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MP3 Audio Files

Wry Whiskey,1998

These recordings are all taken from jam sessions and practices held in my living room. All were pretty much first takes, so they are occasionally rough, but I hope they are entertaining and show a lot of enthusiasm for the music.

Wry Whiskey was an old timey band that I belonged to a few years ago. Brian Clancey is the guitar picker on the Wry Whiskey tunes; he now plays with fiddler Robin Warren, they perform under name Spirit Fiddle. Tom Speth, playing bass and singing lead on Knoxville Girl, played for many years with Willow Creek, a popular Boston area bluegrass band. The three of us played together for several years. Later, we were joined by Richie Chaisson on the resophonic guitar, and eventually Brian Clancey moved on to play with Spirit Fiddle, and was replaced by the late Gene Kettlehohn. The group eventually broke up when I got too busy to practice. Richie has since joined the Pine Hill Ramblers, a popular Boston area bluegrass band.

I often pick these days with clawhammer picker and banjo historian Ed Britt, who lives one town over. Ed is the banjo picker for the Boston area old-time band Blunt Instruments, and is the designer of the fancy Grand Artist Renaissance model Ome banjo. lately, we have been busking about once a week in Harvard Square, weather permitting.

Click to hear Ed and I busking in Harvard Square

Wry Whiskey

Cacklin Hen
Cotton Eyed Joe
Knoxville Girl
Pretty Saro
Fishing Creek
My Creole Belle

Wind That Shakes the Barley
Yellow Rose of Texas

Little Birdie
Long Time Traveling
Rye Cove
Wildwood Flower
Sittin' On Top of the World
Fireball Mail
Rosewood Casket
Bonaparte's Retreat
Liza Jane

Click to hear my jam with Mark "Clawgrass" Johnson at the Second Maryland Banjo Academy

I had the honor of jamming with Mark Johnson at the second Maryland Banjo Academy back inn 1997, and it was inspiring and a great pleasure. He thinks considerably beyond the box. I was struck by how gracefully and boldy he improvised melodically, rare among clawhammer pickers. One of the tunes from our jam session provided the musical background to a collage of video images for the official video, prepared by the J. David wells Studio, Lynchburg, Virginia. Click on the image above to see the video clip.

The Cuckoo's Nest is an old English reel. Mark has it on his CD called Bridging the Gap, which is available from his website.


Don and Ed Britt

Whiskey Before Breakfast
Rock the Cradle, Joe
Bonaparte's Retreat
Angeline the Baker
Sally Goodin
Waiting for Nancy
Midnight on the Water

Eighth of January

Britt & Borchelt CD Available


Don and Don Couchie

Last Chance
Sourwood Mountain
Barlowe Knife
Rose in the Mountain
Sal's Got Mud Between Her Toes
Cookhouse Joe

This summer (2009), I had the chance to meet and pick "in the flesh" with my Banjo Hangout on-line friend Don Couchie, from North Bay, Ontario. Don was camped next to me on "Geezer Hill," and we ended up swapping tunes for most of the week. Don is an extremely talented picker, and can pick up a new tune far faster (and accurately) than I can. He had only played Last Chance for just a few minutes of warm up before I turned on the recorder. Just plain amazing. Don is playing fiddle on Last Chance and Sourwood Mountain, and melodic clawhammer banjo on Barlowe Knife. When he's not playing old time banjo, Don plays with Don Couchie and the Spirit of Bluegrass.

Most of the Wry Whiskey audio recordings were made on a Tascam Porta 07, or Portastudio 424. These are analog cassette machines, both allow up to four tracks to be recorded simultaneously. The 424 is the current model, and compared to digital, is very inexpensive. The mixing was done on the Tascam with the line out plugged directly into the line in port on the Soundblaster card in my PC. Back then, I used CoolEdit 2000 to further edit the recordings as needed. Most of the recordings with Ed Britt were made using my Toshiba laptop computer with a Tascam US-122 USB audio interface, and using the Cubase LE software which came packaged with the Tascam unit to do the recording and editing. So far I have been reasonably happy with the results, although I do think the analog results were a little warmer. The recordings with Don Couchie were made on my hand-held Tascam DR-1.

Click to check out the videos from my "guest appearance" with the Austin Torpedoes, one of Boston finest country music bands.

(c) copyright 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 by Donald J. Borchelt, all rights reserved.