Better Late Than Never
MARY McCASLIN Mary McCaslin represents an unbroken link between traditional folksingers and today's "new folk" singer-songwriters. Her music ranges from ballads of the old west to her own songs of the new west and modern times. Regarded as a pioneer of open guitar tunings, and known for her distinctive vocal style, Mary's influences can be heard in many younger folk performers. She is also known for her haunting renditions of pop standards and rock classics, such as "Ghost Riders In The Sky", "The Wayward Wind", the Beatles' "Things We Said Today", and the Supremes' "My World Is Empty". Her versions of the Beatles' "Blackbird" and the Who's "Pinball Wizard" are made more unique by her "clawhammer" banjo accompaniment. Mary's musical influences are as varied as her repertoire: The western ballads of Marty Robbins, the guitar playing of Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, the singing and banjo playing of Hedy West, and the vocal inflections of the Beatles and the BeeGees. Her songs have been recorded by Tom Russell ("Prairie In The Sky"), Bill Staines ("Prairie In The Sky"), Chris Williamson ("Circle Of Friends"), David Bromberg ("Young Westley"), Kate Wolf ("The Ballad Of Weaverville"), Stan Rogers ("Down The Road") and others. The Grand Canyon Railroad has used her song "Last Cannonball" for it's promotional television ad. BETTER LATE THAN NEVER Acres of Houses was inspired by a visit to the "rural" area outside of Burlington, Vermont a few years ago. In the 1970s and early 1980s I recorded at the Philo Records Barn in North Ferrisburg, which is south of Burlington. Back then it was almost all farmland and houses were few and far between. During this visit my friend, singer and musician Rik Palieri, took me for a drive to show me how things had changed. Like everywhere else, houses are sprouting up where fields used to be. • The Lights of Spartanburg was written after the death of singer-songwriter Walter Hyatt, who was killed in the Value Jet crash in 1996. Singers Robin and Linda Williams were old friends with Walter. Returning home from a show the night of the crash, they happened to be driving past his hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina when they heard the news on the radio that Walter was among the dead.They could see the lights of Spartanburg in the distance. • Unchained Melody is a song I've always loved. Most people associate it with the Righteous Brothers, but it has actually been around since the 1950s. • One of my great inspirations as a singer and banjo player is the late Hedy West.This arrangement of Bei Mir Bist Du Schön is a sort of "Hedy West Meets the Andrews Sisters." • Mike Beck is a working cowboy who is also a marvelous singer-songwriter. He caught the real feeling of the Bakersfield Sound in Oildale. • Jim Ringer wrote Sabres and Guns and performed it on stage, but never got to record it.This is one of my favorite of his songs. A few years after his death I found a copy of the lyrics and started singing it. Soon it became obvious to me that it needed more of an ending, so I added the last verse. • Standing in the Doorway was inspired somewhat by Bob Simpson's song "Cornerstone Cowboy," which is on the Prairie in the Sky album. Steve Netsky put the melody to my lyrics. • The arrangement of Losing End heard here is based on how I remember it being played by Robb Strandlund and Larry Blom.This is one of my favorite Neil Young songs. • It is a heartbreaking fact that children disappear every year and are never seen alive again. Often, after a search that takes months or years, sometimes reaching an international level, the remains of the child are found within less than a couple of miles of home.The idea for Missing came to me after one of these tragedies. • You've Forgotten is a very early Jackson Browne song. It's among a number of great songs that he wrote in the beginning of his career and never got around to recording. • This is my third recording of the late Hoyt Axton's great anti-war song To Some Cool Blue Iced Shore. Somehow it never appeared on any of his recordings.The guitar part here is the closest I've come to Hoyt's playing on the "demo" of this song I was given back in the 1960s. • Jim Ringer learned California Joe from his cousin and grandmother and he recorded it in 1972 on his Folk Legacy album,Waitin' for the Hard Times to Go. His family had a wealth of old songs that were handed down through the generations. California Joe was originally a poem written by Captain Jack Crawford and published in his 1886 book,The Poet Scout. The melody Jim uses is particularly beautiful.This song is for the Ringer and Tinkler families, for Debbie Shockley, who presented me with a copy of the Poet Scout and for my husband, Greg, who encouraged me to record it. - Mary McCaslin • October, 2006 GEORGE WINSTON "A great composer and interpreter." TOM RUSSELL 'Mary McCaslin is an inspiration' DIRTY LINEN MAGAZINE "- a sage writer, warmly expressive singer and exquisite player." SING OUT! MAGAZINE "- a songwriter's songwriter.' NEW ENGLAND FOLK ALMANAC 'McCaslin's real-life western songs and earthy romanticism were profoundly influential among songwriters in the '70s. Too often overlooked is the great impact her guitar playing also had on the acoustic scene." L. A. TIMES (feature on mystery writer Walter Mosley) "Mosley is a conundrum who pulls from Louis Armstrong and folk singer Mary McCaslin with equal fervor and fascination.' Larry Kelp - KPFA, Berkeley. 'She sounds as if she had risen out of the Western soil and became it's voice.' SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY MARY McCASLIN MUSIC - 'Better Late Than Never' - Mary McCaslin Music MMM001 PHILO/ROUNDER - 'A Life And Time' - Flying Fish FLY203 ( CD re-issue) "Things We Said Today, The Best Of" - Philo 1149 (compilation of early Philo recordings) "Broken Promises" - Philo 1160 (1994 release of new material) "Way Out West" - Philo 1011 (CD re-issue) "Prairie In The Sky - Philo 1024 (CD re-issue) "Old Friends" - Philo 1046 (CD re-issue) "The Bramble & The Rose" - Philo 1055 (CD re-issue of duet recording with Jim Ringer) BEAR FAMILY - "Rain - The Lost Album" - BCD 16232AH (1967-8 Capitol unreleased recordings) SWEET BRIAR RECORDS - "Girls from Santa Cruz" - DVD and CD of concert with Lacy J. Dalton and Ginny Mitchell - Mitchell/Collins Productions LPs (currently unavailable) "Sunny California" - Philo 1099 (re-issue of 1979 Mercury LP) "Goodnight Everybody" - Barnaby 212 35002.