25 years sounds like a long time……a lot longer then it
actually feels. And when you think about it in terms of over 150 years of
combined experience within the current lineup it makes it sound downright
respectable (lending more credibility then perhaps may be warranted). But then
again, for the most part,
these years have been spent with one another fostering a weird type of musical
evolution with its genetic roots in bands such as Muddy Holler, Hickory Wind,
Ebenezer String Band and others.
You have no idea how much fun this has been. TV, radio, schools, rock festivals,
bluegrass festivals, dance camps and festivals, traditional music festivals,
world music festivals, weddings, private parties, sawmill grand openings, bars,
clubs, back yards, back porches, front yards, front porches, bar-b-ques…..the
common thread..….the tie that binds it all together is that wherever we go,
there we are……surrounded by the faces and the love and the strength and the
family that only years can nurture and build. We’re best friends and that has
always come first. We’ve practically grown up together. Or as Stump says “I used
to hang out with a much younger crowd!”
Played in some pretty amazing places and in some real dumps. Worked with sound
techs that have hands and ears of solid gold and some that could make a baby’s
laugh sound evil. Played at schools for kids and places where the average age
was about 70. Performed at the Governor’s Mansion as well as the state mental
hospital (yes, they ARE 2 different places). Played a set at a dance camp at
4:30 in the morning. Been to dozens of weddings but always went in through the
service entrance. Played outside in blistering heat and snowfall alike. Drove 3
hours through a blinding snowstorm to a private gig on a night when you couldn’t
normally get us to drive down the road to get the mail. Cut short a tour in
Europe so we could make it back to upstate New York in time for a biker
bluegrass festival (Rooney!!!). Taught workshops and followed a U.S. Senator
onstage. Traveled up more then a few hollows to find the old-timers that knew
those old songs. Had younger folks come up our hollows to learn some old tune
(effectively and officially making us the old coots up the hollow). Been invited
back to festivals for years in a row and been thrown out of others and told we
would never play there again. Blown out circuits in the motel. Shared bills with
some incredible artists at some unbelievable venues. Got interviewed on a radio
show by 2 hosts that spoke no English. Got 3000 non-English speaking folks to
sing along on not one but two songs! Never got arrested……but it’s been close a
Met and played with some of the finest musicians, and some of the finest people
along the way. We’ve gotten guidance and encouragement and promotion from people
we have a great deal of respect for. Been shown a lot of tunes and told how they
were supposed to be played. We’ve learned so much from each other and other
musicians that have crossed our path. It has indeed been a real honor.
An explanation about the "Freaking Folk Process” or F.F.P, as it were. It
happens to all and always brings a smile. You listen to a tune the first time,
and whether you like it or not, when it rolls back out of your mouth……the words
are different! And then when you pass it on, there's your “Freaking Folk
Process” or F.F.P.
So here's just 2 examples, one from the Stews and one to the Stews. Last first;
Having a heavy hook into the Red Clay Ramblers led the Stews to seek out their
mentors, The Georgia Yellow Hammers. One of the very few Yellow Hammers tunes on
their 1927 recording that the Ramblers did not seem to promote was the lifestyle
statement..."Live & Howl". Stews loved this one and performed it regularly for
over a decade before reading the title at the library archive as "I’m gonna live
anyhow until I die" (who let this guy sing anyway?). So much for pulling a tune
from secondhand recordings.
Second; F.F.P. from the Stews. A Bluegrass band in Pennsylvania caught a Stewed
performance at one of those wild festivals. A couple years later, Stews are
doing some other festival in some fine someplace USA, when we hear this same
band play our favorite Henry Jankowitz tune, "Einstein The Genius". We’ve done
this tune thousands of times more often then the originals, the Cranberry Lake
Stringband. And Pat, singing lead on this, changed the tune to include a
Stewed-type personal nature by adding “Einstein was a genius not like Stump and
me", rather than “you and me” as Hank wrote it. So another stringband is
performing the Stews arrangement and included it as the title track of their
recording!! Passing it on is also F.F.P.
Now, a word about our great fortune in finding banjo players. Ever since Stewed
Mulligan founding member, Joe Wack, blew us off for valley girl Kate and a real
job (working in Hollyweird for Bart and Homer Simpson), the Stews have gone
through a bunch of banjo players. Fortunately we only have 4 on this recording.
However, a couple are actually slumming to even associate their good names with
Stewed Mulligan and we are GRATEFUL! Please, a round of banjo valentines to 'The
Shankster' and ole man 'Mose'.
Everything we do is lovingly dedicated to all of our families, friends, dancers,
and the West Virginia family of musicians……peace and plenty to us all.
Styles in Appalachian String Band Tradition.
Keith McManus - Plays Fiddle, Mandolin, Banjo, Vocals, and with
Pat McIntire - Plays Autoharp, Harmonica, Trumpet, Percussion, Vocals.
Stumper the Thumper - Plays Bass, Vocals, Spiritual Guidance.
Keith Ross - Plays Guitar, Fiddle, Vocals.
Amos Ross - Banjo, Mandolin, Vocals
Rachel Eddy - Fiddle, Banjo, Vocals
Forrest Schwartz - Percussion Extraordinaire
Bob Shank - Hammered Dulcimer, banjo, guitar
Lydia and Ellen Ross - dancing feet
FAMILY MEMBERS THAT SOMETIMES SHOW UP AT GIGS
Jim Meckley - Guitar, Vocals
Joe Wack - Banjo, Guitar, Fiddle, Vocals, Banjo
John Obremski - Guitar, Vocals
Kim Monday - Conga
Niles Hokkanen - Mandolin