Lil Rev's 2016 CD release: Claw & Hammer Liner Notes

Notes On The Making of My New Claw & Hammer CD

The Idea:
In the early winter months of 2016, after an nearly unbearable 2015, i decided i'd focus my 
mind on something positive whilst my daughter and i whiled away the cold, 
dark winter months that proceded Carol's passing. 

To that end, i determined that a new recording project might be 
just the ticket! 

Having endured a treacherous year of illness, depression, and 
near death myself (stung by a black wasp and went into Anaphylaxis shock), 
i needed this project to be light, fun and easy.  

Given this, I pulled out a list of tunes i'd been compiling over the last couple of years; 
mostly early country, folk and pre-bluegrass type stuff that i aimed to record 
with a claw-hammer bent to them. 

About My Claw-Hammer Roots: 

My love of banjo playing was mostly inspired by backing up my longtime
music pal John Nicholson of Frogwater. John is an incredible player and
over the years i grew to love old time banjo mostly thru backing him up.

I was asked to teach a folk instruments class for educators and music majors
at The University of WI-Milwaukee many years ago and it was during this time
that i taught myself the claw-hammer banjo.

The late Gail Heil of Spring Grove, MN was also a huge help along the way, when
one summer day she took the time to teach me the actual claw-hammer stroke.

I practiced it for about 4 weeks before i really started getting comfortable with it.

Over the years i came to love banjo music and listened intently to: Doc Boggs, Stephen Wade,
Hobart Smith, Uncle Dave, Grandpa Jones, Riley Baugus, Walt Kokenen, Steve Rosen,
Jim Eyman, Cathy Fink, Howard Bursen, Peter Thornquist, Ken Perlman, Clarence Ashley,
and 100's of others, all of whom informed and inspired me.

As the years wore on, i discovered that i enjoyed playing the claw-hammer stroke alot more on the ukulele than i did on the actual banjo and a repertoire of tunes began to take shape.

About The Album: 

I recorded the record in Milwaukee, WI at Surround in Sound Studios under the steady hand of Jonathan Leubner (where i've done many a project).

The Musicians i included are some of the best around!

Session #1 was a solo session. I recorded:
Old No. 7 and original instrumental piece
Epiphany in Gm another solo instrumental piece also...
Ragged But Right, Skillet Good N Greasy,

Session #2: Was an incredible experience, once again i leaned hard on
a few of my favorite harmony singers: Jim Eannelli, Robin Pluer, John & Mike Sieger
and Peter Roller (to overdub) a handful of tunes including: No Mo' Cane On The Brazos,
Gonna See The King, Green Grows The Laurel and

Session #3:
Bob Bovee and Lynn Chirps Smith came in for a session of old time fiddle tunes
and these two guys have both been my hero's for years. They know old time music
and together we recorded: Cotton Eyed Joe, Possum On A Rail, Dandy Lusk and
Spider Bit The Baby with Bob on guitar and mouth harp and Chirps on Fiddle.
I was going for an old time string-band sound and decided for my part to employ
the banjo-ukulele which was rhythmically the driving force behind many great string
bands in the 20's and 30's including The Fiddling Powers Family, Al Hopkin's Buckle
Busters and Da Costa Wolz's Southern Broadcasters.

The Last Session (#4) included local guitar hero Jason Klagstad whose 6 string ukulele work
brought new life to the old Hank Garland tune: Sugar Foot Rag.

John Nicholson played rhythm ukulele on this session (as well the Angeline The Baker Duet) and Guy Fiorentini added upright bass on a bevy of tunes from Sugar Foot Rag and Snow Drop to Walking Boss.

Also in the mix was my dear old pals Will Branch (Guitar) and Dave Fox (Fiddle) who came in to record Liza Jane an old fiddle tune i'd learned from Dave and Jim Eyman's playing on an old cassette tape.

About The Tunes: 

Cotton Eyed Joe- I learned this from Kenny Hall. I play a gold-tone banjo ukulele on this.
Epiphany in Gm- I wrote this in Tampa, FL in 2014.
Gonna See The King- Learned this from an old Washington Phillips Record.
Keep My Skillet Good N Greasy-An Uncle Dave Macon Tune.
Old No. 7- I wrote this after a Krav Maga Class. No. 7 is one of 7 defensive elbow strikes.
Possum On A Rail-I was turned onto this tune by John Nicholson, whom i credit with inspiring me
to learn many great fiddle tunes.
Morning Blues- Another Uncle Dave Macon Tune
Old Joe Clark-A Stringband there anyone who hasn't heard this tune?
Don't Say Goodbye: Blue Sky Boys Tune i have always loved.
Angeline The Baker: Stephen Foster Classic piece
Walking Boss- Clarence Ashley was my source
Spider Bit The Baby-Dave Para and Cathy Barton were my source for this Kenny Baker Tune
Portland County Jail- Art Thieme was my source for this Carl Sandburg American Songbag Tune
Green Grows The Laurel-Don Edwards was my source for this beautiful old broken hearted love song
Snow Drop-Sam and Kirk McGhee was the roots, Ken Middleton and Cathy Fink were the catalysts
Dick Norman- Loman Cansler of Folkways records collected tons of great tunes in Missouri
Fiddling Dave's Liza Jane-Dave Fox was my source
Ragged But Right- Riley Puckett was my source for this Tin Pan Alley-Esq tune
Dandy Lusk- Spencer and Raines are two of my favorite young fogies and they were my source for this cool 1 chord tune.
Ain't No More Cane- I have always loved this one, to be found in the Lomax collection: Folk Songs of North America.
Sugar foot Rag-Hank Garland is the only source for this!
Ginny's Gone Away; The hidden track i learned from Joe Hickerson, former head of The Library of Congress Folk Archive


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