CRANE - On Record or On Stage
Her first record was “Dirt Pushers Blues” released in 1976 on Philo / Fretless Records / Fretless 121 Stereo
Recorded at Earth Audio in North Frerrisburg, Vermont.
Produced by-Joan Crane
Engineered by Gregg Lamping
Photos by Arlin Bartlett
Joan Crane-vocals, guitar and banjo
Junior Barber-dobro and back up guitar on June Apple,
Celia Strebendt-piano on My Eggs
Kelly-harmony vocal on Drunkard’s Lament, When First Unto This
Country, and Dirt Pushers Blues
album is for Mom and for Barb, whose assistance and
persistence made it all possible. And especially for
Dave Brown, who has done so much and has been a very
thanks to Junior Barber, Celia Strebendt and Lita Kelly
for their fine assistance and to Bill Schubart for
showing a lot of faith.
Bye Baby Blues (Little Hat Jones)
River Blues (Delmore Brothers)
First Unto this Country (Traditional Arrangement)
Eggs Don’t Taste the Same Without You (Jonathan
Glenn Music / Hastings Music)
Alley Blues (Robert “Rabbit” Brown and written
March 11, 1927)
Apple (Traditional Arrangement)
Blues (Blind Willie McTell) 1928
Satisfied (Mississippi John Hurt)
Rag (Big Bill Broonzy)
Lament (Traditionnel Arrangement)
Virginia Blues (Traditional Arrangement)
Pushers Blues (Joan Crane)
Review: Thirty Years Later
almost thirty years later, as the date of this review is
July 10, 2005 and next year the album will officially be
reason this review took so long is because I don’t
remember the album
being widely available or accessible to fans like
myself. I’m sure it was sold at her concerts but it
seems to be a scarce item in general. In fact I bought
two copies of this album just for safe keeping, both
were found on ebay, one came from Massachusetts and the
other from Oregon. I acquired them both five years
apart, and I consider that to meet the criteria of
“few and far between” in anyone’s book.
heard Joan’s name in association with the Adirondack
artists that I was listening to at the time in the
1980’s like Christopher Shaw and his wife Bridget
Ball. I first got to see Joan play live in a public
situation at Schroon Lake; On our local television station WMHT on a
show produced by the station, called “The Daughter In
Music an Acoustic Journey” around 1990; and then on
radio station WXLE.
the “Daughters In Music”
Joan performs the following numbers:
“Chauffer Blues”-Memphis Minnie (Tennessee)
popular song in the 1930’s and 1940’s) (3:35)
called “Foothills” using Delta Blues chords and
the Piedmont Rag Time Beat (2:20)
Roll Morton’s “Michigan Water” with special
guest bass player Miss Linda Brown on upright bass
Reverend Gary Davis rag song (2:45) Joan calls just
“Have Fun Song” again with Linda Davis on
upright bass (this is a prime example of what happy
blues sounds like)
(this song was in place of a Sippy Wallace
tune that was on the set list)
An Instrumental called “Ode To Robert J.” (Johnson)
and done in open G tuning ( this is a wonderful
example of sad blues) (3:05)
Blake Blues Song called “The West Coast Blues”
3:20 Eastern Rag Time Blues done to perfection by
Joan…and these six songs conclude her set.
a big fan of Joan’s I can now tell you it took me
three years to track her down. As she travelled from New
York State to Noblesville, Indiana, to the Midwest and
through the American heartland and back to New York
State again. She’s covered quite a bit of ground in
the last fifteen years, since the release of the last cd
of hers that I bought and added to my collection in 1995
Since then she has released one more called "Back
Home" which was released in 2002.
was thanks to Susan Hamlin, that I was able to get in
touch with Joan and start a positive and fruitful dialog
with this great woman hero of mine and friend of the
to 1976 and Joan Crane:
of all I’m impressed with one bit of information on
her album liner notes, “Produced By Joan Crane”.
A solo artists, her first album and she produces
the recording? She must be very special and extremely
talented. In retrospect that’s an understatement.
was going to offer up a track by track assessment of
this album but I now find that would be an adventure in
futility, so allow me to give you an overview of
Joan’s early work.
basic Joan, it’s from her heart and soul and it still
holds up perfectly. There’s nothing overly spectacular
nor is there meant to be. It’s a collection that needs
to be listened to in its entirety, because if it was
divided up into its individual components
miss the importance of
the music and the message therein.
sounds comfortable and relaxed, her style shines
beautifully. It’s a great representation of her at her
roots, but unlike some other artists, that may be
embarrassed to be looking back, I feel Joan can be proud
of the effort she put forth and the hard work that lies
banjo playing is as exceptional and her guitar work but
its her vocals that hold it all together.
may sound simple but her instrumentals need no vocals,
as some people can’t even play very interesting
instrumentals and you find yourself begging for some
vocals just to end the boredom. Joan is just the exact
opposite, you wish her intricate guitar work would never
come to its inevitable conclusion. I believe that I
could listen to a complete double album of Joan’s
handiwork and never fell uninspired or unmoved by her
heartfelt talent and energy.
