About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Sunday Singalong - National Puppy Day


So the 23rd of March was National Puppy Day. Did it slip past you? My puppy, Amarok, says we should have puppy days all year ‘round. And he has them all year ‘round . . . that is, he takes them if I forget to honor the dog. He has a lot of quirks, but he is really a good dog and will be out of the puppy stage (and into teenager stage, I guess) in about 6 months. He’s already in training: rarely chews things that aren’t his (but he believes most things are his, so maybe that’s not saying much!). But my cables, phones, and most paper piles have gone bite-free since about the beginning of the year (was it his new year’s resolution?) and that’s just fine with me.


So, in honor of National Puppy Day, let’s go for some dog/puppy songs. And, yes, I have one to share, of course. There are so many, though, so there are plenty left for others to recognize. Come on and play the game. I’ll suggest the one that was loved by my family (especially my brother . . . it’s about the only song that he will sing with me): “Hound Dog.” No, not THAT “Hound Dog.” No, not that one either. This one:

“Ya Gotta Quit Kickin My Dog Aroun” – the Skillet Lickers (1926)


“They Gotta Quit Kickin’ My Dawg Aroun’” ©1912 – Vancha March

Written by Webb M. Oungst, music by Cy Perkins

Your turn.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Sunday Singalong - Ha! Bet you expected something Irish


Friday was St. Patrick's (Padraic's) Day and I went to a museum with a friend. Yup, everyone (OK, most people) were wearing the green in one way or another. Even my friend and I both wore the accepted attire, regardless of religious preference. And when we went to lunch, at Mimi's (a French-themed restaurant), decorations reminded us what day it was, even if we had momentarily forgotten. And I even figured out how to order my smart phone, with Bluetooth, to play The Chieftains, one of my favorite, traditional, Irish groups (I could order it to play the music, but couldn't figure out how to make it stop! (at least, not with a vocal command) . . . I physically paused it, but think it is still up on the phone, if I get in the mood again.

I thought about asking for songs with an Ides of March theme (a few days late) . . . but do many folks have a repertoire of Julius Caesar songs/poems? It is one of the very few topics of which I do NOT have stashed in my "there's a song about that" file! And I'm OK with that.

So I'm back to March 17th. Let's go for the green (not money, just the color). I have many songs pop into my mind when I considered that color. I'd say, most standard colors are featured in at least a couple of songs, so it shouldn't be too much of a stretch to come up with something that fits.

Now, my guess is that many who are asked about a green-themed song will come up with my first choice, however, I also bet that no one has this version (besides, this is my blog, so I get first "dibs"). So here, for, hopefully, your listening pleasure (with that last word, possibly a stretch) is a medley of "Greensleeves" and "House of the Rising Sun." I have learned a great deal about both of these, but I'll not take time here to share. Instead, I hope you appreciate the recording of me on guitar and Butch Hibben on saw. This was a combined piece we used to play often. 

"Greensleeves/House of the Rising Sun" - from Playing on the Edge - with Butch & Jean Hibben - download from DropBox (no need to have the program)

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Sunday Singalong - Camp Songs


I've likely used this theme before . . . but there's a lot of material out there!

This weekend I have been attending camp. That is, virtually. Camp Harmony comes up a couple of times a year, hosted by SanFrancisco Folk Music Club. I have been attending online since they started with this platform. It brings me back to times at the camps I attended as a kid. Day camps, overnight camps, one a week long, another 2 weeks. Lots of good memories and a couple of not so good ones. Some of the same songs popped up in the experiences (mostly ones like "Kumbaya" and "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" - that boat has been rowed ashore in a lot of places and for decades!). But a lot of ones unique to the camp or hosting organization (“Great Big Brownie Smile” comes to mind).

So, what camp songs have been part of your past? I learned “Can’t Help but Wonder Where I’m Bound” at YWCA camp (with a bit of adjustment in the lyrics of one verse and omission of another entire verse -  but it was a girls' camp; the enjoyment was still there). It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I learned it was written by my now friend, Tom Paxton – who often would say, in his concerts, when he was about to sing it, “Please don’t say, 'I learned that in camp, Tom.'” I guess others had the same experience. So here’s my link to Tom singing it, with all verses and no censorship (honest, it was very minor – it’s apparently easy to sing “Sometimes when I’m feeling blue” instead of “Sometimes when I’ve had a few” – who’d a-thought? And there are those to whom both statements apply).

"Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound" (as it is on his "Ramblin' Boy" album by Elektra, way back in the '60s, when I bought it).

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Sunday Singalong - Who is in the Family Tree?


So this week (Thurs - Sat) was the RootsTech event in Salt Lake City, but also presented in an online format. The goal: learn more about finding ancestors. That seems to be a common theme in my life (and blog) so finding songs that connect to that is rather an easy task for me. Perhaps it is for you. Or, perhaps, you have some songs that are family favorites. I remember that when my father and I sat down to "jam," there were always particular songs that had to be played/sung - my mother was partial to 2 Tom Paxton songs: "Marvelous Toy" and "Ramblin' Boy" - every "performance" had to include those, while my brother's choice, and long-time family favorite, was, and is, "Ever'y Time I go Downtown, Somebody Kicks my Dog Around," so whenever I hear or play any of those, I'm taken back in time to music with the family). And those were good times.

There are also a number of pieces that I like because of the familial connection and one of those I particularly enjoy is John McCutcheon's "Water from Another Time":

Live performance (2019)

From record (CD) (1987) 

John's website (43 recordings + info on live concerts, in-person & virtual)

Your turn , , , songs about family? songs your family enjoys/enjoyed? (links OK, copying directly from a copyrighted source - e.g., website - not OK)