Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bury Me Beneath the Willow

      I did a little jamming with my friend Michael "Beard" Bracht.  He has been trying to help me learn to jam rather than just play the melody.  In this video, I play the melody and then he does some improvisation on his mandolin.  I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wild Leeks in Talladega

Broad-leafed wild leeks (Allium ampeloprasum) that my lab mate found in Talladega National Forest.

      I was doing some field work in Talladega National Forest and my lab mate spotted a patch of broad-leafed wild leeks (Allium ampeloprasum)*!  We improvised some digging sticks to harvest a few, but we were sure to leave some to repopulate the patch.  The digging sticks worked pretty well, and unlike shovels, they don't chop bulbs into pieces.  They also leave the soil behind so the habitat isn't disturbed as much as it is when using shovels.  The leeks were very strong and spicy when raw, but had a pleasant flavor when cooked.  None of the leeks had flowers yet, and they appeared to be actively growing, so they should be around for a little while.   Readers in more northern states should have plenty of time to find them.  However, before you go out harvesting leeks, learn how to identify them.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Songs From' the Trail: Rocky Top on Rocky Top

Corn won't grow at all on Rocky Top
Dirt's to rocky by far
That's why all those folks on Rocky Top
Drink their corn from a jar
- Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, from "Rocky Top"

      A couple of weeks ago, my uncle requested this song.  So being the logical person I am, I grabbed my homemade banjo and some hiking stuff, picked up a friend, drove to the Smokies, hiked up to Rocky Top, and then recorded this song.  Well, that is not exactly what happened, but it sounds cooler this way (real trip report coming soon).  I don't need to write much because this song is widely known, but I will say that the banjo withstood the cruelty of the trail very well, and I would recommend one as a hiking banjo with only small changes (check back later for more on that).  Now that I have actually been to Rocky Top, I keep wondering why anybody would try to grow corn up there.  Of course it won't grow!  More songs and trail reports to come as soon as I get video and pictures from Jonathan.