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CD5 -

Howie Mitchell

I'm Sad and I'm Lonesome
Charlie
Lord Randall
Believe Me, If All Those Enduring
Bonnie Banks of the Virgie, O, Th
Charlie
Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes
Go Find My True Love
Henry King
I'm Sad and I'm Lonesome
Jealous Brothers, The
Kitty Alone
Lord Randall
Old Bangum (Baggum)
Rejected Lover, The
River, The
Soldier's Joy
Terrier Pup, The

This is the fellow who inspired a zillion mountain dulcimer players, the man who first added the extra fret at the six and a half position and increased the potential of the instrument by some incredible factor. Howie also sings and plays banjo and guitar here, but this is the recording that showed a lot people what a mountain dulcimer could do in the hands of a master. Get this and join the ranks of the inspired. Shucks, we'll even sell you a dulcimer, if you decide to enlist.





HOWIE MITCHELL
I was born in the small college town of Lexington, Virginia, in February, 1932. My early memories are of green rolling hills with blue mountains in the distance, the fun and fascination of collecting buckeyes, jumping in big piles of leaves, catching fish and frogs for the aquarium (which soon became overcrowded and was subsequently moved to the bathtub to accommodate the addition of some tadpoles and salamanders), and the sights, sounds and sensations from my visits to the farm near Chatham, Virginia, where my father grew up ,to become a medical doctor. There I learned some of the really IMPORTANT things, such as how to make a whistle from a willow switch, and a pop-gun from the hollowed branch of elderberry, the unforgettable flavor and odor of food cooked in a wood stove, fresh milk and home grown vegetables, sleeping in a goose-feather bed and being awakened by roosters and chickens at that early, magic time of the morning, and the very special warmth and quiet strength of people who make their living in the country.

I was a very shy and uncommunicative person as I reached my early teens, and was full of self-doubts and an acute awareness of my shortcomings. I was constantly fearful of having someone see me make a mistake, and I am sure that this is one good reason why I did not take well to piano lessons; I preferred to simply not practice at all, thereby providing some sort of an external excuse for my lack of proficiency. I did like to sing, however, and looked forward to the times when I met with the church choir for practice or for real. I also found myself responding to the radio programs presented at that time by Burl Ives, and by a performer who called himself "The Singing Cowboy", if I remember correctly. (Jules Allen - ed.) This was perhaps my first contact with music having the flavor of the old songs. When I heard a concert in high school by a ballad singer (Earle Spicer), I began to discover that this was a type of music that I could possibly make, f or myself, and which contained the warmth of simplicity, integrity, and subtle humor of homespun people that I had come to respect so much.

The first instrument I picked up was the guitar, which I played by using only the top four strings. When I went to Cornell to train for electrical engineering, I continued to learn about the guitar (adding the other two strings) and spent many pleasant hours singing with friends who had similar interests in traditional music. At a concert by Pete Seeger, I became aware of and excited by his presentation of some of the mountain styles of playing the five-string banjo, and I eventually began to listen to some of the recordings of the traditional musicians and to experiment with that instrument„ At about the same time, I heard and was very much attracted to the playing and singing of Jean Ritchie and Andrew Rowan Sommers; that was my first hearing of the plucked dulcimer of the Southern Mountains. It was soon after this that I met Dr. Asher Treat of Dumont, New Jersey, who showed and played for me the first dulcimer I had ever seen. As a direct result of that meeting, I became fascinated with an instrument that seems to make music at the slightest touch. It was only a few days later that I decided to make a dulcimer for myself, which I did with some success, and was thereby begun on an intense eight year search for a design that could somehow reach toward the optimum in my own concept of the instrument.

Soon after graduating from college, I was invited to join the Navy for twenty-one months, and managed to find the time and opportunity to construct two more dulcimers which were, as one might guess, quite a curiosity to my associates.
After my tour of active duty, I returned home for a few months, during which time I continued to make dulcimers -of all sorts of shapes and sizes, and to wrestle with my change of feeling from engineering to teaching as a possible career. I eventually joined a private college-preparatory school in Washington, D. C,, called the Hawthorne School, where I have taught mathematics and science, and was immediately delighted with my choice. It was there that I made twenty-eight dulcimers (#18 through #46) and perfected my approach to the subject enough to believe it meaningful to communicate some of the techniques of building and playing that instrument by means of a pamphlet and a recording. That work is still in the process of completion, but in the meantime, this first record should serve to introduce myself to those who are interested and to make them aware of a bit of ray style and texture of playing, and of my selection and interpretation of (mostly) traditional material.
Howie Mitchell Washington, D. C. November 1962


Side I, Band 1. I'M SAD AND I'M LONESOME

This wonderfully sad song is Howie's own variation of one sung (and published) by both Carl Sandburg and Burl Ives. The verses used here are a mixture of several songs, including "The Cuckoo" and "The Moonshiner" or "Rye Whiskey". The dulcimer accompaniment is typical of Howie's highly imaginative use of the instrument.


I'm sad and I'm lonesome.
My heart it will break;
My true love loves another,
Oh, I wisht I was dead.

I'm troubled, yes,
I'm troubled,, I'm troubled in my mind;
If this trouble don't kill me,
Oh God, I'll live a long time.

I'll build me a cabin
On the mountain so higb,
Where the blackbirds won't find me
Or hear my sad cry.

I'll go to the mountains,
I'll set up a still;
I'll sell you a gallon
For a two dollo bill.

God bless them moonshiners,
I wish they was mine;
Their breath is as sweet as
The dew on the vine.

The cuckoo she's a prettv bird.
She sings as she flies;
She brings us glad tidings
And she tells us no lies.

I'm sad and I'm lonesome.
My heart it will break;
My true love loves another,
Oh, I wisht I was dead.

    
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