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Eric Brace & Peter Cooper

Eric Brace & Peter Cooper

Grammy nominees Eric Brace & Peter Cooper have created a body of work that reflects their journalistic sensibilities, a love of harmony and wry humor, and their deep respect for the masters that inspired them and whom they've played with.

They kick off 2016 with the release of their fourth duo record, C&O Canal. Why an album of covers from Washington D.C.'s folk and bluegrass scenes? Peter spent his high school years in the Washington DC area, and Eric spent his high school years and much of his grown-up life in the nation's capital. It was there that each of them spent way too many (yet not enough) nights at the Birchmere nightclub, among many other venues. Thursday nights at the Birchmere was when The Seldom Scene took the stage, and changed Eric and Peter's lives. C&O Canal is their thank you note to all the music they heard -- often through The Seldom Scene. With songs by the Scene's founding lead singer John Starling, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Emmylou Harris, The Rosslyn Mountain Boys and many more, C&O Canal is a timely reminder that Washington is much more than a political town.

2013 was a big year for Brace & Cooper. April marked the release of their third duo record, The Comeback Album, a sparkling collection that features the pair's splendid harmonies and deft storytelling. In addition to The Comeback Album, Brace and Cooper each released solo projects. Peter Cooper’s Opening Day was heralded as “reflecting his witty, literate world views.” Eric Brace's “folk opera” set in the California gold rush, Hangtown Dancehall, premiered to a packed house at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville in November 2013.

Prior to these hallmark releases, the duo forayed into the world of children's music with the Grammy-nominated I Love: Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow. The album was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Weekend Edition,” in USA Today and the Chicago Sun-Times, and was named a Top 5 Americana album by Rich Kienzle in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Produced by Brace and Cooper, the album features performances by Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Bobby Bare, Duane Eddy, Jim Lauderdale, Elizabeth Cook, as well as Brace, Cooper, and others.

Eric Brace & Peter Cooper’s previous collaborations include two other duo releases. On Master Sessions the pair fronted a band that featured pedal steel guitar legend Lloyd Green and dobro master Mike Auldridge, and the album made numerous critics’ Best-of 2010 lists. Their first record together, You Don’t Have To Like Them Both, was a Top Ten album on the Roots, Americana, and Folk charts.

Brace and Cooper have acclaimed music careers outside their work as a duo. Brace, a former music journalist for the Washington Post, leads the renowned roots rock band Last Train Home. Cooper is a writer and researcher at The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, as well as a lecturing professor of country music history at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music. He was for many years the senior music writer and columnist for The Tennessean newspaper, and has released three critically praised solo albums on Brace’s Red Beet Records label.

The duo has opened on large stages for John Prine, Nanci Griffith, Don Williams, Todd Snider, Rodney Crowell, Iris Dement, Chris Smither, Dan Tyminsky, Travis Tritt & Jerry Douglas, among others. They've shared the stage with Tom T. Hall, Jim Lauderdale, Suzy Bogguss, Dan Navarro, Marshall Chapman, Kim Carnes, Emmylou Harris, and others. They've recently played such U.S. festivals as Bristol Rhythm & Roots, Tin Pan South, Americana Music Festival, Folk Alliance International, 30A Songwriters, and Knoxville Rhythm and Blooms, as well as the Truck, Summertyne, and Maverick festivals in the U.K. 

Brace and Cooper tour steadily across the U.S. and Europe, often with their producer and guitar-playing collaborator Thomm Jutz.

C&O Canal

C&O Canal

Mary Chapin Carpenter: It’s a real honor to have a song on this record. Eric and Peter cut their musical teeth on Washington D.C.’s folk, acoustic, and bluegrass greats during their “impressionable” years. They have lovingly curated a collection of songs that shows the depth and range of artists who made Washington home – or a mandatory tour stop -- as well as giving it the informal title of “Bluegrass Capital of the World," especially on Thursday nights when the Seldom Scene had their regular gig at the legendary Birchmere. Washington D.C.

