Americana Roots of California Folk-Rock

This episode explores the roots of rock music and the influences on rock performers, with licensed rare and historical performances (hosted by Tony Bove of the Flying Other Brothers).


Roscoe Holcomb: “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow”
Peter Rowan and the Rowan Brothers: “Man Of Constant Sorrow”
Excerpts: versions of “John Hardy” (Carter Family and Lead Belly)
David Nelson Band: “John Hardy’s Wedding”
Woody Guthrie with Sonny Terry: “Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad”
Flying Other Brothers with special guest David Nelson: “Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad”

Many of the songs that inspire today’s rock, folk-rock, and bluegrass bands from California are rooted in what is called Americana: the country blues of the southern states, the cowboy songs of the western states, and that high lonesome sound of bluegrass and country ballads from Appalachia.

Play: Podcast 1: Americana Roots of California Folk-Rock

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1 thought on “Americana Roots of California Folk-Rock”

  1. An email from a fan:

    Way, WAY back (1930s) there was a radio program that used I’m Alabama Bound for its theme and I think the singer was named Lew Childree — or Lou Childers — or something along those lines. Any chance you could help me pin the singer down?

    My reply:
    Well, I have versions by Tom Rush and Roger McGuinn (folk versions) as well as Charlatans. I don’t have Leadbelly’s version but know of it. Most likely the version you know is based on the one Leadbelly did, called “Alabama Bound”

    Louis Jordan did a jump blues version of “Alabama Bound”


    Pete Harris covered it in 1934. Of course, these versions all quote the version by Jelly Roll Morton, which though recorded later (1938) was part of Morton’s repertoire from his early days. “I’m Alabama Bound” published by Robert Hoffman in 1911 combines three folk themes — the well known first part was claimed by Jelly Roll Morton as early as 1901. “Alabama Bound Blues” was recorded by Ethel Ridley sometime between 1921 and 1925.

    The song is related (loosely) to “Don’t Leave Me Here” (please leave a dime for beer), well done by Jim Kweskin and his Jug Band (featuring Geoff Muldaur singing). Plenty of versions exist of “Don’t You Leave Me Here” or similar titles. One of my favorites is “Don’t Leave Me Here” by Henry Thomas, which sounds more like “Don’t Ease Me In” (also by Henry Thomas). Henry Thomas even sings “I’m Alabama bound” in the lyrics, along with “dime for beer” and other essentials, but the tune is a bit faster.

    Well, that’s all I can report. The song is timeless and probably dates back to before there were trains to take these folks to Alabama. Maybe the Civil War. When Jelly Roll did it, a beer still cost a dime.

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