Old Fashioned Folksinger
Born Stephen Lawrence Suffet in Brooklyn, New York, in 1947, Steve Suffet describes himself as an Old Fashioned Folksinger in the People’s Music tradition. His repertoire is a mixture of topical-political songs, old-time country music, blues, railroad and hobo songs, ballads, union songs, and anything else that tickles his fancy. Some are traditional folk songs, and some are his own compositions in traditional style. Steve usually accompanies himself on guitar, but sometimes switches to 5-string banjo or Appalachian Mountain dulcimer.
This album features twenty of Steve's favorite songs from his various CDs. He performs entirely by himself on just two songs. On the other eighteen he is joined by musical friends who provide vocal and/or instrumental back-up. These friends include Jessica Feinbloom (vocal), Alan Friend (banjo), Robin Greenstein (banjo), Allen Hopkins (harmonica), Jody Kolodzey (vocal), Ray Korona (vocal), Joel Landy (vocal), Chris Lang (vocal), Heather Lev (vocal), Eric Levine (banjo and vocal), Bruce Markow (vocal), Anne Price (vocal), and Gina Tlamsa (fiddle and vocal). Each is an accomplished artist in his or her own right.
Tracks recorded, mixed, and mastered 2005-2009 by Ray Korona. Cover photo by Takako Nagumo. This album is dedicated to musician and human rights activist Eric Levine, who passed away in May 2008 at the age of 51.
1. Now the Wheel Has Turned (© Steve Suffet). Additional vocals: Joel Landy, Heather Lev. Just another Gospel song. Or is it?
2. Down the Gowanus (© Steve Suffet). Additional vocals: Jessica Feinbloom, Joel Landy, Anne Price. The Gowanus Canal is an industrial waterway that runs for about 2 miles through Brooklyn, New York. Its "good ships" are barges and tugs.
3. A Shantyman’s Life (Traditional, arrangement © Steve Suffet). Additonal vocal: Anne Price. The shantyman is an immigrant from Ireland who went to work in the woods of North America.
4. Mole in the Ground (Traditional, arrangement © Steve Suffet). Steve’s version of a song known throughout the South. Alberta is sometimes known as Kempie or Keppie, but she always wants a $10 shawl.
5. Shady Grove (Traditional, arrangement © Steve Suffet). Additional vocals: Anne Price, Gina Tlamsa. A very old song from the Appalachian Mountains.
6. I’ve Been Up on the Mountain (© Steve Suffet). Additional vocals: Jody Kolodzey, Joel Landy, Eric Levine. The Passover story, old-time country style.
7. Union Warriors (© Steve Suffet). Additional vocals: Jody Kolodzey, Ray Korona, Joel Landy, Eric Levine. Dedicated to all union brothers and sisters, past, present, and future.
8. Nine Hundred Miles (Traditional, arrangement © Steve Suffet). Additional vocals: Heather Lev, Gina Tlamsa. From a family of traditional railroad songs which includes its close cousin "Reuben’s Train."
9. Three Foot Seam (Traditional, arrangement © Steve Suffet). Additional vocals: Chris Lang, Ray Korona, Jody Kolodzey, Joel Landy, Heather Lev, Eric Levine, Bruce Markow, Anne Price. A song from the coal mines of Great Britain. Steve learned this song from Anne Price, who recorded a slightly different version.
10. Can You Hear That Steam Whistle Blow? (© Steve Suffet). Inspired by a disaster that killed 12 coal miners in West Virginia in 2006.
11. Where’s My Bagel and Lox? (© Steve Suffet and Joel Landy). Additional vocal: Joel Landy. The entire history of the world from the Paleozoic Era to Judgment Day in less than 5 minutes.
12. When I Was a Hippie in Arkansas? (© Steve Suffet and Anne Price). Additional vocal: Anne Price. Dedicated to a very conventional looking female country singer who really had been a hippie in Arkansas.
13. Danville Girl (Traditional, arrangement © Steve Suffet). Additional vocal: Gina Tlamsa. A hobo love story. Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Boy leaves girl. The end.
14. Low Rent District (© Steve Suffet). If urban gentrification continues, $4 for a cup of coffee may look like a bargain.
15. Cannonball Blues (Traditional, arrangement © Steve Suffet). Another hobo song, and a finger picker’s delight.
16. The Tobler Brothers (© Steve Suffet). Outlaws Jake and Joe Tobler, then age 21 and 18 respectively, murdered two men in a hold-up in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in 1885. U.S. Marshal Jack Stillwell tracked them down and brought them to justice. They were hanged in 1888.
17. High Ballad Man (© Steve Suffet). Woody Guthrie coined the phrase “high ballad man” and Steve ran with it. Let’s hope he ran in the right direction.
18. The October Waltz (© Steve Suffet). Additional vocal: Anne Price. The true story of how Steve met Marilyn Levine, his bride-to-be, in October 1968.
19. Next Year in a City of Peace (© Steve Suffet). Additional vocals: Ray Korona, Gina Tlamsa. The traditional Passover meal concludes with the words “Next year in Jerusalem.” The name Jerusalem may come from ancient words meaning City of Peace.
20. Worried Man Blues (Traditional, arrangement © Steve Suffet). Recorded live at the 2007 Woody Guthrie Birthday Bash in New York City. The other performers and the audience all join in.