1. C&O Canal

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Lyrics

(by John Starling)

 

Hey, hey, hey, lock ready

Oh hey, hey, lock


Up from a night in a shanty saloon

He remembers the night

And the boatman’s tune

It’s all a part of the boatman’s soul

As the smell of the dust

Of the Cumberland coal

 

With a three mule team he winds his way

Through the Paw Paw tunnel about midday

Passing the locks through the rain and fog

His thoughts of nights

At the Salty Dog

 

Hey, hey, hey, lock ready

Oh hey, hey, lock

 

Well, the words like a lockhouse

Covered with time

Live on for us in an old man’s mind

Never no more

On the C&O Canal line

 

Doomed by the rail from the very start

Hope still lives in the people’s heart

We’ve a debt to pay and a promise to keep

To save his way from an endless sleep

 

Hey, hey, hey, lock ready

Oh hey, hey, lock


Well, the words like the lockhouse

Covered with time

Live on for us in an old man’s mind

Never no more

On the C&O Canal line

1. C and O Canal

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Lyrics
2. John Wilkes Booth

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Lyrics

(by Mary Chapin Carpenter)

John Wilkes Booth was a southern man
Born of an actor in Maryland
Bound for fortune on a gas-lit stage
Bound to die at a tender age

Washington to Baltimore
He played the bills and he slept with whores
And he burned inside with a hatred deep
For the man who caused the south to weep

Young Abe Lincoln wasn't young no more
Tired old man when he won the war
And he dreamed at night of his death by the hands
Of the bitter world and a faceless man

And he saw his body in a ghastly dream
Draped in black while his widow screamed
Two silver dollars on his eyelids lay
Abraham Lincoln has died today

And they said there were five and they said there were ten
Some say there was never more than just one man
Who would smile to see Mr. Lincoln dead
In the name of God and Dixie, in the name of God and Dixieland

John Wilkes Booth and his band of men
They'd failed before but would try again
When Good Friday dawned with a fickle sun
Then Booth declared the day had come

And the word was passed and the guns were brought
Down to Mary Sarrat's boarding house
Sealed in a note, Booth named just four
But the gallows would sway with many more

And they said there were five and they said there were ten
Some say there was never more than just one man
Who would smile to see Mr. Lincoln dead
In the name of God and Dixie, in the name of God and Dixieland

John Wilkes Booth went to his grave
With a bullet in his neck and a broken leg
A patriot and his fantasy
Of redemption, grace and bravery

And those who were hanged and those who spent
Their lives behind a jailer's fence
Only Booth could have proved them free
Of the taint of the conspiracy

For they said there were five and they said there were ten
Some say there was never more than just one man
Who would smile to see Mr. Lincoln dead
In the name of God and Dixie, in the name of God and Dixieland
In the name of God and Dixie, in the name of God and Dixieland

3. Boulder to Birmingham

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Lyrics

(by Emmylou Harris & Bill Danoff)


I don't want to hear a love song
I got on this airplane just to fly
And I know there's life below
But all that it can show me
Is the prairie and the sky

And I don't want to hear a sad story
Full of heartbreak and desire
The last time I felt like this
It was in the wilderness

And the canyon was on fire
And I stood on the mountain

In the night and I watched it burn
I watched it burn, I watched it burn.

I would rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham
I would hold my life in his saving grace
I would walk all the way from Boulder to Birmingham
If I thought I could see, I could see your face

Well, you really got me this time
And the hardest part is knowing I'll survive.
I’ve come to listen for the sound
Of the trucks as they move down
Out on ninety-five
And pretend that it's the ocean
Coming down to wash me clean, to wash me clean

Do you know what I mean

I would rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham
I would hold my life in his saving grace
I would walk all the way from Boulder to Birmingham
If I thought I could see, I could see your face

4. Blue Ridge

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Lyrics

(by Rich Malis & Bob Artis)

Blue ridge

do you call to all your children

Like you've been calling me?
Blue ridge

Why are you calling me home?

There came a time when I traveled too far

To too many places and too many bars
But all that I've traveled and all that I earn

Were no consolation for all that I yearn

The dew on the laurel, the tall swaying pine

The clear mountain waters, the bluest of skies
Take me back, take me back to


Blue ridge
Do you call to all your children

Like you've been calling me?
Blue ridge

Why are you calling me home?

The dew on the laurel, the tall swaying pine

The clear mountain waters, the bluest of skies

Take me back, take me back to


Blue ridge, do you call to all your children

Like you've been calling me?
Blue ridge, why are you calling me home?
Blue ridge, why are you calling me home?

