Tim Eriksen: Wayfaring Stranger





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Uploaded on Aug 12, 2009


By request, from a midnight concert in the church on the square in Namest nad Oslavou, Czech Republic, July 24-25, 2009. There's an exterior shot of the church and square at the end of the video.

This is one of those songs that's been done to death, but it's still pretty great. I sing it most often out of the Sacred Harp, but I performed it with Dirk Powell and Riley Baugus as part of our set on the Great High Mountain Tour a couple years back. Jack White joined us when we played the Fox Theater in Detroit, which was fun.

In pop music circles, wobbly singing is understood to signify honesty, authenticity and a connection to "everyman," a term T Bone Burnett used in describing Jack's voice when we were working on the film Cold Mountain. I don't mean to dis either of them- they're both perfectly suited to their own areas of work, much of which I think is really excellent. But when it comes to folk/traditional/Americana/roots or whatever I'm looking forward to a time when it's no longer generally assumed that in the old days the regular people, whoever they were, must have sung in a kind of wobbly monotone, perhaps as a result of a rocking chair injury or all the grainy black and white barn photographs to which they had been exposed.

The image at the beginning of the video is a stand of beeches in the White Carpathians near Veseli nad Moravou.

The banjo is an extremely ornate and well made open back by the Czech maker Jarda Prucha. http://www.pruchabanjos.cz/

Thanks to Dusan Sviba for getting hold of it and to Vlada Ptacek and Eliska for bringing it to the festival and letting me play it all week!

I think the Czechs have as much a claim to bluegrass as we do by now. It's played such an important role in their recent cultural history...

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