Dear Diary ... The Podcast Archives: 2014

Joe2014 saw The Flood check off another item of its bucket list: Taking part in a a full-fledged stage production.

tomMarshall University director Nicole Perrone made it all possible when she invited The Flood to perform nightly for a week as the warmup band for a Marshall production of "The Adventiures of Tom Sawyer."

For Joe the show made even a bigger memories. Nicole wanted Dobbs actually to be a costumed member of the cast. Honestly, we were a little worried that it would be too much for him; after all, Joe had just turned 80, and the show would require hours of performance every night. However, he was still killing it in our shows, witness his "Ragtime Annie" in early spring that year in a concert at Woodlands.

And Joe had a ball in "Tom Sawyer." He daughter, Diane, brought the grandchildren to see the show and Joe's dear friend, Margaret Ray, was with him at every day's show. Moreover, on the last night of the run, Joe told Charlie, "Man, I have always wanted to see what it was like to play a continuing show like this! I wish it could go on for another week or two.

For a slew of random auto-selected numbers that we played that year, click here to tune into Radio Floodango's 2014 channel.

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Jan. 16, 2014. Chuck Romine Helps Us Plug the New CD (I Got Mine)! Our old friend Chuck Romine dropped by to jam with us last night on the eve of his 78th birthday. As long-time members of the Family Flood know, Chuck played that fiery tenor nancybanjo with the band for six years and, as a Floodster emeritus, he's always welcome back. On this track, Chuck's wailing on tune called "I Got Mine" which is featured on our CD, "Cleanup & Recovery."


-- This lady took the baby to the doctor...

Jan. 23, 2014. Remembering Our Dear Companion. Nancy McClellan, who would have been 81 last Sunday, was a great friend of The Flood. She was even there at those rowdy music parties when then band was born 40 years ago. We've dedicated our latest CD to Nancy McClellan, and here's a track from the new disc, one of Nancy's favorite tunes, which we sang at her graveside last October, Jean Ritchie's "My Dear Companion."

Jan. 28, 2014. R.I.P., Pete Seeger. We're doing the podcast a little early this week, because this morning we learned of the death of one of our heroes. Maybe the hero. As you've surely heard by now, the great Pete Seeger passed away peacefully in his sleep. He was 94. Folk musicians often talk about those who went before who influenced them. But they don't talk about Pete so much because his impact on them is just a given. This music -- folk music, roots music, acoustic music, whatever you want to call it -- is what it is today in large part because of the work and the stewardship of Pete Seeger. And it's not only his music. His attitude, his optimism, his inclusiveness and boundless enthusiasm for all kinds of music provided a very fertile field for America's music not just to survive but to thrive. In The Flood, "Uncle Pete" has always in been in the back of our minds. Why, just a few weeks ago, when Chuck Romine dropped by with his banjo, we found ourselves singing "Goodnight, Irene," the song Pete learned from Leadbelly. It was… well, more joyful than it was listenable, and by popular decree, we'll keep that particular track deep in the private collection. However, thinking about how Pete Seeger's influence reaches all the way back to the very beginning of our band, I remembered a concert we were playing 35 years ago, in the first years of The Flood. I remember a pause in the show and suddenly Dave Peyton filled the silence with a beautiful solo on his Autoharp. It was a song I will always associate with Pete, because it was on one of his records that I first heard it, the Shaker tune, "Simple Gifts." Here's that moment.


 Feb. 6, 2014. Introducing the Ice-Jam Trio (The L & N Don't Stop Here Anymore). Ice, snow and illness kept more than half of the band away recently, but as we always say, where two or more gather in its name, it is The Flood. So that night we were three. Sam St. Clair, with son James in tow, came from the cold with his box of hot harmonicas. Randy Hamilton came slipping and sliding down from his Ohio hilltop, bringing his bass and his sweet harmonies, and we devoted the evening to exploring the prospects of The Ice-Jam Trio. A highlight of the evening was rediscovering this wonderful old Jean Ritchie composition, whose mournfulness seemed somehow fit for a long winter's night. It even has a reference to "February snow."

