ohio to serenade other visiting river royalty, like the Mississippi Queen and the American Queen and to entertain passengers boarding the BB Riverboats, like the lovely Cincinnati Belle. The river will always be in our blood.

Dec. 5, 2015: The Flood returned to a long-time favorite Huntington venue, Heritage Station, to help out with a special holiday arts & crafts sales in the facility’s Red Caboose gift shop. Over the years, we’ve played in many different sections of the location.

Red Caboose

This time we set up in the gorgeous lobby of the historic, restored B&O freight station, which these days is the headquarters the Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau. Such a classy backdrop just naturally inspires cool tunes and we had a ball.

2016

Feb. 12, 2016: The Flood learned of the death of one of the band's founders, the innovative, talented Roger Samples who remained a dear friend long after he was no longer bandmate. Actually, even years before The Flood even born in the early 1970s, Rog and David Peyton already were playing music together. In fact, before Charlie and Pamela Bowen were married in 1969, Pamela had been one of the young folksingers performing on the same stage at Marshall University with Rog and David, and when the Bowens moved back to Huntington from Lexington, Ky., in 1971, one of the first performances they caught at the Marshall coffeehouse was one of Rog's memorable solo sets. The intersection of two Peyton orbits -- music with Rog on one hand and the Bowens working at the same newspapers at Dave and Susie Peyton on the other -- the creation of a band was nearly predestined. By the spring of 1973, Rog, Dave and Charlie were jamming regularly at the Peytons' place, and when Joe Dobbs appeared on the scene a few years later, it was Roger who roped the fiddler in, hooking him with that rich Samples repertoire of folk songs, Beatles tunes and dazzling guitar work. In The Flood's first decade, it was also Roger -- and by extension his remarkable brothers Mack and Ted -- who showed us each next step, from John Prine and Steve Goodman to a selections of crazy, wonderful 1920s and '30s jug band tunes. Roger was a regular in the band until the early 1980s, when economicconditions propelled Roger and Tammy to move the family away from West Virginia. The Samples would settled in Mount Sterling, Ky., where they remained for the rest of Roger's life. But even then, Rog came back to be with us whenever he could. Here's the video tribute that Roger's Flood family made for him this time last year. We think of you every day, brother.

May 28, 2016: The Flood was invited back to the Vandalia Gathering to be part of the festival’s tribute to Joe Dobbs, and we suspect our running buddy would have approved of the diverse material we selected for our 30-minute set. We told the crowd that, while he was rightfully beloved in the traditional music community, Joe wanted his own musical world to be much more expansive. It fact, it was Joe, we told them, who was prime motivator-instigator-agitator for The Flood to be ever-more eclectic, embracing everything from “Soldier’s Joy” to “Fly Me to the Moon,” from the tunes to Charlie Poole and the Memphis Jug Band to roots rock ’n’ roll and the sounds of The Great Folk Scare.

Vandalia 2016

We’ll never forget the widening of eyes on the front row that night at Charleston's Cultural Center when we related how Joe told us more than once his all-time favorite composition was not a fiddle tune, but rather a song that the great Louis Armstrong made famous: “What a Wonderful World.” Now, of course, to anyone who really knew Joe, that shouldn't have been news; after all, 15 years earlier he chose as the closing track on his all-time best-selling solo CD, the 2001 "Fiddle and The Flood," his rendition of "Wonderful World," which you can hear right here.

kathyMeanwhile, as we were preparing for the Vandalia set,we also were thinking about another of our old friend's favorites, especially Tom Paxton’s “Ramblin’ Boy.” Here’s our take on that tune at the rehearsal, preserved in that week's podcast.

Dec. 12, 2016: 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 time last year. 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 and Doug.

2017

Aprl 15, 2017: The Flood traveled to Barboursville's Route 60 Music Co.  for a big benefit concert to help fill the shelves of the Facing Hunger Food Bank. We played songs from our new CD, "Live, In Concert," as well as some new things we'd been working lately. We had so much fun at this show that it was the inspiration for the new "Route 60 Saturday Night" monthly music variety show, which would start in that fall. Here are a half dozen tunes ("Before the Next Teardrop Falls," "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down," Wayfarin' Stranger," "Seven Bridges Road" and "Summertime") from the April 15 show:

   
   
   

at Rt 60Sept. 16, 2017: The Next Big Thing for The Flood came in 2017 when we became the house band for a new monthly music variety show called Route 60 Saturday Night.

The genesis of the idea was what we thought would be a one-time appearance on stage at the wonderful Route 60 Music Co., 60 Peyton St. in Barboursville, WV. For years we had been wanting to play that fine venue, but the logistics took some doing. But it's was worth the effort. The April 15 gig was an absolute ball.

It was so much fun, in fact, that Charlie just kept thinking about it, and by early summer was ready to approach Route 60 founder Paul Callicoat with a notion. He jumped at it and quickly recruited the team: The Flood would be the house band. The hosts would be broadcast veterans Randy Yohe and The Flood's Michelle Lewis and the monthly storyteller-in-residence would be Flood co-founder Dave Peyton.

Video Extra!

 
Route 60 Saturday Night Sampler

For The Flood, one of the many things we love about being the house band each month is that the gig invites us to think in new ways about the songs we choose for the evening. To put it plainly, we don’t want anything we play as the house band to compete with or to distract from the material being performed that that month’s guest artists. For instance, if a scheduled guest is planning to play jazzy pieces, we want to come back some something different, maybe some simple folk songs. On the other hand, if the guest star is offering a set of sweet ballads, we might follow him or her with a couple of raucous jug band tunes. 

The premiere show featured guest artists Sasha Colette and Traci Ann Stanley, and shows followed on the third Saturday night of October, November and December, with guests Rob McNurlin, Bobby Taylor, Doug Imbrogno, Chet Lowther, Richie Collins and Ron Sowell. The crew then took January and February, returning in March 2018.

2018

May 26, 2018: We returned to one of our favorite capital city venues, Charleston's Taylor Books, for a fun evening. Neither Doug nor Sam could make that particular gig, but we were able to persuade our buddy Jim Rumbaugh to sit in with us for the gig. Here is a quartet of videos from the evening!