North by Southwest · Dakota Dave Hull & Sean Blackburn
Arabica Records CF-21
vocal and guitar
DAKOTA DAVE HULL
vocal , guitar and tenor guitar
vocal and bass
vocal, mandolin and fiddle
clarinet and piano
Executive Producers: Laura Sunday and Jim Ransom
Produced by: Dakota Dave Hull, Sean Blackburn and Peter Ostroushko
Reissue produced by Dakota Dave Hull
Recorded and Engineered by: Ty Atherholt
Reissue digitized and mastered by Steve Wiese, Miles Hanson and Dave Hull at Creation Audio, Minneapolis
Title: Jerry Clark (thanks, Jerry!)
Notes : Bill Hinkley
Front cover photo: Cheryl Walsh Bellville
Cover layout: Dave Hull
Reissue Layout by Nick Lethert
Recorded in July, 1978 at High Plains Audio
1108 E. 17th Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80218
Library of Congress catalogue #: 78-750696
©℗ 1978 Biscuit City Enterprises, Inc.
©℗ 2017 Arabica Productions #CF-21
Made in U.S.A.
- I’ll KEEP ON LOVING YOU
(F. Tillman) Peer International (BMI) 3:26
- DIXIE CANNONBALL
(Autrey, Foley, Horton) Western Music (ASCAP) 2:37
- TAKE ME TO THE LAND OF JAZZ
(Leslie, Kalrrar, Windling) PD 2:47
- MISS THE MISSISSIPPI AND YOU
(B. Halley) Southern Music (ASCAP) 4:20
- MlNSTREL BOY
(adapted by Dave Hull, Peter Ostroushko) Tektra Music Publishing (BMl) 3:35
- THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE
(Higgins, Overstreet) Edward B. Marks Music (BMI) 3:10
(Jerry Clark, Dave Hull) Tektra Music Publishing (BMI) 2:30
- WALKIN’ ‘ IN THE SHADOW OF THE BLUES
(Byrd, Duncan) Ridgeway Music (BMI) 3:55
- JUNE APPLE
(traditional) P.D. 2:42
- YA GOTTA HAVE A MOUSTACHE
(Sean Blackburn) Tektra Music (BMI) 1:50
- SWEET MOMENTS
(Keith, Logan) Floridian Music (BMI) 3:45
- MINNESOTA GROUND
(Jerry Clark, Dave Hull) Tektra Music Publishing (BMI) 3:43
- I’ll SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS
(Kahn, Jones) Leo Feist, Inc. (ASCAP) 2:55
Liner Notes by Bill Hinkley
Sean Blackburn and Dakota Dave Hull joined forces several years ago in Minneapolis. They play chiefly at college concerts, coffeehouses, and folk festivals as a duo. “Ace Pickin’ and Sweet Harmony” is their motto, and it fits them to a “T”. With this album, their first for Biscuit City, they have done the remarkable in at least one sense—using at most five musicians, they have very effectively recreated the sound and feel of a full-size western swing band. The western swing small combo makes its appearance with this release. This is not to say that such an event is unprecedented, but rather that its possibilities have been largely overlooked.
With the end of the second world war and the coming of atomic waste, abundant plastic, lobotomies, LSD, DDT, and the CIA, several new types of music came to the public ear. Big bands, of say, nine pieces or more, fell out of favor mostly due to the economic difficulty of maintaining a band so large. The development of the electric guitar and improved public address systems made it possible for few to do the job of many, and bands became smaller. (This process is known as mechanization or automation; the currently hyped phenomenon known as disco, the musical equivalent of the vibrator, is merely a further refinement of it. I Four main types of new small-combo music from this era are here to stay: Bop, Bluegrass, Rhythm and Blues, and Country/Western. Typical bands in these four genres employ as a rule five musicians, although this rule is by no means hard and fast.
Here is an instrumentation chart for these four types of bands:
Piano or Electric Guitar
5 String Banjo
Rhythm and Blues:
Harmonica or Sax
Country / Western:
Steel Guitar or Fiddle
String or Electric Bass
Although some of the songs on this album date from the immediate postwar era, the instruments assembled for this date, clarinet, piano, guitars, bass, mandolin, and fiddle are rather unusual in comparison to the instrumentation shown on the chart. The musicians chosen are likewise exceptional and deserve special mention here. Peter Ostroushko grew up in northeast Minneapolis and wandered across the Mississippi to the West Bank some seven years ago. He has developed his musical prowess at an alarming rate ever since. Here he doubles on fiddle and mandolin, as he does in his regular work with singers Robin and Linda Williams. Tim O’Brien, here in the laid-back role of studio bassist, is a West Virginia native who has lived and played in Boulder, Denver and Minneapolis. He’s no stranger to collectors of Biscuit City records. He appeared with the Ophelia Swing Band on their recording and has a feature length LP under his own name entitled, “Guess Who’s in Town.” He now triples on mandolin, guitar, and fiddle with the bluegrass quartet known as Hot Rize. Butch Thompson has played piano and clarinet with the Hall Brothers New Orleans Jazz Blind since before Dylan hit Dinkytown. He has made several brilliant solo LPs of the piano compositions of Jelly Roll Morton and James P. Johnson, and his clarinet appears on all of the Hall Brothers recordings.
