Hamilton College Workshop 2013

Hello to the participants in the Hamilton College Worksong Workshop at the Hamilton College Community Farm! Here are the songs we sang while planting Kale and Kohlrabi. Some of these I still have yet to put the lyrics up on the main site, but I'll get to it!

Warm Them Pipes Trackalacka Hollow Leg Grey Goose Blackbird Get Up Goin Home Groundhog Old Man Berta Moto Wayaka Hammin' on a Live Oak Log

Thanks to everyone for coming out... it sounded great and it was fun getting all of that kale in the ground!


Edith & Bennett, Upstate New York Worksong Tour, May 2013

Upstate New York Worksong Tour

Sunday, May 5 Peaceworks Organic CSA  40th Anniversary & May Day Party - Music, Maypole, Worksongs, 2pm - 6pm Newark, NY (near Rochester)

Monday, May 6 House Concert with Fruition Seeds, 7pm Potluck, music to follow 290 Basset Road,  Naples NY $10 - $30 sliding scale suggested donation

Tuesday, May 7 Hamilton College Community Farm 198 College Hill Road, Clinton, NY 13323 Worksong Workshop, 5pm - 7pm Free and open to all comers

Friday, May 10 Mark Twain Camp Saranack Lake, NY House Concert at 7:30 PM. Last house at west end of Lake Street - Jack & Phyllis' house. $10 - $30 sliding scale suggested donation

Saturday, May 11 Asparaganza Worksongs on the Farm - Noon to 2pm - The festival continues until 7pm and includes two other great bands. at the Good Life Farm Interlaken, NY

YWW 008 - Diamond Joe

Hi Worksongers!Your Weekly Worksong is... Diamond Joe   Background There are actually several songs that people refer to as Diamond Joe.  One is a cowboy song, another is a Woody Guthrie classic, and then there is this one, which has been referred to as a river shanty.  It was recorded first in 1937 at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman Farm, a prison that is notorious for prisoner abuse and also for the extraordinary music of the inmates who were incarcerated there.  In this case, Diamond Joe was sung by an inmate named Charlie Butler for a Library of Congress collector named Duncan Emerich.   Diamond Jo was the name of a steamer on the upper Mississippi River, the Chicago, Fulton and River Line, commonly called the Diamond Jo line.  The owner of the company was Joseph “Diamond Jo” Reynolds, and the logo of the company was a diamond with the letters JO inside, and it was painted on the boat.  The flagship steamer was named “Diamond Jo” and along with 19 other steamboats they transported cargo and passengers.   We don’t know if Charlie Butler ever saw these steamships (the company sold in 1911), if he wrote the song or just passed it along, but his recording is epic, mysterious, subtle and haunting.  He probably would’ve sung it in the fields at Parchman, which was the home of a prison labor system that David Oshinsky calls “worse than slavery.”  Worksongs were a tradition that helped crews weed fields and chop wood as long as the sun was up.     Where I learned it I learned it from Max Godfrey, who was on the crew at Sylvester Manor in 2010 and 2011.  He has the most incredible rendition, which draws heavily on Charlie Butler but carries his unique style and emphasis.  Definitely check out the film that Andrew Plotsky made of him on worksongs.org   Why it’s a great song: - Great harmonies in the the chorus  - Simple lyrics  - Rhythm doesn’t have to be rigidly locked in - works for big fields    If you try it: - Holler like you mean it!     Check it out: Here is a link to the song on worksongs.org   -  This includes:  - a link to Charlie Butler Version  - lyrics from Mudcat.org  - a video of Max leading the song at the Plant & Sing festival on Shelter Island.  - a recording of Max leading it at NOFA-NY Conference 2012 - the original Diamond Jo logo Here is a great discussion on mudcat.org Worse than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice by David Oshinsky Wake Up Dead Man: Hard Labor and Southern Blues by Bruce Jackson 

Holler back with any questions or ideas!   And let me know if you decide to sing it... -Bennett 

PS.  If you missed past weeks of Your Weekly Worksong, I’ve posted them here...   

