Jack Pearson is known across the United States as “Mr. Song-Strummin’ Storyman! sm.” His unique blend of tales and tunes has been widely hosted by camps, schools and church groups nationwide since 1980. “Heartwood”, Jack’s eighth album, brings together a collection of songs that coalesced around many summers of family camp experiences at Mt. Hermon Christian Conference Center near Santa Cruz, CA, and truly represents some of the songs closest to Jack’s heart. This is a sampling, but if you want the full menu, come to camp! Jack lives in Minneapolis, MN with his wife, Nancy. For more info go to www.jackpearson.org or www.myspace.com/jackpearsontunes.
1. Goin’ Back to My Mt. Hermon Home
2. When the Hoedown’s Called up Yonder
3. The Fifty Year Waltz
4. What a Gathering
5. Pancake Ridge Fiddle Medley
(Tombigbee/Bonaparte’s Retreat/Whiskey Before Breakfast/
Growlin’ Old Man & Cacklin’ Old Woman)
6. I’m Your Eyes
7. Life’s Railway to Heaven
8. Shakin’ Up Sand in the Bottom of the Sea
9. I’m My Own Grandpa
10. Monster Minnesota Mosquitoes in the Sky
11. Gospel Campfire Medley
(Steal Away/Standin’ in the Need of Prayer/Swing Low, Sweet Chariot/All Night, All Day)
Jack Pearson - Six, 12, high-string and harp guitars, 5-string banjos, mandolin, fiddle, vocals, amplified toybox lid, spoons, jawharp, harmonica (on “I’m My Own Grandpaw” and “Goin’ Back to My Mt. Hermon Home”)
Scott Malchow - Bass, percussion, keyboards, dobro
Bruce “The Creeper” Kurnow - harmonica
Brian Wicklund - Most of the fiddlin’ (except “Pancake Ridge Fiddle Medley” )
Recorded and produced Jan.-June 1997 by Jack and Scott at Scott Malchow Productions, Minneapolis, MN. Mixed by Scott, Jack and Dave Schmidt.
Jack’s Notes on the Songs
Goin’ Back to My Mt. Hermon Home - Mt. Hermon is a conference center near Santa Cruz, CA which I’ve been privileged to work for these many summers. This is kind of a senitmental old style of song, but, heck, a lot of us are sentimental about Mt. Hermon!
When the Hoedown’s Called up Yonder - I guess we each have our own little dream of what heaven might be like. This is one of mine. And I have no doubt that the Apostle Paul will be up there rockin’ with the rest of us!
The Fifty Year Waltz - This song was written on the occasion of my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. I really like it and have begun to realize that it was written as much for my wife, Nancy, as for my parents. Nanc, I hope I can sing this to you in thirty years or so.
What a Gathering - A great old hymn I learned from a guy named Rick Schrank. Written by Fanny Crosby, one of the most beloved of the old hymn writers. She also wrote “Blessed Assurance”, “Jesus Keep me Near the Cross” and “Pass Me Not, Oh Gentle Saviour”. I love the image of “that summer land of love”. It somehow reminds me of the Beach Boys...
Pancake Ridge Fiddle Medley - I have a lot of fun pickin’ and fiddlin’ for the Mt. Hermon pancake breakfasts! Here are a few of the tunes I like to play. As for “Whiskey Before Breakfast”, it’s not my intention to advocate pre-dawn inebriation. I did actually think of changing it to “Kool-Aid Before Breakfast”, but figured I’d leave it be for the sake of tradition. If you really don’t like it, think up your own name, but no one in the traditional music fold will know what tune you’re talking about. In the Canadian reel “Growlin’ Old Man...” use your imaginaton and you can hear the two old folks arguing back and forth!
I’m Your Eyes - A song I’m very happy with. It’s about our dog, Amber, who worked as a seeing eye dog for a friend of ours for nine and a half years. I often wonder what that dog’s thinking about (besides eating!) and like to think that maybe some if it found its way into this song. “One step at a time is all faith ever buys.”
Life’s Railway to Heaven - Also known as “Life is Like A Mountain Railroad.” My version evolved from one I found in a book entitled Albert E. Brumley’s All-Day Singin’ and Dinner on the Ground. I loved this song the first time I ever heard it which was ... well, a long time back! I tuned my long-neck banjo way down to D to get that low, slappy banjo sound, and if you listen closely, you’ll hear the low bass strings of the harp guitar. It’s a weird and wonderful instrument with a number of low strings strung on a horn-like projection off the bass side of what otherwise is a normal guitar. But why be normal?
Shakin’ up Sand in the Bottom of the Sea - I learned this as “scrapin’ up sand ...” but changed it because sand made me think of a swishy, shaker-like sound, as you’ll hear. This is either the same song as or closely related to a song I’ve heard called “Eliza Jane”. A fun old folk tune, and you just can’t beat jawharpin’!
I’m My Own Grandpaw - Thanks to Dave and Barb Larsen of San Jose, CA for bringing this to my attention! It’s been around a good long while and I’m told the basic idea even came up in the writings of Mark Twain.
Monster Minnesota Mosquitoes in the Sky - A favorite campfire routine I do. We didn’t dare try to get one of those mosquitoes into the studio to record it for fear it would wreck everything.
Gospel Campfire Medley - Just some favorite gospel songs we’ve sung over the years at the campfires at Mount Hermon. Gotta love ‘em!
Jack used a number of vintage instruments in the making of this album including:
Guitars: 1974 Martin D-41S, 1966 Harmony Sovereign (rebuilt), late-1960’s Guild F-312 12-string, c. 1920s Dyer harp guitar, 1891 Martin New Yorker (high string), Banjos: c. 1900 S.S.Stewart gut-strung, 1988 Deering custom long neck. Also heard are a 1920s Gibson A-1 mandolin and Jack’s fancy French fiddle of disputed origin from c. 1850. Jack plays Whitlow jawharps, Hohner harmonicas and endorses his own JP rhythm spoons - made of rare, rhythmical stainless steel from secret mines in Namibia. A special and heartfelt thanks goes out to my dear friend and chronic musical collaborator, Scott Malchow, who is as much to blame for this music as I am. You’re the greatest, Scott!
Jack Pearson, Mr. Song-Strummin’ Storyman! sm
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