Curt Bouterse
WOODEN NICKEL
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Wooden Nickel: Song notes.


1. Boatman Dance. (trad). Wm. S. Mount banjer, eAEaa; voice; hand claps; jew's harp (4:07) I've known this tune since my childhood, though that means I may first have learned it from the Aaron Copland arrangement for baritone and piano.

2. Bangum and the Boar. (trad). Jean Ritchie dulcimer, #26, aaD; voice (4:20) I learned this in the 1960s from a recording of someone who played it on the dulcimer, but I never performed it until recently. The closest tune I could find is Burl Ives, a source of many fine old songs. (This dulcimer was a gift from Sam Hinton.)

3. Wooden Nickel. (Curt Bouterse). Wm. S. Mount banjer, gDGcd; fiddle, GDAE (2:34) This one of my earliest compositions and have played it for over thirty years, just recently teaching it to Ray Bierl. Now you can learn it and, perhaps, write more jig words to it.

4. Wild Bill Jones. (trad). George Washington gourd banjer, dDAd; voice (2:38) Many of the tunes I used to play on my old fretless banjers, I've been rearranging for my small, 4-string gourdies. This murder ballad seems to increase in intensity as it's reduced in range.

5. Never Grow Old. (James C Moore). Amburgey dulcimer (made by my mother, Virginia Lee), aaA; Zimmerman Dolgeville 5-bar autoharp ca. 1895, voices (3:14) One of the many great songs I learned from the underappreciated 1930s gospel singer Alfred G Karnes. Lee and I channel our paternal grandparents who had a gospel radio program in Orlando in the 1930s. My grandfather would have played his old jumbo Gibson. [We were probably fated to sing this song: Moore was an African-American hymn writer whose middle name was the same as the town where my mother and sister were born. The song is dated the month before my birth, on the same day, in a year which is an anagram of mine. Coincidence? Hah!]

6. Foreign Lander. (trad). voice (2:37) Learned from Martha Hall on the old Mountain Music of Kentucky album. I sang it as a fragment for years until recently finding more verses.

7. John Hardy. (trad). gourd "bonja," dDAA; voice (4:01) I knew pieces of versions until I was inspired by a fragment Stu Jamieson sang to me just before he died which sounded more like a Childe Ballad than usual. I hope my arrangement does it justice.

8. Jenny's Blues. (Curt Bouterse). Fairbanks & Cole banjo, #2854, gDGcd; fiddle, GDAE (2:46) Another early composition, dedicated to a Dear Friend and her daughter, eternally young.

9. Blue-eyed Gal In Sunny Tennessee. (Curt Bouterse). Geo. Washington gourd banjer, bBEA; voice (2:43) The melody came from the tuning I concocted on this small banjer and the song appeared, full-blown, in about fifteen minutes. I couldn't find a way to shorten the title.

10. Goin' to Boston. (trad). Amburgey dulcimer (built by my mother, Virginia Lee) aaA; voices (3:17) Another great song from Jean Ritchie. Note the similarity to "Early in the Morning," (on my previous CD) as well as to "Drunken Sailor," probably related at least by the shared refrain.

11. Rainbow in the Willow. (trad.) voice (2:37) Learned from Almeda Riddle, who I was fortunate to hear in 1963. A version of "Locks and Bolts," the vivid imagery makes it one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite singers.

12. Roving Gambler. (trad). Leonard Glenn banjer, dGDga; voice (3:16) I always liked this song but usually considered it a guitar tune until recently. It was also the tune that Eck Robertson picked on my original box fretless banjer when I used to visit him in Amarillo. The story was Eck started off on banjer but, when his brother decided he would rather play it, Eck picked up the fiddle. Thus, the world lost a great banjer player.

13. Bonaparte's Retreat to the Isle of Saint Helena. (trad). 2 Amburgey dulcimers, aaA (5:49) I start with my old version of "Bonaparte's Retreat" which was inspired by Mike Seeger. I love the contrast of the free-rhythm first strain with the strict second strain. I then add "Boney on the Isle of Saint Helena" and include the countermelody I composed to it.

14. Villulia. (trad). voice (2:58) The original melody in The Southern Harmony only had two verses so I found two more to complete the well-known miracle of Jesus healing blind Bartimeus. This is an example of the highly-ornamented, solo tradition of religious singing which springs from ancient European roots. I used to win Traditional singing competitions at Topanga Canyon and elsewhere with this hymn back in the '60s.

15. Fair Beauty Bright. (trad). Amburgey dulcimer, aaA; voice (3:02) Lee has been singing this to my accompaniment even before I began playing the dulcimer. Undoubtedly learned from Jean Ritchie.

16. Benfield's Waltz. (Neriah Benfield). Zimmerman Dolgeville, N.Y., 5-bar autoharp (with original strings) (2:06) I learned this in the 1960s, without a source, and have played it ever since. Only in preparing the notes was I able to trace it the great autoharpist, who only called it "Waltz."

17. Claude Allen. (trad). Geo. Washington gourd banjer, dDAd; voice (3:51) Another song with a wonderful melody I've known and loved since the early 1960s. Perhaps because I loved Kathy and Carol's version I only occasionally played it until recently, when it found its voice on my small gourd banjer.

18. Waterbound. (trad). Kubing: bamboo jew's harp (2:15) Learned from the New Lost City Ramblers, I've always sung it with dulcimer or jew's harp. And now, not even sung.

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