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Art Thieme's CD: The Older I Get, The Better I Was

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Joe Offer 14 Sep 98 - 03:25 PM
Dale Rose 15 Sep 98 - 01:23 AM
Art Thieme 15 Sep 98 - 02:15 AM
Dale Rose 15 Sep 98 - 03:40 AM
Barbara 15 Sep 98 - 12:11 PM
Alice 15 Sep 98 - 03:07 PM
Rockaday Johnny 15 Sep 98 - 09:51 PM
Art Thieme 15 Sep 98 - 11:55 PM
Anne 16 Sep 98 - 02:19 AM
Roger Himler 16 Sep 98 - 07:12 PM
BSeedkratz 05 Oct 98 - 01:35 PM
Art Thieme 05 Oct 98 - 02:45 PM
Art Thieme 05 Oct 98 - 02:56 PM
Big Mick 05 Oct 98 - 10:38 PM
BSeed 06 Oct 98 - 02:37 AM
BSeed 17 Oct 98 - 12:25 AM
Art Thieme 17 Oct 98 - 01:14 AM
Joe Offer 07 Jan 99 - 01:23 PM
Art Thieme 07 Jan 99 - 08:51 PM
Sandy Paton 07 Jan 99 - 09:03 PM
Wolfgang Hell 08 Jan 99 - 08:37 AM
Joe Offer 08 Jan 99 - 01:53 PM
Wolfgang 08 Jan 99 - 02:56 PM
Joe Offer 08 Jan 99 - 03:06 PM
Bob Schwarer 08 Jan 99 - 04:49 PM
08 Jan 99 - 05:49 PM
Art Thieme 08 Jan 99 - 11:41 PM
Art Thieme on Paul Stamler 09 Jan 99 - 12:36 AM
Alan of Australia 18 Jan 99 - 04:19 AM
Art Thieme 18 Jan 99 - 12:16 PM
Aldus 19 Jan 99 - 09:19 AM
Liam's Brother 19 Jan 99 - 09:40 AM
Roger the zimmer 19 Jan 99 - 10:33 AM
Art 19 Jan 99 - 11:05 AM
Dale Rose 19 Jan 99 - 11:14 AM
Dale Rose 19 Jan 99 - 12:00 PM
Liam's Brother 19 Jan 99 - 12:06 PM
Alex McDougall 21 Jan 99 - 11:38 PM
Wolfgang 22 Jan 99 - 09:03 AM
Roger the zimmer 27 Jan 99 - 10:46 AM
Liam's Brother 11 Feb 99 - 10:59 AM
Lonesome EJ 11 Feb 99 - 12:00 PM
Joe Offer 11 Feb 99 - 03:33 PM
Art Thieme 11 Feb 99 - 05:01 PM
Liam's Brother 11 Feb 99 - 10:27 PM
Art Thieme 15 Feb 99 - 10:47 AM
Lonesome EJ 21 Feb 99 - 12:53 AM
Wolfgang 24 Feb 99 - 08:40 AM
Ritchie 24 Feb 99 - 11:09 AM
Art Thieme 24 Feb 99 - 11:46 AM
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Subject: Thieme Thong....
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Sep 98 - 03:25 PM

****Click here****

to get to Waterbug to order Art's new CD. The blurb from the Chicago Tribune says "Traditional ballads and shamelessly awful puns." Sounds like the Art we know and love, doesn't it?
As far as I can see, the CD isn't yet available on any of the "Support the Mudcat" distributors. It's listed on Amazon, but as "not yet available." I can't wait. I'm going to order mine from Waterbug today. I wanna be the first kid on my block to have an Art Thieme CD.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Dale Rose
Date: 15 Sep 98 - 01:23 AM

Hey, Art! Sorry I was not there at the Focal Point on June 20, 1981, to hear you do In & Around Nashville and no telling what other nifty things. Funny, but I don't remember now what might have been so important that I missed it. I have been to a good many shows at the Focal Point, and may well go to see the Gordons and the Buckhannons on September 25, while I am up in Illinois.


