7 songs • 2002
“You won't be disappointed. This presentation is too good to deny. Highly recommended.”
“'Gospel Plow' is the song and it seems as if the three men have an inexhaustible barrel of emotions available.”
Joachim “Joe” Brookes
“The result is very warm, splendid versions of traditional songs.”
The Brains Behind Pa
7 Songs • 34 minutes • Released 06.02
Ain't No More Cane
Trail of the Buffalo
Oh Babe, It Ain't No Lie
Soul of a Man
About the Album
Old Hat is an almost all-acoustic album. The Brains Behind Pa selects some of its favorite traditional folk and blues songs to reinterpret. From the cowboy disaster story in “Trail of the Buffalo” and the bluegrass-tinged, Elizabeth Cotten classic, “Oh, Babe It Ain’t No Lie” on through to the lonesome cry of “Soul of a Man” and the beauty of “Gospel Plow.” Old Hat captures a band showing their respect for traditional material, but also revealing their desire to make these songs their own. Old Hat has received airplay on college and independent radio across the U.S., Canada and Europe. Recorded late 2001 and early 2002.
1. Ain’t No More Cane (Traditional)
2. Trail of the Buffalo (Traditional)
3. Worried Blues (Traditional)
4. Oh Babe, It Ain’t No Lie (Elizabeth Cotten)
5. Corrina, Corrina (Traditional)
6. Soul of a Man (Blind Willie Johnson)
7. Gospel Plow (Traditional)
Produced by The Brains Behind Pa and Michael Graham
Recorded mixed and mastered at The Lodge by Michael Graham
Gordon Bonham: Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, National Steel Guitar, Electric Guitar, Banjo
Bill Price: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Harmonica
Garry Bole: Mandolin, Accordion, Vocals
Jeff Chapin: Drums
The illustration on the cover of Old Hat was done by illustrator Jim Starr. See more of his work here: www.jimstarr.com
By Kristoff Gijsbregts (keysandchords.com) 04.20.09
The Indianapolis band called The Brains Behind Pa has released its first record entitled Old Hat.
Gordon Bonham is a well-known and respected blues musician who played with Bo Diddley and Pine Top Perkins, among others. The three band members met each other at the Ozzie’s club in Indianapolis. At the time they were all working on their own projects. Joan Crane, common friend of all three, brought Bill Price (singer and songwriter), Garry Bole (keyboard and mandolin player) and Gordon Bonham together. Back then, Garry Bole was part of a Western Swing Band and Gordon Bonham was working almost full-time with his Blues Band as a guitar player and singer.
This first album was recorded at The Lodge in Indianapolis. Michael Graham manually mixed the record, which gives it just that little extra effort to make it sound warmer. On the album, Garry used his old accordions and Gordon his 1935 steel guitar. The influences on the record are clear: The work of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Neil Young.
The first song on “Old Hat,” ‘”Ain’t No More Cane,” is an old, chain gang song that prisoners would sing while they were working in Texas.
The second song, called “Trail of the Buffalo,” is a new version of an older song called ‘The Buffalo Skinners”, which, according to them, has is a traditional cowboy song. The song sung by a young cowboy is about herding cows in the hills of Mexico, and it doesn’t end well. ‘Trail of the Buffalo’ was first recorded by Woody Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, but The Brains Behind Pa’s approach clearly turned it into the final version. Particularly driven by Price’s voice, which sounds like Dylan, Garry Bole’s mandolin and accordion and Bonham’s electric guitar, played through a nineteen forties vintage amplifier. In this song we also hear Jeff Chapin, who occasionally plays with the band, play the drums.
Five of the seven songs on the album are traditional, including “Corrina, Corrina”, the best known song, and “Gospel Plow”, the final track on the album.
Only two songs on this CD are accompanied by the name of writers such as Elizabeth Cotten, born in Chapel Hill, NC in 1895, and Blind Willie Johnson, a street preacher from Texas, who lived at the end of the last century.
CD rating: 17 out of 20
The Brains Behind Pa are a combination of different singers and songwriters of whom Bill Price is very well known even in our area. On their debut album Old Hat which came out previously in 2002, The Brains Behind Pa bring us mainly traditional songs in various acoustical versions. Their style is a mix of folk, country, blues and Americana.
The seven selected songs seem to be among the favorites of the musicians and it’s obvious that they have fun playing their interpretations. The performers are a trio with a bit drums. All musicians are virtuosos on their instruments. So is for example Gordon Bonham (The Gordon Bonham Blues Band) a distinguished blues guitarist, which is obvious in various tracks (e.g. Trail of the Buffalo). The vocal by Bill Price is the icing on the cake. His voice fits perfectly to the music.
