Contra Rebels | Down the River

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Folk: String Band Country: Old-Timey Moods: Instrumental
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Down the River

by Contra Rebels

Rollicking fiddle tunes by this Pennsylvania-based contradance band combining southern old-time drive with touches of jigs and waltzes.
Genre: Folk: String Band
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. I've Got No Honey Babe Now/Caribou Reel/June Apple
4:16 album only
2. Robin's Bodhran/String of Trucks
3:30 album only
3. Juliann Johnson/Elzic's Farewell/Growling Old Man & the Grumblin
4:18 album only
4. Down the River/Johnny Cope
3:14 album only
5. Scollay's Reel/Meg Gray/The Wren
4:42 album only
6. April Waltz
2:39 album only
7. Shoes & Stockings/Big Sciota
3:12 album only
8. Gaspe Reel/Saut du Lupin/Hommage a'Edmond Parizeau
5:09 album only
9. Strosnider's Polka
2:17 album only
10. Sarah Armstrong's Tune/28th of January/Patty on the Turnpike
5:05 album only
11. Give Me the Wings
2:48 album only


Album Notes
High-energy contradance music from southcentral Pennsylvania featuring fiddler Todd Clewell and guitarist/mandolinist Henry Koretzky, joined by banjoist Glenn Carson, fiddler Barb Schmid, and bassist Bruce Campbell.

The Contra Rebels began in 1992 around a pair of old-time musicians from southern York county, Pennsylvania: fiddler/banjoist Bob Buckingham and guitarist/bassist Todd Clewell. Joined by an array of other supportive musicians, including Glenn Carson, Renny Algyer, and Jack Quigley, they played a range of contra and square dances and concerts for several years, until that old gang was broken up by Bob’s move to South Carolina in 2002. At that point, Todd, who had been apprenticing on fiddle for years, headed the band, joined by Henry Koretzky, who had filled in on occasion with the original incarnation of the Contra Rebels on guitar and mandolin.

Augmented by various musicians on banjo, mandolin, guitar, bass, and fiddle, depending on geography, logistics, and contradance budgets, the Contra Rebels have expanded from their original core repertoire of southern-style old-time tunes to include jigs, northern tunes, polkas, and more, all arranged with fire and drive and adventurous harmonies and dance-friendly arrangements.

Todd Clewell
fiddle, lead vocals, guitar on “Give Me the Wings”
Henry Koretzky
guitar, mandolin
Glenn Carson
Barb Schmid
2nd fiddle on “April Waltz”, harmony vocal
on “Give Me the Wings”
Bruce Campbell

1) I’ve Got No Honey Babe Now/Caribou Reel/June Apple (4:16)
The first tune was originally a song recorded in 1927 by Frank Blevins & His Tar Heel Rattlers. Originally in AAB format, Todd adapted into a square fiddle tune form. Caribou Reel was composed by Andy de Jarlis. Chords on June Apple were inspired by Cream.

2) Robin’s Bodhran/String of Trucks (3:30)
The first tune, a jig, was written by the wonderfully prolific composer Bob McQuillen, and was originally dedicated to Robin Morton, formerly of Boys of the Lough. String of Trucks was composed by Jim Kimball. The idea to combine these tunes came from caller/pianist Barb Kirchner, with whom Todd and Henry sometimes play under the name Spin Cycle.

3) Juliann Johnson/Elzic’s Farewell/The Growling Old Man and the Grumbling Old Woman (4:18)
A set of tunes that have become standards. Todd’s version of Juliann Johnson comes from Emmett Lundy of Galax, VA. The B part of Elzic’s Farewell has been adapted to work at contradances. The A part of The Growling Old Man and the Grumbling Old Woman is something we never play the same way twice.

4) Down the River/Johnny Cope (3:15)
Featuring the core duet sound of the Contra Rebels, Todd learned the title track from Pittsburgh’s Mark Tamsula, who has joined The Contra Rebels (and their companion concert ensemble that features predominantly Pennsylvania tunes, The Keystone Rebels). Mark himself learned the tune from a transcription of the playing of Charles F. Cook by folklorist Samuel Bayard, as published in his book, Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife. It pairs up nicely with Johnny Cope, a West Virginia tune that Todd learned from the repertoire of the Critton Hollow String Band.

5) Scollay’s Reel/Meg Gray/The Wren (4:43)
A minor-key medley, two Irish tunes sandwiched around one from Kentucky. Todd learned The Wren from Barb Schmid.

6) April Waltz (2:35)
Written by Selma Kaplan. Featuring Barb Schmid on second fiddle.

7) Shoes and Stockings/ Big Sciota (3:12)
The timeless sound of fiddle/banjo duets, with multi-instrumentalist Glenn Carson on the 5-string.

8) Gaspe Reel/Saut du Lupin/Hommage a’ Edmond Parizeau (5:04)
A medley of French-Canadian tunes that Todd learned from Barb Schmid, in an arrangement which brings out an implied Cajun connection. The last tune was composed by Marcel Messervier.

9) Strosnider’s Polka (2:17)
This also comes from Bayard’s Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife. It was originally transcribed from the playing of George Strosnider of Waynesburg, PA, and is simply credited as Old Dance Tune in the book.

10) Sarah Armstrong’s Tune/28th of January/Patty on the Turnpike (5:06)
The first tune comes from another of Bayard’s collections, Hill Country Tunes, and is simply titled “Old Reel.” (Todd also recorded Sarah Armstrong’s Tune as the title track of a collection of tunes all drawn from Bayard’s collecting.) This version of 28th of January was learned from the playing of Dave Bing. This version of the fiddle warhorse Paddy on the Turnpike (spelled Patty in this particular transcription) also comes from the playing of Sarah Armstrong. We like to refer to it as Paddy on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

11) Give Me the Wings (2:49)
Written by Todd, this waltz features his singing and that of Barb Schmid. The song was inspired by a sermon given by his minister, Suzanne Dougherty. The sermon was entitled, “Roots Hold Me Close, Wings Set Me Free,” and the song is about relationship and holding on to our highest ideals and aspirations.

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