Feb. 13, 2014. A Shoutout to the Ramblers (Green Rolling Hills of WV)! Thirty years ago, our dear friends David Holbrook, Bill Hoke and Susan Lewis formed the core of our favorite local string band called The Kentucky Foothill Ramblers and, Lord but they taught us a slew of wonderful tunes. The group used to sing this Utah Philips tune at nearly every show and we never got tired of it. Sadly, The Ramblers are no longer around, but we've got home recordings of most of the band's repertoire, and we've just started working on our own variation of "Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia." Oh, we're not ready to roll it out on our set list for shows yet, but we're sharing here with the podcast family. Think of it as a work in progress.


Video Extra!

Flood at Home

March 20, 2014. Whinin' Boy.After a seemingly endless winter that thwarted many of our Wednesday night get-togethers, spring has stumbled into the Ohio Valley. And to celebrate, The Flood finally got a quorum for a rehearsal. Since we hadn't seen each other much so far this year, we found ourselves quickly getting a bit nostalgic, digging back for tunes we'd not played in some time. For instance, we'd darn near forgotten this great old Jelly Roll Morton song until we checked the song list of a CD we released 10 years ago. Here's a revisit with "Whinin' Boy."


-- Shake It Like WHAT? Charlie explains to an audience at a live show how the lyrics he sings evolve.

Video Extra!

Chuck Wows 'Em, "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down"

March 28, 2014: Wearin' Out Romine (San Francisco Bay Blues)!We're playing Woodlands this Friday night starting at 6 o'clock. If you're listening to this in Huntington, come on up to the show -- you're more than welcome. Now, the last time we played there, our old friend and former Floodster Chuck Romine -- Doctor Jazz himself -- was in the audience, but when we asked him to come up and sit in on a few tunes, darned if he hadn't forgotten to bring his tenor banjo. Well, heck, THAT won't again. Chuck AND his banjo will on hand for the show this time. In fact, Chuck dropped by the rehearsal this week and we just wore him out. Here's a sample.


April 3, 2014. Michelle Brings Us Back to a Classic (Don't Get Around Much Anymore).We're not saying we're getting old, but we are saying that The Flood is getting a bit forgetful. Guess that can be expected from a band that's been around for 40 years. We've noticed that tunes we used to play a lot have lately drifted out of our collective consciousness. So to counteract the ravages of time, we've been using some of our Wednesday night rehearsal time of late to reach back to arrangements that have been on the endangered list. Last night, Michelle Walker brought us back to this Duke Ellington composition that we recorded more than 10 years ago, and just listen to how Joe Dobbs and Sam St. Clair really connect with it.

April 10, 2014. Happy Birthday, Norman Davis (Can't Get That Stuff No More)! We were so pleased that our good friend Norman Davis came to spend his 86th birthday evening with us. Of course, we're lucky because Norman -- a renaissance man if ever there was one, Norman and Michellewith stories that could fill a night all by themselves -- shares most Wednesdays with us. Now, as we've mentioned before, The Flood doesn't play the traditional "Happy Birthday" song. Instead, we celebrate nativities with Tampa Red's jug band classic, "You Can't Get That Stuff No More," led by our chief birthday elf, David Peyton. Here's the version Brother Dave brought to the table at that night's get-together. Oh, and be sure to continue listening after the last chord is played, because you'll want to catch Norman's editorial comment! Happy birthday, old friend!


-- Flood Birthdays. To a 2011 concert audience, we discuss our alternative happy-birthday tune.

April 17, 2014. Bye Bye Blues Revisited.On a CD more than a decade ago, The Flood recorded "Bye Bye Blues," but that was before Michelle Walker was a regular member of the band. Our original instrumental version was fine as far as it went, but now, as you'll hear, the Chick Singer's big, bright vocal puts new mileage on the great old 1930s jazz standard.