That’s the whole of it, she lays it down and
you either pick up on it or you just simply choose to
not expend a little energy
to really enjoy her subtle humour and the respect
she’s giving to other great players of the past.
this album, her vocals are explicitly clear, strong in
the dynamic sense but not overdone in the delivery or
the message. In short it offers the listener a wonderful
ride and she delivers you to a better place.
album ends on a positive note with Joan’s own
contribution called “Dirt Pushers Blues” which puts
a smile on my face every time I hear it.
just glad I have two copies in my collection. Great
representation of her “musical craftwork”.
1995 CD Format
by: Jeff Townsend
and Mixed by: Charles Ebie and Jeff Townsend
doesn’t get any better than this, it’s a must buy
and definite must have from Joan Crane.
songs that walk hand in hand along to a happy end. In
true Joan Crane style, each tune contains its own energy
and relies on nothing extra to make the magic happen.
Collectively it’s a damn powerhouse of activity.
Emotionally it’s all excitement, with an abundance of
limitless talent and just good down home fun, all rolled
1. Hard Time Killing Floor (3:31)
- written by Skip James
It’s as real and haunting as
Robert Johnson’s “Love In Vain”,
“Midnight Rider” and has the same cold
chill as “Snowblind Friend” and
“Desperation” that John Kay and Steppenwolf performed with great
voice rides the emotional tide between Skip James sad
story and her own expressive playing. When there’s a
ray of light and possible, or hope being offered in the
song Joan expresses it perfectly by adding just enough
power to her voice to represent that brief glimmer and
desire to get out of that desperate state of sad affairs.
But just as quick, she can fade back into a sullen mood
of hopelessness, despair and total darkness.
When I say darkness, let me be explicit, picture
Starless and Bible Black.
quietly moans and groans in complete sincerity,
her voice cries for mercy and redemption, where
none is coming, as the lyrics talk about going from door
to door and hard times on the killing floor. Hard times,
like you’ve never seen before, and most of us these
days, can only imagine or have read about the account,
third or fourth hand. But the music is the historic
telling and is always first hand news, first generation
the background is some great harmonica work and a kind
of graveyard howl that’ll send chills up and down your
spine. Never has Joan sounded better, stronger and been
in better form than right here. She is consistent in her
playing and vocals which makes the intent / feeling of
the song perfectly clear, and the sad message she’s
singing about all too real. While the music is creating
an atmosphere of confusion, muddled thoughts and
hopelessness with no hope of exit, comfort or happy
solution. Life vs. Death….have mercy on my soul…don’t
let me be misunderstood….I’m just a soul who’s
intentions are good… and the whole song quietly
screams out…how the hell did I get here and what did I
do to deserve this?
voice alone and vocals in particular express are calming
and resolved, while at the same time passionately
expressing death from personal misfortune. In fact the
very instruments that are supporting this song are, in
and of themselves dying slowly to the ending to create
the effect of life fading away. In the human condition,
there’s nothing for a soul to do under these
dire circumstances and conditions except to offer
consent, as death has no mercy but sadly it does become
a welcomed final solution.
music slows down and down some more, as Joan gives a few
last guitar chords of hope, then the light fades and
it’s over…the spirit dies, heart stops, the body
becomes a worthless shell … hard times drive you to
the killing floor…and you can’t get through the door
no more. Salvation is free, God is waiting, and your
done wanting more out of this life.
stops, and you look for a friendly hand to guide you
through to the other side and into eternity.
last chord is the cold slapping end, the cut, as life
and time run out together.
done, perfect timing, flawless performance by everyone
involved, a real work of art.
It Must Be Love 2:57 - Blind Willie McTell
Only Joan Crane could start an album with the
most bitter and depressing of tunes and then go in the
exact opposite direction and pull it off with flying
colours. After “Hard Time Killing Floor” this next
song comes flying right out of the chute at supersonic
tune bounces and bounces along and nothing’s going to
stop it. You get the distinct impression that Joan
herself is a die-hard romantic at heart, as her hearts
in this song and you can hear her smiling throughout. It
swings and it works, but it’s over way too soon.
is right on the money, she’s on top of the music and
the message is clear. Her vocals are also exceptionally
clear and pronounced. Stewart Hemingway does some great
piano work throughout and the whole song. The song is so
damn happy and energetic that this cd is now back in
full balance and the listener is hooked and enthralled,
and this is only the second track.
Foothills (Instrumental) 2:44 - Original Arrangement by
it’s the title track but it’s more than that. The
first song was the deepest of blues, the second was a
bouncy barn burner and now this puts it all back into
the neutral zone. A beautiful little ditty which reminds
me of Duane Allman’s “Little Martha” as this too
is a consummate Joan
Crane signature tune and thankfully it finally found a
Back to the Woods 4:10 - by Charlie Spand
piano work, smooth vocals by Joan top shelf sultry and
sassy. Nothing is rushed, except the message in the
lyrics where her man insists at 4:00 am that she pack
her things and go. So she’s going back to the friendly
woods and to the river (both real and symbolic for
cleansing and refreshing the soul)
and have a little good cry for herself, as
she’s got nothing to loose as no one here treats her
any good anyway, she sings.
music is elegant and Joan’s timing is perfect her
attitude is reflective and positive rather than sullen.
