JP Harris announces new project, JP Harris’ Dreadful Wind & Rain, exploring Appalachian music
True, I enjoy reading other people’s articles and takes on many of the albums that blogs of my own ilk feature, however many of them are not as articulate as I am. None of them REALLY dig into the MEAT of the music on albums like this one. I LOVE THESE TYPE albums from artists like Tyler Childers, whom last year also produced one.
There was nothing short of pure passion put into this album, from an artist that is completely engulfed into this “pioneer” lifestyle of his, that I fine unique about his personality. I have talked to him many times, every time I learned something new, which I TREASURE about people like him.
“Old Bangum” is a song that is what we consider “Public Domain” ( as is almost the whole album ). However I do recall hearing a 1960’s recording by Miss Donna Everett, with a varied selection of versus. This song is just like the rest of them like “Mountain Dew” . There are so many versions of performing it, but ultimate it is the story of the hunter trying to take the wild boar’s life, and how he eradicated the beast.
“The House Carpenter” was the opening song here, and I have heard many versions of this one as well. One of the first ones I can recall on here was a 1930 recording of the song by Mr. Clarence Ashley ( which was different, but along the same likeness ).
A woman leaves her three children and her husband, whom was a carpenter for a spirit with ships filled with treasure. However the song get even further poignant when the ship breaks a leak and sinks down into the ocean. Other versions include Satan tricking her into coming to hell with him on that ship, other versions include apparitions.
Now the song called “Mole In The Ground”, that was penned by a man named Mr. Bascam Lamar Lunsford. He is also credited for writing “Mountain Dew” ( see what I did there?) ? Some perform this one as “Tempie or Tessie Let your Hair Hand Down”.
If you are a history geek like I am ( or sugar coat it and call yourself a Janissary) of old time tunes, from these guys that play fret less instruments, and play the stripped down classics like Mr. JP does. This is NOT the typical JP Harris And The Tough Choices album, but a side project for what he calls JP Harris’ Dreadful Wind And Rain.
New Album coming June 25 on Free Dirt Records
JP HARRIS’ DREADFUL WIND & RAIN – Don’t You Marry No Railroad Man – June 25, 2021 on Free Dirt Records
Around Nashville, JP Harris is either known as one of the best carpenters, building recording studios or meticulously restoring historic homes, or one of the best no-bullshit old-school country singers. But anywhere else he’s known as Squash (a childhood family nickname that never wore off), a quasi-mythical bearded figure known for rolling through underground picking circles, fiddler competitions, and stringband contests with his powerful banjo playing on handmade instruments. With Don’t You Marry No Railroad Man, his debut recording of traditional music under the moniker JP Harris’ Dreadful Wind & Rain, his alter ego is coming out of the shadows to celebrate this arcane and truly American musical repertoire. Together with long time friend and ace fiddler Chance McCoy (formerly of Old Crow Medicine Show), the duo feature ten tracks spanning the breadth of American old-time repertoire. Harris wades between ancient ballads that traveled from the British Isles to Appalachia to droning banjo ditties played on one of Harris’ coveted homemade banjos. Harris also works as a serious carpenter in Nashville which adds a unique authenticity to his version of the classic ballad “House Carpenter.” On this sparse and arresting recording, Harris isn’t mining his roots as a marketing pitch, he has the chops to back it up.
To make the album, JP headed for Chance’s homestead in the mountains of West Virginia. Chance produced the album, but “we’re old-time dudes,” JP confesses, “we weren’t worried about the takes. We were wearing cut-off short shorts and no shoes in an old sharecropper’s shack and going to the creek to drink beer instead of recording about half the time.” Still, the album sounds impeccable, the banjo ringing with Gothic tones and JP’s voice a-quaver with emotion at the hands of these ancient ballads. To get the studio finished, the two had to dig a 50 foot electrical trench by hand through solid shale, had to repair the roof in huge winds, thawed the ice off the slab with blow torches, in short they fought for this album. Fought to make it together and fought to carve out time to show respect to the old music that’s inspired both of them for the whole of their careers.
1. House Carpenter
2. Closer to the Mill (Going to California)
3. Mole in the Ground
4. Country Blues
5. Last Chance
6. Old Bangum
7. Barbry Ellen
8. The Little Carpenter
9. Otto Wood
10. Wild Bill Jones