Tiny Bubbles

Here is the worksong version that we sing in the fields.  I'm teaching it at an "East End Sing" at Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island, NY

Below is the official Don Ho verse- I think it’s the only “real” verse:

Tiny bubbles    Tiny bubbles
In the wine    In the wine
Make me happy    Make me happy
Make me feel fine    Make me feel fine

But I like to add lots and lots of other verses:

Tiny bubbles    Tiny bubbles
In my juice    In my juice
Make me happy    Make me happy
Make me feel real loose    Make me feel real loose

In my tea… Make me need to pee
In my drink… Make me really think
In my milk… Make me smooth as silk
In my water… Make me feel like I oughter
In my beer… Make me lose all fear
In my bacardi… Make me want to party

and so on…

FYI Don Ho sings a chorus but I never do.
I think these verses are enough.


YWW 007 – Tanzania's Farmer-Musicians

Hi Worksongers! Your Weekly Worksong this week will be a little different- I'm not choosing a specific song, I'm sharing a specific tradition. Namely, the musical farmers of Sukumaland, Tanzania. And I've uploaded a short bit of film that I recorded during my stay there to youtube so you can see it and hear it yourself.

Background In 2005 I spent two months living and working with a group of farmers who are part of a widespread tradition in northwest Tanzania: making music and dance in the fields, as they work.

It's a sort of singing, dancing, farming cooperative. One day they'll till or weed one member of the groups field, another day they'll move on to someone else's. Imagine getting together with fifteen of your friends and saying: okay, today we're going to weed Tom's garden, tomorrow we're going to weed Chrissy's and on Wednesday we're going to go over to Ellen's place.

It's called "reciprocal village labor" and that's exactly what they do in Tanzania only they sing and dance and have fun while they do it. It's a community party in the field and and it's amazing to behold- or event to try out in your own neighborhood. It makes your work seem so much more doable if you've got a mob of friends helping you out.

To top it off, many of these groups develop songs and dances throughout the farming season that they then use to compete against similar groups during harvest festivals.

There are many different styles of musical labor in the region: one style uses only bells on the wrist to accompany songs, some are purely a capella, others include drums or other instruments.

The first part of the clip (which is the title sequence for a longer film about musical labor that I will share with you over time) is a tradition called "magungulu" which only uses bells. In the second clip Hoja Charles, the group leader, plays the Kadete, a "spike fiddle", which is made from a small lizard-skin drum, bicycle brake cable, and a bow made of a stick and sisal fibers.

There is so much to say about these traditions, but I'll stretch it out over several posts. For now, check out the film and get inspired for your own work- maybe some reciprocal village labor is in order for your neighborhood!

Also- this is the first time I've ever posted this material to the web, so enjoy! Thanks to everyone who has signed up for Your Weekly Worksong so far, hope you're getting some inspiration and fun songs out of it.

Check it out: Here is a link to the tradition on worksongs.org - this is where I've posted the film.

Frank Gunderson, at Florida State, has spent years researching these traditions. Here is his book outlining the incredible diversity of musical farming practices in Sukumaland.

More soon- for now, enjoy!


PS. If you missed past weeks of Your Weekly Worksong, I've posted them here...

YWW 006 Thousands or More

­Hi Worksongers!Your Weekly Worksong is... Thousands or More (aka. Drive Sorrows Away, aka. Bright Phoebe)

Introduction Here's a song that's been passed down through eight generations of a single farming family in England: the Copper Family. It is a wonderful anthem and we've found it works quite well in the vegetable fields.

Background Hundreds of songs like "Thousands or More" were a part of the village life of farming communities in Victorian England. If they weren't necessarily sung during the work itself they were a part of the everyday, describing the trials and virtues of farming and rural life in general. Sheep was the main farm business in the Copper's hometown, (Rottingdean, in Southeast England), and I have to admit I'm not sure if they sang this while actually shearing.

I do know that they sang it after work at the local pub, "the Black Ram." The farm the Coppers worked was part of a local estate called Challoners Manor, which covered over 3000 acres of pasture and cropland, and the work of hand-shearing the thousands of sheep on the property, as well as herding the animals out on the open hillsides, would have given ample time to learn and memorize songs.

Over the years, these songs have survived through the changes in livelihood and musical taste in rural England due to the great relish the Copper family brings to the songs and the the joy with which they pass them along. As times changed their jobs changed too- from farming to metalsmithing, mechanical work and woodworking in the 20th century. Today the newest generations of Coppers is carrying songs like this into the 21st century. Check out the old and new clips of them on worksongs.org.

