The Devil & the Modoc Line:
In 1968, 85 cars derailed on the "Modoc Line" near Crest, CA. when the
Engineer fell asleep while operating a lumber train en route to Reno,
Nevada. The train reached a top speed of 55 mph before throwing 85
cars--and amazingly, both the engine and the caboose stayed on the
tracks. I heard stories when I lived in Lassen County that many ranches &
barns near the wreck were built with recovered lumber that was pinned into
the canyon in the derailed boxcars.
Being fascinated that no one was even injured on this derailment--and that
even in 2008 you could still see the boxcars wedged down at the bottom of
the canyon-- I had the idea for a song about a deal with the devil to save
the lives of the crew. The Modoc line was notorious for rail-workers that
didn't fit into mainline railroad life, and as such, I thought this tall tale was
an appropriate tribute to the folks I had the pleasure of meeting while living
Stan Bales, who was the Outdoor Recreation Planner for the Bureau of
Land Management when I lived and worked in Susanville shared many
stories with me--but most importantly he lent me a book by Jack Bowden
& Tom Dill, entitled:"The Modoc: Southern Pacific's Back Door to Oregon"
Copyright 2002, Oso Publishing Company. (I quote a Lonnie Johnson lyric
in this tune as well--"Whiskey, wine & song" as a tribute to the lifestyle of
the rail workers on the Modoc.
This song is historical fiction about an oil-field disaster in the early years of
Oil exploration in Ventura. It's written from the perspective of a Civil War
veteran that settled in Ventura after the war.
This song is written about my cat, Fraulein Kitzenbauer-who was in the
room with me when I first got down the melody. She has two speeds:
Sleeping, and playing, so the song tries to capture her waking up, playing,
and then going back to sleep. The melody is a slight bit like the fiddle tune
"Soldier's Joy," so I named it Fraulein's Joy in honor of my cat.
Awake from the Dream:
Written originally in 2003, and first appeared on "Wilson's Hotel" Philville Records release 005, 2008.
Wreck of the Yankee Blade:
"The Wreck of The Yankee Blade," is written about a deadly shipwreck that occurred off Point Arguello, California in 1854 which eerily parallels the more
recent wreck of the Costa Concordia that occurred on January 13th, 2012. The song, "The Wreck of The Yankee Blade," was written originally on
November 12th, 2011 by Matthew R. Sayles and features a familiar story of a Captain that fled a damaged ship first, and even shares in common the
"selling" of access to lifeboats & life preservers to wealthy passengers. However one significant difference is worth noting between the two wrecks: The
Captain of the Yankee Blade (Henry Randall) had a far more fortunate fate than appears the Captain of the Costa Concordia, (Francesco Schettino), as
Randall was never prosecuted, and even-quite disturbingly-was the lead on the salvage operation that recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in gold
that went down when the stern of ship broke off in 60 ft. of water.
I first heard of the tale of "the Yankee Blade" in a book of short stories written by Ray Jones & Joe Ludlow named "Myths and Mysteries of California,"
Copyright 2011 by Morris publishing. The book mentions a supposed "haunted" wreck off Point Arguello that is said to cause people to hear the sound of
a ships bell being rung on foggy nights in the autumn near where the Yankee Blade ran aground on October 1st, 1854. Curious about the legend, I did
some more research and discovered a fascinating and much more detailed account of the wreck & the Captain Henry Randall-as well as the aftermath of
the disaster written by Robert C. Belyk ("Great Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast", ISBN: 0-471-38420-8,
Written about the heartbreaking aspects of homeless folks in the Ventura River bottom (AKA "Hobo Jungle").
Bug Eyed Betty:
This song is dedicated to all the cosmetically maintained ladies in Santa Barbara (especially those that graced us with their presence at the Creekside in
Waltz for Eva:
Written to my Grandmother who passed away in 2010. She taught me many things, and waltzing was one of them. Our family will always miss her.
