Ivan Rosenberg | Oldies and Old Time

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Oldies and Old Time

by Ivan Rosenberg

Old time folk meets Tin Pan Alley w/ clawhammer banjo, vocals, and Dobro.
Genre: Folk: String Band
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Abject Woodchuck
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1:46 $0.99
2. Don't Pity Me
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3:10 $0.99
3. Sloth Up a Gum Stump
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2:33 $0.99
4. Willow Tree
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3:03 $0.99
5. Georgia On My Mind
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2:36 $0.99
6. Waves On the Sea
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2:32 $0.99
7. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
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2:56 $0.99
8. Red Rocking Chair
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2:44 $0.99
9. Maryville Waltz
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2:30 $0.99
10. Roving On a Winter's Night
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2:39 $0.99
11. You Don't Know Me
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2:30 $0.99
12. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire)
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1:58 $0.99
13. Danny Boy
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3:42 $0.99
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes
The great pop hits of yesteryear, given enough time to steep, eventually become some of the most enduring of all folk songs. Just as with old time music, there are plenty of classics that will still be played around the campfire by people and/or robots a hundred years from now. With the help of sparse clawhammer banjo and Dobro arrangements, my hope is that "You Don't Know Me" and "The Christmas Song" sound right at home next to a lonesome critter-inspired instrumental or a timeless ballad such as "Roving on a Winter's Night." Oldies and old time, together at last!


Bio: Over the past decade, Ivan Rosenberg has gained a dedicated following for his independently-produced ‘boutique’ recordings of melodic, expressive acoustic music on Dobro and clawhammer banjo. Millions have heard his original songs playing anonymously in the background of over 250 television programs including The Daily Show, Oprah, and the Emmy-nominated documentary Libby, Montana. In recent years, he earned an IBMA Award for co-writing the 2009 Song of the Year; played on the CD Southern Filibuster: A Tribute to Tut Taylor (produced by Grammy winner and Dobro legend Jerry Douglas); engineered and/or produced recordings for some of the most original voices in west coast roots music (Pharis and Jason Romero, John Reischman, The Breakmen, Kevin Brown, and more); and performed throughout North America with musicians such as Chris Coole and Chris Jones.

Track list and instrument tunings:

1. Abject Woodchuck – Ivan Rosenberg
Romero banjo

2. Don't Pity Me – Walter Brownie McGhee – Julie Music Corporation
Rayco resophonic banjo

3. Sloth up a Gum Stump – Ivan Rosenberg
Rayco resophonic banjo

4. Willow Tree - Trad., Arr. Ivan Rosenberg
Romero banjo

5. Georgia on My Mind – Hoagy Carmichael, Stuart Gorrell – Peermusic III, Ltd.
Clinesmith resonator guitar

6. Waves on the Sea - Trad., Arr. Ivan Rosenberg
Romero banjo

7. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain - Fred Rose - Sony/ATV Milene Music
Rayco resophonic banjo

8. Red Rocking Chair - Trad., Arr. Ivan Rosenberg
Romero banjo

9. Maryville Waltz -Ivan Rosenberg
Clinesmith resonator guitar, Martin D-16

10. Roving on a Winter's Night -Trad., Arr. Ivan Rosenberg
Rayco resophonic banjo

11. You Don't Know Me - Cindy Walker, Eddie Arnold – Unichapell Music, Inc.
Romero banjo

12. The Christmas Song (aka "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire") - Mel Torme, Robert Wells - Sony/ATV Tunes, LLC
Clinesmith resonator guitar

13. Danny Boy - Frederic Weatherly, Public Domain, Arr. Ivan Rosenberg
Rayco resophonic banjo


Album credits:

All songs ©2013 Ivan Rosenberg Music Publishing (ASCAP) except as noted.
Recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by Ivan Rosenberg at The Schtood.

Except for Maryville Waltz, all songs recorded live (instrument and vocal together) using Neumann, Peluso, and Royer microphones through Forssell and Universal Audio preamps.

Graphic Design by Pharis Romero
Vole-O-Tone logo by Jason Laudadio


to write a review

Gary Whitehouse - Sleeping Hedgehog

I can’t say enough good things about Oldies and Old Time.
If you think you know Ivan Rosenberg, this 2013 solo disc of his will teach you something new. Now, you might know Ivan from his bluegrass work as a duo with Chris Coole. Or if you’re a reader of liner notes, you may know him as an in-demand recording engineer who has produced beautiful acoustic recordings for the likes of John Reischman. Or as a popular session player. Or from TV and movie credits. Regardless, if you know of Ivan Rosenberg, it’s as a masterful, understated player of the Dobro and the clawhammer banjo. But on this, his first solo album since 2006, Rosenberg lays down his first recorded vocals, and they are every bit as masterful and understated as his playing.