Where I learned it My buddy Jeff Davis, of Woodstock, Connecticut, taught me this one. He was good friends with Bob Copper starting back in the 1970s. At that time this song underwent a bit of a popular revival, and people all across England know it today. Jeff has a wonderful deep baritone voice and even though he's a Yankee his version has a sense of authenticity that I really appreciate.

About the same time Jeff taught me the song I discovered that my friends Greg Boardman of Waterville, Maine, and Ellen Gawler of Belgrade, Maine also knew it. They taught me their version, which is a little different but nonetheless it is great fun to sing it with them due to their wonderful sense of harmony.

Why it’s a great song: - Awesome sentiment. - The lyrics of the chorus repeat "Thousands or More" three times. Easy for any crowd. - The third line of the chorus has a build in awesome-harmony spot - The verses are great solo or duet opportunities (I like singin' 'em with my sweetie) - Bonus: also great for toasting ceremonial occasions and general merry-making.

If you try it: - The traditional lyrics of the song have a line "with my bottle and friends you will find me at home." Sometimes it just makes sense to substitute "family" for "bottle" - depends on the crowd and the setting, right? - If you're teaching it to newcomers, you can use hand gestures to indicate the notes in the chorus ala Peter Amidon. Just move your hand up and down an imaginary scale in the air to show people the relative proximity of each note to the next. It really works! - This one is good for the field because the tempo can easily be loosened up. This means if you get spread out from your fellow songsters in a pea patch the song won't *necessarily* fall apart.

Check it out: There is just so much to read and explore when it comes to the Copper Family, and English song traditions in general. Definitely worth reading Bob Copper’s wonderful books about farming life and music and how they connect.

Here is a link to the song on worksongs.org Bob Copper’s extraordinary book “A Song For Every Season” The amazing old recordings “Come Write Ye Down” The Copper Family Website  (lists more of Bob’s books) A brief discussion on Mudcat.org

Holler back with any questions or ideas! And let me know if you decide to sing it... -Bennett

PS. If you missed past weeks of Your Weekly Worksong, I’ve posted them here...

YWW 005 - Gold Dust Fever

Your Weekly Worksong is... Gold Dust Fever


So far for weekly worksongs we’ve had southern, New England original, Sea Chanty, and an Tanzanian jogging song.  Today I’m going to bring you a California gold-digging / Maine woodstacking song that I wrote myself.  I’ve choosen it because we were singing it the other day while filling the wood closet at John & Ellen Gawler’s house in Belgrade, Maine.  I recorded it and I like the spirit of it so much I want to share it with you.


This song fits into simple the call and response tradition, and it’s got a kind of old-timey adventure in the lyrics.  But it’s pretty new.  I wrote it in 2006.

How I wrote it

Well, I had a good hook “well the gold dust fever gets you down” and I just started building the song from there.  I typically focus on finding melodies first and then I spend a bunch of time on the rhymescheme.

If you’re trying to write your own worksongs but struggling, try on these tips: - Keep it simple.  Simple melody.  Simple lyrics.  Direct call and response. - Simplify it even more.  Take out any unnecessary notes, beats, words, and ideas - Start with a catchy turn of phrase and then find a rhyme that completes it.  Then do that again, and again, again, so that the rhyming phrases for a story, and that’s how I build songs. - If you don’t have a catchy phrase, look for a catchy melody line, and build three more lines that build (simply) on that.

Why I like this song:

- Call and response enthusiasm.  People just love singing along with this song! - Easy to find the harmonies - A clear storyline - There’s a little pause between verses that gives you time to catch your breath - Making up verses is a fun challenge

If you try it:

- Try memorizing the lyrics while you’re stuck in a small space, like a bathroom, or an airplane.  It will be easier, somehow. -  You might hold off on teaching the entire chorus to your whole workcrew unless you’ve got some time on your hands.  There’s a lot of words in there! - Look at the lyrics as a story arc - it’s got a beginning, middle and end, and remembering that the story follows that trajectory will help you remember the verses and their order.

Check it out:

Here is Gold Dust Fever on worksongs.org - Enjoy!

Holler back with any questions or ideas!

And let me know if you decide to sing it...




