She'll Grow Back: Stagger Lee Saturdays - Paul Asbell

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Stagger Lee Saturdays - Paul Asbell

Paul Asbell (official MySpace AMG) is a well-traveled Chicago boy (if you click on either of the first two links, you can see the impressive list of people he's played with), now transplanted to Vermont, where he plays his blend of acoustic folk blues and even gives private lessons.

This take on Stag is from Paul's 2005 album Steel String Americana, which also includes a Dr. John cover and the girl-group classic "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" In the liner notes, Paul writes:

"Stack-O-Lee, Stagolee, Staggerlee... there are as many musical variants of this folk epic as there are spellings of the man's name. And i mean entirely different SONGS here, with different melodies, refrains- practically everything different except the mythical bad dude with the original bad 'tude. ... The Louisiana variant of this tune seems to represent a different branch of the Stagolee tree than the Furry Lewis/John Hurt songster variant. My version comes more from the Louisiana side of the family."

I really like the opening line, with it's understated assertion that Stag and Billy "just couldn't get along," and the emphasis on the oral folk tradition that gave birth to this song, with the repeated "'That right? You don't say!"

Folks, I'm on vacation starting Tuesday, so there may be no Stagger Lee next Saturday. I'm going to try to get one in the pipeline, but I have an awful lot to do between now and then, so no promises.


CD said...

i saw Dr. John last night in Northern Virginny and he played Stack! Unfortunately, due to either his advancing age and or the normally good acoustics of the Birchmere being for shit last night, i could hardly make out a damn word he said beyond the chorus. He did play a pretty damn impressive "Gris Gris Man," though.

Mark H. Besotted said...

Holy crap! He's in Atlanta in July!

Well, I'm off to buy tickets.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the warning on that one.

CD said...

Glad to have been of service.

Mark H. Besotted said...

Tickets went on sale at 10 AM Monday. As of 10:02, evil evil Ticketmaster's website said there were NO tickets available.

I'll check back once I'm home from vacation, and not on a borrowed computer.