Gumbo Bottoms, a Big Muddy Musical

by Gumbo Bottoms Cast and Band

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    Original artwork by Tim Nadeau, adorns the cover and disc with his river landscapes.

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about

From the Columbia Daily Tribune's Aarik Danielsen

"The folksy musical "Gumbo Bottoms," is a lively, loose-limbed affair that engages topics of race, class and belonging...The songs deftly navigate different currents, unpacking big social issues in simple yet evocative terms while liberally sprinkling in humorous, clever turns-of-phrase, both lyrical and musical...Barton and Ludwig's work is the perfect mix of simple string-band glories and the appropriately over the top style of musical theatre. "

credits

released May 22, 2014

Book by Meredith Ludwig, Songs by Cathy Barton and Meredith Ludwig

Singers: Lesley Oswald, Steve Jones, Willie Cogshell, Deb Jewett, Lou Thompson, Cathy Barton, Dave Para and Josh Kluck

Musicians:
Cathy Barton – Banjo, Indian Flute & drum
Dave Para – Guitar, jaw harp, bones & mandolin
Kevin Hennessy – Upright & electric bass
Pete Szkolka - Electric guitar
David Wilson – Fiddle - Overture, Misery, Wiley Guiley Mighty Mo, I’ll Take Perfume, Nothing Better than a River Life, Spring Rise, Unfree Freedom, River’s Reach
Thomas Verdot – Fiddle - A Woman Needs a Man, Smell the Money, Mighty Big Catch, Gumbo Bottoms


Sponsored by Turner Hall River Rats for the Arts & Roger Allbee Jr.
Produced by Cathy Barton, Dave Para & Meredith Ludwig
Recorded, mixed and edited by Pete Szkolka, psmusicstudio.com
Artwork - Tim Nadeau ~ Special thanks – Janice Bradshaw

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Gumbo Bottoms Band and Cast Boonville, Missouri

"Gumbo Bottoms, a Big Muddy Musical" was inspired by stories of people who lived and worked along the Missouri River. Turner Hall River Rats for the Arts, a community organization in Boonville, Missouri, sponsored the development of the musical, the premiere in 2008, the regional tour and this studio recording. ... more

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Track Name: Misery
SONG: MISERY - VIVIAN

All of my life it’s been the men
Who told me to leave it up to them.
“We’ll do your financial management---
And you can be an ornament!”

“Dear trouble not your pretty head,”
Was all I ever did hear said..
Well, now it’s all left up to me,
And all I’ve got is my…misery!

Missouri…misery!
There’s nothing else that’s left to me.
Missouri…misery!
It’s a Godforsaken place to be!

Didn’t I lead a privileged life,
As wealthy Mr. Marks wife?
Those days are gone, like wisps of smoke,
Thanks, Mr. Marks, for now I’m broke!

I’ve lost possessions, buildings and land,
I left my fortune in his hands.
But all those years I couldn’t see,
That all he was holding was…misery!

Since this is all that’s left for me,
I guess I’ll go to my Miz-zouri.
I’ll go and see what I can find;
It’s all I’ve got…but at least it’s mine!

You women who defer to men,
To do your business management,
Do it yourself or you might someday be
Like Vivian in her misery!

Chorus: Missouri…Misery!
There’s nothing else. (At least it’s free!)
Missouri…misery!
It’s a God-forsaken destiny-
It’s a God-forsaken coun-ter-ree
It’s a God-forsaken place to be!
Track Name: A Woman Needs a Man
SONG: A WOMAN NEEDS A MAN (Tune: Allouette)

JACQUES
Chorus: A man he needs a woman, that's the way
it's always been ---
But not near as much as a woman needs a man!

He needs her cooking don’t you know,
But she needs him to make the dough!

Make the dough! (VIVIAN: Would you please go!)
Ohhhh---

Chorus

Like the river needs to run,
She needs a man to have some fun!
Have some fun! (Vivian: You're not the one!)
Make the dough (Vivian: Would you please go!)