Gold Dust Fever

1) Your basic Gold Dust Fever: Recorded March 2013 while stacking wood with the Gawlers: Gold Dust Fever - standard lyrics

2) John Gawler's true-life Gold Dust Fever lyrics: Gold Dust Fever - Improv lyrics

3) Bennett's old band "Fireside" singing it in concert: Gold Dust Fever - concert version


There's a piece of my heart
In the Carolina Hills
Where the donkey pulls the cart
And my daddy keeps a still

Well I left my home
And my loving family
For to chase a trail of gold
To the territory

Because the gold dust fever lets you down
Puts you on your back and lays you in the ground
Your beat-up hands and the scrapin' of the pans
Makes you curse the day you left for the territory

Well it's been six long years
Since I left my home
And the barn where I was born
And the hickory loam

Well I'd head back tomorrow
If I could only find a way
I need a ticket on the railroad
And a nugget that will pay


Well I found that nugget
In a muddy mountain stream
And I sold it to the bankers
For a quarter and a dream

I got a pocket full of quarters
And a coat that's full of sand
And a ticket on the railroad
In my gold diggin' hands


Well I'm headed home tomorrow
Just before the break of day
And if I never see another gold pan
That'll be okay

I got a friend in Cinncinatti
And a girl in Santa Fe
But first I'm gonna see my baby
In San Francisco by the bay

YWW 003 - One More Day

“Bildad, I say, might now be seen actively engaged in looking over the bows for the approaching anchor, and at intervals singing what seemed a dismal stave of psalmody, to cheer the hands at the windlass, who roared forth some sort of a chorus about the girls in Booble Alley, with hearty good will.”

- Moby Dick, by Herman Melville.  Chapter 24 “Merry Christmas”

One More Day is a great worksong, and though it is a sea shanty- sung aboard ships to bring up the anchor, the sails or while manning the hand-pumps- it is a corker in any setting.  I first heard it while working as a deckhand on schooners in Penobscot Bay in Maine, sung by Susan Hickey a co-worker of mine on the J&E Riggin.  And it seems to be a well-enough known song-  it’s on Mystic Seaport’s seminal album “American Sea Chanteys” and is in Stan Hugill’s classic book “Shantys of the Seven Seas.”

Hugill implies that the song probably came from the boats plying the rivers and canals of early America.  Apparently it then made its way to the deepwater ships where he learned it.  Nowadays it has been adapted with guitars, banjos- even hurtygurteys- but by far my favorite renditions are a capella with rousing choruses.

There seem to be two versions of the song, one a “Leaving Shanty” and the other a “Homeward Bound Shanty.”  The lyrics of the songs give it away- one is about being just a day from home, the other being a day from leaving your lover for a long voyage.  I like the homeward bound version better, but I’ve heard that the leaving shanty is older.  It has the words “row me over” which apparently was specific to rowing people across rivers, where “rolling” (in the homeward bound verses) is a classic bit of old sailing terminology.

Whatever the case, here’s why I like it:

1.  Super-simple response part in the melody: “One more day” Anybody can sing it, and you can’t forget it once you’ve heard it.

2.  It’s authentic. As I said, this one comes from the great collection of simple call-and-response songs that were used on ships to help get through hard work on long journeys.  If Stan Hugill sang it, it’s the real deal.

3.  Interesting Melody. Something about the way the notes move in this one.  It’s deceptively simple- it all rests within one octave and but for a few jumps it moves reliably down-  but there is a statelyness to the melody and its rhythm that makes me want to sing it.

4.  Great harmony possibilities The simplicity and dependability of the melody (it generally goes where you think it will) means that it’s really easy to sing harmonies, especially the final cadence.

5.  Endless opportunities to invent verses The response line in the chorus gives song leaders a nice long breather to get creative and find that rhyme.  And the response in the verse does the same thing, (only it’s shorter) in case you still haven’t got one!  It’s this charitable quality that many sea shanties have for inventive song leaders.

Check it out: - Here is the link to my page for it on worksongs.org with lyrics, recordings, etc. - Here is more discussion on mudcat.org - Here is Stan Hugill’s seminal book “Shanties from the Seven Seas” - Also check out: Joanna C. Colcord's Songs of American Sailormen. - There is a great version on this CD: “American Sea Chanteys Featuring Forebitter” - I first heard sea chanteys being sung at Mystic Seaport - Maine has an incredible collection of wooden schooners, and music is still alive on some.

