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Kings of Mongrel Folk: Mark Graham-Orville Johnson

DigiTrad:
A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR BRAIN
A SONG IN THE NIGHT
ANCIENT GREEKS
ETERNAL DOOM
FESTIVAL LOVE
GREAT GOD WHO MADE THE UNIVERSE
HAVE A NICE DAY
HONEST AL
I CAN SEE YOUR AURA, AND IT'S UGLY
I'M WORKING ON THE FOOD CHAIN
LIFE IS HARD, BUT IT'S HARDEST WHEN YOU'RE DUMB
MOAMMAR SAID TO HIS MEN
MOBY DICK
RUFUS AND BEVERLY
THE BIG BAND THEORY
THEIR BRAINS WERE SMALL AND THEY DIED
VEAL LIFE BLUES
ZEN GOSPEL SINGING


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Lyr Req: Life is Hard but Life is Hardest when ... (9)
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Mark Graham (11)
Lyr Req: Have a Nice Day (Mark Graham) (3)


Joe Offer 26 Mar 07 - 10:31 AM
Murray MacLeod 26 Mar 07 - 03:18 PM
GUEST,Joe Offer, at the Women's Center 26 Mar 07 - 05:23 PM
DADGBE 26 Mar 07 - 06:59 PM
GUEST,Gerry 26 Mar 07 - 08:38 PM
open mike 26 Mar 07 - 11:23 PM
Joe Offer 27 Mar 07 - 01:35 AM
BanjoRay 27 Mar 07 - 05:19 AM
GUEST,JoyceFromFresno 23 Feb 13 - 02:57 PM
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Subject: Review: Kings of Mongrel Folk: Graham & Johnson
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Mar 07 - 10:31 AM

I went to a delightful house concert last night - The Kings of Mongrel Folk: Mark Graham and Orville Johnson. I thought I'd never heard of Orville Johnson, but I see he posted in this Mark Graham thread (click). I knew Mark Graham was the guy who writes those funny songs, and that's why I went to the concert. So, I expected funny songs, but I didn't expect the superb musicianship and all-round good music.

I got to the concert about ten minutes late, so I didn't quite catch on what this mongrel folk thing was - but it was the focus of Mark and Orville's stage patter for the whole show, and it seemed to be a pretty good gimmick. Apparently, Mark and Orville claim to be the only performers in the "mongrel folk" genre, so naturally they are the kings of the genre - although there is some disagreement about which of the two is the "Pete Seeger of the Mongrel Folk Genre." Whatever the case, the Mongrel Folk thing made for some funny banter between the two.

There were lots of funny songs, most written by Mark Graham; but there was lots of other good stuff, too. They did a couple of traditional folk songs, "Didn't He Ramble?" and "John Henry"; and they also did old chestnuts like "Shadrach" and a rendition of "Stormy Weather," with Mark playing a wicked clarinet. First time I've heard a clarinet in a folk concert, and boy, it was good. Mark also plays harmonica like I wish I could. I'm sure DADGBE will vouch for the quality of Orville's guitar playing, and Orville also has a terrific singing voice.

But I suppose the audience was there (like I was) for the Mark Graham songs, and there were plenty of them. Well, the guy next to me wondered why Mark and Orville were doing so many Austin Lounge Lizard songs, and I had to explain that the Lizards like to record songs written by Mark Graham.

The concert was at Bill Wagman's house in Davis, California. It's always a treat to go to concerts there because I usually know half the audience, and I can always count on seeing Dick and Carol Holdstock, along with DADGBE (Ray Frank) and his wife Mrs. Dobro. There were a few rather strange Mongrel Folk groupies mixed in the audience this time - it was interesting to hear them speak adoringly to Mark and Orville.

So, it was a terrific concert, and I think The Kings of Mongrel Folk should make a world tour, so more people could become acquainted with the genre.

-Joe Offer-


So here's the set list, in case anyone's interested in what songs they sang. I wonder how many songs I missed at the beginning.

  • "Last Words"* (can I have your stuff when you're gone?)
  • "I'm in a Hole and I'm Diggin' It Deeper" (great clarinet)
  • "No Democracy in Heaven"*
  • "Billy Gray" (the outlaw)
  • "Oedipus Rex"*
  • "Shadrach" (Meshach Abednego) - my dad used to sing this one
  • "Texas" and "Speed the Plow" (fiddle tunes played on guitar and harmonica)
  • "Blueprint for the Blues"
  • "The Neighbor of the Beast" (667)
  • "Strange"
  • [break]
  • "Good Understanding"
  • "Their Brains Were Small and They Died"*
  • "It's Always Somethin' (to keep you from bein' with me)"
  • "John Henry"
  • "Tap Dancin' on the Moon"
  • "Zen Gospel Singing"* (my personal favorite)
  • "Stormy Weather" (classic song, great clarinet)
  • "Hooray Hooray, This Woman Is Killin' Me" (or something like that)
  • "Didn't He Ramble" (best rendition I've heard)
  • "The Mongrolian National Anthem"* (Life Is Hard When You're Dumb)
  • [no silly attempt to leave the room before the encore]
  • Encore: a wonderful rendition of "Blues for Johnny"

  • Afterwards, I had a nice chance to chat with Mark about British architecture and Irish traditional music and stuff like that. He's a nice guy with a wide variety of interests.