Ohhhh---

Chorus

He needs her like the cow needs the grass,
She needs a man to pinch her ------!!
Derriere! (Vivian: YOU WOULDN'T DARE!)
Have some fun! (Vivian: You're not the one!)
Make the dough (Vivian: Would you please go!)
Ohhhh ---

Like the fishes need the sea,
You need a man --- so why not me?
Why not me? (Vivian: Why not just LEAVE!)
Derriere! (Vivian: YOU WOULDN'T DARE)
Have some fun! (Vivian: You're not the one!)
Make the dough (Vivian: Would you please go!)
Ohhhh ---

Chorus
Track Name: Wiley, Guiley, Mighty Mo
SONG: WILEY, GUILEY, MIGHTY MO (Tune: Jenny Jenkins)

LUCY
The river is a giant, oh my dear, oh my dear,
The river is a giant, gentle lady;
The river is a giant, it is restless and defiant,

Chorus: It’s the winding, twining, twisty, frisky,
Wiley, guiley, mighty river MO---
Wiley, guiley MO.

The river is a beast, oh my dear, oh my dear,
The river is a beast, gentle lady;

GABE
The river is a beast, on your land it makes a feast,
It’s the…


LUCY
The river’s like a fickle man, oh my dear, oh my dear,
The river’s like a fickle man, gentle lady;
The river’s like a fickle man, here and then he’s gone again,

LUCY & GABE
It’s the …

GABE
The river’s like a bucking horse, oh my ma’am, yes ma’am,
The river’s like a bucking horse, gentle lady,
The river’s like a bucking horse, twisting, turning changing
course.

LUCY & GABE
It’s the…

The river’s like a restless child, oh my dear, oh my dear,
The river’s like a restless child, gentle lady,
The river’s like a restless child, we can forgive her when she’s
wild.

It’s the…
Track Name: Smell The Money
SONG: SMELL THE MONEY

JACQUES
Just beneath that dirt and clay,
That is where our fortunes lay!
Picks and shovels, muscle and might
And we’ll be wealthy by tomorrow night!

Aztec chiefs and royalty,
Buried there beneath that tree!
All that gold and jewels and gems---
Makes me want to shout ‘AMEN!’

Chorus
Can’t you hear those gold coins jingle?
Can’t you see the gemstones mingle?
Can’t you smell the money, honey?
Darlin’, stick with me!

Hallelujah! We’ll soon be set,
With all this loot we’re gonna get!
Silver! Jewels! Beaten gold!
And pots a thousand-one years old!

You think that you were set before?
Just wait until you see this store!
Why pirates in the Carib-bean
Would drool at the riches we’ll be seein’!

Chorus
VIVIAN joins JACQUES and they dance!


JACQUES
The King of England’s a pros’prous man,
With castles, crown jewels, houses, land;
He’s a rich man you can bet---
But not as rich as we’re gonna get!

JACQUES & VIVIAN
Chorus:
Can’t you hear those gold coins jingle?
Can’t you see the gemstones mingle?
Can’t you smell the money, honey?
Darlin’, stick with me!
Darlin’ wait and see
Darlin’ stick…with…me!
Track Name: Cry Of The Ancestors
SONG: CRY OF THE ANCESTORS

CAST
Listen! The wind she moans,
She sighs, she murmurs, she groans;
She says "Here are Spirits and bones --
Leave them alone!"

This sacred place we keep ---
Here our relatives sleep,
Don't make them cry and weep,
Let them sleep!

You would never dig up your own, so leave them alone!
You would never dig up your own, so leave them alone!

Repeat
Track Name: I'll Take Perfume
SONG: I’LL TAKE PERFUME

I like fresh air! (Lucy)
I'll take perfume! (Vivian)
I like the outdoors! (Lucy)
I prefer my own room. (Vivian)

I can eat when I want! (Lucy)
I like meals served at eight! (Vivian)
Fish fried in a pan! (Lucy)
Pate on a gold plate! (Vivian)

Chorus: (Sung together)
I'm quite happy to live just the way that I do ---
So why would I want to trade places with you?
Why would I want to trade places with you?