Holler back with any questions or ideas!  And let me know if you decide to sing it...


PS.  The Moby Dick quote at the beginning of this email isn’t about this song- it probably refers to the classic shanty “Haul Away for Rosie.”  But I’ve been reading Moby Dick this week and came across this quote, which is from when they first left Nantucket harbor on their voyage.


YWW 002 - The Farthest Field

This week’s song is The Farthest Field by David Dodson.  When you hear it you might say “that’s not a worksong!”  It doesn’t have a driving rhythm.  It’s not up-tempo.  The chorus isn’t easy to remember. But all that said, it is a great worksong.  Why?  It’s got wide open harmonies that are easy to find because the song lopes along at a reasonable tempo.  It works even when songsters aren’t in perfect rhythmic lockstep- so you can be a hundred feet or more apart and the song still works.   And it’s call and response melody lines mean that the lines sung by the crew change throughout the song, but in a way that doesn’t require memorization.  It’s a simple song that stays interesting to beginners, and therefore it’s a gem for a worksong leader in the fields.

As a Maine boy who went to college in Vermont I feel a personal connection to the song because it describes many of my favorite places... away up in the farthest field.  David says that he wrote this song about a walk he was on with friends in northeastern Vermont.  It was in a field that went way up to the ridgeline and you could look out across rows and rows of mountains.  Who wouldn’t want to be transported into that scene from a hot and weedy carrot patch in sweaty August?

Click here to see the Sylvester Manor Worksongers leading this song before the opening Keynote at the 2013 NOFA-NY (Northeast Organic Farmer’s Association of New York) conference.  Thank you to Brendan McMullan for recording it on Edith’s phone.

The lyrics are on the worksongs.org post for “The Farthest Field”

Here is David Dodson’s website.  He recorded the song on his album “Weasel Rhythm”  When we spoke he mentioned Rise Up Singing might be interested in including this song in their newest edition.  Hope it makes it David!

This song is also recorded on the Kallet, Epstein and Cicone album “Heartwalk.”

Until next time worksongers- keep them pipes warm! Bennett

One More Day

Here are both the leaving version and the homeward bound version.  Both are from Mudcat, and Mudcat got the homeward version from Joanna C. Colcord's- Songs of American Sailormen.  The leaving version was recorded by a group called Lime Bay Mutiny in 1990 and can be found in several youtube versions.


Leaving Version

Oh row me 'cross the river I heard a maiden say Oh take me to me lover One more day

Cho: Only one more day, me Johnnys One more day Oh rock and roll me over One more day

I'm almost broken hearted I can no longer stay Once more must we be parted One more day Cho:

So do not fear my beauty I can no longer stay And love makes way for duty One more day Cho:

I've seen the sea birds flyin' Ashore from o'er the bay I felt they was all cryin' One more day Cho:

'Cause sea birds get the warnin' Which one and all obey The tempest loud is stormin' One more day Cho:

So heave onside the anchor We sail out from the bay Oh heave onside the anchor One more day Cho:


Homeward Bound Version

Oh, have you heard the news, My Johnny? One more day! We're homeward bound tomorrow, One more day!

cho: Only one more day, my Johnny One more day! Oh, rock and row (or roll) me over, One more day!

We're homeward bound tomorrow, Johnny We leave you without sorrow.

Can't you hear the old man snarling, Johnny? Can't you hear the capstan pawling?

Oh, heave and sight the anchor, Johnny Oh, heave and sight the anchor.

I'm bound away to leave you Johnny But I will not deceive you.


OR, the Stan Hugill Version:

Only one more day, me Johnnies, One More Day! Oooh come rock 'n' roll me over, only one more day.

Don't ye hear the Old Man growin'? One more day! Don't ye hear the Mate a-howlin'? Only one more day

Don't ye hear the caps'n pawlin, Don't ye hear the pilot bawlin?

Ony one more day a-howlin;, Can't ye hear the gals a callin'?

One one more day a-rollin', Can't ye hear them gulls a callin'?

Only one more day a-furlin', Only one more day a-cursin',

Oh, heave an' sight the anchor, Johnny, For we're close aboard the port, Johnny.

Only one more day for Johnny, An' yer pay-day's nearly due, Johnny.

