Live in LA with the Big Picnic Band

by Jeni & Billy with the Big Picnic Band

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    Professional live recording of Jeni & Billy and the Big Picnic Band's concert for the Pasadena Folk Music Society at the Beckman Institute, Caltech in November 2014.

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The Hoot Owl © Jeni Hankins Oh, Jesus, this is Janey, a’ calling to you now. I need for you to hear me, so I’m praying right out loud. Mama’s ten years dead and Daddy’s got so poor. I’m the only one to tend him since brother’s killed at war. The blackest of all sinners, I stand before you plain, shamed by the miller’s boy who I’ll not see again. He promised me we’d marry, but a soldier, now, is he and I but one poor Christian girl, disgraceful though I be. Oh, Jesus, there’s a hoot owl. At night he cries my name and tempts me to the rafters where I should hang for shame. If this bird be a devil, then I’m a devil’s maid and false to your own precious blood by which my sin was paid. If this bird be an angel then he’s Lucifer himself – a fallen angel come to carry fallen me to hell. Oh, Jesus move my hand from round this length of rope, unbind the slippery knot that tightens round my throat. Though I should swing like Judas from the crimson gallows tree, oh, Jesus, ain’t there hope for a broken girl like me. Sweet Jesus make that bird into the whitest dove and make his cry into the song of your redeeming love. Sweet Jesus make his cry into a young girl’s prayer that she may live another day beyond the Devil’s snares. Oh, Jesus, this is Janey, a’ calling to you now. I need for you to hear me, so I’m praying right out loud.
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© Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp, 2007 Goin’ up Chicken Ridge Don’t you wanna go? If you’ve a notion we could do-si-do. Curves on Chicken Ridge, kissin’ back to back, make a crooked road and there ain’t no turnin’ back. Goin’ up Chicken Ridge Goin’ up Chicken Ridge Goin’ up Chicken Ridge Don’t you wanna go? There ain’t no shoulders, ain’t no lines, just a little mule road cut between the mines. Houses up on Chicken Ridge, lonesome and squat, left by the miners the company forgot. Goin’ up Chicken Ridge Goin’ up Chicken Ridge Goin’ up Chicken Ridge Don’t you wanna go? The top of the world is closer than you know. Take my hand, we’ll catch a cloud and go. Up that windy road we’ll spin from ear to ear and find ourselves in that high atmosphere. Goin’ up Chicken Ridge Goin’ up Chicken Ridge Goin’ up Chicken Ridge Don’t you wanna go?
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Down on McHenry street the sidewalk glitters with broken glass bottles and household litter
houses are vacant, burned out and shuttered and weeds grow knee high in the cracks of the gutter While the sign on the trash can says to believe and the sign on the fire house seems to agree Believe in Jesus, Believe in Baltimore, Believe in something you ain’t never seen before Kids make guns and flags, pickins from scraps of trash or sit on their front stoops just kicking at the glass and there ain’t no happy, and there ain’t no sad there’s just thinking maybe this ain’t so bad While the sign on the trash can says to believe and the sign on the fire house seems to agree Believe in Jesus, Believe in Baltimore, Believe in something you ain’t never seen before There ain’t no promise it’s gonna get right with a citywatch camera and a flashing blue light but down on McHenry Street the sidewalk glitters with broken glass bottles and household litter
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Picnic in the Sky by Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp © 2013 ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– I pulled up the milkweed, hid neath the willow tree from the church bell and the mystery ‘cause I did not understand Christ Jesus’ victory and how that he loved – the tears and the tongues, the power in the blood. Frozen dinners were a special treat listening to radio obituaries Great grandma hoed the yellow squash We listened while the women talked and the voice said, “These are the Days of Our Lives.” I wondered did they go to the picnic in the sky while I braided sister’s hair, watched the biscuits rise Oh, do this in remembrance of me The men washed their faces, removed the traces of the local mining industry years of working underground to get at the low seam, to pick out the old dream of a house and some land, a heavenly reward. Frozen dinners were a special treat listening to radio obituaries Great grandma hoed the yellow squash We listened while the women talked and the voice said, “These are the Days of Our Lives.” I wondered did they go to the picnic in the sky while I braided sister’s hair, watched the biscuits rise Oh, do this in remembrance of me The miner now a memory, in the same place as little me fussing with my dolly and singing the old rugged cross listening to the women speak of patchwork and recipes the power in the blood, the power in the blood. Frozen dinners were a special treat listening to radio obituaries Great grandma hoed the yellow squash We listened while the women talked and the voice said, “These are the Days of Our Lives.” I wondered did they go to the picnic in the sky while I braided sister’s hair, watched the biscuits rise Oh, do this in remembrance of me. by Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp © 2013
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Reckoning Day © Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp, 2005 ________________________________ There are somethings ain’t worth rescuing some ships you watch go down while you stand there on the shore holding fast to the new love you’ve found There’ll be a love, catches you unaware some angel will come your way and you’ll take her into your heart though you know there will be a reckoning day There are somethings ain’t nothing but trouble some prisons you build yourself brick by brick with your misfortunes til some angel pulls you from hell Look out for love, halos and feathers, your wishes, the things that you pray ‘cause your dreams, just might come true and you know there will be a reckoning day
