Take My Ashes To The River from The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys

Po’ Ramblin’ Boys at the Spring 2021 Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival – photo by Frank Baker

Smithsonian Folkways has another single today from the upcoming album for The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, the final one before the Never Slow Down record hits on Friday.

It’s one called Take My Ashes to the River, written by Mark Erelli, a folk music songwriter based in Massachusetts know for his collaborations with county hitmaker, and fellow New Englander, Lori McKenna. The Boys do it in duet style with their Po’ Ramblin’ Girl, fiddler Laura Orshaw, singing on the choruses with mandolinist and founder C.J. Lewandowski.

The song tells a morbid tale of a poor farming couple who start their life together, only to see the wife die from a tragic disease. Its title comes from her final words to her husband as she leaves this life for the next.

Lewandowski says that the old style duet format works perfectly in relating this sad story.

“The arrangement complements the subject matter with the female voice of our fiddler, Laura Orshaw, echoing the sick and dying woman’s last wishes to her partner.”

Orshaw sees more to this one, and suggests we all listen carefully to the lyrics.

“The song has the feel and lyrical imagery you’d expect from a murder ballad, but when you listen close to the story, it’s actually a complex tale of forbidden love that endured to the very end, when the husband carried out his wife’s final wish.”

C.J. and Laura are supported on the track by their Ramblin’ bandmates, Jereme Brown on banjo, Jasper Lorentzen on bass, and Josh Rinkel on guitar.

Digital pre-orders for Never Slow Down are available now online, with delivery expected on Friday, March 25. CDs will be offered on Friday as well.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.