Monday, November 8, 2010

Game Plan

Fix me up a double shot
Two barrels of espresso, hot
Pour it down my throat at dawn
And drag my ass out on the lawn
Stick a shovel in my hand
I swear I'll till up half the land

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mack the Nerd

Mack the Nerd was a man of few words,
his wife was a woman of plenty.
Wherever they went he would nod his assent,
and speak two or three words to her twenty.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Elizabeth Cook

"El Camino" my new favorite song:

we met these folks at the Albino Skunk Bluegrass Festival in SC last weekend, but actually we heard the song on the radio a month or two ago, and just didn't know who did it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sam Chatmon

No commentary needed. As Doc would say, "we turn now to the blues."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Doc Watson

I can't believe I never saw this before. That's all I have to say. That and "how the @#!& does he do this?"


Tuesday, September 14, 2010


We just got back from a great trip to Nashville, where we performed at the Americana Music Association Conference. We were honored to play a set at the World Famous Station Inn. I just found a Youtube video from our set (Thanks, HomerMFishbulb!).

And here are some other fabulous artists we met down in Music City.

Our soul sister, Nora Jane Struthers. She can write 'em and wail 'em:

A bunch of Nashville legends decided to make a band. They call themselves 18 South and they do it right. We'll be playing with them at the Albino Skunk Bluegrass Festival in October:

British-American-Scottish-Canadian bluegrass band, the Coal Porters:

Stalwart of Nashville's Lower Broadway music scene, Paul Burch:

Yeeee haw!


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ross's new song!

I just stumbled across a You Tube video from our show in Chicago last month. It's the first ever video of Ross's new song, The Heart of My Mind. The song is gorgeous, as is Zara's singing.



Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Frank Wakefield

Frank Wakefield is at least as crazy as he looks. And he looks pretty crazy. He's also largely responsible for my all-time-favorite bluegrass album "Red Allen with Frank Wakefield and the Kentuckians."

The first (and only) time I met him I spoke to him for 20 minutes, during which time he "backed talkwards" consistently without clarification. Then he handed me his nearly priceless Lloyd Loar mandolin (the one he famously baked in an oven and painted white) and disappeared for half an hour while he got changed for the show.

He has almost 200 videos on his youtube channel. I settled on this one because it happens to be the most recent. Check out some others for more pithy observations like "This microphone sounds more like it does than it did a while ago" and (to the audience) "This was fun, I hope you get invited back."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Some gems we've met this year...

This has been a whirlwind year for the Sweetback Sisters. We've traveled to west to California, Colorado, Michigan and south to Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina. We've eaten in a lot of gas stations, slept on a lot of couches, and met a lot of amazing musicians along the way. Here's a sampling of music from a few of the folks we have encountered so far in 2010. Enjoy!

We met Eddie Stubbs (in Nashville) and David McLaughlin (in West Virginia) of the Johnson Mountain Boys:

We met Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum in California:

We chilled with the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars at the Green River Festival in Greenfield, MA. And then they proceeded to kick some serious ass on stage:

We spent a lot of time with various members of Lake Street Dive, especially our lovely sister Bridget Kearney:

We didn't actually meet him, but Robert Plant did make a brief appearance at our Music City Roots show in Nashville. Someone told us that she overheard him saying he liked us. But he might have been talking about the biscuits...:

OK. That's just a start. More awesome videos to come.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Jesse Polka

This is totally going into the Sweetback Sisters' repertoire. You have to watch both videos. They really are the same tune!

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:


New River Train

After perusing dozens of youtube videos of various individuals performing "New River Train" I pronounce this guy the winner:

Andy Griffith gets an honorable mention:

Tony, Doc, Norman, et al... better luck next time.

Why am I watching hours worth of videos of this song? I'm glad you asked. I spent the week in Eggleston, VA recording an album at JoeBass's house, which is right next to the New River and its associated train. We occasionally had to wait for it to pass by before starting a take. I didn't record this song, but I did record two others that mention the New River Train (aka, the C&O Railway.)