If you don’t know Rosenberg, check him out. He’s originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, and has spent some time in Montana, but recently moved to Toronto. Regardless of where he lives, he makes beautiful music with these spare, old-time instruments. He’s not necessarily content with just the old-time repertoire, though. The title of this album says it all – in addition to old-time songs and his own compositions in the traditional manner, he’s added a handful of standards from the American songbook. “Oldies.” As he says in the liner notes: “The great pop hits of yesteryear, given enough time to sleep, become some of the most enduring of all folk songs.”

So when I saw that great classic country song “You Don’t Know Me” on the track list, I went directly to it, and discovered that it’s not an instrumental piece, but a song, with Rosenberg’s delightfully warm, low-key, slightly raspy vocals. You may know this one from its most popular version by Eddie Arnold – and indeed he shares writing credits for it with Cindy Walker – but it’s been covered lots of times, including by Emmylou Harris. And Willie Nelson. In fact I’d never really heard of Cindy Walker until Willie recorded an album of her songs a few years back, but I sure recognized a lot of her songs. And Ivan’s version made my heart melt – it’s really quite beautiful, just his lovely Romero banjo and his intimate voice.

His other songs are similarly beguiling, almost lullaby-like, including the traditional songs “Willow Tree” and “Red Rocking Chair,” the Fred Rose classic “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain” (there’s another Willie Nelson connection!), and that Irish chestnut “Danny Boy.”

But don’t miss his instrumentals. He does some sublime and deceptively simple-sounding clawhammer playing on the opening track, his own composition “Abject Woodchuck,” (which segues nicely into Brownie McGhee’s “Don’t Pity Me” on which he accompanies his vocals with a resophonic banjo). We hear some more of that banjo on his own “Sloth Up A Gum Tree.” But he plays his resonator guitar on the standard “Georgia On My Mind,” his own sweet “Maryville Waltz” and an unexpected cover of Mel Tormé’s “The Christmas Song.”

Rosenberg produced his own recording as nicely as he does for others, and pretty much recorded it all live in the studio, instruments and vocals together. “Thanks for taking a chance on this oddball recording!” he says in the liner notes. If it’s odd, it’s only in the sense that not many folks are making such intimate recordings these days. I can’t say enough good things about Oldies and Old Time.


ceaselessly creative engagement with tradition engenders a sense of wonder in th
The work of an established, much-respected musician whose ceaselessly creative engagement with the tradition can only engender a sense of wonder in the listener.
Ivan Rosenberg, an American who has recently relocated to Toronto, his wife's hometown, boasts a rich resume as producer and banjo and dobro player. He is master of a rarely heard instrument, the resophonic banjo, essentially a blended version of the two above-named instruments. On Oldies & Old Time he plays it, clawhammer banjo, and dobro separately on this solo outing, recorded live in the studio. (On the one non-live cut, the lilting original "Maryville Waltz," he adds a Martin D-16 to the resophonic guitar.) The title takes its inspiration from Rosenberg's observation that some pop songs eventually become folk songs. "Plenty of classics," he predicts, "will still be played around the campfire by people and/or robots a hundred years from now."

The oldies are the likes of "Georgia on My Mind," "The Christmas Song," "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" and "You Don't Know Me," the first two arranged as instrumentals. Perhaps because it's sung, the last of these, a 1956 hit for Eddie Arnold who co-wrote it with the well-known country/pop composer Cindy Walker, seems slightly awkward, at least to my admittedly imperfect ear. "Blue Eyes," on the other hand, is a stunner. Possibly that's because it's always had the resonance of an antique traditional ballad, even if Fred Rose wrote it as recently as 1945.
Rosenberg, who sings in an intimate, whispery growl with the instruments tuned low, turns in a stirring performance of the ordinarily execrable "Danny Boy." I'd judge that as close to a miracle as one is likely to encounter in this world, and I stand in awe. He handles the Appalachian (and Appalachian-styled) material with a veteran's expert grace, which means that when you hear the songs and tunes, however well you think you know them, they're surprisingly fresh and moving. I am thinking particularly of "Willow Tree" and "Roving on a Winter's Night," but they're all pretty impressive.

