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Looking for classic public domain gospel bluegrass

Discussion in 'Secular Music' started by ClementofRome, Jul 21, 2004.

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  1. ClementofRome

    ClementofRome Spelunking the most ancient caves of Xianity

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    My gospel/bluegrass band, Ploughshare, is heading into the studio this fall. We have a number of original songs that we will be recording. However, we would like to do a cover tune or two from the "classics." We obviously do not want to run into copyright issues, so we are looking for classic gospel bluegrass tunes that fall into the category of public domain.

    Does anyone here have any suggestions? Our only criteria at this point is that it MUST be gospel....it must be bluegrass (fast or slow or inbetween)...and it must be conducive to a trio (mando, banjo, guitar).

    Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Blessings
     
  2. dmiller

    dmiller FiddlePicker

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    Be very, very careful about the "public domain" stuff. Make sure it is "PD", because lately, ASCAP has been buyin up the "rights" to PD tunes, thus rendering them no longer "public domain".

    Even innocent fiddle tunes like "Soldier's Joy", "Whiskey before Breakfast", and "Fischer's Hornpipe" are no longer Public Domain, since ASCAP now has the "rights" to them. :mad:

    Please be careful, and research any "PD" tune you may wish to record. Given the underhanded dealings of ASCAP (as of late), you may record something in all innocence, only to have them hit you upside the head with a lawsuit.

    This is exactly what happened to a friend of mine who runs a coffeehouse. Myself, and some others played there reguarly on a Tuesday night (no pay, it was fun for us to do), yet even though we did the traditional tunes, ASCAP came in, and threatened to close him down, if he did not pay the "royalties" owed on the tunes we were playing. We had no idea that ASCAP "owned" these tunes. The tunes had been around forever.

    The name of the coffehouse is the Amazing Grace Cafe, and is run by a man who is a recovering alcoholic who loves music. We were there to do our thing, and help him do his thing, and ASCAP had to rear it's ugly head.

    Upshot of it is, we had to quit playing (our choice) so as to keep him out of trouble with these bozos, cause we had no clue what was, or was not public domain anymore. :sigh:

    So ---- any suggestions you get for "PD" music --- PLEASE (for your sake), make sure it is.

    We got bit in the hind end by the ASCAP group. I just don't want to see the same happen to you.
     
  3. dmiller

    dmiller FiddlePicker

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    That being said -- two of my favourites are:

    "Where Could I Go" --------- vocal; and
    "Church in the Wildwood" -- instrumental

    Don't know if these are PD or not, but they are great tunes!
     
  4. ClementofRome

    ClementofRome Spelunking the most ancient caves of Xianity

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    Yikes, that now scares me to death. Does this mean that when we play in churches that we are in danger of lawsuit if we play tunes that have copyright?

    What about something like a hymn from a hymnal that is dated to the 1800's? Does ASCAP have a website that lists ALL of the tunes in which they have an interest.

    Here is one that we were considering...."Working on a Building" (sometimes titled other things). It has been done by everybody (Hot Rize and now Nickle Creek come to mind). We really like that tune and have a unique arrangement of the tune. Where would I start to find out if it is a usable tune?

    Thanks for the heads up.
     
  5. dmiller

    dmiller FiddlePicker

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    "Working on a Building" is a wonderful tune, I believe it was first done (or at least has been done by Bill Monroe, and all his stuff is ASCAP, or BMI (same thing). :(
     
  6. dmiller

    dmiller FiddlePicker

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    Yes it does. The "good" side of this coin is that ASCAP doesn't (in general) hit up churches, just public venues, such as bars, or (in our case) coffeehouses.

    They are looking for the "paying public", and so far -- they do not see Christians "paying tithes" as paying public!! :D :D

    But -- the CD might be a different story entirely.

    Seriously -- check out ASCAP online (I used to have their web site) and see what they list as to what they "own".

    They are getting viscious, and greedy. Try Google. If I find their site before you do, I'll let you know.
     
  7. dmiller

    dmiller FiddlePicker

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    Just found them. they are at www.ascap.com. You will have to click around on the site to find "ownership". good luck!!
     
  8. ClementofRome

    ClementofRome Spelunking the most ancient caves of Xianity

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    Oh my.....maybe we will just write a couple more tunes for the album to stay away from these legalities.