I sleep under the stars! (Lucy)
Oh, my canopy bed! (Vivian)
My quilt keeps me warm ---(Lucy)
I like satins instead! (Vivian)

I live all on my own. (Lucy)
Butlers come when I call! (Vivian)
I can fend for myself! (Lucy)
I let them do it all! (Vivian)

Chorus

Give me sunsets and rainbows. (Lucy)
Just get me off of this boat! (Vivian)
I like cold frosty mornings ---(Lucy)
I want my mink coat! (Vivian)

I can trap you a mink. (Lucy)
A mink is NOT a fur coat! (Vivian)
Learn to skin it yourself ! (Lucy)
Stop!! I'm leaving this boat! (Vivian)

But you can make your own coat! (Lucy)
What I need I shall buy --- (Vivian)
Well, not here on this river! (Lucy)
And that's one more reason why --- (Vivian)

Chorus
Track Name: Nothing Better Than A River Life
SONG: NOTHING BETTER THAN A RIVER LIFE

LUCY
When you see a river, you just gotta cross over,
You can't wait to reach the other side.
But I see a river, I see a life-giver,
And a mighty fine place to live my life.

GABE
When you see a river, do you really see the river,
Or are you thinking how to build a bridge?
But this river, life-giver, gives me breakfast, lunch and
dinner,
This river's full of every kind of fish.

LUCY & GABE
Chorus:
Flathead, shovelnose and humpback buffalo,
I eat as well as any wealthy man!
Blue cat and mud cat, channel cat, big and fat,
My wealth is in the river, not the land.

GABE
There's just no way to measure all the joy and the
pleasure,
Getting dinner with some hooks and earthworm bait;
For all I need to dine is a rock and hooks and line,
Then I lay back in my boat and dream and wait.

LUCY
When you see a river, do you really see the water,
Or just a churning menace in your way?
But I know this muddy water gives me drum and gar
and sucker,
And keeps me full and happy all my days.

LUCY & GABE
Chorus:

There’s nothing so grand as catfish in a pan,
And you're floating in your boat at eventide.
Full moon shining on the stream, frogs and crickets
sing,
There's nothing better than a river life!

Chorus:
Track Name: Unfree Freedom
SONG: UNFREE FREEDOM

GABE

I know my place; I sure know my lot,
I'm black, you're white, you call the shots.
Tell me why that Civil War was fought?
Unfree freedom is all the black man got.

I know my place, you bet I do,
I've got a name, but I'm just 'boy' to you!
How long we gotta wait this through?
Unfree freedom's got me mean and blue.

(Moan as a kind of chorus)

There's a lesson I learned and I ain't forgot,
One wrong step, and it's noose and knot!
That's what happened to Jimmy Scott,
White man's justice was all that poor man got.

He met a gal in an empty lot
He was soon fingered and he was caught;
Don't matter if innocent or not,
No trial at all for poor Jimmy Scott.

(Moan as chorus)

The years go by, it's all the same,
Ain't got respect, ain't called by name,
How long we playin' this white man's game?
Unfree freedom's just a cryin' shame.

I know my place, oh, yes, I do,
But if only you stood in my shoes--
If what's done to me was done to you,
Unfree freedom be breakin' your heart in two.

(Moan chorus.)
Track Name: Spring Rise
SONG: SPRING RISE

LUCY
It starts up north when the sun hits the snow, blankets of
white melt away;
What begins as a trickle through the rocks and the
trees,
Ends up a river at the close of the day.

The rains come down and add to the flow,
Til the river grows mighty and big;
She mingles, meanders, she puddles and pools,
And dances o'er the land like she's dancing a jig.