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There hung a banjo alone on a wall hung there for years making no sound at all till along came a Robin in the window to sing and oh how that banjo did ring She sang, “I’ve been flying through a nearby wood where the air is clear and the water is good, the pines so sturdy and their needles so green and oh how that banjo did ring He said, “I once travelled with a lonesome hobo, I rode the steel rails and I joined that hobo in many wild tales. Now that old hobo is naught but a dream.” and oh how that banjo did ring One day the old house with the banjo fell down and the Robin cried when she heard the sound. She sang a tune sad and true of a hobo and a banjo and the rambles they knew and in the rubble she heard the strings and oh how that banjo did ring She plucked the strings and the ebony pegs she took the bridge and the broken head all to her nest where together they sing and oh how that banjo did ring © Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp
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The Mill Hurries On by Jeni Hankins © 2012 Oh, the cotton flew around us like an alien snow. Having no way to melt, in our lungs it did go and there made its home, like an unwelcome guest, ‘til it grew and it grew so we could not take breath. There are trees in the country that give fruit for free – not belonging to you or belonging to me. No free thing can grown in a cotton mill town, so to work we must go. Child, let us go down. The machines, they did roar. They made my head ache, but I could not take rest nor make a mistake for the wages I earned, though meager alone, when put with my family’s, preserved our dear home. There are trees in the country that give fruit for free – not belonging to you or belonging to me. No free thing can grown in a cotton mill town, so to work we must go. Child, let us go down. Way down in my dreams, lived a devil well dressed. He counted his money with his foot on my chest. I knew that my fever told a story well known. I am no longer and the mill hurries on. There are trees in the country that give fruit for free – not belonging to you or belonging to me. No free thing can grown in a cotton mill town, so to work we must go. Child, let us go down.
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The Mystery of You and Me © Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp, 2006 ____________________________________________________ Vs.1. How can we say we’re meant to be and then doubt we should be in it? How can we say we’ve waited so long and then end it before we begin it? Vs.2. So many nights we’ve laid awake thinking it was only the weather, wondering if our troubled hearts thought we should have known better. Ch.1. If we could find the compass and map to show us that heavenly key, we could unlock the mystery of love – the mystery of you and me . . . the mystery of you and me. Vs.3. How will we ever learn to love if we refuse to let love teach us? Is it we who are too deaf and blind for it’s light to reach us? Ch.2. If we could find the compass and map to show us that heavenly key, we could unlock the mystery of love – the mystery of you and me . . . Ch.3. If we could find the compass and map to show us that heavenly key, we could unlock the mystery of love – the mystery of you and me . . . the mystery of you and me.
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If I ever get ten dollars gonna buy me a three piece suit and gonna buy you a diamond ring and gonna marry you. If I ever get ten dollars gonna buy me a piece of land and build a house with a picket fence with my own two hands. If I ever get ten dollars gonna quit this railway car and hang up my walking shoes and stay right where you are. @ Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp
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I heard some trouble came your way just flew on in the other day It shook you up, knocked you flat left you hurting quick as that I’m no doctor, I’m just a friend who’s had his share of old dead ends I’m no preacher, but here’s what I know You take it easy, take it slow When tales of sorrow chase you down leave you lyin’ on lower ground Don’t you listen (don’t you listen) to that sound there’s a sweet song comin’ round I’m no doctor, I’m just a friend who’s had a share of old dead ends I’m no preacher, but here’s what I know You take it easy, take it slow When tales of sorrow chase you down leave you lyin’ on lower ground Don’t you listen (don’t you listen) to that sound there’s a sweet song comin’ round © Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp 2011
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about

Live recording of Jeni & Billy and the Big Picnic Band's concert for the Pasadena Folk Music Society at the Beckman Institute, Caltech. November 2014.

credits

released May 1, 2015

Jeni Hankins, vocals & various instruments
Billy Kemp, various instruments & harmony vocals
Craig Eastman, fiddles and mandolins
Dillon O'Brian, keyboards & harmony vocals
Denny Weston Jr, percussion
Dave Way, bass

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Jeni Hankins London, UK

Jeni Hankins grew up in the coalfields of Appalachian in Southwest Virginia among a family of miners, moonshiners, and journalists. Her writing pulls the grit, gumption, and keen sense of observation out of that heritage like drawing water from her grandmother’s well.

In every song, Jeni’s “true sense of place shines through – old as the hills, but brand new at the same time.”
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