Ballads & Parlor Songs

Brought over from England with the early immigrants, the singing of ballads and folk songs were the first old-time music in America. Some ballads told stories that went on for twenty verses or more. Many ladies sang the old ballads and passed them on to their daughters for singing in their parlors for male suitors.

Midnight Special is a traditional southern folk song originating among prisoners. This song refers to a passenger train whose light would shine into jail at night, representing freedom to those inside. The song has been covered by many artists including Pistol Pete Cutrell, Sam Collins, and Leadbelly in the 1920's & 30's. The Hootenanny ushered in 2014 with this folk classic.

The famous fiddler, Authur Smith, recorded Adieu False Heart in 1938. In this story, a young girl declares love for her feller but she can no longer endure his cheating ways and tells him goodbye for good. This song is so sad even the crickets are crying out in the background.

The Old Maid's Last Hope, commonly known as The Burglar Man, was written in 1887 by E.S. Thilp. The Hootenanny ventures here into the silent picture era with West Virginia coal miner, Nimrod Workman's, version of this ticklin' old-time classic.

Silver Dagger, also known as Katy Dear, was first published in 1907. It likely traces its roots to the British Isles of the late 19th century, though possibly much earlier. Listen for the Romeo and Juliet elements in this haunting ballad.

Come Take a Trip In My Air-Ship was written by Ren Shields and George Evens in 1903. It was recorded by Charlie Poole in 1928 as I Once Loved a Sailor. There is some old-timey Shuffelo romance here!

Froggie Went A-Courting is an ancient European folk song with origins dating back to the 16th century. In the realm of old-time music, Chubby Parker's 1928 version may be both the best known and the most unusual. The legendary Doc Watson even recorded a humorous rendition during the sixties folk revival. The Hootenanny guys hope that you enjoy our rendering, complete with a moral lesson for the young courtin'.

In the Jailhouse Now was recorded February 15, 1928 with Jimmy Rodgers on vocals and guitar and with Ellsworth T. Cozens playing banjo. The earliest copyright for the song is a 1915 version by two African-American theater performers named Davis and Stafford. We hope that you enjoy our live version recorded at Doc's Lost Mountain Pickin' Party in Marietta, Georgia.