Tag Archives: polka

Set list for December 6, 2008

Set list for the Viper’s 20 minute set between two longer sets by the Paint Branch Ramblers at the Home Grown Coffee House in Accokeek, Maryland. For more details on the evening and for the Ramblers set lists,  see here.

This was my last performance as The Viper before I leave the Washington, D.C. area — where I’ve lived for the last 5 years — to return to the Midwest, and specifically to move to Milwaukee. So it was fitting that I played at the venue where I first played in the area 5 years ago and which is one of my favorite places to play: great acoustics, a great audience, and a great staff of volunteers from the neighborhood that always make the night a lot of fun. This is one of the things I’ll miss the most about the area.


  • Viper’s Blue Yodel no. 6.02 x 10 to the 23rd (a Mole of the Blues)
  • Capital
  • Think about your Troubles (Harry Nilsson)
  • And Sometimes Dmytryk
  • Time of the Leaving / I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton, sung for the Paint Branch Ramblers)
  • My Seafaring Lassie

I hope to put up sound files over the next couple of days from the hi-tech but lo-fi recording I made at the show (essentially, a mic set up to capture the room sound that ran through my TonePort UX2 interface and into Audacity on my computer, which gives me a chance to equalize the sound a little bit on the other end).

For now, this snippet of me yodeling over the “First Round Polka” with the Paint Branch Ramblers will have to do.

download the first-round-polka-yodel

I know why the caged bird yodels

Last week I got the idea that the Paint Branch Ramblers should have an opening song to bookend what we’ve been closing with, the “Last Call Waltz.” This is the song, most recently recorded by Tangleweed, but orginally written as “Blue Fishin'” by Kip Rainey, Edward Burch, and me as part of the incidental music we were writing for what was to be a show about fishing in the U.S. for export to Norwegian television. Don’t ask. Wait: do.

In any case, I had an idea for a title, the “First Round Polka,” and all I needed was a song to go with it. The only stipulations I set myself were that the song a) should follow the basic polka chord changes (i.e., “Tiger Rag” or “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”), b) should modulate into the key of the relative 5th for a trio section, and c) should be wordless except for a yodeled melody, and that melody should make some reference to the similarly wordless yodeled melody in the “Last Call Waltz.”

So this past Wednesday, I fooled around on the mandolin until the instrumental parts came together, and this afternoon I wrote the yodel. Here’s basically what it’s going to sound like.


The chords are:

F F F C7
C7 C7 C7 F
F F F Bb
E7 F C F

With the coda:

Gm E7 F D7
G7 C7 F

Now to write out the rest of it for practice on Monday.