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Sep 98 - 02:15 AM

Joe & Dale, thanks for the nice comments. I truly appreciate 'em. I do hope Max doesn't mind this blatant commercial ploy. Waterbug Records is run by Andrew Calhoun & Kat Eggleston in Chicago--fine people--incandescent singers---at least Kat is that ;-)---and both are wondrous songwriters and poets. Andrew is doing ALL distribution from there. That way I don't have to take mailorders to the post office as I'm rather limited physically now.

Dale, do you have it already? How did you know about that track being recorded in St.Louis?

Again, THANKS !

Art


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Dale Rose
Date: 15 Sep 98 - 03:40 AM

No, it's mentioned on the Waterbug website that Joe pointed to. There are sound clips and recording info for In & Around Nashville, North County Tragedy, and Master of the Sheepfold. (one of my very favorite songs) You're quite right, it just would not work in dialect.


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Barbara
Date: 15 Sep 98 - 12:11 PM

Hey Art, congrats on getting the CD out! The tune to Master of the Sheepfold is very similar to the one I know, and I learned it with just a little black dialect in it (Massah; brung in; gloomin' nightpath) from my college friend Charlie Ipcar who lived on an island near Bath, Maine, (Robinhood Cove) and I'll bet money he learned it from Bill Bonyun. Charlie actually sang highland shepherd, not hireling,which is what happens when you have an oral tradition.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Alice
Date: 15 Sep 98 - 03:07 PM

Hi Art,

It was neat to be able to download an audio clip and hear your voice singing. I look forward to the day when we can share a real song circle around the world on the internet, rather than our wishful 'fantasy' song circle that we carried on last year on the Mudcat. I would love to hear the voices of the other Mudcatters I have met in this cyber gathering.

alice in montana


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Rockaday Johnny
Date: 15 Sep 98 - 09:51 PM

The new CD is wonderful, a great choice of songs made even better by a great set notes that shed light on the songs -Craig Johnson's North Country Tragedy is a wonderful poke at traditional ballads and contemporary life --Great pickin' on guitar and banjo throughout -best $3.00 guitar I've ever heard. All you mudcatter's should get this for yourself and to send to all your singer/songwriter friends to tell 'em what folk really is --the only bad thing is the discography --it says "live at Winfield" is out of print --folks this is a great cassette - if you see it get it to...Nothing recorded at the "Spot" tho.......


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Sep 98 - 11:55 PM

Johnny, Please accept my humble thanks. A bunch of the CDs will be at Winfield this weekend---thanks to the amazing Mr. Bob Redford. (As I've said here a few times, I sure do miss being there---and the grand drive down through the Flint Hills...)


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Anne
Date: 16 Sep 98 - 02:19 AM

Art: I'm leaving for Winfield tomorrow morning (WEDS) from Connecticut. I can't wait to pick up your CD. Also, I'm going to find the Chisholm Trail that you mentioned in a previous thread. I think Steve Gillette has a song (could just be stage banter) about takin the byways instead of the highways. And don't worry ART, you will be at Winfield. Anne


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Roger Himler
Date: 16 Sep 98 - 07:12 PM

Anne,

You might be thinking of Steve's song, The Old Trail. It's in the DT CLICK HERE.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: The Older I Get the Better I Was
From: BSeedkratz
Date: 05 Oct 98 - 01:35 PM

Art, Amazon.com still doesn't have your CD. So many great things were said about it in the earlier thread about it I can't wait. I can't find that prior thread to check where you said it was available--can you update me (us) on that? --seed


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Subject: RE: The Older I Get the Better I Was
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 Oct 98 - 02:45 PM

SEED,

Amazon or anyone can get the CD from WATERBUG RECORDS in Chicago:

http://www.waterbug.com (click here)

or their phone order # is: 1-800-466-0234

or from Elderly Instruments:

www.elderly.com 517-372-7890

Thanks for asking,

Art Thieme P.S.---I'm not sellin' it from here.


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 Oct 98 - 02:56 PM

SEED, Here's the link to Waterbug.