April 24, 2014. Everything We Do Is Carefully Planned (Lady Be Good). Not.In "A Shot in the Dark," Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau says, "Everything I do is carefully planned, madam." Well, we in The Flood can't really say that. Some of the best times at our weekly rehearsals just grow out of the moment. Here's a case in point from last night's get-rosetogether. Joe Dobbs was joking with our good friend Rose Riter. You can hear her lovely infectious laugh at the beginning of the track. Meanwhile, Doug Chaffin starts nodding with the Gershwin tune, "Lady Be Good." Right away, Randy Hamilton and Charlie Bowen join in. Quickly then, visiting Floodster Emeritus Chuck Romine jumps in with his tenor banjo. That catches the attention of Dave Peyton who hops on board and by the time the chorus comes around again, Joe picks up his fiddle, ready to lay down a strong statement of the melody, and we are off the the races.

April 30, 2014. Trouble in Mind, The Perfect Warm-up Tune. We're always looking for tunes that helps the band warm up for an evening's practice or performance. The ideal warmup number has an easy rhythm, some lyrics for the singers to stretch out on and opportunities for everyone to take a solo or two. "Trouble in Mind," a classic eight-bar blues written by jazz pianist Richard M. Jones back in the 1920s, fits the bill perfectly.

Video Extra!

Joe Dobbs, Woodlands, "Ragtime Annie"


May 16, 2014. Chuck Brings a New Toy (Georgie Buck). We invited former Floodster Chuck Romine to sit in with us at a gig this week, knowing his ever-lively tenor banjo would really please the crowd. But at the rehearsal the night before the job, Chuck showed up not with his banjo, but with a new prize: a sweet Martin tenor guitar he had just bought. You can hear him with it on two solos on this take of a David Peyton classic that's also featured on our new CD, a tune he learned from Aunt Jenny Wilson called, "Georgie Buck."


-- Oops. International Women's Day? We sometimes forget to look at the calendar when we're picking the tunes for a show.

May 22, 2014. Remembrance of Things Past (Star of the County Down). In the room where we rehearse each week is a bookcase where we've begun to display photos of some of the dear friends who have passed away over the years. Looking into their smiling faces as we play is a real joy, especially in those relatively rare quiet moments -- like this beautiful impromptu duet by Doug Chaffin and Joe Dobbs on a haunting rendition of a Irish melody, "Star of the County Down." On this Memorial Day weekend, it's comforting to think about how old friends live on in our memories.

May 28, 2014. Down by the Willow Garden.Here's a track that really captures the informal nature of Wednesday nights around here. For a warmup, we kick off a tune we don't play very often. In fact, you can hear Charlie Bowen and Dave Peyton discussing chords during Doug Chaffin's solo on the mandolin. You can also hear us greeting Joe Dobbs as he arrives. Joe quickly unpacks his fiddle and takes his solo while still standing behind Charlie in the doorway. It was some of Joe's prettiest playing of the night!


June 19, 2014. Slippin' and Slidin' with Jimmy and Bob. Like any other family, the members of The Flood miss each other when they're separated for any length of time. For various reasons, we had to cancel the previous two rehearsal sessions, so when we finally got back together last night, it was joyous, turning a practice into a party. And you could hear in the music, starting with this very first song, our take on an old Jimmy Reed tune. As we serve it up, it's a blues sandwich -- with a smattering of Bob Dylan right in the middle.


Video Extra!

"Mississippi Sawyer," "June Apple"

July 10, 2014. Wayfarin' Stranger, Randy Sings Lead. The newest Floodster, Randy Hamilton, is already a hit with Flood regulars for his solid bass playing and his high vocal harmonies, but we've been looking for a song on which we could feature him on lead vocals, and we think we've found it. We've started working on a moody version of "Wayfarin' Stranger" with Randy singing the story. We're only just begun crafting the tune -- we're still hashing out our harmonies to support Randy's lead; Charlie's still looking for something to add to Michelle's wonderful wispy melodies -- but we like to use the podcast to share works in progress, and this is one. It's interesting, too, how the instrumentation is coming together. Check out the solo work by Doug and Sam and especially listen to Dave's first-rate Autoharp work, adding great accents that chime throughout the song. Stay tuned -- we'll keep you posted as this piece evolves.