Realistic for sure, as anyone who knows anything about
Joan knows she’s a fighter / survivor and you can’t
keep her down for very long. I also feel that she’s
headed back to the trusty woods on more than one
occasion for some solace and peace of mind.
it’s that jazzy piano that really makes it work, Mose
Allison, Count Basie and Duke Ellington
would all be proud.
Don’t Know 3:45 - Jim Gauder
A quiet little tune about a little bit of
everything. A story about trying to stay in balance when
so many opposing issues seem to be going against you. In
the end none of it really matters, if you live to be one
hundred there’s bigger fish to catch and fry, the
moral is don’t get all hung up in the small details,
keep looking forward.
it hard when you stumble and you got no place to fall,
or when you mumble when it’s your big call? Joan finds
that second fiddles rarely get a second chance, but she
doesn’t care, she wants to blow out all the candles
and dance the night away. She ends by having a little
secret and she’ll let you in on it, but only if you
have a secret to tell her too.
whole song works because it flows and has a life of its
own, it’s a slick little adventure, that let’s you
know you’re not alone…it happens to us all…the
question is how do you bounce back? The quicker you can
adjust to adverse situations, is the real value of spunk
and good character traits…or was that experience?
Come Back Baby 3:32 - Traditional Arrangement
Once again Joan is calling for her baby to
let’s talk it over one more time she says. The music
is slow 2:00 am barroom blues, with only a handful of
fans left in the place. It reminds me of Jimi
Hendrix’s “Belly Button Window” the only thing
missing is the sound of the drunks dropping their
glasses and bottles on the wooden floor.
says, “If I could just holler like a mountain jack,
I’d climb the mountain and call my baby back…come
back baby let’s talk it over one more time”.
She loves him, more than he’ll ever know.
Put your elbows on the table and slowly tap your
foot to this song, hang your head and cry, just a little.
sings about that old train engineer with deep sadness as
if he’s the one who stole her man away, but it’s
Joan vocals that make the song weep and moan, then again
she’s got enough power in her plea to make the story
even more believable,
she’s convinced me she’s in pain and in definite,
deep emotional distress.
Marked For The Blues 3:23 Instrumental
Arrangement by Joan Crane
is a typical Joan Crane song, and she’s at her best,
but I love everything she does so that disqualifies me
from the start. Let’s put it in this fashion, control
over your instrument and being consistent in the pace of
your playing is more important than filling in all the
empty spaces with notes. In true art, shade and shadow
are what makes the overall effect work and become real
art in the first place. Joan is the master straight-man
(so to speak) in her own artistic creativity. She could
really care less about being in the lime light, her goal
is to make sure it comes off without a hitch and that
the audience is well aware that they need to be
participants and not just spectators, they are an
essential part of the whole.
this aspect of Rag Time and Jazz music from the 20’s
and 30’s, I’m also learning that just maybe Joan,
being the highly intelligent performer she is, is also
very aware of the silent film
stars of the day as well. She has the insight and
talent to be diverse enough to cover it all with style
and class. That’s why for me, this makes her, the
“Quiet Genius Queen of the acoustic guitar”.
you Joan, for having the intestinal fortitude (guts) and
intuition to stay true to herself, keep honest and keep
the memory of its originators alive and well throughout.
James Alley Blues 5:00 - Richard “Rabbit” Brown
Joan covered this song back in 1976 on her first
album, but once again this song seems to be her signature / trademark. Once again it’s
her voice that makes it sound so real, and once again
(in the song) she’s being given the old heave-ho from
some unappreciative man in her life (of course as Joan
is interrupting the song and making it all her own).
Sugar for sugar and salt for salt, men are so damned
hard to please she sings. She was born in the country
and he thinks she’s so easy to rule, he thinks he will
hitch her to a wagon and drive her like a mule. If you
don’t want me why not just tell me so, its not like
she’s some poor gal that’s got no place to go she
sings. It’s Joan and her guitar telling the story, no
frills, no bells and whistles just straight forward
excellent playing and vocals. Damn if she doesn’t make
you think this song is an autobiographical
account of her life. I think from listening to
her live recordings that Joan personifies the tough
ballsy broad, who wears her heart on her sleeve, gives
the shirt off of her back, comfort when you need it but
who always finds herself in unfortunate situations due
to the fact that gets involved….. that’s Joan,
always involved…life is never boring.
Tired of Being Mistreated 3:07 - Clifford Gibson
I wouldn’t spend a quarter to save your
You fooled me once and you fooled me twice, you fooled
me to the point I want to take my life, you can tell
everybody I’m down on you.
is a great example of Joan’s outstanding ability to
choose material that works perfectly for her. In fact,
this whole cd is chock full of grade “A” number one
stock material. With lyrics like these, they’re
guaranteed to hit their intended mark.
is in complete control, the background finger snapping
is agreeable and adds that personal touch to the song,
it takes the place of a congregation at a black Baptist
saying ya brother, speak the gospel, testify the truth,
and can I get a witness! Amazing that a little finger
snapping can say all that, but it’s true—you can’t
miss the point, it’s saying wake up.
