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Eric von Schmidt: Living on the Trail

[cover art]

Living on the Trail was recorded by folk singer and Dylan-buddy Eric von Schmidt at Bearsville in 1971 , with Garth Hudson and Rick Danko among the guest artists (Garth also played on von Schmidt's 1972 album 2nd Right, 3rd Row). Living on the Trail remained unreleased until 2002, when it came out on the Tomato Records label in May.

Living on the Trail - the never before released album by folk blues pioneer Eric von Schmidt

Featuring guest appearances by Paul Butterfield, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, Amos Garrett, Geoff Muldaur, Maria Muldaur and Bobby Charles.
"For here is a man who can sing the bird of the wire and the rubber off the tire. He can separate the men from the boys and the note from the noise: The bride from the saddle and the cow from the cattle. He can play the tune on the moon. The why of the sky and the commotion from the ocean.  Yes he can." --Bob Dylan
New York, NY - On May 21st, Tomato Records will release Living On The Trail, a long, lost album by folk blues vocalist and guitarist Eric von Schmidt.  Originally recorded for Poppy Records in 1971, the record was never released due to the label's untimely demise, but it beautifully documents the roots music being created during an incredibly prolific time in its history.

A seminal figure in the folk music explosion of the late '50s and early '60s, Eric von Schmidt's influence is among the most revered of any in the genre.  When Boy Dylan came East from Minnesota it was to find two people: Woody Guthry and Eric von Schmidt.  Upon meeting him in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the two immediately hit it off with von Schmidt teaching Dylan old blues songs and allowing Bob to sleep on his couch.  A few months later, when the first Dylan album came out, over the guitar introduction to "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down," Dylan would name-check von Schmidt telling of their meeting "in the green pastures of Harvard University."  It was not the last tribute, either: On the cover of Bringing It All Back Home, Dylan is shown sitting beside a copy of Von Schmidt's first album.

Recorded at Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, NY and produced by noted Nashville producer Jim Rooney, Eric von Schmidt was joined by a number of his contemporaries from both the Cambridge folk scene and the local artist haven in and around Woodstock.  The great bluesman Paul Butterfield blows harp on the slithery, lowdown "Envy The Thief," while The Band's Garth Hudson adds his instantly recognizable pump organ to the gorgeous "Thunder Heads Keep Rollin'" and the Leadbelly rave-up "Stewball."   Frequent Von Schmidt collaborators Geoff and Maria Muldaur and Amos Garrett are also present throughout the session.   

Von Schmidt's songwriting and arrangements encapsulate the heart of the American bohemian ideal: earthy, raw and spiritual.  The title song, "Living On The Trail," is a genial wink and nod to the effect a Cheyenne woman can have on a rambling man's life.  A definitive version of Von Schmidt's best known song, "Joshua Gone Barbados," tells the tale of a union boss who accepts a bribe thus betraying the poverty stricken sugar-cane cutters he represents. And "Stick To Rum" is a dose of well-intentioned, summertime wisdom.  In its sum, Living On The Trail is an album completely of its time, exemplifying the best of pure, organic Americana.  In his own words, "Won't you light up that peace pipe one more time old friend, well our trail may cross again, who knows where or when."   After thirty years in the vaults, von Schmidt's trail is crossing once again.    

--Tomato Records press release, May 2002

Eric von Schmidt - Living on the Trail - 2002 - Tomato Records

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