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Big Mick
Date: 05 Oct 98 - 10:38 PM

Art,

Ain't it great to be back. For the last four days I have been listening to your CD. Each time I find more I like about it. Folks, if you ain't got it now, get it soon.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: BSeed
Date: 06 Oct 98 - 02:37 AM

Art, I ordered it today and got email from waterbug stating it was on its way. I can't wait. --seed


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Subject: Art Thieme's CD again
From: BSeed
Date: 17 Oct 98 - 12:25 AM

Art, I finally received your CD from waterbug, along with their sampler CDs. I'm just starting to listen to it through again right now (it just finished the first time). I'll probably leave it in my CD player for the next week or so. It's really wonderful--all the performances seem like living room singing, so relaxed and intimate; great guitar and banjo playing (the nine-string guitar sounds great--I think I'll take the three bass octave strings off my twelve-string and replace the third octave with a wound string). --seed


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's CD again
From: Art Thieme
Date: 17 Oct 98 - 01:14 AM

Seed, thanks.

I had fun putting it together. Learned a lot about modern sound & graphics I never thought I'd ever need to pick up on.

Sure do miss the old 12 X 12 inch space to do liner notes in the vinyl LP days!

All the best,

Art


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Jan 99 - 01:23 PM

The Older I Get, The Better I Was

by the Infamous Art Thieme
concert recordings from three decades

I've posted links here to all of the songs I could find in the database or forum. If other lyrics are found or posted, I'll add them here. Art's outrageous lies are listed in italics above-you'll find some of them in the forum.
Art has a couple of great songs by Craig Johnson on the CD. A search of the database and forum will turn up others, but not the ones on the CD. Same with Jerry Rasmussen. Looks like a lot of these songs are missing from the database.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Jan 99 - 08:51 PM

Joe, Mick, Seed--all,

Thanks again!

The unfamous Art


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 07 Jan 99 - 09:03 PM

Hello, All:

Seconding all that has been said in praise of Art's Cd, I want to add a word of praise for Paul Stamler, who took a variety of recordings from live Thieme gigs all over hellandgone and put them together into a coherent whole. A massive task, well done. He also did it out of love for Art and his music. St. Louis is a better place for his being there.

We'll see you the next time we head west, Art. Hope you get into your new digs by then.

Hang in there, friend.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Wolfgang Hell
Date: 08 Jan 99 - 08:37 AM

Thanks Joe, for the compilation, it saves me a lot of trouble. I had already started doing the same work but not come that far. I only can add (from memory so there's a minor possibility of error) that Pokegama Bear is in RUS.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jan 99 - 01:53 PM

Methinks yer memory is failing, Wolfgang. No Pokegama Bears in Rise Up Singing, or in the index at the University of Tennessee, or the Library of Congress and Levy sheet music collections. The tune is "Sweet Betsy from Pike," and even THAT isn't in RUS. Can anybody post the lyrics to this gem? Art's notes say:
It was written by Frank Hasty in 1874 for an anniversary of the town of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Pokegama Lake is a very wide area of the upper Mississippi River. The bears of the area could be real problems for the lumbering crews in the pine woods. (And the lumberjacks could be a real problem for the bears!)
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Wolfgang
Date: 08 Jan 99 - 02:56 PM

methinks I'm getting old (knowing now for sure that I'm older than the average M-Mudcatter).
Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jan 99 - 03:06 PM

Say, you'll find a tape from Jerry Rasmussen and some old ones from Art Thieme on this page (click here) at Folk-Legacy Records. Now, if they'd only release some of that old stuff on CD or start making custom-order CD's...
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Bob Schwarer
Date: 08 Jan 99 - 04:49 PM

Ordered Art's CD from Waterbug a little bit ago. While running up & down their listing I found they also distribute James McCandless' recordings so I got a couple of those too. Had some tapes of his so I got the CDs. Some nice stuff although I didn't see his first recordings listed.

BTW Jerry Rasmussen is an old Janesville WI boy. Grew up in the same town well before he came along.

Bob S.


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From:
Date: 08 Jan 99 - 05:49 PM

Wolfgang- All Mudcatters are above average. In every way.


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Subject: ADD: Pokegama Bear (Art Thieme CD)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Jan 99 - 11:41 PM

I wrote this out once before. Took me two hours (I'm slow) and when I tried to post it, I only got half way and it crashed.

So, I'm gonna try again, in smaller chunks, and see if it'll post easier that way. Frustrating, but what's time to a pig? (Hope you know that joke.)