Every traditionalist should listen to Old Hat by the Brains Behind Pa! You won’t be disappointed. This presentation is too good to deny. Highly recommended.
Highlights: “Trail of the Buffalo,” “Soul of a Man”
By Joachim ‘Joe’ Brookes (www.rocktimes.de) 2007
We want to take a look back here.
The respected colleague Markus reviewed the album ‘Better For The Deal’ and expressed his joy stating with ‘it came within an inch of the top’. As mentioned in his review, the album Old Hat is now available. With an approximate run time of 34 minutes and a total of 7 tracks it is a rather short performance, but entertaining.
What The Brains Behind Pa accomplished with their interpretation of the 5 traditional songs and one Elizabeth Cotten and Blind Willie Johnson song is excellent. It is due to Gordon Bonham’s to have a wide-ranging guitar sound and Garry Bole, on mandolin, switches to accordion if required. Jeff Chapin was brought into The Lodge Studio for two of the songs to play drums. There is no a bassist on this album.
According to the CD booklet, all the songs are arranged by The Brains Behind Pa. Kudos to the trio! Great job on all of the seven tracks. They show the right touch, tact and intuition with the songs which are not penned by them. Bonham, Bill Price and Bole are all excellent singers, even though Bole distinguishes himself in one song only.
With this short CD, one needs to let every track sink in. It starts with the opener “Ain’t No More Cane” with a fine combination of mandolin and accordion. Not only is everybody individually a great singer; together Bonham, Price as well as Bole in the opening, give an excellent performance.
The only chance to hear an electric guitar on this album is with “Trail Of The Buffalo”. It gives a country feeling and Bonham’s electric guitar comes to the fore over the mandolin and accordion. Then Garry Bole’s gig gives a grand entrance with his mandolin solo where one could get teary-eyed. Simply great! Jeff Chapin has, after a longer intro without him, the right drumming down pat: not the sticks, the jazz-brushes are right on it.
After that The Brains Behind Pa switch the genre and the sliding guitar indicates the blues. This song (“Worried Blues”) warmed my heart. ‘Chilly winds’ are out of the question. Stringed instruments can groove!
A song by folk musician Elizabeth Cotten is next and the men push the plow a little bit faster through the furrow. Chapin is also on the spot with his ‘jazz-brush’. Folk or Country? Somewhere in the middle I would say, even though there is not really a line to draw. “Oh Babe; It Ain’t No Lie” is great to listen to.
“Corinna, Corinna,” listened to a number of times – the trio did a great job, especially with the clear, bright voice of Price and his and Bonham’s guitar plucking. Bole delivers the background music with his accordion. I like this version, because it’s different from various other interpretations, without outshining them.
After the amazing “Soul Of A Man,” exclusively sung by Bonham, the highlight comes at the end, in my opinion. “Gospel Plow” is the song and it seems as if the three men have an inexhaustible barrel of emotions available. This is the great song of Old Hat and penalizes all the lies claiming to stay away from cover songs. Especially this album shows what the group The Brains Behind Pa stood for at that time, at the beginning of the new millennium. By the release of Better For The Deal Markus pointed up that it’s different now, years after the Old Hat.
I like old hats, at least acoustically and especially if it says The Brains Behind Pa on the cover.
By Freddy Celis (www.rootstime.be) 2002
In 2002, this debut appeared from the Bill Price band, The Brains Behind Pa, a mini CD with 7 songs and a sober, artistic cover with Old Hat as its title. It was almost a completely acoustic mini CD, with rewritten versions of their favorite traditional songs.
The Brains Behind Pa, named after a passage from a Dylan Song, consists of Bill Price, Gordon Bonham, a guitarists who has his own blues band, multi-instrumentalist Gary Bole, who especially plays mandolin and accordion, and drummer Jeff Chapin, who nonetheless is only needed on a couple tracks on this acoustic CD, mainly Bonham and Price take over the lion’s share with National Steel, dobro, banjo, mandolin and accordion as the main instruments.
The result is very warm, splendid versions of traditional songs, such as “Trail of the Buffalo,” and “Ain’t No More Cane,” songs which have become a part of the national heritage, but also old blues traditionals such as Blind Willie Johnson’s “Soul of a Man,” which gets a sublime interpretation here, and “Oh Babe, It Ain’t No Lie” by Elizabeth Cotton are gems. With these seven pearls, Brains Behind Pa, has started out as an already very strong alt country and Americana band.