-- Requests Filled In Advance. At a Charleston show, we tell the story of filling a song request before it was even made.

July 17, 2014. 55 Good Things about West Virginia (Blackberry Blossom)! It was an interesting week for the Family Flood. We learned on Monday when The State Journal announced its list of "55 Good Things About West Virginia" that The 1937 Flood is among those good things. We are so honored to be the first string band ever included in the newspaper's annual list of Mountain State treasures. Writer Tiffney Henson has written a lovely story about the band, and here's a link. Meanwhile, as you'd expect, this week's regular Wednesday night rehearsal attracted a lot of friends and neighbors who wanted to drop in and celebrate with us. Joe Dobbs' joyous rendition here of "Blackberry Blossom" from last night's practice beautifully sums up our mood these days.sheri

July 31, 2014. Sherri Hamilton Sits In with Us (I Never Cried). The Hamiltons are a talented couple. Randy Hamilton has been playing bass and singing high harmony with us for a few years now. Meanwhile, we've known all along that Randy's wife, Sherri, is a gifted keyboard player and singer in her own right, and we've been after her to come and sit in with us some time. Finally she did and we rocked all evening. Our hope is to work up a few tunes to play in concert that will feature Sherri Hamilton as a guest artist on piano. Here's our starting point, a sassy little number from last night. Oh, and we had a few other friends sitting in last night. That's the great Jim Rumbaugh on harmonica and the incomparable Chuck Romine on tenor banjo.


Aug. 7, 2014. All of Me ... and then some....One of the good things about rehearsing each week is that the ensemble work gets tighter and fresher all the time. For instance, on this track from a recent practice session, listen to Joe's intricate, imaginative fills behind Michelle's vocal on this 1930's jazz standard. It's no wonder that for decades now, singers have wanted Joe Dobbs to back them up -- his fiddle is like a second voice! Then listen to how the whole mood and color of the tune changes as the ensemble brings it down to back up Doug's sweet mandolin solo in the middle of things. Then after that, the dynamic changes again as Charlie and Randy kick it up a notch to support Michelle's rousing final chorus.

Aug. 21, 2014. The Blues that Makes Doug Chaffin Smile (Backwater Blues). Doug Chaffin is the most even-tempered musician you'll ever meet. Day in and day out, he just delivered solid solos, and never complains, even when sometimes the rest of us -- beginning to feel the effects of those cups of strong black coffee -- start running away with the rhythm. But if you want to see Doug smile when the subject is the blues, keep that tempo down to a nice, steady heartbeat speed. Listen here to how Doug and his guitar just OWN this improvised blues we used to warm up at at recent rehearsal.


-- Sharing a little trivia story ...

Aug. 28, 2014. Never Swat a Fly. Our band manager, Pamela Bowen, almost never makes pronouncements about the music we choose to play, but last night she made an exception. After hearing us play the following bit of fluff at the end of our 90-minute rehearsal session, she ruled that we may never play that song that late ever again. The reason? Well, it's something of an ear worm, a melody that you can't get out of your head, and not surprisingly, Pamela doesn't like to wake up throughout the night still hearing that damned song. So here it is -- "Never Swat a Fly" from a highly forgettable 1930s movie called "Just Imagine." But remember Pamela's warning: Don't listen to it after dark or you may be just imagining it all night long.


-- To Not To. Pamela has a rule about playing "ear worms" too close to bedtime.


Sept. 4, 2014. Doug and Randy Trade Places (Careless Love). We've got a couple of interesting gigs coming up this fall, including one that requires us to switch up our instrumentation a little bit. We'll have more to say about these upcoming shows in the weeks ahead, but for now, know that Doug Chaffin, who usually plays guitar and mandolin for us these days, is moving back to the upright bass for a little while, and Randy Hamilton -- who usually plays his acoustic-electic bass for us -- is moving to lead guitar. Last night was our first practice session with this arrangement and it was fun to listen to Doug and Randy exploring these new lines. Take a listen to this run-through on the old standard, "Careless Love," from the very end of the evening.