5. He Rode All the Way to Texas

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Lyrics

(by John Starling)

A light shines from my window
Just can't sleep no more
Lord, it hurts so much to be alone
But the real men never do admit
that It's them that might be wrong
At least that's what he told me in his song

He rode all the way to Texas
On an old freight train
Didn't miss the girl he left behind
He rode all the way to Texas
Didn't shed a tear
He's lettin' you know that he's the movin' kind

The freedom that he sings about
I guess I'll never know
Just can't shake the guilt or kill the pain
But he lets me ride when the lights turn low
Get on board the radio
And take a ride to Texas on his train

He rode all the way to Texas
On an old freight train
Didn't miss the girl he left behind
He rode all the way to Texas
Didn't shed a tear
Lettin' you know that he's the movin' kind
He's lettin' you know that he's the movin' kind

 

6. Rainy Night in Texas

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Lyrics

(by Karl Straub)

It's a rainy night in Texas

And our dinner's almost done

I bought enough for company

But I cooked enough for one

Cause you like to dress your stories up

As pretty as a bride

but that sounds too sweet

So let's just say you lied

 

If I only had a dollar

For each time I heard you say

This is gonna be the last time
That you treated me this way

I could surely build a fleet

Of paper boats from dollar bills

And I'd sit and watch the boats get

washed away

 

There's a dog without a collar

Getting soaked out all alone

and a boy jumping in puddles
While his dad talks on the phone

And I hate to think of you out there

Without me next to you

and if I were there
I hate what I would do

 

If I only had a dollar

For each time I heard you say

This is gonna be the last time

That you treated me this way

I could surely build a fleet

Of paper boats from dollar bills

And I'd sit and watch the boats get

washed away

 

It's a rainy night in Texas

And our dinner's almost done

I bought enough for company

But I cooked enough for one

Cause you like to dress your stories up

As pretty as a bride

But that sounds too sweet

So let's just say you lied

 

If I only had a dollar

For each time I heard you say

This is gonna be the last time
That you treated me this way

I could surely build a fleet

Of paper boats from dollar bills

And I'd sit and watch the boats get

washed away

And I'd sit and watch the boats get

washed away

And I'd sit and watch the boats get

washed away

 

7. If That's the Way You Fee...

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Lyrics

(by Ralph Stanley)

I don't blame you for I know you want him
That your love for me was never real
I could hold you but you'd be unhappy
But it's alright if that's the way you feel

I know that I will always go on caring
And my feelings now I must conceal
I still need you and I want you with me
But it's alright if that's the way you feel

I always knew some day I would lose you
When those lies about me were revealed
Its plain to see sweetheart you believe them
But its alright if that's the way you feel

I know that I will always go on caring
And my feelings now I must conceal
I still need you and I want you with me
But it's alright if that's the way you feel

I still need you and I want you with me
But it's alright if that's the way you feel
It's alright if that's the way you feel

8. Been Awhile

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Lyrics

(by Joe Triplett)

Hear the singing of an old bull frog, Anna

He’s just a'sittin' like a bump on a log, Anna

He just likes to sit down here

At the water all day

He’ll keep on singing

As long you don’t rustle too loud when you pass his way

 

Spring come and the river swoll up, Anna

I been to town just to fix my old truck, Anna

Jimmy told me "Look out, hon’"

Now his eyes are growing dim

Jimmy said it looks like

There ain’t no easy way out

From this mess we’re in

 

Been awhile since I felt like

Like I could fall

Been awhile since I felt like

I could feel anything at all

 

Been some other girls and I liked a few, Anna

The thing that come between and them is you, Anna

I just like to lay down here

Watch the water roll away

I tried to figure just what

That ol’ river’s trying to say

 


Been awhile since I felt like

Like I could fall

Been awhile since I felt like

I could feel anything at all


Been awhile since I felt like

Like I could fall

Been awhile since I felt like

I could feel anything at all

9. Love Was the Price

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Lyrics

(by Alice Gerrard)

Forgotten, forgotten

Can no longer see

My eyes have gone blind

My soul it can’t feel

 

The love we once had

Like a bird fallen down

Was gliding and soaring

Now dying on the ground

 

Nothing to hold it

No, nowhere to go

Just down to the marshes

To lay and grow cold

Grow cold

 

And it wasn’t in May

No it was in December

The place that love ended

Had no name and no number

 

One by one the doors closed

And the walls grew higher

Torment the seller

And destruction, the buyer

‘Til neither knew how

Nor neither knew why

Just knew it was done

And that love was the price

Just knew it was done

And that love was the price

10. Boat's Up the River

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Lyrics

(by John Jackson)

Boats up river

It won’t come down

I believe my soul, babe

I’m water bound

Ain’t that a shame

I am to blame

And I wonder if my baby’s

On that train

Boats up river

It won’t come down

I believe my soul, babe

I’m water bound

Ain’t that a shame

I am to blame

And I wonder if my baby's

On that train

If the river was whiskey

And I was a duck

I’d dive to the bottom

And I’d never come up

Ain’t that a shame

I am to blame

And I wonder if my baby's

On that train

Boats up river

It won’t come down

I believe my soul, babe

I’m water bound

Ain’t that a shame

I am to blame

And I wonder if my baby's

On that train

Oh, I wonder if my baby's on that train

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