POKEGAMA BEAR:

JOHN BERQUIST was my source for that song. It was John who put the tune of "Sweet Betsy From Pike" to the words by Frank Hasty (1874). John is a folklorist and a song collector from Eveleth, Minnesota--in the Mesabi (iron) Range---right now living in Chicago's Hyde Park area (for as short a time as he can arrange to make it, I'm pretty sure.) He is also a master of any kind of bellows instrument---button accordion etc. He has collected his tunes for those instruments from all of the many ethnic groups residing in Minnesota. His dialect tales are wonderful---as are his ballad renderings from the lumberjacks of the North woods. I'm proud to call him a friend. And I was truly glad I had a decent live version of this song to include on the CD.

Here's the song:

Don't you remember sweet Betsy from Pike,
Who crossed the boad prairie with her lover Ike,
With 2 yoke of oxen and an old army cot,
3 Charlie Parker records and 4 pounds of pot.

WHOOPS! That's wrong. Here's the right song...

THE POKEGAMA BEAR

from John Berquist
by Frank Hasty (1874)

Come all you good people who like to have fun,
Listen to me and I'll sing you a song,
Listen to me and the truth I'll declare
As I sing all about the Pokegama bear.

One cold winters mornin'-oh, the winds, how they blew,
It was into the pinewoods our days work to do,
Into the pinewoods our heroes did fare,
And there they encountered the Pokegama bear.

Now, Morris O'hearn was a bold Irish lad,
He was building a fire out in the pinewoods,
The ring of his ax filled the cold winter air,
When out popped the monstrous Pokegama bear.

With a roar like a lion O'hearn he did swear,
"Run boys, for Pete's sake, for I've found a bear."
When out of the bush Jimmy Quinn he did climb,
Sayin, "Forget that there bear. I got me own porcupine.

Now, into the swamp old bruin did go,
O'hearn, in haste, he did quickly pursue,
Into the swamp our hero did fare,
To capture or kill the Pokegama bear.

Old bruin got angry and in haste he did steer,
O'hearn followed after without dread or fear,
And with his teeth firmly set and his ax in the air,
He slipped and fell under Pokegama bear.

Now up on the road old bruin did go,
He thought that was better than wading in snow,
But little did he know what awaited him there,
For the fates were all against old Pokegama bear.

There was old Mike McAlpin of fame and renown,
He was a racer afoot on Canadian gound,
He ran up the road with his ax in the air,
And he dealt the death blow to Pokegama bear.

Now into the camp old bruin was sent,
Just to skin him and dress him it was our intent,
And we all did agree that we'd all get a share,
Of the grease and the fat from Pokegama bear.

And next it was sent to the cook and it fried,
And it was all very good it cannot be denied,
"Why it tastes just like turkey," Bill Monahan did swear,
As we feasted upon the Pokegama bear.

My song is ending--yes, it's drawing to an end,
Morris O'hearn, he got the the bear skin,
Here's long life to you---and long growth to your hair
When it's greased with the fat from Pokegama bear!

I LOVE THIS SONG! And I ask forbearance (pun intended) of animal rights folk or vegetarians. But IF WE WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO EAT ANIMALS, THEN WHY ARE THEY MADE OF MEAT!! (SMILE!! please?)

Art ^^


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Art Thieme on Paul Stamler
Date: 09 Jan 99 - 12:36 AM

Folks, I must tell you how terribly important co-producer PAUL STAMLER was to the final product that is this new/last/only CD of mine. Paul took the DATs from Rich Warren at WFMT in Chicago and Tom Martin-Erickson of Wisconsin Public Radio and Alex McDougall of the Lake County, Illinois Folk Club and groomed them. He deleted unwanted embarrassing statements I made, belches and @#$%^&*&^%$*&, as well as extricating individual songs from medleys and long boring raps and dated jokes about Tom Jefferson's dalliances with Sally in the Oval Outhouse out back of Monticello.

Paul is also a folk DJ on St.Louis radio and you haven't heard anything until you have heard Paul's several hours of programming of songs about CHICKENS! He is a wizard of digital musical engineering, computer manipulations and pyrotechnics. He took these old tapes and made them sound like I was playing a rather seamless concert (almost). These various performances were from the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's. The concert halls were sometimes tiny coffeehouses with 7 people in the room and sometimes larger outdoor and indoor festival sets with thousands in attendance. It was not easy to make this sound as if it pretty much flowed. But Mr. Paul Stamler pretty much did it!