I’m Bettin´On You 3:05 - by Hudson Whitittker
A jazzy little
number, great piano work, strong
vocals by Joan, it’s a nice little shuffle.
“Fan that thing, try to keep it cool” nice
Lightnin´Hopkins line that Joan takes full advantage of
by adding her husky, sultry style to an already implicit
line. Then in another line, Joan states, “Let’s
throw a party let’s have some fun you bring
hotdogs cause I’ve got the funds” Joan
can’t keep a straight face as you can hear a little
chuckle in her voice after she sings that line…use
your own imagination. I love the innuendo that, she
implies, it makes her cute and even more desirable. In
my humble opinion, this song should have been ten
minutes long, as I was disappointed to hear it come to
an end. Just as it starts getting warmed up it’s over,
such a shame.
Doc’s Guitar 2:38 - A. Watson
Every time I hear this tune, it’s got Leo
Kottke, John Fayhe and Jorma Kaukonen written all over
it. Nice to see they all got their influences out of the
same deep well. Joan is as good as any of them, trust me
on this, she plays with so much passion and style she
deserves an award.
Yes, in 1994 she won the Riverbank Festival Folk Music
Festival in Boston, as she performed for the “National
Guitar Luthiers Symposium” while earning the
distinguished honour to be the only woman to do so, and
was introduced on stage by no other than Mr. Chris
I’m Just An Old Chunk Of Coal 4:11
Billy Joe Shaver
This song has been pulled from this cd and made
available on other compilations, so it’s safe to say
many people take this to be the strongest song on the
cd. I beg to differ, but I can understand why it was
chosen. It’s up and it’s bouncy and it’s full of
hope, faith, and optimistic promise. The message is
really self explanatory, coal under extreme pressure
becomes a diamond and we’re all rough diamonds just
waiting to shine brightly. Or in the words of Ian
Anderson “did you ever feel that everyone was on stage
and you’re the only one sitting in the audience”.
They’re shining and you’re the chunk of coal,
sitting as patiently as Job, and
waiting your turn.
Joan you’ve been a diamond for uncounted years now,
people just forgot how to listen and appreciate the
“real folk blues”.
commercial success standards this is the pinnacle, on a
personal level it’s
a stellar achievement and top shelf performance.
Me and My Guitar (Duet with Bob Warren) 5:27
- by Bob
song is a real James Taylor inspired piece. Joan starts
it off in soft smooth vocals, and in a storytelling
tone. Bob joins in on the second verse, adding the
needed male counterpoint. Then both Joan and Bob join in
harmony, to round out the composition. The strings join
in to add texture and a melancholy feel of loss, but
which also leads, to
the reward of a wife, a son and with their trusty
guitars still intact.
cd ends on this positive reflective note. All is well
that ends well.
JOAN CRANE and FRIENDS – BACK
Recorded Live On March 9, 2002
At the Peru Community Church – Coffee House
Concert Series – Peru, New York
almost be called “Foothills Live” as much of the
material is from that CD release.
The musicians on this recording are as follows:
Joan Crane - Vocals, Guitar
Skip Smithson – Mandolin
Junior Barber – Dobro
Mike Barber – Acoustic Bass
The liner notes state the following:
Joan’s vocals and all four instruments were
miked with just one microphone – Junior’s Audio
Technica 4033. It was recorded onto a portable
Sony Mini-Disc through the stereo line output
jacks of the PA mixer. The sequence of songs is
in the order as performed. Other than minimal
EQing during mastering, this recording remains
pure. This is all thanks to Rod Driscoll for
having the insight / foresight to bring along
his Mini-Disc player that night, making it
possible to capture the entire performance of
these four exceptionally talented friends.
Personal Message From Joan:
To me, “Home” is more than just a structure, or
even that location in which you presently live.
To me, home is the place where you’ve been,
where life’s lessons and experiences, values and
relationships, have merged, to make you what you
Home is where you learned what is really
important in life. Home is where you learned to
appreciate and respect God’s wonderful creation.
Home is where you feel secure and content.
Home can be friends, and home can be a grateful
state of mind. Home is that place that always
draws you back.
For me, home is the Adirondack Mountains of
Northern New York State. There I nurtured a
talent and friendships that have lasted over
three decades, and although I currently reside
in the Midwest (Indianapolis, Indiana), I get
home often to park my camper by a secluded lake,
and I thrill at the cry of the loons, and inhale
the delicious smell of the balsam, especially
after a warm Summer’s Rain.
I get home, and always gasp at the beauty of the
mountains and lakes, and although I’ve seen them
hundreds / thousands of times before, and they
always leave me in awe. My soul becomes
refreshed – my heart pure – and my life back in
balance once again.
I get home to the people I love, grew up
with, learned from, and laughed with. Some of
those friends, I still make music with, and I’m
pleased to share with you another joy of going
back home, this recording that’s from my heart
To Joan from Dave:
Hello Joan, welcome back, “Back Home” that old
barn door has missed your soft touch and the old
hay loft your acoustic enthusiasm, passion and
energy….and we your fans always miss you more
often than you may think.
