The following text comes from the CD liner notes. These are written by Terry Douds, the fourth member of the Frogwhompers . . .
“For me, what you’ll read here is a labor of love. As the “Fourth Frogwhomper,” I have the opportunity to tell a unique and interesting story – one that I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t actually live it – of a group of people who, through a common love of music and Appalachia, have in one way or another helped keep a musical style and concept alive for more that 30 years.
Back in 1973 (and continuing through 1977) a group started up in Athens, Ohio at Ohio University, in conjunction with the School of Theater, known as The Appalachian Green Parks Project. This was a group of students who were interested in theatre, music, dance and their ties to the Northern Appalachian heritage. They became a big success throughout the State of Ohio, performing in all the State Parks, and even traveling to Washington, D.C. to perform on the Mall. Many musical people spun out of this group and continued performing to this day in 2007. Two of these were Jim McGaw and Charlie Lewis.
In 1976, Jim & Charlie, after leaving the group, wanted to continue doing music in a similar vein to what they had done in Green Parks. Searching around Athens, they came upon a banjo player named Jimmy Prouty. He agreed to join them, and at a Mo Udall Presidential Rally in Athens in 1976, they began performing, using a name McGaw had modified from a joke that ran through some bars in the neighboring Vinton County – they became The New Vinton County Frogwhompers (Marching, Singing, Strumming and Plucking Society), [Incorporated]. A bit of a play on the stream of words from The New Christy Minstrels, it was very unique, and set them apart from the crowd.
They began playing all over Southeast Ohio, performing at the State Parks as well as af many different sources of libation in the area(Sherwood Forest, The Back Door, Swanky’s, The Lucky Lady (in Logan), Mr. Bojangles, and many, many others). They also took a trip to the Fox Hollow Folk Festival in upstate New York, where they began collaborations with other artists of the times.
Becoming very popular with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, they recorded two soundtracks for movies about the state, and then recorded the first album, “We Always Wanted To Be a Big Name Band,” which was released on “A Big Name Label.” They also released a single (“Done Stomped on My Heart”/Rocky Raccoon”) which can still be found on jukeboxes around the state.
After some three years of touring, McGaw decided to call it quits, and left the group. Charlie and Jimmy continued to work on new materials, and then entered the studio to record the second album under a new name, “A Touch of Grass.” This was when I entered the picture a bit more prominently.
I was in school at The Ohio State University from 1974 thru 1979, completing a BS in Audio Recording, and was playing bass in the OSU Jazz Ensemble, which was also going thru a magical period musically at that time (but that info is for another set of liner notes…).
I had actually worked as an assistant engineer at Mus-I-Col Recording Studios during the recording of some of the soundtrack sessions, so I was familiar with the band and their sound. Their engineer, Robin Gulcher, who was also my Studio Manager at Mus-I-Col, asked me if I would be willing to put some bass tracks on this second album, as Jimmy and Charlie wanted to change and develop the sound a bit. I rapidly agreed, and walked into the studio cold to record all the bass tracks in a one day session.
They asked me if I would be willing to play a few concerts with tem, beginning with Earth Day in April 1979 at OSU. I told them ok, but only until October, since “I was a Jazz Bassist,” and bluegrass wasn’t really my thing…(yeah, right…).
Well, we were really busy – playing all over the state – I saw nearly every state park numerous times, as well as concerts, bars, picnics, weddings, etc. – it was an extremely fun and exciting time. However, I had an opportunity to go on the road as the bassist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra in the summer of 1980, so I left in early July, and Bill Mullins filled in for me. I was only gone for three months before returning to Central Ohio and ATOG.
In 1981, Jimmy decided it was time for him to fulfill one of his dreams, which was to start a bar of his own. He started up “O’hooleys Ale House,” which ran until 2006. This time it was up to Charlie and me to make some changes. Charlie contacted his brother, William D., better known as Wid, to sing and play guitar, and Bill Mullins joined in on mandolin and banjo for a few shows. We then added Charlie’s former brother-in-law Barry Henson on banjo, and the fires began anew. Barry could only stay for a short time however, so we started looking for a permanent banjo player, and stumbled upon Jon Rogers. Jon had previously been with “Frog and the Greenhorns,” another Southern Ohio bluegrass band, so his work was well-known – and when he joined the group at age 19, he was a terror on the banjo! You’ll hear his work here with Barry on the dueling banjo tune, “Shuckin’ The Corn,” as well as on much of the third album’s tunes, including his own “Eerie Canal.”
The group continued performing regularly for about six years, but then Jon got married, and moved to North Carolina to follow his dreams of being a hotelier. We did a few shows following his leaving, and even did a couple of Frogwhomper reunion concerts with McGaw during that period, but there were lots of life changes happening. I was married in 1986, Wid as well, and Charlie married Celia soon after. Celia joined us for a few shows, but we were still slowing down. McGaw was moving to Georgia to follow his wife to a new teaching position. Families were beginning, and it was time to put things on the back burner for a bit.
Charlie and Celia began working on their duo concerts, and they opened a music store in Athens. I began doing a fifteen year career change as a video editor in Columbus. Charlie then had an opportunity to being working for the Guitar Center chain, first in the Cleveland area, and then in Florida, so we all geographically drifted apart.
Wait fifteen years and see what happens…I began a one-year Visiting Assistant Professorship teaching Audio in the School of Telecommunications at OU for the 2002-03 school year. Charlie has returned from Florida, and is living in Guysville. Jimmy still has his bar. Creative juices begin flowing again, and now that we have a bar to play in (O’hooleys), it was time to begin anew. The name change game occurs once more, and we are now christened “Forgotten But Not Gone” or FBNG for short. It’s now a really interesting time to play in Athens, as many of our fans are now parents, and their children are now attending OU. Mom’s weekends are some of the best times now, as former fans bring their offspring to the bar to see what the excitement was about! Halloween and the Time Change Riots (call a friend in Athens – it’s a crazy “event” that only happens there!) are other weekends worth playing for.
Fast forward to now…the Green Parks reunion of 2007. Not only as Green Parks reunited – so have the Frogwhompers – and in recognition of this fact, we have re-released both the albums as well as the third “unreleased” album, which includes everyone – with some wonderful unrecorded McGaw compositions, as well as a unique novelty tune about Swanky’s, and other gems. While researching the archives for this release, Charlie was able to contact Ken Mills of Mills-James Productions in Columbus, who was a producer on the first album while he worked for ODNR, and he had some recordings of the band even we didn’t know about, so some of them are included here as well. It’s a treasure trove of history of a band that I feel truly embodies the folk tradition – creating new tunes, passing on old ones, and arranging current “popular” music in this musical style – and continues to bring joy to listeners around the world.
To all our fans, past, present and future – Thank You! It’s been (and continues to be) our pleasure…