Paul, thank you for you expertise and your generosity---monetary and otherwise.---Thank you for reminding me, by your grand example, to adhere to valued political and social positions I sometimes have, out of lethargy and weariness, allowed to slide----but mostly, thank you for your friendship! I love ya, guy!

Art


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 18 Jan 99 - 04:19 AM

G'day,
Just got this CD & I'm listening to it now. It's great!!

American performers don't feature much in my music collection so this is a pleasant change, and another triumph for Mudcat - I wouldn't have heard of Art without Mudcat.

Art, congratulations & thanks for the words to Pokegama Bear, the tune is the one I know as Villikins... but I think that's been discussed here before.

Cheers,
Alan


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Art Thieme
Date: 18 Jan 99 - 12:16 PM

Alan,

Thank you!!! It's great to have the recording liked in your part of the world---a nation I've admired so very much. Through the songs I've sung, I've tended to live in a previous American era more in tune with my proclivities---and I've always seen Australia in that same light. Through the grand bush poets, folk ballads---films too---I've been able to visit your land vicariously if not actually. Having you enjoy it, somehow, connects me!

Also---looking at your inadvertantly doubly posted message through 3-D glasses makes the words JUMP OFF THE PAGE! Real cool.

Thanks again,

Art


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Aldus
Date: 19 Jan 99 - 09:19 AM

Tell me please..... WHO is the ubiquitous Art Thieme. His name is everywhere, yet no one I have asked has a clue who he is.....I don"t mean to be rude..but ..Who he ?


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 19 Jan 99 - 09:40 AM

Hi Aldus!

With the realization that Art Thieme is certainly World Famous (albeit not to EVERYONE in the World), I set out not long ago to answer your very question: Who Is Art Theime?

So far, my search has led me to http://www.folklegacy.com/cassette/hartland.htm#C-90

Now I know what he looks like and that he sings and plays guitar. However, stare as I may all day at that railroad brakeman, he still doesn't make a sound! What to do now?

Can anyone help me?

All the best,
Dan Milner


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Roger the zimmer
Date: 19 Jan 99 - 10:33 AM

Your discussion has made me order Art's CD from US, he doesn't seem to be represented on any of the UK internet record sites I've tried nor my local stores, seems we're missing out on this side of the pond.


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Art
Date: 19 Jan 99 - 11:05 AM

Humbly, try this & click on m' name.

www.waterbug.com


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Dale Rose
Date: 19 Jan 99 - 11:14 AM

For a few Wav files, and info about Art and his CD on Waterbug, go to the link given by Joe in the very first post to this thread. It is not working at the moment, but I am pretty sure there are three clips, In and Around Nashville, Master of the Sheepfold, and A North Country Tragedy. The CD is available directly from Waterbug, but if you are of a mind to order a whole bunch of stuff, you can get it from Elderly as well.

Yes, Art is certainly one of those who are outstanding in their field. Now, I don't think he has a field where he is living now, but if he did, I am sure he would be out standing in it.


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Dale Rose
Date: 19 Jan 99 - 12:00 PM

OK, here it is, an article from the Chicago Tribune of July 20, 1998. I know Art would not post it, but I don't think he'd mind if I did. I am not exactly sure how well I did with the html. I know I threw in just enough p's to break it up a little bit. It should be readable. It is no longer on line at the Trib, unless you want to pay $1.95 to get all 1,568 words. This is cheaper. It goes a fair way toward telling you who Art is and was, the man and the musician.

STRUM & DRANG
CHICAGO'S FOLK MUSIC GENTRY THROW A PARTY BUT A KEY FIGURE ISN'T THERE THOUGH HIS `MACHINE' RARELY KILLS TIME ANYMORE, ART THIEME REMAINS AT THE HEART OF THE CITY'S FOLK SCENE

By Charles M. Madigan, Tribune Staff Writer.

PERU, Ill. The guitar, an altered Martin D-76 Bicentennial model with nine strings instead of six, sits in a corner by the sofa alongside the simple five-string banjo, with its single mother-of-pearl star on the head. Words march around the face of the banjo, an idea Art Thieme borrowed from Pete Seeger, who had scrawled "This Machine Kills Fascists" on the top of his instrument. Art's says, "This Machine Kills Time," as undoubtedly it did for many years.