    Here is another question for you dmiller: How DO these bands that play in public regularly legally get to play "cover tunes?" They all do it. I saw Ricky Skaggs recently and 1/2 his show was cover tunes??? What about going to a local bar/club/coffeehouse and hearing "cover bands?" Who pays? Does the venue owner pay to be a member of ASCAP thus protecting himself/herself from lawsuit in case a band would play a cover tune? Does the band pay a royalty to the song writer or is there a blanket fee to ASCAP? I am a real novice here and just want to do what is right in God's eyes and also not jeapordize our band from a legal standpoint.

    I know....lots of questions, sorry.
     
  9. dmiller

    dmiller FiddlePicker

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    T'is ok!! No problem! :)

    I can tell you what I do know. "Club" owners are responsible for the ASCAP fees, if they provide live music, or even have a jukebox for their customers.

    This is what happened to my friend who has the coffeehouse. Most of the folks he has hired to play there, were nationally, and regionally known artists, doing their own compositions.

    Then there were others (like me and my friends) who showed up every Tuesday (and other days), to have fun picking before a live audience. Am not sure what you mean by "cover tunes", but the stuff we play, is all traditional stuff, and as I said before, we had no idea that ASCAP had bought up the rights to those tunes. Those tunes had been around for over a century, and we just assumed they were "Public Domain", since the authors of them all were long since deceased.

    Actually -- the fiddle "fake"-book I have, lists all the tunes we do as PD, but ASCAP has been buying up the "rights" to a lot of these tunes, and then extorting "club" owners to pay royalty rights.

    Now -- the good side of this coin is that they (ASCAP) don't go to churches to do the same, since folks going to church are generally not there for the performance, but are there for praise, worship, teaching, etc. So I think you have no worries about Ploughshare doing songs at a service at your local church.

    Your CD might be different though, but then again, since there are so many "private label" CD's these days, they may not notice. Better to be safe than sorry. Record what you will, and if you need a few more tunes to "fill the bill", go ahead and add what you wish to. But I would still check into the PD aspect of the extra tunes.

    ASCAP is a viper hiding in the leaves alongside of the trail you are walking. Your walk (before God, as well as in real life) is threatened by them, and when they strike, they are venomous.

    We found that out first hand. But the group I pick with is not Christian Gospel like you are doing. I would suggest prayer, seeking guidance, and go with the revelation you all receive.

    God honors prayer, and He is a lot bigger than ASCAP!!!!

    :) :) :)
     
  10. mando-fiddle girl

    mando-fiddle girl New Member

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    I think this sounds awful. Pd's are supposed to be Pd's and nothing else!!! It's just sick! How can I know if "my" tunes are public domain? I've tried to search on that ASCAP database, but I don't understand what it says really. If there's a composer name, does that mean the tune is copyrighted?

    Btw, Church in the wildwood does have lyrics. Loretta Lynn has recorded it but it is a PD. Nice song.
     
  11. dmiller

    dmiller FiddlePicker

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    Amen to that. Did you know that Paul McCartney ( yes -- THE Paul) owns the "rights" to the University of Michigan's school song?? Supposedly, he gets paid every time it is played.

    And also, Michael Jackson has been buying up "rights" to old Beatle tunes, that have also somehow slipped into Public Domain!! :D

    Now he gets paid for all the times they are played, and not Paul, or Ringo. It's a crazy world, and greed is running it.

    My favourite tune of all time is "Hard Times, Come again No More", by Stephen Foster. So far, that one is still PD. :sigh:
     
  12. ClementofRome

    ClementofRome Spelunking the most ancient caves of Xianity

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    Well, you darn well better get that one copyrighted for yourself, or you will loose to ASCAP!

    That you dmiller and mandogirl for you great insight and questions/answers. This is so much more complicated than I had originally thought.

    I am a FANATIC about musicians getting their just desserts....I am totally against downloading copyrighted material in MP3 format or otherwise without the blessings of the artists (to my teenage daughters dismay). So, I am wanting to do right. But this all sounds like such craziness.

    We will pray about it and knowing that we wish no ill will or deception....proceed.

    Thanks dmiller for your professional insight.
    C of R
     
  13. dmiller

    dmiller FiddlePicker

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    Awwww shucks!!! (scruffing my feet around here, kicking at dust) ;) :)

    Hey bro, I'm not a professional, I have just seen a few of the "turns" that life offers. I am truely, most happy to share them with you. For your info, I'm a "recorded" writer. That means I wrote a tune or two, and someone else recorded them. I do not have a CD out of my own, but that would be fun to do, and it is always on the "back burner".

    I love the name of your group "Ploughshare". I've always wanted to be a part of a Christian Bluegrass band. None in the area, here. Wishing we were closer to each other (geographically). It would be such a treat to be before the Father in prayer, backstage before a gig!!

