New Tunes


This is Clifftop week — when old time musicians from around the world gather in West Virginia to keep that tradition alive, which involves lots of fiddles, banjos, mandolins, basses, guitars, booze and very little sleep. I’m not gonna make it this year: life is a bit hectic around my place. Maybe make it to Rockbridge in September.

Meantime, I have been busy with some tunes of my own. The collection is called ‘Down The Road’ and includes eight instrumentals (solo guitar), recorded in the chapel at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. Which brings us to the drawing above, which depicts a fugitive slave making his dash for freedom (artist unknown).

The title tune was inspired by research into the life of a family slave that I published in The Wall Street Journal (you can find it at my website:; the article is in the News section and is called ‘My Family’s Bones’). During my reading I came across advertisements for runaway slaves from the Buckingham County, Virgina area. One of those runaways was named Tom, who appears to have been caught and returned to captivity, after which he fled again. ‘Down the Road’ imagines him finally getting away. Way to go, Tom.

There are seven other tunes, including ‘In My Father’s House,’ inspired by my father’s struggle with dementia, ‘The Girl in the Meadow,’ about a friend who buried her mother (dug the grave herself), and a neo-old time tune called ‘Possum Got A Peg Leg.’ All told the songs total just under fifty minutes. They are at my site, in the Music section, and can be downloaded for free.

In an unusual move, I’m planning to get out and play these new instrumentals, with perhaps a few singing songs thrown in here and there. I also plan to write about all that for ‘Alive.’ I hope to go to some interesting places, and meet some interesting musicians/promoters/publicists/ etc. If you happen to know of a place that might be suitable, please let me know.

Meanwhile, hope you enjoy the new music. Let me know what you think, especially if it’s good:


About Dave Shiflett

Dave Shiflett is a writer -- former critic for Bloomberg News and a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and other publications -- and author of several books, including one with Donald Trump ("The America We Deserve"). He also writes and performs music and has released four CDs -- "Time Goes Rushing By" (Floor Creak); "Songs for Aging Cynics" (The Karma Farmers); "Afternoon Lamentations" (Dave Shiflett and Friends) and "From the First Time" (Dave Shiflett and Friends).
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