The Old Town School of Folk Music - preparing for a move from Armitage Avenue to a bigger, better building, the former Hild Public Library at 4544 N. Lincoln Ave. - celebrated its roots with a festival Saturday and Sunday. The school presented a great collection of bands and singers aimed at underlining the vibrant, important role Chicago has played in the development of American folk music. But Art Thieme, a fixture on the Chicago folk scene almost from the day he first performed in 1959, wasn't there.

To find him, you had to drive a couple of hours west of Chicago to Peru, knock on the door of a gray old house on Sixth Street, and walk into a world full of guitars, banjos, recordings, belly laughs, a little sadness and some very powerful memories. He sits on this sunny, hot afternoon in a comfortable wing chair in the living room, a good eight feet away from the instruments that brought him fame, if not fortune, during nearly four decades on the American folk scene. The beard has gone totally gray now and, befitting his age, he is rounder than he was back when everyone in folk music in Chicago knew him as a solid guy who performed solid songs.

If Art Thieme, now 57, was writing a folk song about himself, what would it be? "Well, I guess it would be the title of the new CD, `The Older I Get, The Better I Was.' That sort of tells the story," he said. The CD, currently in the works on songwriter Andrew Calhoun's Waterbug label, should be available by October. Waterbug will be selling it on the Internet at www.waterbug.com or through its phone line (800-466-0234). It is 73 minutes and 50 seconds of the best of Art Thieme live, songs selected from concerts over the past 3 1/2 decades. Just a look at a few of the selections provides one measure of Thieme's presence, and importance, in the world of folk music. He sings the version of "Red Iron Ore" he learned from Bob Gibson in1959. He sings Uncle Dave Macon's "In and Around Nashville," and Jimmy Driftwood's "Tennessee Stud." He sings Josh White's version of "Betty and Dupree Blues," and "Pokegama Bear," a song written in 1874. "He is one of the greats of American folk music," Calhoun said. "He was not one of those people who had a gift for it, he had to work for it. He wasn't born to folk music, he was drawn to it. There aren't many people like him anymore, who work so hard to research the music and bring back the old songs."

Music was Thieme's constant companion for decades, but now that has been pushed to the side by something else, a problem that began making itself known some 15 years ago, when he first noticed a numbness in his hands and feet. More than a year ago, the doctors at Mayo Clinic finally isolated the cause and delivered a diagnosis: multiple sclerosis. The irony of it all is almost overwhelming. After years and years of work aimed at keeping his hands limber and his legs moving, after surgeries that fused discs in his back and neck, after therapy that had him wearing carpal tunnel braces and after packing his wrists in ice, he learned why none of that was really working. "I was starting to get very depressed about it. I have had four spinal surgeries over the last decade. I would just go to Columbus Hospital and get spinal surgery every time I would get an onset (of numbness) in my hands and feet," said Thieme. He was watching his considerable skills as a banjo and guitar player decline. The reason he drilled three holes in the tuning head of his Martin guitar and added three strings was that he could no longer get the volume he needed out of six strings. "I was fed up, but I didn't know what was happening," Thieme said. "I put myself in the local psych ward and got some (anti-depressants) and got feeling a lot better. But the bottom line was I didn't know what was happening. I couldn't walk. My legs started getting worse. My hands were number, and I was getting no answers." So off he went to Minnesota to visit the doctors at Mayo. It took two months, a spinal tap, a lot of tests and an MRI. "A Dr. Moses Rodriguez finally figured out I had MS," Thieme said. "It was totally liberating. It was just great knowing. Now I can put a name to it. I have learned how to accept it."

He spent much of the past year in a wheelchair, but after a recent return visit to Mayo, he gets around with the help of a cane. And these days, Thieme is happy to be walking and eager to offer everything from thoughts on music to a ham-and-cheese sandwich with mustard on white bread. He fairly hops out of his chair to retrieve a recently released Kingston Trio CD to listen to an old song. Dealing with a disease he could not even identify was difficult, he said. Listening to his four albums and recalling his live shows, it becomes apparent that Thieme spent more and more time on very clever puns and jokes and stories and less and less time on the challenges of guitar playing and singing. "It was a concerted effort when my hands started getting numb," he said. "I needed to use the humor to give my hands a rest between songs. "Some people knew there was something wrong. I was always shaking my hands on stage and complaining to friends. On occasion, I would ask people to do a song swap with me on stage rather than have me do a set and then have them do a set. I could do that with good friends. It would let me take a break." There is no sign of bitterness in any of these memories. And because of what he calls the dulling sameness of the United States, he doesn't miss touring anymore.