    God Bless, Happy Picking, and make that "Joyful Noise".

    PS -- I don't download anything either. It is real work to write a tune/ lyrics/ etc. If someone takes my stuff, I don't care -- but some folks make their living by doing music. In their case, I also am adament that they get paid for their work.
     
  14. ClementofRome

    ClementofRome Spelunking the most ancient caves of Xianity

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    Thanks again. I am very fortunate to be in a trio with two other wonderful Christian musicians. Banjo picker is my pastor and guitar player is our choir director, so in addition to doing an occasional gig out and about, we also play in church EVERY Sunday. The congregation has gotten used to their weekly dose of gospel bluegrass.

    Looks like we will be writing a few more tunes. Pray that the Spirit moves one of us to write something worth playing! ;)
     
  15. mando-fiddle girl

    mando-fiddle girl New Member

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    That's GREAT to hear! I love that song but haven't really worked with it. But if it's pd I really should try to do something nice with it! But how come it's pd? Is Stephen Foster dead?
     
  16. mando-fiddle girl

    mando-fiddle girl New Member

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    I must say, though, that I download music and I do it for two reasons. 1. It's nearly impossible to find CDs here in the music styles I'm interested in. I can find some at bluegrass festivals, but I never know what I'm gonna get. If I'm looking for a certain album, I will never know if I'll ever find it here. There used to be a music shop in Göteborg where you could order imported CDs, but they don't offer that service anymore. They do have a huge country music department but if you're after bluegrass, forget about it. Now when I have my VISA card I may be able to buy online though, my bank has some service so I don't have to give out my VISA card number. But I'll probably keep downloading, because of reason number 2. There are many artists I wouldn't know about if it wasn't because I had downloaded a song by them. Many artists will actually earn money by my downloading. I may find a song or two online, and then go look for their albums because they are so good. This has happened more than once or twice.

    One thing I don't do, is to record copyrighted stuff to display online. Some do it, maybe without knowing it's copyrighted music. I may record it just for the practice, but just to use it on my homepage for example.
     
  17. dmiller

    dmiller FiddlePicker

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    Yes he is. Stephen Collins Foster, was born in Lawerenceville, Pennsylvania (now a part of Pittsburgh) on the 4th of July, in 1826. That day was a momentous one in American History. For several reasons ---

    It was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence;
    Also -- that day both the 2nd, and the 3rd Presidents of this country died.
    John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson.

    And Stephen Foster was born.

    He was the youngest of 11 children (his younger brother died in infancy), and his eldest brother William, was an engineer who mapped out the routes for the Ohio and Pennsylvania canals, and then later did the same thing for the Pennsylvania Railroad, which crosses the Allegheny Mountains. Also -- one of his sisters, (Ann Eliza) married Edward Buchanan, who was a brother to James Buchanan, the 15th President of our United States.

    Maybe more history than you wish to hear, but now to the music part of it--

    Stephen Foster wrote :
    "Oh! Susanna";
    "My Old Kentucky Home";
    "Hard Times, Come Again No More"
    "Camptown Races";
    "Old Folks At Home";
    "Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair";
    and many more.

    Stephen Foster was like a lot of musicians. Down on his luck. He wrote over 200 songs, many of which are preserved today, yet he never got the glory, or accolades for them in his time. It is said, that he became a drunk, and while at the bar, he and fellow imbibers would sing "Hard Times".

    He was also suffering from Tuberculosis, and due to injuries from that, he passed away at 2:30pm, Wednesday, January 13, 1864.

    He was 37 years old when he died. Yes -- His stuff should absolutely be Public Domain. It's been around for almost 150 years now.

    Hard times -- Come Again No More. (Come quickly, Lord Jesus!)
     
  18. mando-fiddle girl

    mando-fiddle girl New Member

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    Very interesting, thanks for the info!
     
  19. ClementofRome

    ClementofRome Spelunking the most ancient caves of Xianity

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    Thought I would resurrect this thread with some news.....we were planning on cutting an album (or burning a CD if you prefer) with the 5 original tunes that we had and filling the rest with "cover" tunes. Thanks for all of the techincal and legal info above. We went on a writing binge and are now going to fill our first album with all original tunes. God is good....and the tunes ain't bad.

    It will be good old gospel/bluegrass......some break-neck, some standard sounding stuff and some slow and easy. When we play live, we always mix it up with covers and originals, but the album will be ours.

    Thanks for all of that encouragement above guys.......headed to the studio this winter!
     
  20. MQTA

    MQTA Irregular Member

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    Best of luck to you. Are you planning on playing any Festivals?
     
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