The folk process being what it is, the perceptive listener is bound to notice that considerable artistic license is sometimes employed in the interpretation of standards on this disc. This has been the case all along with many recordings which have achieved great popularity in the past. Fats Domino’s singing of “Blueberry Hill” deviates palpably from the melody indicated on the printed page; Eric Burdon and the Animals have apparently reharmonized “House of the Rising Sun” once and for all. Dave and Sean have introduced their own ideas into many of the songs on this album, and while a few curmudgeons might be annoyed at not hearing their favorite changes, one should bear in mind Huxley’s brave new maxim, “ten thousand repetitions make one truth.” We’ve all been fooled on this one before. The songs have all been treated with an extraordinary sensitivity to what the western swing “sound” means. The singing is fluid and graceful, the instrumental work surefooted, precise, and sophisticated.
The first selection. ‘’I’ll Keep on Loving You,” starts with Ostroushko on Ostroushko—a lush multitrack double fiddle intro. Butch fills in gracefully behind Sean’s full-throated vocal; then it’s Dave’s turn. He teams up with Pete on a guitar and mandolin schottische vamp (which they later use as a comp for the last vocal chorus). Peter fiddles the bridge, then he and Dave do the out-chorus together. Peter fills on mandolin when Sean sings it again. “Dixie Cannonball” starts out low key enough, with Sean noodling and Butch doodling, then Tim doubles the time on the bass and the train starts to roll. Dave and Sean sing a verse each, split by a fiddle break and a high-gear clarinet ride, and the cut ends in style, with a guitar, fiddle and clarinet trio. Somehow there are enough tracks open for Dave to play rhythm on tenor guitar throughout. Nobody needs to take anybody to the “Land of Jazz”—they’re already there—enjoy, enjoy! Jimmie Rodgers’ hit, “Miss the Mississippi and You” gets an inspired vocal treatment from Sean, and Dave is everywhere on the guitar, playing unbeatable lead end fills. His forte, slow, sustained acoustic guitar gets another brilliant showcase in his solo on “Minstrel Boy,” an adaption of an old Irish tune he learned in the old Irish tradition—while riding on clouds of Jameson and Guinness. The side ends as it began, with the full quintet. Dave outdoes himself vocally, and lets everybody know the changes that will be made. Butch puts some fine piano and clarinet behind it, and Peter shines once more on fiddle. Watch out for Dave’s flight on the guitar before he is joined by Sean and Tim on the recap of the vocal.
Side two starts with Jerry Clark’s reminiscences of “Boomtown,” quite the place as the Sons of Knute say. Butch plays a splendid ragtime piano intro, then we hear Sean’s guitar played on the hot side, and later, Peter’s new-grass obbligato. More double-fiddle richness walks us into the shadow of the blues, as Sean sings another western tune of the type he does so well. “June Apple,” the old mountain tune, takes a trip to Boomtown in the hands of this gang. All bets are off after Dave’s opening Watson-styled guitar solo. Pete pulls out a lot of spooky stops on his mandolin break, Dave answers him, then we hear from Butch, and nobody’s ready for that. Dave’s last pass at the target is fraught with peril as a result, but he pulls it off perfectly. Sean tells everyone what’s real in his droll ditty, “Ya Gotta Have a Moustache,” then indulges a craving of nostalgia with “Sweet Moments.” Jerry Clark and Dakotey teamed up to write the next selection, undoubtedly the soberest out on the disc, “Minnesota Ground.” An anthem, it should be the State Song. The album rolls to a superb closing with Sean and Dave‘s own special treatment of the standard, ‘’I’ll See You in My Dreams.” I’ve never heard Dave or Sean sing or play better than they do on these sides. They’ve both outdone their previous recorded efforts by a substantial margin. It’s heartening to see growth of this type taking place, and I’m sure this won’t be the last time they make tracks.