Please know that in your case, out of sight
never means out of mind, it means having to have
immense patience as we await your return.
Joan, I added a few words to your liner notes,
as you're now back on your home turf, and out of
the Midwest as it stated.
I hope you enjoy this review of
your CD as much as we enjoy listening to it
everyday since it arrived.
AND…. From the Bible comes the following …..
“and I will make with them a covenant of
peace…and they shall dwell safely in the
wilderness, and sleep in the woods.”
Ezekiel 34:25 (from the CD booklet insert)
God, Jesus, Nature and Good Music…not a bad
way to start a review if you ask me.
Joan has always walked in God’s light, soaked up
his blessings, and shared her God given talent
with any loyal sheep / ragtime blues lover /
folk tradition fan - who cared to lend an open
ear / open mind, to the message, or was it the word.
Joan doesn’t preach she’s a true believer. She
speaks from the heart and from experience, and
that makes it genuine / authentic. I personally
don’t want a person giving me advice or dumping
their so called wisdom on me, when I’ve been
there and back and they still haven’t made the
first round trip. Down that path, or was it the road
known as hard knocks avenue or "collage
of hard knocks" as I recall.
Joan’s music is for REAL FOLKS who can feel,
have empathy, have compassion for others and
live in / with humility, doing unto others, and
loving her neighbours and friends more than
herself. In all life’s trials, it just makes for
good common sense, for more practice and less
BRASS TACKS / ANGELS WINGS
In every number Joan plays, no matter what the
message, her voice echoes / rings of hope
through understanding, peace through practice
and redemption through respect. A grain of truth
comes through, a glimmer of light appears in
every song. But if I were to tell you that she
has the voice of an angel I’d be a damn liar.
She doesn’t. Although her sympathetic tones of
empathy would sure enough give you the distinct
impression that she’s sweet, as honey and safe
as grandma’s hot apple pie.
In reality, her voice is a little on the country
harsh / rustic / exposed side, a little lemonade
tart, very direct and strong, and just perfect
for the style of music she’s performing. I sure
as hell don’t want sugar coating in this
heartfelt music, and Joan only dishes out
stories that contain, road dust, dirty blue
jeans, lost love, and living experiences by the
She also accepts the dirty side of the ragtime
blues, that double edged sword that catches you
coming and going. The real life innuendos that
fill the lyrics, and the direct realistic
aspect of the artists she covers. Real life,
real people living with real life blues.
MAKING TRACKS: (On a snowy evening) “CAPTURED
LIVE” and LIVING IT UP
1. Introduction .37 In most cases
the word introduction, is self explanatory, but what needs to be
pointed out here is Joan is announced loudly -
with Friends added on as an after thought by the
announcer. Joan, immediately jumps to the rescue
and points out And Friends, And Friends she
insists. If you think she doesn’t give proper
credit where it’s due, you got another thing
coming ….this woman is a first class, first rate,
top shelf performering artists!
2. Bettin´On You 3:05: Is a Tampa Red (Hudson
Whittaker) song she says, a bouncy little tune,
and Joan and friends get right to work. Not only
is the pickin´ impressive but they sound tight –
and the recording on this track is excellent.
Nice little round of applause at the end of the
song. Appreciative audience in the house. Cosy
3. Deep River Blues 3:16: (Delmore Brothers)
Joans voice is as smooth and flowing as the
river she’s singing about. The band is so
supportive, working off of her guitar work and
vocals. Well done!
4. Uncle Zeb (Zebulon) 3:15 (Antoine D, Barber,
Jr. / Matt McCabe Music BMI
This song is once again filled with some great
guitar picking all around. An instrumental
number, giving the band another chance to
stretch out / loosen up and roll on to a happy
5. Come Back Baby 5:00 – Traditional Arrangement
/ Shining Shadows Music – Here Joan has the
chance to slow things down a little and put
things back into perspective. As the first three
numbers are all up beat and high energy tunes,
she now has the chance to get sultry and
melancholy as she pleads for her baby to come
back, one more time. This is the type of tune
where Joan shines and is at her very best, as
she changes vocal tones, expressions and her
pleading for her baby - isn’t begging for his
return, but rather, it’s his loss if he doesn’t
respond. For my money it’s right up there with
Robert Johnson’s “Love In Vain” and reminds me
of the spunk of Elvis singing about “Trouble”
6. Gold Rush – (Bill Monroe) 3:02 – Another
instrumental number to generate some audience
attention and keep the band on its toes and
warmed up on this cold winters night. Again
perfectly done, and Joan enjoys it as well.
7. Back To The Woods 3:16 – Again from
“Foothills” but the tempo is very different and
Joan’s vocals are secondary to the bands picking.
Faster paced and more lively than the original
tune. Bouncy and bright – Brilliantly done!
8. Mississippi Blues – Willie Brown 5:28 – Joan,
again sultry, slinky and sexy sounding on this
number. Slow, bluesy, shuffle, sashays all over
the place, strong, direct and just good down
home fun. Excellent musicians, great execution,
white lightin´ home-brewed blues, out of an old
9. Me And My Chauffeur – Minnie McCoy 4:06 – I
have to say, I’ve waited a long time for this
song to show up on CD format. It has always been
on of my favourite live Joan done songs. I could
listen to a half hour of this song, done by Joan
and band. At a little over four minutes and it’s
a gift. Thanks Joan.
