It’s a CD… It’s a book… It’s American Folk Songbook!
Actually, it’s all of those things, this new project from Suzy Bogguss. It finds this celebrated country hit-maker recording music much closer to the folk music she grew up singing, and performed in clubs during her college years.
American Folk Songbook is indeed an audio CD, featuring Boggus on bare-bones arrangements of 17 familiar American songs. We’re talking about the ones you learned from your parents, or sang in elementary school or scouts: Red River Valley, Froggy Went A-Courtin’, Sweet Betsy From Pike, Rock Island Line, Erie Canal, and the like.
But there is also an accompanying 96-page, hard cover songbook with easy-to-read sheet music, and lyrics for guitar and piano, plus original illustrations and stories about each of the songs. Suzy also includes her own comments and remembrances about these songs, and says that she designed the book in the hope that it will help make the songs part of family traditions.
“…that way, younger generations could share these slowly fading gems with their families and tell their stories of how they learned a few chords on the guitar or a couple of favorites to play at family gatherings.”
The music is presented in an acoustic setting, and is more truthfully a folk record, though there is a nice grassy version of Ol Dan Tucker with Stuart Duncan on fiddle and Richard Bailey on banjo.
The CD/book will be available from Cracker Barrel starting July 18, and in wide distribution August 2. Audio samples are available now on Suzy’s web site.
Here’s a video preview with live performances of several of the pieces included on the album.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but these are certainly the songs I learned to sing as a child, and I can recall family singalongs with these very titles.
American Folk Songbook would be a fine gift for any new parents, or grandparents, who may want to pass on this tradition to another generation. It seems clear that this is precisely Bogguss’ intent in creating the package.
She will be touring in support of this project, represented by Keith Case & Associates.