Ascolta anche: Beans, Bacon & Gravy, "My Own House"



In Lugano, Switzerland, just before a presentation of Manituana at "Il Molino" occupied social centre, we met Angelo Nuzzo, who's been playing mandolin, dulcimer and autoharp for almost thirty years in the band Beans, Bacon & Gravy.

BB&G are veteran interpreters and aficionados of North-American "old time music". They play the tunes which European immigrants (people from England, Scotland, Ireland, France etc.) took with them to the colonies during the 18th and 19th century, laying the foundations of a music we usually regard as "quintessentially American" although part of its roots are under European ground.

Those ballads, jigs, and fiddle songs are the ones the white settlers used to play and dance to at the time we chose to depict in Manituana (and the next books of the Atlantic Tryptich).
Appalachia is the region where this tradition is most lively.

Angelo picked two songs from the BB&G repertoire - The Coo Coo Bird and My Own House - as contributions to Manituana's communitarian soundtrack.

The Coo Coo Bird (top right click, streaming audio) is a typical example of a "Frankenstein-song", as critic Andrew Hultkrans once put it. Its surrealistic lyrics - of which dozens of alternate versions exist - is a collage of lines of obscure origins, fragments of old nonsense rhymes etc.

The song was made famous by banjoist Clarence Ashley (1895-1967), who recorded it for the first time in 1928.
In 1953 Harry Smith included it in his seminal Anthology Of American Folk Music. Listening to those discs changed the life of Bob Dylan and heavily influenced the late 1950's / early 1960's folk revival in the US. Here's one of the existing versions of the song:

Gonna build me log cabin
On a mountain so high
So I can see Willie
As he goes passing by.

Oh, the coo-coo, she’s a pretty bird
She wobbles as she flies
She never says coo-coo
Till the fourth day July.

I’ve played cards in England
I’ve played cards in Spain
I’ll bet you ten dollars
I beat you next game.

Jack-a-Diamonds, Jack-a-Diamonds
I’ve known you from old
You’ve robbed my poor pocket
Of my silver and my gold.

My horses ain’t hungry
They won’t eat your hay
I’ll drive on a little further
I’ll feed ‘em on my way.

My Own House (top left click) is a Scottish waltz, also known as Me Ain Hoose or, in Gaelic, Mo Dhachaidh.

Beans, Bacon & Gravy line-up:

Angelo Nuzzo (Angelo) - autoharp, dulcimer, mandolin, triangle, vocals
Celso Costantini (Celo) - banjo, double bass, ukulele, vocals
Mauro Rogora (the Chief) - glass harmonica, banjo, guitar, violin, vocals
Paolo Rusconi (Paolino) - guitar, dulcimer, vocals
Sergio Tosi (Scanna) - lead vocals, spoons, hurdy-gurdy, washboard

24 June 2007



Scarica l'mp3 di The Coo Coo Bird
Scarica l'mp3 di My Own House

Beans, Bacon & Gravy - The Coo Coo Bird
Beans, Bacon & Gravy in a late 1970's picture