July-August 2011

His Blackberry Blossom was awesome

By Linda Dewar

Llyod_Loar_MandolinOK… my last column ended with a plea for some music-related limericks, but alas I’ve heard from no one. So instead, here’s a selection from the members of the online Mandolin Café Forum… some good stuff here.

There once was a mariachi named Bruno

Who said, "Of strings, this I do know:

Guitars are fine

And harps sound divine,

But the mandolin's numero uno.

There once was a man from Nantucket

Who was given a banjo but chucked it

Then he said with a grin:

"I prefer mandolin

Give me eight strings tuned in fifths and I'll pluck it"

At an old-timey jam here last week,

My playing was right at its peak.

I chopped very little,

and kept up with the fiddle,

And blew them away on "Salt Creek."

There once was a bluegrassy foursome

Who taught mandolin to a possum

He never learned much

Of the old-timey touch

But his Blackberry Blossom was awesome


The earliest known example of musical notation was dated to around 1,800 B.C, found on a clay tablet in Mesopotamia.

The shortest national anthem is only four lines long and the longest is 158 verses long. The Japanese have the shortest and the Greeks have the longest.


The_Great_Stalacpipe_Organ The Great Stalacpipe Organ, Luray Caverns, Luray, VA, USA: Stalactites covering 3 1/2 acres of the surrounding caverns produce tones of symphonic quality when electronically tapped by rubber-tipped mallets. This most unique, one-of-a-kind instrument was invented in 1954 by Mr. Leland W. Sprinkle of Springfield, Virginia, a mathematician and electronic scientist at the Pentagon



The Coen Brothers are currently working on a folk music themed script for their next film, according to an unidentified L.A. Times source.

 The brothers script will be loosely based on the work of 1960s New York area singer, the late Dave Van Ronk. Van Ronk was also heavily involved in political activism and his influence on the scene led to popular musicians like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell being discovered.

After Van Ronk's passing, in 2002 his memoir titled "The Mayor of MacDougal Street" was released, which the Coens will reportedly draw some of the material from for their script. Joel Coen said at a recent event that all of the songs featured in the movie will be performed live with single instruments.


When I was a kid back in St. Louis in the sixties, one of the greatest thrills I could imagine was to be able to attend – just once- the Newport Folk Festival. A decade or two have gone by since then, but the thrill is still there. This year’s festival will be held on July 30-31, and the lineup has just been announced. No matter what your musical taste, you’ll find something wonderful in the list:

The Decemberists, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Gillian Welch, Amos Lee, Earl Scruggs, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Gogol Bordello, M. Ward, Wanda Jackson, Mavis Staples, Tegan & Sara, The Felice Brothers, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Justin Townes Earle, Delta Spirit, Middle Brother, The Wailin' Jennys, Freelance Whales, The Secret Sisters, Trampled by Turtles, The Civil Wars, The Head & The Heart, Pokey LaFarge & The South City Three, The Cave Singers, What Cheer? Brigade, Mountain Man, David Wax Museum, Devil Makes Three, Song Circle with Dar Williams Ellis Paul John Gorka & Liz Queler, Typhoon, The Seeger Clogging All-Stars, The Ebony Hillbillies, BrownBird, River City Extension and PS 22.


Music that gentlier on the spirit lies,

Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes.

~Alfred Lord Tennyson.


The pause is as important as the note.

  ~Truman Fisher

An American now living in Scotland, Linda Dewar is a singer and a player of various instruments with strings and keys. Besides being a solo performer, she plays in the Scottish band Togarrach, and is a founding member of the revue Simply Burns. Visit her website.


All Columns by Linda Dewar