Putting the CD together from the old concert tapes was tough. "The new recording is made up from concert tapes from those three different decades," he said. "It is hard to listen to those tapes because I can hear that I was competent with my instruments. The instruments were a lot of what I did." He can't see himself as an a cappella singer, he said, and he has never had much luck playing with anyone else. Art Thieme was always a solo act. "So, I was better than I am now as far as the music is concerned, but I'm changing."

He has a new computer in the bedroom. He is very close to his wife, Carol. He is alive and chatting almost all the time with friends all over the world on the Internet, where he can be reached at folkart@ivnet.com. But what he won't do for outsiders is pick up that Martin guitar or the five-string banjo. He can still play a bit, but the numbness in his hands makes it difficult for him to keep his right hand elevated over the strings. That means he gets a thumpy sound when he wants a clear sound, a constant reminder that he no longer has the sensitivity he needs to perform to his own standard. That must be deeply frustrating for a musician who was so meticulous over the years. His banjo playing was pristine. It was old timey, a deep bow to the Appalachian style that was dominant before the bluegrass movement brought aggression and blistering speed to the instrument. His guitar playing was strong and always right to the point, the perfect backdrop for a voice that made up in depth what it lacked in range. He worked hard to make the music and the vocals fit perfectly, always a challenge for a soloist. There is a sense that, once a visitor leaves, Thieme will hop up again and maybe grab the banjo or any of the other instruments sitting all around his living room.

There is one item on the instrument list that is simply too Art Thieme to pass over. His "Star Wars" school lunchbox dulcimer, amplified with an electric pickup to thrill the grade-school masses he entertained for so many years, sits in one corner. He made it out of a tin lunch box, a piece of hard wood, some staples, a couple of bolts to hold it all in place and three cheap tuners. It still sounds just fine. As a measure of Thieme's sense of humor, when you open the lunch box, there is a rubber chicken inside, just in case he ever needed it. Anyone who knows the man can envision it happening. A children's nonsense song, some innocent jokes constructed on puns, and then, surprise, a rubber chicken! It is humor and music mixing in equal doses. And so is Art Thieme.

Copyright Chicago Tribune


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 19 Jan 99 - 12:06 PM

Well, now we know it's possible to hear Art sing and strum by placing orders for his recordings over the internet... even in devilishly difficult places like the UK.

Prety soon, Art should have quite a following on the other side of the ocean... er, excuse me, pond. Anyone want to book this singing and strumming brakeman in Blighty?

One possible impediment, however. The railway does not run over the sea!


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Alex McDougall
Date: 21 Jan 99 - 11:38 PM

As someone from the other side of the pond who now lives in the US, I'd add my two cents woth to this thread, (but then I'd probably be broke). When we first formed the lake county folk club in Illinois in 1992, Art was one of the performers who were at the top of our list. He was our second featured artist 4/92 and played for us twice more (4/93 and 4/96). Art claims that he wasn't playing at his best but all his shows were great and most of all they were entertaining, funny and informative. If you want to know more -buy the CD. It's worth it.


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Wolfgang
Date: 22 Jan 99 - 09:03 AM

I (have) found the lyrics to another song from that CD on the web. Actually, they can be found quite close from here, namely in the DT-database. Jerry go and oil that car .
Joe, could you please link this and the Pokegama bear in that beautiful tracklist above? And in case, you are interested how I did find that song (despite the unusual spelling) when you had failed: pure luck, when I was looking for something completely different.
I'm looking forward to other finds or transcriptions from that CD.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Roger the zimmer
Date: 27 Jan 99 - 10:46 AM

I got this in seven days from a US internet supplier, a lot quicker than orders placed at the same time with UK equivalents. Great service, guys, the cheaper cost of CDs in US outweighed the carriage costs.