Friday, August 20, 2010


I wrote an awesome poem today,
At least I saw it that-a-way.

My Girlfriend thought it was too rude,
The subject matter base and crude.

It was coarse, I will concede,
Perhaps a bit too much to read,

For persons of a tender age,
So you won't find it on this page,

My private thoughts, however witty,
Concerning the town of Johnson City.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

High Plains Drifters

Colorado's flat and dry, with mountains in the western sky.
Kansas is just flat and hot with no tall features I can spot.
Next we cross into Missouri. After that it all gets blurry.
Iowa? Then Illinois? That whole Midwestern ball of joy.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

the Primitive Quartet

For a moment I thought these guys had traveled back in time 30 years and stolen our arrangement of stormy waters, but it turns out it's a different song.

Great name too. I'm assuming they're Primitive Baptists, but maybe they 're just really old school guys?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Very Exciting News!

We just spent a couple of days in Philly cutting a single at Turtle Studios. Signature Sounds says they'll press it on 7" vinyl when it's done, (do we have the coolest record label or what?) but you 21st century types can also download it from the internets.

Just give us a few days to finish mixing and mastering, and then a month or so to get it pressed.

Let's see... oh yeah, the songs:
1)Be Back Home Tonight
2)I'll Show You Things You've Never Known

By the way I can't recommend Turtle highly enough, they did a great job, and it also happens to be Ross's main stomping ground, so if you need scorching electric guitar on your record (and trust me, you do) it won't be far away.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Festivals!

I feel very lucky to have been a part of the summer music festival circuit these past few years. Every one of these festivals feels like part dance party, part family reunion, part resort vacation, and part luxurious concert. One of the best parts is that we get a chance to discover and listen to new bands from around the country. I think the group favorite so far is Los Fabulocos from California. None of the YouTube videos really do them justice. But here's one anyway:

So far this summer we've been to the Noreast'r Festival in Michigan, the Live Oak Festival in California and the Huntington Summer Arts Festival in New York. Up next, the Central PA Festival of the Arts in State College, PA; Grey Fox in Oak Hill, NY and Green River in Greenfield, MA. Does the fun never end?

Here's a picture that our friend Beth took of us backstage at Live Oak:

And one from onstage, too:

I hope we see YOU at one of these festivals soon.


Monday, June 14, 2010


I was born on Skyles Creek,
With one pale white and one rosy cheek.

* * *

Ten toes is just 4 too many,
If I had six that would be plenty.

* * *

In the City of Virginia Beach,
Everybody's hair is bleached.

* * *

Living in a suitcase, eating at the bar,
Picking and a-grinning, riding in the car.

* * *

Crazy people are dating my friend,
not one or two, but a whole slew of them.

* * *

Some of these were meant to be parts of longer rhymes or songs, but I think they're better off on their own.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Feeling Worse (Better?)

I know it's the same song as the last one, but the video quality's way better.
Thanks Buck!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Regions Bank

Regions Bank's a bunch of scammers
Two-bit frauds and cheap flim-flammers
Ripped me off at every turn it
Seems they don't hold cash they burn it.


Monday, May 17, 2010

the Red Stick Ramblers

We were very excited to learn that we're going to be playing with these guys at the Green River Festival, since their two albums pretty much take turns in our cd player these days.

one of my favorites:


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sometimes I Feel Different

Look at you with your fancy shoes,
Your tailored clothes, and your fresh looking 'do.

Look at me!
I live in a tree!
In a t-shirt that hangs to the top of my knees!


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Listen At Your Own Risk

I heard this on the radio a few days ago, and went and looked it up on Youtube. If you listen to this you will spend the next week walking around bobbing your head and singing "Living on Tulsa Time... Living on Tulsa time... da dad dum de da dum de da da da... Living on Tulsa Time"

You've been warned, my bandmates weren't so fortunate.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Asheville on the Eve of May

I don't have a dirty mind,
the girls are there, and I ain't blind,
but lusting is a mortal crime,
so I'm not even looking.

