Abraham Lincoln’s Favorite Song

Who else went for a swim first thing on New Year’s Day? Grace and I have been getting in the Detroit River once a week, and last week we had to break up some thin ice before we could get all the way in. I’ve heard there are health benefits to doing this but for us it’s just a cheap thrill since we can’t get together with friends for square dances and potlucks during the pandemic and we both gave up substance abuse years ago.
In this email I have four things to share:

 – New Video Out Now: Listen To The Mockingbird
 – New Classic Banjo Lessons Series on YouTube
New Video Out Now: Listen To The Mockingbird
My new video is from the concert at the G.A.R. Hall a couple months ago with Cameron Celestia on piano, and this is a special piece because it’s an “Air Varie” arrangement by Hoosier banjo virtuoso Parke Hunter (1876-1912) of Listen To The Mockingbird, Abraham Lincoln’s favorite song.

Listen To The Mockingbird was first published in 1855, with lyrics by Septimus Winner (who also wrote Ellie Rhee, aka Carry Me Back To Tennessee — Here’s a lovely version of that number, recorded by Carroll Clark with classic banjo accompaniment and here’s a more contemporary version by Norman and Nancy Blake. I learned the latter version from Luke Richardson when we did a couple Corn Potato String Band tours together.)

It’s fascinating to see how a song written in 1855 can still be popular enough decades later to become a show-stopping banjo solo, and decades after that to evolve into a display of fiddle pyrotechnics (here’s a fantastic version with Paul Warren on fiddle, and then decades later see it become known far and wide as the theme song to The Three Stooges!
Yoga + Fiddle??
Yes! My friend Melanie has started offering free (donations welcome) yoga sessions via Zoom, and she asked me if I would provide some music. I haven’t done anything like this in a long time, so I was excited to give it a go, and it’s been going quite nicely.

In case you’re wondering, I am using an electric 5-string fiddle and an effects board, generally using lots of reverb and delay, and although I’m not really looping per se, I am creating various pads to create a cushion of ambient sound. Pretty different from what you’ve heard me play before, I’ll bet. Come check it out this Sunday at 6pm! It’s also happening Jan 31 and Feb 14 and 28. Register here.
Live Stream Concert From The Blacksmith Shop Next Saturday 1/23
I’m very excited for this concert as I will perform a program entirely of works by Joe Morley (with the exception of a possible encore…), with piano accompaniment provided by Cameron Celestia, in a lovely concert space in Manchester, Michigan, called The Blacksmith Shop.

The concert will stream live at 7:30 on Saturday 1/23 and attendance is limited so register in advance here. Tickets are $0-$100, sliding scale.
New Classic Banjo Lessons Series on YouTube
I’ve started a series of free video lessons for beginners interested in learning to play classic banjo. My intent is to make the style readily accessible to total beginners as well as to people who already play other instruments or other styles of banjo. If you are interested and check it out please let me know if you have any feedback. All suggestions are appreciated, I’ve never made an instructional series before! Here is the link, please feel free to share it.

All For Now
Before I go, I do have one or two quick questions — Has anyone tried making oat milk? (I posted my recipe/method on my Patreon page — please join if you haven’t already!) And if you have made oat milk, have you come up with any recipes for the leftover oat pulp? I made chocolate chip cookies today using oat pulp and they came out so fluffy and light, yet crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Quite incredible!

Until next time my dears,
Stay safe, stay sane,