-- Discovery and Copyright. How W.C. Handy carefully cultivated "Careless Love."

Sept. 11, 2014. Way Downtown (Again). It's funny how songs come in and out of our lives. Even before The Flood was formed 40 years ago, Dave Peyton and Charlie Bowen would get together on weekends to pick and sing, just the two of them, and among the tunes they would play was this one, "Way Downtown," which they probably learned from an old Doc Watson recording. After the band came together in the mid-'70s -- as Rog Samples, Joe Dobbs, Bill Hoke and Stewart Schneider joined us -- "Way Downtown" was a regular. Then the song just seemed to drift away for a couple of decades. But lately, it's come back, and the latest incarnation of The Flood likes how it fits, like a comfortable old shoe. So much so, in fact, that the song's likely to be on the set list for shows on our schedule this fall. Here's a take on the tune from last night's rehearsal.


-- Teaching the Words. Sam urged a special pronunciation in the sing-along to "Way Downtown."

Sept. 18, 2014. Bringing It Back Home with Paul Martin (Wade in the Water). We're set to play at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena this Friday night at the reception for the Ohio River Festival of Books -- "ORFOB," to its kenfriends. We're little short-handed on soloists for this gig, though, so our good buddy, the incomparable Paul Martin, is sitting in with us on mandolin and guitar. Now, The Flood's had lots of folks to sit in over the years, but few fit in as well as Paul. He's not so much a guest artist as he is a long lost Flood brother. Whenever he sits down to play, it's like he's been with us all along and is just coming back home. Check out Paul's work on this tune that we're polishing for Friday night's show.


-- Mother Peyton's Wade in the Water. David tells how his Methodist mother was persuaded to cover all her bases with a little secret baptism.

Sept. 25, 2014. Busy Weekend (Bye Bye Blues)! The Flood has a busy weekend ahead, with back-to-back gigs. Friday night we're pleased to be invited to play at the pre-party at Heritage Station for the big 5th annual Huntington Music and Arts Festival. We start our 45-minute set at 7 p.m. Come downtown and party with us! And then on Saturday we're thrilled to be part of a celebration for one of our heroes. Former U.S. Congressman Ken Hechler is 100 years old this year, Huntington is turning out to honor this legendary legislator, and The Flood gets to provide the music for what promises to be a memorable afternoon. Joining us for the day is our old buddy, Floodster Emeritus Chuck Romine, on tenor banjo. Chuck and Ken go back a long way: Chuck was a student in Mr. Hechler's first class at Marshall University back in the 1950s. At last night's rehearsal we begin making our selections for the shows, and we found brother Romine in fine form indeed.


Oct. 2, 2014. The Flood Hits the Boards (My Dear Companion). We have another first for The Flood. The band has been asked to perform as part of a Marshall University theater production. Next week, Wednesday through Saturday nights at 7, we'll be doing the Tom Sawyerpre-show for a delightful production of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." The director has asked us to put together a selection of traditional and contemporary tunes that fix this classic Mark Twain story. At last night's rehearsal, we brushed off this beautiful Jean Ritchie composition to add to the mix. Remember, "Tom Sawyer" runs Oct. 8 through 11 at Marshall's Joan C. Edwards Playhouse. Come on out for a great show!

Oct. 8, 2014. The Water is Wide, Michelle's Tune for "Tom Sawyer." All this week, The Flood is on stage at Marshall University's Joan C. Edwards Playhouse, doing the pre-show for the university theater's magnificent staging of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," and we're having a ball. It is an unadulterated delight to be around these bright, talented, energetic performers, watching them light up the house night after night. For our part in the show, we've selected old and new tunes in the folk tradition. Here's one that Michelle Lewis brought to us just for this production. "Tom Sawyer" runs through Saturday night at Marshall's Joan C. dancingEdwards Playhouse. The house opens at 7 each evening, and the Flood plays until the 7:30 curtain. Come out and see the show!

