Songs of the Session

In an effort to recreate and honor a tradition that was begun back in 1957, when Frank Hamilton would teach the same song to different levels of players, we proudly present The Songs of The Session.

Each session two songs are chosen, one from the songbook and one from the general repertoire. All classes are encouraged to learn these tunes and apply the skills they are working on at their individual levels.

As we are in the middle of the second decade of the century, our songs of this session exhibit the diversity that is so much a part of the Old Town School experience. These songs are rich in tradition and there is simply no reason why they can't be approached by any of the instruments we teach here at The Old Town School.

April - June 2016

"The Crawdad Song"

Is spring finally here? Well, we can't promise you that, but we're hoping to rejuvenate things a bit by singing and playing our songs of the session. From the Songbook on page 30, "The Crawdad Song," which asks the musical question, "Whatcha gonna do when the lake runs dry honey?". It is a good example of the cross pollination of African-American and Anglo-American music. Originating as Negro blues sung in levee camps and juke joints, this tune with a variety of lyrics spread at the turn of the [20th] century among hillbillies, cotton mill workers, and other poor folk throughout the South. With different words it is known as "Sweet Thing," "Sugar Babe," and more. Our version is sung by people who eke out a living by catching fresh-water crayfish.

Chart for "The Crawdad Song"


"Starfish and Coffee"

"Starfish and Coffee" appeared on Prince's 1987 double album Sign of the Times. Many folks know it from a version Prince did on the Muppets TV show. It's a fun song, simple to play with quirky psychedelic sort of lyrics set in a grammar school. Obviously, this year has taken it's toll on some iconic musicians. We mourn our fellow Midwesterner from the North, and we celebrate his genius by singing his music, which will live on and on. The message we take from this ditty: "If you set your mind free baby, maybe you'll understand."

Chart for "Starfish and Coffee"

The Old Town School of Folk Music, Inc.
4544 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago IL 60625  •  773.728.6000