Jason Ringenberg: A Day at the Farm with Farmer Jason

Jason MacNeil

Jason Ringenberg

A Day at the Farm with Farmer Jason

Label: Yep Roc
US Release Date: 2003-10-21
UK Release Date: 2003-10-27

Jason Ringenberg is better known as the hell-raising frontman for country-rock band Jason and the Scorchers. The touring and gigs has resulted in him being described as "the rockinest folk singer that ever lived!" But after years of the rigorous lifestyle, and with three little Ringenbergs on the farm, the singer decided to change gears somewhat. Well, quite a heck of a lot actually. The new album seems to have been researched, produced, and given the thumbs up from Ringenberg's three young daughters: Kelsey Beth, Camille Grace, and Addie Rose. So, the first children's album from this musician is indeed a departure.

Starting off the near dozen tunes is "Get Up Up Up!" a hoedown containing fiddles, banjo, and guitars as Ringenberg comfortably adjusts his appeal to those who years ago were on a totally different bottle than fans of his other band. "The day is bright, we're feeling fine, let's go and run to the horizon", he sings as a rooster can be heard and also children singing along, known in the liner notes as the "Little Farmers Chorus". And it seems to be just the right amount of time, clocking in at a minute and a half. The second tune is basically an introduction to the album, with Ringenberg talking about the daily chores on the farm -- feeding the animals and riding the tractor. This moves into the actual track, the well-known "A Guitar Pickin' Chicken'". The pickin' itself is pretty good and brings an early Bo Diddley to mind in spots. It also is the sort of tune that parents can pick up on, particularly the guitar solos.

Most of the songs start with brief spoken introductions about the farm and what goes into running a good farm and keeping the animals happy. "If you have a pony though kids, you need to take good care of it", Ringenberg, er, Farmer Jason says before "Whoa There Pony!", a toe-tapper that has some of Ringenberg's famous wail and some Celtic-esque whistles. It's probably the best tune on the album, as Ringenberg fully fleshes it out. Trying to keep a thread in the story, he decides that the better mode of transportation is the tractor, hence the ensuing "The Tractor Goes Chug Chug Chug", a song with quite a lot of '70s funk in the guitar, with a swampy Southern tone to it. The Little Farmers Chorus also completes the John Deere reference nicely before it quickly fades out less than two minutes later.

"I'm Just an Old Cow" again begins with a description and has more of a polka-feeling to it, with Ringenberg personifying the cow with a slower, deeper vocal. "Don't like to make a scene, don't like to make a fuss, sometimes I move so slow I make the farmer cuss", he sings as George Bradfute adds a cello that depicts the cow's "moo". "He's A Hog Hog Hog" has more of a country-rock style, although trying to get into a tune about a pig (which is nicely dressed up a la Elvis in the album sleeve's artwork) is arduous at best. Regardless, Ringenberg is able to pull it off. By the time "The Doggie Dance" comes around, you are either questioning your sanity as an older child or slapping your knee as your kid dances and screams. Its own saving grace is its resemblance to "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron" tune of yesteryear.

And there are more, whether it's the repetitive "meow, meow, meow" of "Little Kitty" or the bluegrass or mountain music blueprint to "Corny Corn", which, believe it or not, isn't all that corny. And then there is the Cajun-flavored "Hey Little Lamb", a song that shouldn't be as catchy as it is. The last tune features Tahra Dergee of a popular children's television show on PBS. But by then, the sun is setting on this quirky yet surprising kid's album.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.