Category Archives: Bluegrass

Gone: Merle Haggard

merle rip

My first Merle Haggard record, picked up at a shop in Dinkytown in Minneapolis, way back in the early 1980s was called Serving 190 Proof. I really don’t know why I decided to fork out the five or six bucks for a country and western record but I thank my lucky stars I did.


At that point my musical tastes were quite immature. Sure, Johnny Cash was a hero and Willie Nelson was fun, but country music in general was anathema to me. Hoaky music for rednecks.


But I read a lot of music reviews and Merle was someone the rock critics consistently praised. Maybe it was the album cover—a hand coloured photo of Merle looking lonely at a bar—that got me to dish out the cash. I can’t recall from this far up the road, but that album became instantly a favourite. It’s remained so for 30+ years.


More albums followed and my head and cassette tapes filled with Merle Haggard songs: Big City, Driftwood, Okie from Muskogee, Shopping from Dresses, Poncho and Lefty many of which I’ve included in this mixtape to mark his passing yesterday.


Merle’s songwriting is top notch. I have always been drawn more to his mellow side and songs where he seems to be simply reflecting on the wonders and sorrows of the simple life. Merle’s songs are full of nostalgia and hope and a sad resignation to never ending change.   His baritone which has to be one of the smoothest and most expressive natural voices ever gifted to mankind is what consistently delights and enchants me. Be it the rowdy CC Waterback with pal George Jones, the boozy anthem Swinging Doors or the downright classic, Kern River, it is voice that drives the nail into the knotted wood.


From little things big things grow, said another fine singer. And from that one LP purchased three and half decades ago, Merle’s place in my musical estimation has steadily risen. I reckon he is one of three singers whose music I consistently and regularly come back to for more inspiration, insight and pleasure. So his passing is a terrible loss.


Thanks for everything hoss!


Track Listing

01 Mississippi Delta Blues

02 There I’ve Said It Again

03 Crazy Moon

04 I’ll Be a Hero (When I Strike)

05 The Last Letter

06 What Happened

07 You Don’t Have Very Far To Go

08 Truck Driver’s Blues

09 Rainbow Stew

10 Pancho And Lefty

11 Are the Good Times Really Over

12 Going Where The Lonely Go

13 Swinging Doors Strangers

14 Still Water Runs The Deepest

15 Workin’ Man Blues

16 The Fightin’ Side of Me

17 Django and Jimmie

18 The Bottle Let Me Down

19 C.C. Waterback

20 Tulare Dust

21 My Own Kind of Hat

22 I Am What I Am

23 If I Could Only Fly

24 Driftwood

25 Walking the Floor Over You

26 Natural High

27 Irma Jackson

28 Okie from Muskogee

29 Kern River



Incredible and Alive: Infamous Stringdusters (FRESH LINKS)

Infamous Stringdusters

Infamous Stringdusters

There are those occasions in daily life when nothing suits other than bluegrass music. Music that is genuine, heartfelt, earnest, melodic and intoxicating. One of those occasions has come upon me in recent days and without too much psychobabble it is probably because I’m not feeling very melodic or genuine at the moment. Forget even thinking about intoxicating.

Like soukous, the repetitive chords, the lightening paced picking and the building of a song the blends melody and rhythm into a orgasmic crescendo, bluegrass when done right is unbeatable and completely uplifting.

Here is a record of the Infamous Stringdusters performing live at the John Hartford Festival a couple years back. What I like about these guys is there commitment to the tradition but also their determination to jam. Many of these songs would make Jerry Garcia flip over in this grave with joy and anticipation.

I commend highly!


Track Listing (v1)

01 It’ll Be Alright’

02 Fork In the Road

03 Get It While You Can

04 Getting Down The Road

05 How Far I’d Fall for You

06 A Hundred Years From Now

07 It Don’t Mean Nothing

08 Deep Elem Blues

09 Keep On Truckin’


Track Listing (v2)

10 The Little Girl And The Dreadful Snake

11 My Destination

12 The Other Side

13 Steam Powered Aeroplane

14 Sunny Side of the Mountain

15 Uncle Pen

16 Instrumental

17 Cents

18 Walking On The Moon


Celebrations: 100 Fine American Songs in Three Volumes


As promised, to mark the rather unexpected milestone of 700 posts on the Washerman’s Dog and Harmonium Music Blog, I’ve put together the first collection of 100 songs.

To start, I’ve selected some juicy cuts, old favorites and fresher discoveries, that fall into the category of American roots music.  Alt country, honkytonk, Americana, country, folk, hillbilly, rockabilly bluegrass and gospel are some of the other labels for this sort of music.  I don’t post as much ‘roots’ music as I’d like, so I’m glad to kick the celebrations off with this century of tunes.