Oct. 23, 2014. Mementos from "Tom Sawyer." (Crazy Words, Crazy Tunes) We made some excellent memories for ourselves earlier this month, playing the pre-show each night for Marshall University's wonderful theater production of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." Before we press these mementos into the big Flood scrapbook, we thought we'd share a couple of the moments with our podcast family. We thank our old friend Kevin Bannon, that tireless stage and sound technician at Marshall, for making this quick recording of the pre-show on the closing night of the play.


-- History Lesson. It's all so we can get that big grant money!

Oct. 30, 2014. Three from the Woodland Show (Walk Right In, Jug Band Music, All of Me). Recently we had a ball playing at Woodlands, a wonderful retirement community on a hilltop overlooking our hometown of Huntington, West Virginia. Friday night the folks filled the hall, singing and laughing with us! Here are a few tunes from that evening, including some featured solos by our guest artists, Sherri Hamilton on piano and Paul Martin on mandolin. And we wrap up the podcast with a beautiful Michelle Lewis number. You'll even hear Michelle a little out of breath at the end, as a result of dancing with one of the residents during her performance. What a great night!


Nov. 6, 2014. Remembering J.P. (Oop Pik) The great fiddler J.P. Fraley died three years ago, but still is very much an influential part of our Appalachian world, and jpThe Flood has always felt fortunate to have a direct connection to J.P. through Doug Chaffin. Doug played and traveled with J.P. and his wife Annadeen for decades and is a walking encyclopedia of J.P. tunes and stories. Doug played on J.P.'s 1998 twin fiddle CD with Betty Vornbrock, and at a quiet moment at last night's rehearsal, Doug took up his guitar to play this remembrance of a classic tune from that album, the beautiful "Ook-Pik Waltz."

Nov. 13, 2014. Revisiting Peggy Day. "Peggy Day" is one of the stepchildren of Bob Dylan's great songbook. The tune's only claim to fame is that it was the B-side when Bobreleased "Lay, Lady, Lay" as a single in the summer of '69. Unlike a lot of Dylan lyrics, "Peggy Day" has no intriguing bobbackstory or legend that we've ever heard. Dylan probably just tossed it off as filler when he was finishing up the "Nashville Skyline" album all those years ago. But the song has always been a favorite for The Flood, especially in recent years, as Michelle Lewis has been perfecting her wonderful vocal harmony part. At a recent session, everybody took a turn on the tune in a particularly happy moment of the very happy rehearsal.

Nov. 20, 2014. Remembering Ramblin' Boy Bob McCoy. It was the birthday of one of our favorite people. Bob McCoy would have been 71, but we lost him -- gosh, could it be more than four years ago now? At that night's rehearsal, we paused for a Bob Moment, singing his favorite song. These days, we never do Tom Paxton's great "Ramblin' Boy" without thinking Bob McCoy's smile that lit up the room. Here's to you, Bob.


Dec. 4, 2014. Musical Conversations (Trouble in Mind). People play music for all kinds of reasons, in all kinds of places. For us, some of the best times come when we're just sitting around playing and listening to each other. It's a kind of musical conversation that sometimes reaches beyond mere words. Here's a case in point. We hadn't seen each other for a few weeks, and it was good to just sit down and catch up. Want to eavesdrop? Here's a sample.

Dec. 18, 2014. If You Lose Your Money. Nobody ever did the blues better than Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. Back in the late 1950s they recorded an incredible album for Smithsonian Folkways called "Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry Sing," which included a number of original compositions, including this one, a song we often use to open or close a rehearsal session, because it's just so much fun.xmas

Dec. 24, 2014. Merry Christmas from The Flood. This is a special extended holiday edition of The 1937 Flood podcast. Christmas is a time of reunion and we were thrilled that Floodster Emeritus Jacob Scarr -- back in town on Christmas break from the college he attends in Colorado -- brought his guitar to sit in with us. He and Randy Hamilton and Charlie Bowen were just getting started, when other friends started arriving to enjoy some time with Jacob. Along came Randy Brown with his big old Gibson L-5 and through the other door came blues harmonica great Jim Rumbaugh and his friend Karen Combs, a lady who knows a thing or two about the blues herself.