Then put out yer long-tail blue, m'Johnny, Maker yer port an' take yer pay, Johnny,

Only one more day a-pumpin', Only one more day a-bracin'.

Oh we're homeward bound today, me Johnny, We'll leave 'er without sorrer, Johnny.

Only one more day a-workin', Oooh, come rock 'n' roll me over.


YWW 001 - Stewball

Hi Worksonger! Your Weekly Worksong is... Stewball

"Stewball was an irish racehorse who fame has survived on both sides of the Atlantic.  Laws notes several versions of the song from Kentucky and quote D.K. Wilgus on "Ten Broeck and Mollie,: the American counterpart of the Irish horserace: "The July 4, 1878, march race in which the Kentucky thoroughbred Ten Broeck deeated the mare Miss Millie McCarthur, went into the record books as the last four-mile heat race in American turf history" (Laws, p 243).  But it is the Irish horse and hisrace that have survived in American Negro folksong."

- Bruce Jackson, "Wake Up Dead Man" p 102

"The facts are that sometime around 1790 a race took place on the curragh of Kildare (near Dublin) between a skewbald horse owned by Sir Arthur Marvel and "Miss Portly", a gray mare owned by Sir Ralph Gore. The race seemed to take the balladmakers' fancies, and must have been widely sung; an early printed version appeared in an American song book dated 1829." - mudcat.org  lyrics page

It wasn't the American Negro folksong or an American Songbook introducedStewball to me, though- it was Andy Irvine, who sing a completely different version on the iconic album Andy Irvine / Paul Brady.  Theirs, which is called "Plains of Kildaire" details the story extensively and so when I heard the more mysterious version as sung by Leadbelly (and introduced to me by Max Godfrey) I thought- hey- I know about Stewball!

But of course I was only just getting to know the driving rhythm, the rippling, dissonant harmonies, and the overlapping call and response of Max's version.  This song became an instant favorite.  Here's why:

1) It is easy to teach.  The response lyrics repeat and you can be half-numb and still remember them.

2) It drives.  Whatever frustration you've got going, whatever hard work you're chopping or hoeing at, you can channel that right into the song.

3) It's positive.  Everybody's singing uh-huh and oh yeah.  Nice way to turn around an ugly mood out in the field.

4) It's old-timey and hairy.  Racehorses?  Gambling?  Girls?  Does it get any better?

Bruce Jackson recorded this one four separate times in 1964 and 1965 at Ramsey and Wynne prisons in Texas.  Maybe that's where Leadbelly learned it, in prison, and incorporated it into his performance repertoire.

Any case, enjoy Leadbelly's version of it on worksongs.org, and let me know what other versions of Stewball (Irish, Kentucky, Texas or otherwise) you like.   And memorize it, for god's sake!  It's one of the best!

Holler back... -Bennett

Check it out: - More Bruce Jackson on Stewball in "Wake Up Dead Man" - Paul Brady and Andy Irvine's Stewball, "The Plains of Kildaire" - Leadbelly's versionMassive amounts of discussion on Mudcat.org

We All Need a Fruit

Here is a recording of song author Steve Eaton leading this song as a part of the Sylvester Manor Worksongers workshop at the 2013 NOFA-NY Winter Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY


We all need a fruit, to house the seed
We all need a fruit, to house the seed
We all need a fruit, to house the seed
And we’ll all bake bread in the morning

I love the birds and they love the trees

A field full of flowers and billions of bees

I got something you got to believe

Plenty of food for everyone to eat

We all need a fruit, to house the seed

…invent other verses as needed…


Warm them pipes

By Bennett Konesni, 2013
Make up lyrics as you go along…


Who’s gonna warm them pipes-o?
Who’s gonna warm them pipes-o?
I’m a gonna warm them pipes-o…
I’m a gonna warm them pipes-o…

Who’s gonna warm them pipes-o?
Who’s gonna warm them pipes-o?
Steve’s gonna warm them pupes-o
Steve’s gonna warm them pipes-o

Who’s gonna warm them pipes-o?
Who’s gonna warm them pipes-o?
Farmers gonna warm them pupes-o
Farmers gonna warm them pipes-o

Warm them pipes well warm them pipes
Warm them pipes well warm them pipes
We’re a gonna warm our pipes-o
We’re a gonna warm our pipes-o

Dada Mele

Part A:

Call: Dada mele, acha maringo yako,
maringo hayoo, yatakuuaa

Dada mele, acha maringo yako,
maringo hayoo, yatakuuaa

Part B:

C: Namlilia mwana
R: Namlilia mwana sana
C: Mwana wangu
R: Namlilia mwana sana

C: Namlilia mama
R: Namlilia mama sana
C: Mama yangu
R: Namlilia mama sana



This Mchakamchaka song is used to aid and enliven group jogging.  It was taught to me by Yohanne "Kiddo" Kidolezi, my college roommate  Freshman year at Middlebury College, 2001.  Kiddo grew up singing these songs as a warm up for the schoolday with his classmates.


Hammer Ring


Well, my hammer, (hammer ring)
Got a ten-pound hammer, (hammer ring)

Cap’n went to Houston, (hammer ring)
To git me a hammer, (hammer ring)

Way down in de bottom, (hammer ring)
Hew out de live oak, (hammer ring)

Son, you got fever, (hammer ring)
Son, you got fever, (hammer ring)

Said, come here, nigger, (hammer ring)
Don’t you see you got fever? (hammer ring)

Oh, sergeant . . . .
Ain’t got no fever. . . . .
Better get to rollin’. . . . . gonna hang you.
Oh, cap’n..

Hammer am a ringin’
Ringin’ for de captain,

Ringin’ for de sergeant.
What de matter wid my pardner?

Oh, my hammer, (hammer ring)
Way down in the timber.

I’m goin’ to Austin, (hammer ring)
Have a talk wid de Gov’nor.

I heard dat sergeant
Talkin’ to Marble Eye.

Clemens state farm, Brazoria, Texas, April 16, 1939.

The Mudcat Lyrics

Hal an Tow

And here is what it sounds like when you get 70 young farmers together singing it, led by Nate Kraus-Mallet and Mia Bertelli:

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Hal-an-Tow, jolly rumble-o,
We were up long before the day-o,
To welcome in the summer,
To welcome in the May-o –
For summer is a-coming,
And the winter’s gone away-o! 

Since man was first created
His works have been debated
And we have celebrated
The coming of the spring

Take no scorn to wear the horns,
It was the crest when you were born;
Your father’s father wore it,
And your father wore it too.


Robin Hood and Little John
Have both gone to the fair-o,
And we shall to the merry green wood,
To hunt the buck and hare-o!


What happened to the Spaniards
That made so great a boast, oh?
They shall eat the feathered goose,
And we shall eat the roast, oh!


And as for that good knight, St. George
St. George he was a knight o
Of all the knights of Christendom
St. George is the right o


God bless Aunt Mary Moses
With all her power and might-o;
Send us peace in England,
Send us peace by day and night-o!


More info:
Quite a long Mudcat Discussion
An MP3 of how the Watersons sang it.

Bold Riley


Click here for a sensational version led by Mia Bertelli at the NOFA-NY Worksong Workshop 2013 



Oh the rain it rains all day long, Bold Riley-o, Bold Riley, And the northern wind, it blows so strong, Bold Riley-o has gone away.

Goodbye my sweetheart,goodbye my dear-o Bold Riley-o, Bold Riley, Goodbye my darlin',goodbye my dear-o, Bold Riley-o has gone away.

Well come on, Mary, don't look glum, Bold Riley-o, Bold Riley, Come White-stocking Day you'll be drinkin' rum Bold Riley-o has gone away.


We're outward bound for the Bengal Bay, Bold Riley-o, Bold Riley, Get bending, me lads,it's a hell-of-a-way, Bold Riley-o has gone away


More Info:

A different set of Lyrics, courtesy of Mudcat
A Mudcat Discussion
Amazon MP3

I learned this song from Mia Bertelli and Mia Friedman at Maine Fiddle Camp

NOFA-NY Winter Conference

Here are some of the songs the Sylvester Manor Worksongers shared at the 2013 NOFA-NY Winter Conference. Keynote song:  The Farthest Field


Max – Cornbread, Peas, Black Molasses / Ham and Eggs

Brian – Loisa

Nate-  Hal an Tow

Bennett – Warm them Pipes  / Dada Mele

Edith – Yomo Begga

Steve – Hollow Leg / We All Need a Fruit

Mia -  Bold Riley