10. Evenin´ - M. Parish / H. White ASCAP 4:00
Nice picking, smooth vocals, strong, yet direct.
Another man done gone song, morning has broken
and it’s another sad cold reality. Joan changes
tempo and vocal direction at will, and in a very
slick manner. Sweet, sad, lonely – perfect Joan
– with no audience applause at the end really
brings out the desired effect – alone in a
11. Johnson Jam (for Lonnie Johnson in the key
of D) – arrangement by Woody Mann 4:51 – Another
instrumental number. Done slowly and with total
respect for the man and his music, class and
talent combined. Picture yourself after a blues
concert you’ve attended and now you and the
bar-keep are the only ones left, and you’re half
asleep….that’s the atmosphere here. Let the
music play on, too tired to get up and walk
12. I’m Just An Old Chunk Of Coal – 4:29 –
By Billy Joe Shaver - Joan
plays this number especially for two special
people in the audience, Kevin and Charlie. Her
voice is again smooth and reassuring. The song
bounces right along, with some great picking and
bass playing going on. Unfortunately, 3:16 into
the song Joan has a little lyric glitch, so
unlike her to make a mistake, but being the pure
professional she is, she scuffed it off and
continued on without hardly a blip on the
performance screen. It happens.
13. Me And My Guitar – Bob Warren / KBW Music
BMI 6:13 – Additional Lyrics By Joan Crane – I
personally feel that in most cases this would
have been the final track of the album. So
please consider the last two songs that follow
as bonus tracks. Joan is in complete control on
this number, she sets the pace and tone on this
piece. Her vocals come across as completely
honest, from the heart, and with a certain
amount of remorse and melancholy included. Bob
Warren is from Saratoga Springs, New York and I
can tell you he also is a great person and class
14. Know You Rider – Traditional Arrangement –
4:45 – This song along with “Me And My
Chauffeur” are my two personal favourites on
this collection. Joan is in her element here,
this song was meant for her. Her rendition of
this number is right up there with Hot Tuna’s
old version, although Joan wins the contest
hands down when it comes to vocal clarity,
enunciation and delivery. Credit must also be
given to her friends – in the band, who are
supporting her and pushing the song right along
at a comfortable pace, with warmth and
respectability. Joan, is an angel on this one,
you earned your wings!
15. Summer Rain – Antoine D. Barber, Jr. / Matt
McCabe Music / BMI – 4:07
Well folks, we’ve come full circle! “BACK HOME”
remember? Where it all started, and where this
live recording comes to a mellow conclusion.
– without applause –
silent…silence…silence……….in heavenly peace we
In A Church Whisper I Speak:
thank you Joan, Skip, Junior, Mike……quite an
unforgettable experience, excellent performance,
professional throughout. Superb recording
Review by Ellen Geisel
microphone, four in-tune-with-each other musicians,
finger style genius Joan Crane and her friends Skip
Smithson on mandolin; Junior Barber on dobro;
and Mike Barber on acoustic bass, along with an
appreciative audience make for an intimate live
recording at the Peru, New York Community Church
specialty is acoustic blues. She moves easily between
the sly vocal style of Minnie McCoy’s version of “Me
and My Chauffeur” and fleet-fingered finesse on Billy
Joe Shaver’s song
“I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal”.
other highlights include:
Warren’s ultra-lovely song called “Me and My Guitar”
traditional “Know You Rider” and the sweet set
closer “Summer Rain”.
just kick back and give this a listen and enjoy the
music as it’s filled with genuine heart and soul.
From "The Nation" - America's Longest Running Weekly
October 22, 1977 Article Title: INDIGENOUS MUSIC
by Nat Hentoff
ABSTRACT: Presents a brief information about
Vermont - based music record company Philo.
Reasons behind opening of the company at a barn;
Quality of audio cassettes released by the company;
Types of music provided by the company to
listeners; Music artists associated with the
company; Average sale of Philo's cassettes in the
SELECTIONS: from full text:
…It is precisely a singer like Joan Crane who
might never have gotten on records had it not been
for Philo / Fretless; Her style is in no way
modish, though I think this album will bring
pleasure for decades…
…McClatchy can be more dramatic and sardo'nic
than Joan Crane, and she has fashioned a number of
her - own songs to highlight those qualties…
…In Dirt Pushers Blues, Joan Crane, a longhaired,
open faced young woman, reveals knowledgeable
affection for such songsters as Blind Willie
McTell, Mississippi John Hurt, and a pride of
…A for - home - grown talent, while Philo
does well with such singers as Mary McCaslin, Jim
Ringer and Utah Phillips, I am more interested in
virtual unknowns like Joan Crane (1976) and Debby
McClatchy who record for the label's subsidiary
JOAN CRANE and MATT
“AN AFTERNOON AT
(Keeping His Spirit Alive and Well)
My friend Ralph
arranged for an afternoon of studio time at TJ
White’s studio, featuring top shelf equipment for
Matt and I to do a live four song demo. We wanted
something honest that would accurately represent
our live performance, so we recorded each song
live, with no overdubs.