A Man I Hardly Know

Track Listing: (A Man I Hardly Know. Vol.1)

01 Long Walk Back to San Antone [Junior Brown]

02 A Man I Hardly Know [Loretta Lynn]

03 Beyond The Great Divide [Emmylou Harris]

04 Odds and Ends [Outlaw Social]

05 Twilight On The Trail [Clint Eastwood]

06 Wild Side [Son Volt]

07 Killing the Blues [Alison Krauss and Robert Plant]

08 Poquita Fe [Tish Hinojosa]

09 Old Habits [Wayne Yates and Co.]

10 Because the Wind [Joe Ely]

11 Been Down So Goddamn Long [Dan Brodie and the Broken Arrows]

12 I Feel the Blues Movin’ In [Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt]

13 What Little I Got Left [James Hand]

15 Mornin’ Pills [The Boonswagglers]

16 You Win Again [Keith Richards]

17 Reso Fandango [Megan Lovell]

18 Every Kind of Music But Country [Robbie Fulks]

19 Tarnished Angel [George Jones]

20 Drivin’ Nails in My Coffin [Asleep At the Wheel]

21 Old Rugged Hills [Olive & Eva]

22 The Ballad of Thunder Road [Robert Mitchum]

22 Tomorrow Never Comes

23 Old Friends [Chuck Prophet]

24 What You Gonna Do Leroy  (With Robert Plant) [Buddy and Julie Miller]

25 Rock Island [Buffalo Gospel]

26 Fast as You [Dwight Yoakam]

27 Long Black Road [Slim Dusty]

28 I Couldn’t Keep From Crying [Album Version] [Johnny Cash]

29 Fingernails [Joe Ely]

30 Highway Patrolman (Album Version) [Johnny Cash]

31 Sticks & Stones [Wanda Jackson]

32 Indian Queens [Nick Lowe]

33 Desolation Row [Chris Smither]


Unbroken Circle

Track Listing: (The Unbroken Circle. Vol. 2)

01 Hold To God’s Unchanging Hands [David Grisman]

02 Just Call On Jesus [Larry Sparks]

03 Please Take the Devil Out of Me [Caitlin Cary]

04 Wicked Saviour [Rex Hobart]

05 Softly And Tenderly [Hank Williams]

06 Fall on the Rock [Buddy Miller]

07 Tijuana Bible [Rom Russell]

08 Were You There When They Crucified My Lord? [Johnny Cash and Carter Family]

09 I’m Using My Bible for a Road Map [Porter Wagoner]

10 Rivers Of Babylon [Steve Earle]

11 Hide My Sin (A.b.o.r.t.i.o.n N.e.w Y.o.r.k) [Lorene Mann]

12 Brighter Mansion [Longview]

13 Sweet Forgiveness [Iris Dement]

14 Plow Through The Mystic [Jeff Black]

15 Hard on Things [Giant Sand]

16 Drifting Too Far From The Shore [Jerry Garcia, Dave Grisman, Tony Rice]

17 Almost Persuaded [Louvin Brothers]

18 Life’s Railway to Heaven [Patsy Cline]

19 Jesus Gave Me Water [Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver]

20 The Gloryland Way [Bill Monroe]

21 With God On Our Side (Live) [Bob Dylan]

22 The Far Side Banks of Jordan [Bluegrass Gospel Project]

23 Will The Circle Be Unbroken [Holmes Brothers]

24 Redemption [Johnny Cash]

25 I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling [The Handsome Family]

26 How Great Thou Art [Dolly Parton]

27 Radio Station S-A-V-E-D [Roy Acuff]

28 Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child [Charlie Rich]

29 Where The Soul Never Dies [Charlie Moore]

30 I’m A Man Of Constant Sorrow [Stanley Brothers]

31 Pharisee [Stan Rogers]

32 Peace In The Valley [Sons of the Pioneers feat. Roy Rogers]

33 There Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down [Brother Claude Ely]


Hungry for Love

Track Listing: (Hungry for Love. Vol.3)