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 11 Feb 99 - 10:59 AM

I was sorely disappointed when I got this CD home and played it. Art is supposed to be from Peru and these are all American songs!!! I thought it would be great to have a CD of a real Peruvian singer doing Andean material. No such luck! No pan pipes. No armadillos with mandolin strings tacked on their bellies. None of that ethereal South American Celtic stuff. Well, I guess, if Paul Simon can do Peruvian stuff, it's ok for Art to sing American songs (Actually, he fakes the accent very well!) but I think Waterbug should let people know this before they part with their money!

Seriously, this is as fine a compilation of American songs as I have ever heard. The selection is so good that I intend copping a few of the songs to sing myself. Art has great phrasing. I will forever after think of him as the "Frank Sinatra of Peruvian singers of American folk songs." Nice going, Art! Great music! A sheer delight!

All the best,
Dan Milner


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 11 Feb 99 - 12:00 PM

Liam's Bro...thanks for reviving this thread.I had just read "Instrument Disasters" and was still laughing about Art's Tuba Story when I saw this.Went to the Waterbug page and placed my order right away.First thing I ever ordered on-line,and it was very easy!....LEJ


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Feb 99 - 03:33 PM

Well, Dan, I'm sure you'll be able to do a good job on the songs you steal from Art, but I bet you won't be able to steal his lies. NOBODY can tell lies like Art Thieme can.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Art Thieme
Date: 11 Feb 99 - 05:01 PM

Hey folks

Thanks for the nice comments. I'd figured this thread was long gone. Do appreciate it's comin' up for air.

No need to steal the songs, Dan. They belong to us all. I'm honored you might want to learn some. But outright theft is basic to the method of disemination we all know and love as the FOLK PROCESS. Tradition depends on it.


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 11 Feb 99 - 10:27 PM

Well, Art, I will have you know that you are World Famous at The Irish Arts Center in NYC because I played "Gerry, Go & Oil That Car" and "The Pokegama Bear" tonight. The Theime of the night was Irish-American folk songs and these were 2 great songs for the topic. I have seen and heard "Gerry" before, of course, but the "Bear" is a new one on me and just great! A real gem of a lumbering song! All the best,
Dan


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Feb 99 - 10:47 AM

...isn't new any more.


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 21 Feb 99 - 12:53 AM

Hey Art! Just got yer Cd and I have to say...of all the painful puns I have ever heard,"Lock moss nesters" hit me the hardest. Seriously(if I may be so bold)the damn cd is great, and as I type this I am listening to Pokegema Bear. Kinda surprised. Thought it was a Raffi style kids song.

You sound just like I had you pictured,Brother!Mudcatters! Buy this cd! Art will refund yer money if you don't like it.


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Wolfgang
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 08:40 AM

Art,

I'd love to find more lyrics from that beautiful CD. Usually you are fairly easy to understand but for a nonnative speaker there are some bits missing here and there.
I understand the problems involved when the songs are copyrighted but could you give me a hint (for the nontraditional songs) whether the writers have songbooks or so. I couldn't find any more information on the web.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Ritchie
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 11:09 AM

Well I've gone and done it now...

The last time I bought CD's from the internet from the U.S.of A. I got 'stung' for import duty and had to pay a small fortune to the Post Office and much worse than that I had to promise to my wife that that was it...finito..no more.

Well , I've always enjoyed Arts' comments at the Mudcat and after reading thro'this thread realised that it was going to be sometime before I got a chance to meet or hear him in person so at the press of a button....

Hey ,I'm a grown man, I can nearly do what I want to do, infact I might even buy a 'T'shirt... I'll show her.

Now if I can get to the postman before she can...

Art for Arts' sake...

love & happiness

Ritchie


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Subject: RE: Art Thieme's New CD
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 11:46 AM

Wolfgang--Howdy,

What, specifically, would you like to know? Craig Johnson has no songbook. Neither does Carl Oglesby. Is it particular words or lines or verses that you're having trouble deciphering? Let me know and I'll try to set ya straight.

Ritchie,

If you're hit too hard by the tax stuff, please let me know and I'll send you another one AS A GIFT---no duty at all on that I'm pretty sure. Then you can sell it and get your money back.

Art


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