The girls today are out in force,
in halter tops and denim shorts,
But most of them have men of course,
And I'm not even looking.

In Asheville on the eve of May,
it seems like summer's here to stay,
and love is in the air today,
I'm sure there'll some takers.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Squirrel Ain't Chicken Too

Squirrel ain't chicken too,
Squirrel ain't chicken too,
Squirrels are made of protein,
You can put them in shampoo,
You can put them in shampoo.

Pig ain't chicken neither,
Pig ain't chicken neither.
Bacon grease makes good shampoo,
So give your squirrels a breather,
Give your squirrels a breather.

* * *

Title track for the new album perhaps?

P.S. I think I might owe Peter Bitenc for the line "squirrel ain't chicken too"

Thursday, April 22, 2010

650 AM WSM

We were on Music City Roots in February, and they just posted some videos. We made sure we got to stand in front of mic stands that said "650 AM" and I got Eddy Stubbs's autograph afterwards.

Ross played a great solo on this one. Where does he come up with this stuff? check it out.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Culinary Advice

Ramps are not a condiment, they are the main course,
You just season them with bacon or some other fatty source,
No need to chop them up, like an onion or a leek,
You should eat a great big mess so people shudder when you speak.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Feeling Bad (Good)

A dear friend of the band just unearthed a fantastic video from Youtube of our show this weekend at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe, PA! It's tough to get good footage of a live show, but the acoustics of the opera house rose to the occasion. Finally a video worth writing home about!

Thanks user: mchsjtams

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Farewell NY

With last night came the final performance of our January Living Room Residency. It was great to play regularly at such an NYC club staple. But the quick turnaround does leave you feeling a little like cattle when there's no interaction or relation between the post and previous acts of the night. Ah well, music is music, and the show must go on, and so on.

Overall it was a good experience. The sound guys were always nice enough, and the bar tenders tolerated our rock star antics:

"Can I have three pint glasses of water?"
"No ice."

Yeah, we're pretty baddass around here.

Doesn't look like we'll be returning to NY for a couple of months. So make sure you get your fill at the show @ Jalopy in Redhook this Sunday!!! We will be sharing the stage with the incredible edible Moxie Block. Words do not describe this woman, but an adorable hand-made website will: WWW.MOXIEBLOCK.COM

See you then Brooklyn...


Monday, January 25, 2010

It was nice to see you, Pennsylvania!

Things that happened this week:
1) Zara and Stefan got iPhones, increasing the band's ratio of iPhone-owners-to-people-who-can't-check-their-email-in-the-van from 1:5 to 3:3.
2) We played our second show of our January residency at the Living Room
3) I schooled Peter Bitenc in Scrabble. Boo yeah!
4) We opened for Eilen Jewell at the Sellersville Theater
5) We all tasted quail for the first time. Thank you, Sellersville Theater, for buying us dinner at that lovely restaurant!
6) We played a really fun show at the Mauch Chunk Opera house.
7) I learned about how Jim Thorpe, PA got it's name (it was once Mauch Chunk, PA). I won't retell the story here, but you can check out the Wikipedia article.

Here are some pictures of our adventures...

Stefan reads a book backstage:

For the uninitiated, Stefan is ALWAYS reading a book. He reads during rehearsals, when he's eating, when he's driving (no, just kidding, that would be dangerous. He listens to books on tape when he's driving). It's a compulsion.

Jesse warms up in Jim Thorpe:

I learn how Mauch Chunk became Jim Thorpe:
Performing in the town formerly known as Mauch Chunk, PA (at the lovely Mauch Chunk Opera House):

Thanks to Jerry Hoare for the bottom three pictures at the Mauch Chunk Opera House and to Ross Bellenoit for the artsy iPhone pic of Stefan.


Very late Christmas show update

Here's a super late recap of our Christmas shows in December:

1) So much fun!
2) So much Christmas cheer!
3) One good Jingle Cats reference
4) See you next year!

Here's a video from a pre-show rehearsal in the basement of Jalopy:

Till we meet again, fair readers!