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Free Books!

Free books are available at the 27th Street Book Box, located in front of our place Twenty Seventh, about half a block north of Lake Prom, here in Toronto’s Long Branch neighbourhood. There has been more than the usual amount of activity and turnover at this free library during the pandemic.

Right now, there are some great titles available, including a free copy of Volume 2 of the Squeeze Box Man graphic novel. For those who don’t know, that is my creation. I’ve written the stories, which have been beautifully illustrated by Jacob Yerex. So far, 5 volumes of Squeeze Box Man are available. There will be 6 in total to complete the story arc. For anyone interested, we still have copies of issues 1-5 and they are available by email – Each issue $12 CAN + $3 shipping to anywhere.

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Handsome Boy

Tuffy P asked me to dig through our massive photo archives to find a particular photo from a few years ago. While digging around in there I was stopped in my tracks by this photo of our handsome Newf George.

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Waiting for the Booger-boo

The Lazy Goat Stringband

I’ve been listening to various versions of a tune called Sandy Boys because I’m learning to play it on fiddle. I came across this odd, slow, haunting version on YouTube performed by the Lazy Goat Stringband. Often you hear Sandy Boys as an instrumental but it does have an interesting set of lyrics. What we play as Sandy Boys is usually attributed to West Virginia fiddler Edden Hammons. After some Googling though, I’ve learned there is a similar melody that goes back to minstrel shows. I don’t know the origin of the lyrics.

There are a lot of different lyrics kicking around. They’re all somewhat strange and I find them very compelling. Here is one set:

Somebody stole my old black dog
I wish they’d bring him back
He run the big hogs over the fence
And the little ones through the crack

We all had a picnic lunch
Dinner all over the ground
Possum meat was nine-foot deep
Green flies a-walkin’ around

Sixteen miles of mountain road
Chickens are crowin’ for day
We are lookin’ for the big boss man
Tryin’ to get our pay

Mama, she lies sick in bed
Papa’s gone to town
Charlie wears them high-top boots
I wish he’d come ’round

Do get along, Sandy Boys
Do get along, do
Do get along, Sandy Boys
Waiting for the boogger-boo

Most sets of lyrics I’ve come across mention the booger-boo or the bugger-boo or the boogie-boo or even the buggy-boo. I think it perhaps refers to what we might call today the boogie-man. Is it an evil spirit, or maybe the devil?

I really like this fiddle version of Sandy Boys from the Old Time Fiddle Session YouTube channel…

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Sex With Aliens

The new episode is up! Listen here or find it at all the good podcast places.

This week, we get into contemporary versions of classic B-movie, sci-fi, beer drinking monsters . Why is there a sudden interest in producing kitsch 1950s movies featuring low-tech analog machines and masking tape? And if there are aliens, why don’t they visit me? We are so grateful to our listeners…Thank you!

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So many ways to fiddle a tune

As some of you know, I got it in my little brain that I can learn to play fiddle. It’s an instrument with a steep learning curve, but I feel as if I’m turning a corner on it – maybe with enough time and effort fiddling is within my grasp.

One of the things I’m doing is listening – a lot. I did that with banjo too. I think listening and practice are the two cornerstones. There are so many ways to play any tune. A good example is a tune I’m working on now, Big John McNeil. It’s a Scottish tune, which also goes by the name Lord Ramsey’s. It’s been kind of adopted into the Canadian Old Time and M├ętis repertoires. When I attended Midwest Banjo Camp, a number of American players called it a Canadian tune, perhaps because they first heard Canadian fiddler’s doing it.

Here are some wonderful versions of Big John McNeil…

JJ Lavallee

Patrick Ross

Daniel Carwile

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Cold but sunny morning – Humber Bay East Park

I met up with my friend Ted this morning for a walk around Humber Bay East Park. It was a sunny morning but quite cold. The trails were bare, a perfect day for a winter walk.

We saw a tremendous amount of fresh beaver activity, but no sign of the beaver.

beaver activity
Toronto downtown from Humber Bay East

Humber Bay is a good spot to see winter ducks like this bufflehead.

There were swans preening in a sheltered area.

staghorn sumach

I caught some movement as a bird landed in some shrubs. I didn’t get a good look but snapped some pictures.

American Kestrel

It turned out to be North America’s smallest falcon, an American Kestrel (Falco sparverius, sometimes called a sparrow hawk), and it looks like he’s got some lunch.

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Centipedes Can’t Fly (Don’t Look at Me)

Here is my friend David Sawyer from down in NC playing his excellent song, Centipedes can’t Fly (Don’t Look at Me)

David Sawyer performing Centipedes Can’t Fly

David is a fabulous songwriter. Check out all the goodies on his YouTube channel.