I wrote "Coming Back" when I was short of cash & living in Michigan after my first national tour in 2006. During the tour my band mate Cisco Mirabent and
I played a place called the Whitehorse Tavern in Flint, MI a few times. For those who don't know Flint, it has been vying for the #1 spot as murder capital
in the US for a number of years--only competition is Detroit, and a city in New Jersey. Yet the Whitehorse is a throwback to a time when Flint & Detroit's
Willow Run manufacturing plants not only helped win WWII, but also built the groundwork for another generation of GM employees to earn a living, and
raise their families. Sadly, now Flint is a ghost of its former self, and has been serving as a bellwether to the loss of manufacturing jobs in Michigan since
the 1980's. Every worker that came into the Whitehorse had stories to tell of being bought out for retirement, getting laid off, and wondering what the hell
they were going to do next. For these workers, the Whitehorse is one of the last holdouts in a sea of uncertainty. On a lighter note--be sure to tell one of
the bartenders there that it's your birthday (you might still get lucky enough to see the mirror opposite of a "Bug Eyed Betty" in a way that will scar your
Sons of Great Men:
Dedicated to the unfortunate few that are always struggling to break free from the burden of their lineage--(...so let's make sure that they never get back in
the White House...)
This song was written as a tribute to Sayles' family cabin in Cherry Grove Township Michigan. The "old cabin home" has been in the
Rogala/Ziehm/Sayles family for over sixty years, and was built by his great grandfather, grandfather, and Uncle in the mid 1950's.
Instruments on the Album:
Dave White: Open-back Wildwood Troubadour Banjo, Gibson 1921 A-4 mandolin, 1996 Stelling Bellflower, 1978 Guild D-50.
David Roine: An Amati copy violin made in Germany around the turn of the 20th century. A Guerrini Superluxe 80 bass piano accordion (made in
50's/60's?) A Generation high "D" tin whistle (British made).
Rick Clemens: 2011 Andreas Eastman VB200 Upright Bass 1993 Guild B30-E Acoustic fretless bass
Matt Sayles: 2000 Taylor 415 Jumbo, 1964 Gibson L-48, 2006 Michael Kelley Bayou Resonator, mid 2000's Custom Gonstead Square Neck Dobro.
The album was recorded live in real-time in December of 2011 & January & February of 2012 by Philville Records West (Awake from the Dream
& Coming back were recorded originally in March of 2011, and first appeared on "Wilson's Hotel" Philville Records release 005, 2008.) All songs
were recorded, mixed, & mastered by Matt Sayles on a Roland VS 2400. Tube MP Pre-amps and AKG, Shure, MXL (Ribbon Mic), and Nady Mic's
were used on all of the tracks.
Thanks to Trine, Maravilla, Kristian, Signe for their excitement, encouragement, patience and fine musical ears. Thanks to Steve Clemens for
the life of music shared, music theory chats, and the constant positive feedback. Thanks to Craigslist for providing the medium to hook up a
bunch of great musicians & friends--Thanks to good Tequila for keeping the jams lasting late--and thanks to good chocolates and cheeses for
going so damn well with good Tequila!
Cheryl Frei,The Ventucky String Band & families, Eva Rogala, my sister--Melissa Risk, Bob & Cindy Sayles, Al & Gloria Sayles, The Risk Family,
Fraulein Kitzenbauer, Frostbitten Grass, Phil Pearce & Phil's 550, Sven Gonstead, Francisco Mirabent, Mike & George Tripp, Tim Hicks, Jason
Lawes, Andy Decker, Jason Peterson, Mike Burnham, Mel & Jamie Shippey, Eric Paavo, Mike Fitzpatrick, Ryan Olthouse, the Clampoons, Dan
Flesher, Nate & Dave Bett, Brian "Looper" Lucas, The U.P., Hiawatha Music Co-Op, The Dreadnaughts, Jane Cisluycis, Pat Stinson, James
Gordon, The White Horse Bar in Flint, MI., Mike Justis, Kevin & Janie Justis, Stan Bales, Dave Sowers, Lassen Land & Trails Trust, the Sierra
Nevada Conservancy, Joel Rathje, the Wildlife Conservation Board, Big Tweed, Erika & Brent Harding, Bill Flores, Ventura, Bill Locey, Michel
Cicero, the Big Buddha Lounge (Arianne & Dave), The Mutineers & Mutiny Studios, Chad Mueller & Big Jugs, Danny Garone & the Iron Outlaws,
Nick Martinez, Jill, Wendy & Gary & the Elkhorn Bar in San Miguel, CA.
Special Thanks to: Jake Howard, Graphic Designer for the album & Mutiny Studios for the Silk-screening.
Extra Special Thanks to Bob Sayles: You are most sincerely a "great man", and it is because of your ingenuity & skills that I have been
fortunate enough to explore the country and appreciate the rewards of hard work. Much love Dad!
Copyright 2017 Philville Records
Ventura, CA 93001
Copyright 2018 Philville Records
Ventura, CA 93001