01 Blue Moon Revisited (Song For Elvis) [Cowboy Junkies]

02 Hungry For Love [Patsy Cline]

03 Shine [Waylon Jennings]

04 Don’t Speak In English [Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodrigues]

05 Till Death Do Us Part [Ray Price]

06 It Makes No Difference [The Band]

07 If We Make it Through December [Merle Haggard]

08 I Can’t Help It [George Jones]

09 I Miss You Already [Duane Jarvis]

10 After the Gold Rush [Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt]

11 The Heart That You Own [Dwight Yoakam]

12 Thursday [Sam Baker]

13 Milk Of The Moon [Greg Brown]

14 Someday I’ll Get out of These Bars [Jerry Jeff Walker]

15 A Little More Time [The James Low Western Front]

16 B Movie Boxcar Blues [Delbert McClinton]

17 Neon Tombstone [Phil Lee]

18 Honey Where’s the Money Gone [Solomon Burke]

19 The Plans We Made [Lonesome Bob]

20 Firecracker [The Wailin’ Jennys]

21 Till I Gain Control Again [Van Morrison]

22 As Soon As I Hang Up The Phone (With Loretta Lynn) [Conway Twitty]

23 The Warm Red Wine [Willie Nelson]

24 Between The Daylight And The Dark [Mary Gauthier]

25 Before & After Love [Mark Halstead]

26 That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas) [Lyle Lovett]

27 Right In Time [Lucinda Williams]

28 Powerlines [Grant Peebles]

29 Let’s Think About Living [Teddy Thompson]

30 Poor Ellen Smith [Laura Cantrell]

31 Portland Oregon [Loretta Lynn]

32 The Race Is On [Grateful Dead]

33 In Spite of Ourselves [John Prine and Iris Dement]


2 Motherless Children: More Interpretations of the Great Negro Spiritual


The response to the recent post on the Negro Spiritual Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child, has been unexpectedly strong and positive. Readers have contacted WD saying how much the spiritual has meant to them. For some it is their ‘favorite song’. Others said they listened to the song whenever they moved into a new apartment or house.  Several people pointed The Washerman’s Dog to other brilliant renditions of the hymn, for which we are very grateful.

And so as to be selfish WD has put together a second volume of interpretations of this truly inspirational song.

Track Listing:

01 Motherless Child_It’s Up To You [Sara Tidwell]

02 Motherless Children [John Renbourn]

03 Motherless Children [Forgotten but Not Gone]

04 Motherless Children Have A Hard Time [Robert Pete Williams]

05 Motherless Children [Blueswire]

06 Motherless Child [Rev. Clay Evans with the Operation Breadbasket Orchestra & Choir]

07 Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child [Lee Wiley]

08 Motherless Children [Ralph Stanley]

09 Motherless Children [The Slide Brothers]

10 Motherless Children [Steve Miller Band]

11 Motherless Child [Jeannie Lewis]

12 Motherless Children [Sweetwater]

13 Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child [Carmela Coren]

14 Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child [Fluery]

15 Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child [Archie Shepp]


The Very Definition: Bluegrass Cardinals



I love this record. It has been a place I go to when I’m absolutely in need of cheering up.  From the first track to that last the songs are singable, uplifting and beautiful.  Indeed, I would say this is THE bluegrass gospel album, more than any other, that defines the genre to me.


The Bluegrass Cardinals came together in Los Angeles in 1974 when banjoist Don Parmley and mandolinist Randy Graham teamed up with Parmley’s 15-year-old son, David, to form what was to become a successful bluegrass trio who wielded considerable influence from the latter half of the ’70s through the early ’90s. Don Parmley and Randy Graham‘s partnership had preceded the official start of the band by seven years when they started a musical friendship after the demise of Parmley‘s previous group, the Hillmen (whose leader, Chris Hillman, found success as a member of the Byrds), and so it seemed natural to grow into a trio with the addition of the younger Parmley. In 1976, the three moved from southern California to Virginia and cut their self-titled debut album for Sierra Records, followed by their 1977 Rounder offering, Welcome to Virginia. These two albums quickly cemented the oft-described “Cardinal sound,” which dealt mainly with the intricate harmonies centered around David Parmley‘s lead vocal, his dad’s baritone, and Graham‘s high tenor.


Bluegrass Cardinals

Bluegrass Cardinals

Almost off the bat, The Bluegrass Cardinals shuffled through countless lineups and proved a springboard for many bluegrass musicians, including fiddler Dennis Fetchet, bassist Bill Bryson, and mandolinist Larry Stephenson. They recorded several albums in the late ’70s and early ’80s for the CMH label with these and a slew of other fine musicians as well as making several appearances on the Grand Ole Opry before settling with Sugar Hill Records for three albums between 1983-1986. In 1991, Don and David took a short hiatus to record Parmley and McCoury — Families of Tradition with Del McCoury and his two sons, Ronnie and Rob McCoury, and by 1992, David chose to leave the Cardinals and pursue his own solo career. He recorded three albums under his own name and then reunited with original Bluegrass Cardinal fiddler Randy Graham in 1995 to form the Continental Divide. The Bluegrass Cardinals continued on until 1997, when Don Parmley announced his retirement from the music business. (AMG)

What Have You Done For Him






Track Listing:

01 I’m Going That Way

02 Great Change

03 I’ll Be Looking For You

04 64 Roses

05 Let Me Walk Lord By Your Side

06 Some Morning Fair

07 What Have You Done For Him

08 Gleams Of That Golden Morning

09 Sing And Be Happy

10 Give Mother My Crown

11 Trouble The Waters

12 God Put A Rainbow In The Cloud