After our set up,
and after the four songs we initially
intended to do were complete, we found that
we still had another three hours of studio time
left, so we decided to keep going and knocked off
one song right after another, until the five hours
were up. In all we found that we’d recorded eleven
songs – Hmmmmm, I thought, we had enough to make a
full CD out of this – finally, a true
representation of our live set, recorded live.
So here is the end
result of that precious afternoon of great fun, we
both hope you enjoy it !!!
Joan Crane – Vocals
Matt Moore – Vocals
/ All Keyboards / Bass
Ralph Lane – Guitar
To say I owe so much
gratitude to Ralph Lane is a gross understatement.
As this CD showcases Matt and my playing and
singing, this CD is a testimony to the many
talents of Ralph ; as a musician, technician,
graphic artists, and designer….and here’s why:
Engineered, Mastered, Cover Design, Art Work and
Guitar on the song “Green Pastures” all by Ralph
by Track Review: By Dave
Rag – Rev. Gary Davis 2:45
The cd starts out with a standard Joan Crane
guitar picking ditty, which was a good choice in
order to set the mood and pace of this
collection of tunes. It’s a moderate to fasted
paced instrumental by the Rev. Gary Davis, a
high bouncing positive start. The piano work by
Matt only enhances the overall feel of the song
and in the end, he and Joan are instrumentally
working off of each other perfectly.
Morning Blues –
Traditional Arrangement – By Joan Crane 3:52
This song sounds as though it should be
performed solo by Joan, but as a duet it also
works perfectly. Its to their credit that Joan
and Matt complement each others talent, without
one over shadowing the other. It’s all kept in
perfect balance, making it that much more
Green Pastures –
H.W. Van hoose – 4:15
This song must be a hymn for it can be nothing
besides. Although it starts with blues chords,
reminiscent of the Rolling Stones version of
Robert Johnsons “Love In Vain” it quickly flows
into the scared tone of a Sunday church service.
The lyrics are sung in a choppy rough fashion –
thus creating a honest and humble plea for
salvation, on that heavenly shore that we all
hope is there at the end of our life’s journey.
I’m Just an Old
Chunk of Coal – Billy Joe Shaver – 4:00
Although this song has become a Joan Crane
standard in the last years, this is the
friendliest version that I’ve heard her do. She
and Matt are having a good time doing it
together. Again balance, talent and a strong
sense of humour are being applied here. Part
tongue in cheek – part trying to patch up human
flaws we all have, but mostly the promise of
reward after stress and suffering. Coal under
intense pressure produces diamonds –
A grain of sand in an oysters craw produces
pearls - and although we may wear rags, we’ll be
in sable someday….if you only believe it.
Tired of Being
Mistreated – Clifford Gibson – 3:20
Once again, Joan and Matt are having a grand
old time on this song. Joan’s guitar picking is
impeccable as always, but her vocals are even
stronger than ever “YEAH” “Tell em’
Joan” yells Matt – and you can now tell
by Joan’s strong conviction that she’s not
taking any one’s shit any longer, she’s her own
woman, she’s strong and confident once again.
Lilt – Joan Crane – 4:45
An instrumental that reminds me of George
Winston simple yet elegant, with the eyes of a
child we must come out to see the world in that
way, only then will we be able to enter the
gates of the kingdom of God. Well that’s what I
hear in it anyways. The whimsical piano playing
by Matt reminds me of the Little Prince and the
Turkey In The Straw ending tells me that I’m on
the right track here.
Oh Glory How Happy
I Am – Rev. Gary Davis – 3:55
Joan and Matt won’t make the “Top of the
Pops”, Top 40 Radio or the Hit Parade with this
number but who gives a damn? It’s from the heart
and soul and not about commercialism – although
the last I heard the “Holy Bible” is the number
one selling book every year, bar none.
You Gonna Quite Me
Baby – Blind Blake – 3:10
I love everything about this song. Matt and
Joan’s interplay, their playing, singing
everything. You get the feeling that they’re
playing good cop / bad cop both playing their
role’s to the hilt – excellent. Joan’s part
comes across with closed fist (in the air) and
Matt is doing his part with gleeful childish
aplomb, the kind that aggravates women
to no end. Don’t let the door hit you in the
“HEY” says Joan just before Matt says “ASS” –
just a cute song – and they’re having great fun
Have You Been Mine
– Matt Moore – 3:35
I love this song as well, because it starts
off sounding like Arlo Guthrie’s “Coming Into
Los Angeles” then the keyboard work turns into
“Riders On The Storm” type of smooth
But it’s Joan’s sultry, bluesy voice that
oscillates between a (sweet) Karen Carpenter,
(gutsy) Janis Joplin, (raw sounding) Suzi Quatro,
Chrissie Hynde with a mellow Melanie
undertone –it’s all in there trust me on this. I
never heard Joan sound any better! Matt with
Joan is a perfect match.