Foxbeard Music

be prepared to fall in love with Ivan’s effortless mastery of the Dobro and claw
Ivan Rosenberg opens up his latest album, Oldies and Old-Time, with “Abject Woodhcuck” a beautiful song showcasing his brilliant clawhammer banjo playing. A fair warning though, the first song had me hooked in about two seconds. If you’re like me, be prepared to fall in love with Ivan’s effortless mastery of the Dobro and clawhammer Banjo. Oldies and Old-Time also features a couple of Ivan’s own versions of classic songs such as Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, You Don’t Know Me, Don’t Pity Me and Danny Boy.

Devon Leger, Hearth Music

the most beautiful, subtle elements of American traditional music
The best musicians, regardless of genre, have a kind of sixth sense. It’s an almost magical intuition that tells them the perfect time to come in on their instrument during a song, or helps them craft the best possible riff during a solo. It’s a synchronicity that lets them meld their music with other artists on the fly and that makes them some of the most in-demand session players. Ivan Rosenberg has this sense. It’s a sense he uses to bring out the most beautiful, subtle elements of American traditional music. He’s known for his understated yet masterful playing on the Dobro and clawhammer banjo, among other instruments, and for his prowess as a recording engineer for roots musicians. He’s even known in Hollywood, where his gently soaring Dobro lines have brought just the right element of acoustic heft to big budget movies and television shows like Oprah and the Daily Show. On his new album, Oldies and Old-Time, Ivan Rosenberg brings three elements together: original tunes he’s composed, traditional folk songs and melodies, and solo acoustic interpretations of grand classics from the American songbook. This third element might seem a bit out of place, but as he says, “The great pop hits of yesteryear, given enough time to sleep, become some of the most enduring of all folk songs.”
Originally from the Bay Area in California, and formerly a fixture of Western Montana’s lively bluegrass community, Ivan is now in the process of relocating to his wife’s hometown of Toronto, Ontario. Over the years, Ivan has gained a dedicated following for his independently-produced ‘boutique’ recordings of melodic, expressive acoustic music. He engineered beautiful and acclaimed albums for artists like John Reischman, Pharis & Jason Romero, Kevin Brown, and the Evie Ladin Band. He released a transcendent album of old-time music in his duo act with clawhammer banjo master Chris Coole, toured with bluegrass icon Chris Jones, and produced a gloriously retro collaborative CD with stand-out bluegrass band The Foggy Hogtown Boys.
With Oldies and Old Time, his first solo album since 2006, and the first to feature his singing, Ivan brings together the classic songwriting of early American popular music with the timeless sounds of the Southern mountains. The stringband classic “Red Rocking Chair” rubs shoulders here with the country classic “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” bringing out a mournful strain in both. Original tune “Abject Woodchuck” opens the album with Ivan’s stunningly intricate clawhammer banjo playing, but segues into Brownie McGhee’s “Don’t Pity Me.” Tin Pan Alley classic “Georgia on My Mind” becomes a heartfelt Dobro solo, and Eddy Arnold’s popular ballad “You Don’t Know Me” gets a stripped-back and lovely rendition with a light touch of doo-wop swing. Using a resophonic banjo, Ivan adapted his clawhammer banjo playing to bring some of these “oldies” into an old-time framework. With “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” Ivan reworked the classic country bass line into a clawhammer pattern, while the old chestnut “Danny Boy” heard on the album is based on the country pedal steel playing of Buddy Emmons’ version of the song.

Throughout Oldies and Old Time, Ivan shows his prowess as an acoustic roots master unafraid to cross boundaries. He refers to this as his “oddball recording,” but after listening you’ll feel that there’s a natural thread tying these different genres together, a common sound rooted in Ivan’s uncommonly good taste.

Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine

A beguiling trip through the backwaters of American music history
In his concerts, Arlo Guthrie often tells a story of performing with Pete Seeger at a European folk festival. When asked to add to a series of iconic singalong songs from Seeger’s bottomless folk repertoire, Guthrie responded by leading the crowd in a version of “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You.”

This speaks to the area where folk and popular music coexist cozily, if sometimes confusedly. And it’s in this nether land that banjoist/resonator guitarist Ivan Rosenberg happily wanders throughout his most recent recording, Oldies And Old Time. Using clawhammer banjo techniques on a low-strung banjo and a resophonic banjo, along with a resonator guitar, and often chiming in with his simple, effective, and understated singing, he wanders through his own crooked road that connects the Appalachians with Tin Pan Alley.

What makes this album work so well is that he takes the same fundamental approach to traditional songs like “Red Rocking Chair” and “Waves On The Sea” as he does to “Georgia On My Mind” and “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain.” This allows the timelessness of the song itself to stand out in a musical context that is as skillfully played as it is simple and effective.

