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      Off to California

            Music from the Gold Rush Era

Hard Times in the Promised Land
Now Available at CDBABY!Hard Times in the Promised Land CD Cover
Recorded June-August, 2006
Produced by Andy Alexis and Dorothy Hawkinson

The banjo and the guitar tabs require the free tabledit viewer, available here.

Liner Notes:

Sweet Betsy in the Parlor - Hear it -- Banjo Tab
An instrumental version of the well-known gold rush song, Sweet Betsy from Pike. We imagine a polite Victorian parlor back in "the States," as people contemplate their journey west with no idea what’s in store. 
Banjo: Andy Alexis
Fiddle: Dorothy Hawkinson

Promised Land Hear it -- Lyrics
A gospel number from the Sacred Harp and shape note singing traditions of the deep South. Our verses are drawn from several different shape note hymns. The gold country can be seen as a metaphor for the promised land.
Vocals: Andy Alexis, Dorothy Hawkinson, Alan Fuller

The Arrival ©Andrew A. Alexis (ASCAP)Hear it -- Banjo Tab
A tune of cautious optimism on the fretless banjo.
Gut String Banjo: Andy Alexis

Miss EllaHear it -- Lyrics - Banjo Tab
History reports few female miners, but this one’s documented in song. The music comes from Nelly Bly, a song by Stephen C. Foster.
Lead Vocal and Guitar: Alan Fuller
Fiddle and Harmony Vocal: Dorothy Hawkinson
Banjo and Harmony Vocal: Andy Alexis

Tater Patch/Kitchen GirlHear it -- Tunes - Banjo Tab
Two Appalachian fiddle tunes, our homage to the women who earned a good living running boarding house kitchens for the miners, bringing them a welcome taste of home.
Fiddle: Dorothy Hawkinson
Guitar: Alan Fuller
Banjo: Andy Alexis

Sweet Betsy from Pike Hear it -- Lyrics
The famous tale of Betsy and Ike from Pike County, written by John A. Stone, known as "Old Put." His traveling shows were a big hit in the mining camps. Old Put is buried not far from Coloma.
Vocal: Alan Fuller

Trudging up the South Fork ©Dorothy A. Hawkinson (Fleur de Lys Music, ASCAP)
Hear it -- Tune - Guitar Tab
A bluesy hornpipe in tribute to all those miners who slogged their way through muck and rock on the South Fork of the American River, searching for a little flash in the pan.
Fiddle: Dorothy Hawkinson
Guitar: Alan Fuller
Bottleneck Guitar: Andy Alexis

Wayfaring StrangerHear it -- Lyrics -- Banjo Tab
Another well-known gospel number from the Sacred Harp tradition and it’s chock full of lonely.
Lead Vocal: Dorothy Hawkinson
Flamenco Guitar and Harmony Vocal: Alan Fuller
Banjo and Harmony Vocal: Andy Alexis

Few Days Hear it -- Lyrics
Based on a spiritual with lyrics relevant to a miner’s plight He’s had about as much as he can bear.
Guitar and Lead Vocal: Alan Fuller
Harmony Vocals: Andy Alexis and Dorothy Hawkinson

Alone and Lonely (Im Aonar Seal)Hear it -- Tune
An old Irish air from around the time of Napoleon and an apt description for how many miners felt.
Fiddle: Dorothy Hawkinson
Flamenco Guitar: Alan Fuller

Hard TimesHear it -- Lyrics
Stephen Foster was at the height of his popularity when he wrote Hard Times. It certainly epitomized life for most in the mining camps, even if they were not fortunate enough to even have a cabin or a door.
Guitar, Gut String Banjo, and Lead and Harmony Vocals: Andy Alexis
Fiddle: Dorothy Hawkinson
Harmony Vocal: Alan Fuller

Ingrian Polka/Kuppari Eeva Hear it -- Tune - Banjo Tab
Two polkas--the first, from Inkeri, a region in the western part of Russia which is home to many people of Finnish origin, the second, from Finland. A kuppari in earlier times was a midwife, a type of rural nurse, a bloodletter who used a sharp tool to release blood in the belief it helped high blood pressure and other ailments.
Fiddle: Dorothy Hawkinson
Banjo: Andy Alexis
Flamenco Guitar: Alan Fuller

O Death Hear it -- Lyrics
First comes the enumeration of the horrible things death will do, then the begging and pleading with death not to do them. Recorded and transcribed versions of this song first appear in the early 20th century; it’s probably older in folk and religious traditions.
Vocal: Andy Alexis

Pennknivsmördaren (The Penknife Murderer) Hear it -- Tune
A sextondelspolska–16th note polska–we learned from the playing of one of our favorite Swedish groups, Väsen. It’s said that a fiddler named Erlandsson, who served 10 years in prison for committing murder with a penknife, played this tune.
Fiddle and Hardingfele: Dorothy Hawkinson
Flamenco Guitar: Alan Fuller
Guitar: Andy Alexis

La Llorona (The Wailing Woman) Hear it -- Lyrics -- Tune
The Mexican legend tells of a dark woman, her Spanish lover and their children, whom she killed when her left her for another. She threw the children in a river and now haunts places where rivers flow. The ballad is more poetic and vague in its lyrical allusions to the legend.
Flamenco Guitar and Vocal: Alan Fuller
Hardingfele: Dorothy Hawkinson