Songs for a Mayday Picnic

Songs for a Mayday Picnic


After the Floods had broken up, I was left without a musical outlet, so I played mostly at secret cafés and for the birds on the range. The range was an out of business driving range turned fallow cum bird sanctuary for which I had become "caretaker." As winter turned to spring, by wood-stove and lantern-light, I thought long and hard about my concept of folk music, and worked on the creation of the May Day Picnic song folder, a collection of folk songs in the public domain, and an attempt to rescue music from the grasp of the spectacle and returning it to the voices and beings of the public domain.
From the folder:
Folk music is timeless. It resonates through the ages for people of all ages. It is composed of musical themes, forms, and songs that are continually re-worked, re-interpreted, and created anew. Folk songs exist as part of the ephemeral aural landscape of the human senses: as lasting as a mountain range, as inherent a birthright of every child as the right to gaze upon a majestic mountain. Yet just as a mountaintop can be obliterated, just as humans can attempt to dominate, control, and subordinate the experience of nature, the idea of a common music, free for all to sing, create, and enjoy, is under attack by many of the same forces. Music does not belong to the Hit Makers. It's purpose is not to make money. Music is for teaching abc's, to express emotions, to tell histories and to impart lessons. It is not about exerting power and influence over a population: it is about empowering people.

This folder is but a stone thrown at the head of a mighty goliath, but with any luck it will hit with the force of a million. You are encouraged to play the music in this folder, to re-write it, to re-create, to incorporate folk music into your way of life and the lives of your friends and families. Play them at picnics, dances, public declarations of love, festivals, and funerals. Play them to your lover in the morning light, in the dusk of the evening, and in the laze of a sunny afternoon. Hum them to a child as she falls slowly to sleep. Play them beside a campfire and on the streets. My greatest hope is to hear the faint familiarity of one of these songs in some far away place, in a far off time, by some unknown person. The songs in this collection are just a starting point. Fill it with many more songs, spread the news, and spread the music.

For more information, the songsheets, and audio go to

Here is a scanned in copy of the initial run of the May Day Picnic Folder:

A May Day Picnic Songbook

If you want to save/print this songbook, its also available as a downloadable pdf.

Here's a video of me on the range, working on the song that eventually came to be called Modern Times.