I Am the Light of This World – Rev. Gary Davis –
4:45 A ragtime bouncy number. Joan and Matt
almost make this song a swing song. Joan’s
playing is strong and her vocals sweet. Matt’s
vocals support hers and his playing brings a
childlike feel to this hymn style song, as you
can hear Vince Guaraldi and the “Peanuts”
cartoon music all through it. Weather
intentional or by accident this becomes the
perfect rendition of this song. A serious topic
put into a Jesus perspective of loving the
little children – do you see the light? He is
the God of nothing – if that’s all you can see.
He is the God of everything, he’s inside of you
Empty Island – Matt Moore – 3:45
I’d like to change this title to “Empty Easter
Island”. I envision this at the end of long day
of exploring the island, just two people sitting
on Easter Island at the foot of a stone
monolith. Looking up at his chiselled
face, then looking out at the vast empty
ocean, but what is the giant stone figures
Waiting for what? Or is it in honour of
something that’s found us and then left us
behind in some cosmic wake.
This song has some
questions of its own, not as profound as my Easter
Island premise, but just as important in human and
Which is where this CD leaves us off –
thinking, wondering and feeling great.
things of wonder and amusement.
For years now I have followed Joan’s artistic
progression, her life’s
changes and how she’s managed to cope with
it all. This cd is her most advanced achievement
to date and I’m anticipating great thing from her
and Matt in 2008. Yes Joan, what a long strange
trip its been, now you’re back and on your feet
once more and moving forward. Been down so long –
it looks like it’s up to you now!
To Matt, you’re a
wonderful addition to Joan’s playing. You bring a
positive new aspect to the music and we welcome
you. Please take care of Joan and keep her talent
burning brightly for those of us out here
listening and caring about her and the people who
support her efforts.
I’d like to thank Ralph Lane for all of your
support for Joan. As she mentioned at the start of
this review, you’re the top cook and bottle washer
in this venture so for that we truly thank you!
Joan Crane Has Performed For All The Major Guitar
Manufactures At The National Guitar Luthier’s Symposium
and Placed In The Statewide Indiana Blues Competition,
Being The Only Solo,Only Acoustic, and Only Female. Her
Guitar Ranges From The Emotional Delta Style To The
Syncopated Piedmont Style. Joan Was A Fixture Throughout
The North Country, She Entertained Thousands of Music
Fans At Countless Venues.
She Is "Delta Blues Royalty" – Joan Has Been The Shining
Example of Delta Blues Finger Picking In The Adirondack
North Country Since The Middle To Late 1970’s.
Hard Time Killing Floor – (Nehmhiah "Skip" James (1931)
Skip James – July 23 – 26 1964 – Newport RI – Newport
Folk Festival – Great Bluesmen Newport – Released In
Former Nippertonian Joan Crane – April 27, 2017 –
Nippertown – Music / Arts / Culture Since 2009. Caffe
Lena, Saratoga Springs – A Night of Sublime Acoustic
Joan Crane – "The Matriarch of the Blues"
James Alley Blues – Richard "Rabbit" Brown – March 11,
1927 – 1880 - 1937
Never Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice – Richard
"Rabbit" Brown – 1927
I’m Not Jealous - 1927
Memphis Minnie and Bumblebee Slim
Memphis Minnie – Levees Going To Break
Memphis Minnie – Bumble Bee (New) 1930 – 2:46 – Covered
By Canned Heat 1970
Memphis Minnie – June 3, 1897 – August 6, 1973 – Lizzie
Douglas - Cover
Doctor Doctor Blues – Memphis Minnie (AKA – Minnie
McCoy) – 1997 Released
Memphis Minnie – Lake Michigan – April 23, 1949 –
October 5, 1953 – 2:58 – 1987
Joan Crane and Frank Orsini – Recording Live From Caffe
Lena / April 14, 1991 Part 1 of 2
History Accessed March 28, 2020
October 1, 2010
Joan Crane and Steve Feinbloom II – 11:55 – Video –
Joan Crane and Steve Feinbloom – Thursday July 28, 2011
– 11:30 am
Essex On Lake Champlain – New York Community. Admission
Is Free / But Donations Are Appreciated.
Bob Warren Is A Highly Regarded Artists In Saratoga, New
York’s Music Scene, A Regular Performer At Lena’s Café.
Bob’s Songs Have Been Recorded By Such Artists As Blues
Guitarist and Singer Joan Crane, Pop Singer Mallory
O’Donnell, and Reggae Artist Minna Lee. Bob Is Well
Known For His Introspection, Variety, Wit and Killer
Played At Taste Bistro – 77 Mirror Lake Drive Lake
Placid, New York – USA.
Annual Downtown Essex Day – Saturday August 3, 2019 –
10:00 am Joan Crane, and Steven Feinbloom. Free
Admission – Held Rain Or Shine. This Town Wide Event
Will Feature Exhibitors and Shop Displays, Antiques,
Artwork, Crafts, Gifts, Face Painting, Food, Lakeside
Dining and More! 11:30 – Lee Adams and Yannig Tanguay –
3:00 pm Back In Time.
Rest Up /
Catch Your Breath / Then Move On To
to Adirondack Musicians