    *I marked the songs I know as Mark Graham songs with an asterisk. I suppose he wrote a couple of others in the set. I think they also did "I Can See Your Aura and It's Ugly," but I didn't write that one down. And I'm sure I didn't get all of these song titles right. Hey, nobody pays me to write reviews, ya know.


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    Subject: RE: Kings of Mongrel Folk: Mark Graham-Orville Johnson
    From: Murray MacLeod
    Date: 26 Mar 07 - 03:18 PM

    Tremendous performers, Joe, and tremendous songs.

    But they didn't do "Rufus and Beverly ?"

    My personal favourite, and it was thanks to Deb Cowan I was introduced to their music in the first place.


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    Subject: RE: Kings of Mongrel Folk: Mark Graham-Orville Johnson
    From: GUEST,Joe Offer, at the Women's Center
    Date: 26 Mar 07 - 05:23 PM

    No "Rufus and Beverly," Murray, but it was on one of the three CD's I bought. It's a great song. I almost hesitate to post Mark Graham lyrics - people need to hear songs like that first.
    -Joe-


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    Subject: RE: Kings of Mongrel Folk: Mark Graham-Orville Joh
    From: DADGBE
    Date: 26 Mar 07 - 06:59 PM

    I second all the things Joe said of the concert. I was a delightful evening. The music was superb, the patter was sufficiently off-beat and rich as to be an evening in itself.

    These guys are amazing! They're brilliant players, singers and writers and amazingly accomplished performers. Their ability to blend speaks of many hours of careful listening and rehearsing yet, it comes out seemingly without effort.

    Don't miss 'em!


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    Subject: RE: Kings of Mongrel Folk: Mark Graham-Orville Johnson
    From: GUEST,Gerry
    Date: 26 Mar 07 - 08:38 PM

    "First time I've heard a clarinet in a folk concert"

    Well, either you don't go hear any klezmer bands, or you don't consider klezmer to be folk music (and let's not open that can of worms...).


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    Subject: RE: Kings of Mongrel Folk: Mark Graham-Orville Joh
    From: open mike
    Date: 26 Mar 07 - 11:23 PM

    Mark sometimes performs with a percussive dancer, Sandy Silva.
    He plays harmonica. They call themselves..... Hoof and Mouth...

    Many folks have recorded Mark's songs...esp. Brian Bowers.

    also check out,,,,,Open House, Hoof and Mouth

    Kevin Burke, Mark Graham, Paul Kotapish, Sandy Silva


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    Subject: RE: Kings of Mongrel Folk: Mark Graham-Orville Joh
    From: Joe Offer
    Date: 27 Mar 07 - 01:35 AM

    Oh, fer dumb. Ya got me there, Gerry. And Klezmer is one of my favorite kinds of folk music.
    -Joe Offer-


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    Subject: RE: Kings of Mongrel Folk: Mark Graham-Orville Johnson
    From: BanjoRay
    Date: 27 Mar 07 - 05:19 AM

    Mark Graham made a superb album with Tom Sauber, called I Thought I Heard It Blow, which is nearly all Old Time fiddle tunes, played beautifully by Mark on harmonica, with Tom playing guitar or banjo - a magnificent combination. The best OT harp I've ever heard.
    Ray


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    Subject: RE: Kings of Mongrel Folk: Mark Graham-Orville Johnson
    From: GUEST,JoyceFromFresno
    Date: 23 Feb 13 - 02:57 PM

    The other day I was going through my old tapes, and there was one someone had copied labeled Mark Graham. Who the heck is Mark Graham? When I listened, it took me back 35 years or so, and I could almost sing along with the songs. How could I forget? The first song, "I can see your aura and it's ugly" was an instant time warp. My husband passed away 25 years ago, but I could see us playing the tape over and over, laughing and marveling at the humor, as we also were into the milieu of the day. I am so happy to have rediscovered Mark, and I didn't know about the Kings of Mongrel. I'm so glad to see Mark is alive and kicking and performing. Now must start buying records.


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