As a member of Cabinet, Pappy has earned a reputation as a can’t-miss live act with stunning prowess on the banjo and beyond and the songs to back it up — whether his own compositions or his adaptations of old favorites. On July 24, he’ll release his version of the traditional tune “Dig A Hole In The Meadow,” featuring guitarist Steve Kimock, known for his work with various high-profile Grateful Dead-related projects and his own bands. You can catch him playing solo, with Owl and Crow and with Cabinet on Aug. 31 with Railroad Earth in Bethel, NY.
Pappy’s unique, stark take on the song makes its debut below. Be sure to read on for Pappy’s take on how he came to track the song, how he found the banjo that he used on the recording and how the tune represents a move in a new musical direction for him.
“Dig a Hole in the Meadow is a traditional tune that has been in my song bank ever since I started playing banjo about 12 years ago. The melody has popped up from festival to festival, pick circle to pick circle, early in the morning and late at night for years on end. It is a tune I have thought of doing my own spin on for a while.
“The core groove of the track was made on a 6-string banjo that I found in the garbage while driving around Dunmore, PA. There it was, this neck standing out of the top of a metal garbage can on the side of the road, like something from a movie from my childhood. I had to stop. As I approached the can I noticed it was a 6-string of some sort. Thinking I was going to pull out a broken-bodied guitar as I began to pull it from the rubble, I was surprised to discover it was a banjo! Kind of a “sword in the stone” moment for me as I was now the rightful owner of the “banjo in the trash”. The chosen one if you will. I retrieved it with no struggle whatsoever. The garbage gods were on my side that day, the clouds split open and the sun shined upon me as I pulled this “garbanjo” from its metal coffin and gave it new life! I went on to use this instrument as the basic rhythm for the track.
“We started recording the bones of the track coming off a very experimental Gatos Blancos show in Wilkes Barre PA the night before. John [Kimock] and I booked a couple days at Ben Travers’ studio Astrology Days right in downtown Wilkes Barre. The vibe of the freedom in experimentation that we had at the show the night before kind of flowed right over into the session. John really took the idea for this tune and digested my thoughts and in his own way started crafting with me. Before you knew it we were listening back to a pretty unique and interesting groove that would be the base of the song and the start of a new creative/artistic partnership/friendship. He has been a delight to work with and an inspiration in me finding my own sound, a sound that speaks to me as a human being and as an artist. Not afraid to push. Most artists need a certain push, and he provided that along with many other things for me.
“All in all, the excitement to share this with the world is real. I feel it’s the start of a new direction for me creatively while paying respects to the influences of my past. Kind of a transitional period creatively and personally.. What better way to share yourself with the world than thru music!”