While, admittedly, it can be a bit jarring to hear one more version of, say, “Christmas Song” and “Danny Boy,” it’s pretty safe to say that we don’t generally hear these old chestnuts done as old-time numbers. And interspersed among such classics as Eddie Arnold’s “You Don’t Know Me” and Brownie McGhee’s “Don’t Pity Me” are a handful of Rosenberg’s original tunes, “Abject Woodchuck” and “Sloth Up A Gum Stump,” that are as quirky and charming as any of the standards. With the addition of his instructive liner notes for his fellow banjoists, the result is a beguiling trip through the backwaters of American music history by a very entertaining guide.

Tom Franks, FolkWords

A Seamless Synchronous Collection that Warms the Soul
Ivan Rosenberg holds and honored place among the legions of bluegrass, folk, and old time Dobro and banjo players. His touch and empathy with traditional American music is enviable whether he’s working with timeless classics or Rosenberg originals – and that’s what you get with his album ‘Oldies and Old Time’ – original tunes and traditional folk folded together in a seamless synchronous collection that warms your soul. It’s noticeable when you hear understated banjo playing, it lifts the instrument away from the ‘thrashing’ it’s so often given add to that skill Rosenberg’s talent for soothing life through a resonator guitar and ‘Oldies and Old Time’ is a classic in the making.

Opening with an original tune ‘Abject Woodchuck’ is a classic demonstration of clawhammer banjo ‘as it should be played’ and then your sliding into ‘Don’t Pity Me’ delivered with a relaxed vocal. The depth of tradition is presented through cleverly arranged versions of sadness-filled narratives such as ‘Willow Tree’, ‘Waves on the Sea’, and the mournful ‘Roving on a Winter’s Night’. Original Rosenberg tunes are represented by such ‘wonders-for-your-ears’ as the intriguing ’Sloth up a Gum Stump’, ‘Georgia on My Mind’ played on a lone Dobro with so much soul you can almost feel it, and of course the delightful ‘Maryville Waltz’.

Albums that mix old and new like ‘Oldies and Old Time’ are often described as blurring boundaries, not this one. With this recording Rosenberg has mixed just the right the ingredients to make a great recipe, and with his skill he’s cooked up a fine dish where everything comes together without any obscurity.

Matthew DeRiso, No Depression

subtle, charming and expressive
Old Time music is something I'm passionate about. The raw, down and dirty earthbound rootsy sound of the Southern Mountain region holds a special place in my heart. I loved sharing Old Time music with my friends until I was met with the all too typical criticisms of "It sounds too Old."

Here I thought that was the point.

Old Time is a glimpse into America's musical roots of country, blues, folk and gospel...it pre-dates it all. That said I could never really slip too many albums into the dare I say modern discerning listener's collection. It's tough to get people into this stuff.

Ivan Rosenberg may have solved that problem.

Rosenberg plays his Dobro, resophonic and clawhammer banjo effortlessly on his latest album "Oldies and Old Time" bridging the cultural gap from front porch mason jar guzzling mountain singers with familiar melodies of standards, originals and and even few by Willie Nelson. Rosenberg who hails from the California Bay area and former fixture in the Western Montana bluegrass community now makes his home in Toronto Ontario. Known not only as a recording artist but as a talented engineer for roots musicians, he has also worked in Hollywood where his Dobro skills have graced the soundtracks of big budget films and television. This guy is top shelf. His performances on this disc are subtle, charming and expressive without getting shall we say too earthbound; while at the same time everything he's presented the listener with here is still deeply rooted in early American Old Time musical tradition. I listened to this album over and over again by the fire in my backyard, tapping my toes on the concrete slab like it were the front porch of a smokey mountain cabin and soaking in the frailing five stringed charm of the original "Abject Woodchuck" and a great, breathy parlor styled performance of an Eddy Arnold cover "You Don't Know Me" Ivan refers to this album as an "oddball recording" - I don't hear that. I hear a quiet master tying conflicting genres together into something that appeals to someone that may not be attracted to the the tried and true primitive genius of Old Time music.

This album will not smack you in the face. It's like a strange fabled elixir. Those unaccustomed to the simple elegance of the music here may treat it as bittersweet musical medicine or dismiss it as snake oil. Sure, there's plenty of pop sensibility at play here, but not too much sugar for the soul; just enough. After all - the muddy roots need to keep enough soil and dirt on them to be, well...the roots! Rosenberg has indeed done just that in my opinion - marrying catchy, familiar melodies to history and tradition with fabulous results.

I recommend this to any fan of Tin Pan Alley, Bluegrass and Classic Country. Ideal for front porch rocking (in a chair that is!) or a quiet road trip. Goes perfectly with a cold beer by the fire as well.