Chorus
Spring rise! It's spring rise! River's got to be free,
Spring rise! Spring rise! She won't simply let
you be.
You'd better not nap by her shore,
"fore you know it, that shore's no more.
Spring rise! It's spring rise! Spring rise!

Wade in the water on a hot afternoon,
Cooling the sweat on your brow;
Next day you'll be in that very same place.
Waist deep in water and you’re wondering how.

It's the river's own music, it's of rhythm and time,
And that's something we feel and we know;
We're part of that rhythm, we know that old tune,

And we dance along to that big muddy flow.

Chorus
Track Name: Mighty Big Catch
SONG: MIGHTY BIG CATCH

GABE
Chorus: Hey good folks, would you look at this?
We caught us two big ugly fish!
Step right up, folks, and you will see
The biggest catch in Mis-souri!

LUCY
A fool-proof plot they tried to hatch,
The proof's the fools in our big catch.
Ain't no one gonna believe their eyes,
That we caught such a mighty prize!

VIVIAN
Their own greed made for dandy bait,
We didn't have long to sit and wait.
We caught 'em as they tried to flee,
The biggest darn fish you'll ever see!

Chorus: ALL

GABE
One's a cheat and one's a bum,
They're common bottom-feeding scum.
You think a gar has nasty looks?
Just wait until you see these crooks!

LUCY
Just watch 'em flop upon the ground,
A-tumbling and a-rolling 'round.
Big and fleshy, with buggy eyes,
Ain't never before caught fish this size!

Chorus: ALL

VIVIAN
In all my days, I ain't ever yet,
Caught such big ones in my net.
One here's got a mighty stench,
I got a rare variety --- I think it's French!!

Chorus: ALL
Track Name: River's Reach
SONG: RIVER’S REACH

VIVIAN
River's rising o'er its banks,
It's coming to my door.
I watch it come and I want to run,
Climb up to a safe, high shore.

Chorus
River's reach, you're out to get me,
I'm scared, confused, I need more time.
River's reaching, drawing closer,
Close to this lonely heart of mine.

The waters pooling around my feet,
Why don't I run away?
What's past is past. Water's rising fast,
I must decide to go or stay.

Chorus

River's rising to my knees,
Yet here I stand and stay.
What's there to lose if I drown my blues?
Go on! Take this poor soul away!

Chorus

River's rising to my waist,
If I stay I'll surely drown.
But I must confide, I feel a change inside---
What I've lost, I might have found.

Chorus
Track Name: Gumbo Bottoms
SONG: GUMBO BOTTOMS

It sucks you in, it pulls you down,
It's slippery, sticky, rich and brown,
It's clay-like muck that sticks like glue,
It's stuff that holds on fast to you.

When the river floods and shifts the land,
It leaves behind rich silt and sand.
Walk on through this mucky goo,
It'll take your boots right off of you!

Chorus
A gumbo is a soup, that's true --
Okra thickens it up like stew.
Our gumbo bottoms are thick with mud,
That sticky stuff gets in your blood.
Gumbo is "patois" they say --
By Creoles down New Orleans way.
Our gumbo's mud and silt and sand--
Thick, rich "patois" of river land!

Now, gumbo has the power to heal,
Its drying ways will form a seal.
It'll draw the poison from your skin,
And lets the healing time begin.

It's hard to leave, but if you do,
You'll find that mud still stuck on you.
Can't leave this place too far behind--
Gumbo holds to your heart and mind

Chorus
A gumbo is a soup, that's true ---
Okra thickens it up like stew.
Our gumbo bottoms are thick with mud,
That sticky stuff gets in your blood.
A gumbo is "patois" they say,
By Creoles down New Orleans way.
Our gumbo's mud and silt and sand,
Thick, rich "patois" of river land.

Once you're here, you tend to stay,
It's hard to shake off gumbo clay,
Can't leave this place too far behind,
Gumbo holds on fast to your heart and mine!