The Skiffle Players Share ‘Stagolee’ Single

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The Skiffle Players will issue the Piffle Sayers EP on July 20 through Spiritual Pajamas. Brooklyn Vegan premiered the group’s version of “Stagolee,” which is one of the seven songs on the EP.

The Skiffle Players are led by the group’s official leader and founder, multi-instrumentalist Farmer Dave Scher. The band also includes guitarist Neal Casal (Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Circles around the Sun), bassist Dan Horne (Circles Around the Sun, Jonathan Wilson), percussionist Aaron Sperske (Beachwood Sparks) and guitarist Cass McCombs. They first came together for was intended at the time to be a one-off concert in Big Sur, California and issued their debut album Skifflin in 2016. The songs on the forthcoming EP were recorded during sessions for the initial LP.

A full-length album is said to be coming in the fall. McCombs explained the band’s reliance on the Mississippi John Hurt and Woody Guthrie versions of the traditional “Stagolee,” telling Brooklyn Vegan:

“Stagolee” was assembled from two main sources—Mississippi John Hurt and Woodie Guthrie. The Guthrie version I learned from Rise Up Singing when I was a kid. Pete Seeger says this in the book: “Learned fr Woodie Guthrie in 1940. I think he got from a phonograph record. Stagolee was supposed to have been an actual person around the turn of the century.” The Hurt version “Ballad of Stagger Lee” is earlier—1928. I could be wrong, but I think he’s the one who made it a “magic hat.”

I made a few additions. I added weight to Guthrie, ballooning Stag from five to nine hundred pounds. Goliath size. I kept a discrepancy between the number of Billy Lyons’ babies, for if Stagolee was cruel enough to orphan two, why not three? I might have also added “sawdust and blood” to Billy’s murder.

To the recognition of police hypocrisy in the line “you can arrest every honest person, but murderous Stagolee,” a sad truth that remains today in the killing of unarmed men. I added the word “murderous” to illustrate this.

I also always appreciated the first example of Stagolee’s evil is his vanity—he spent a hundred dollars on clothes. Everybody knows, that is wrong.

Give a listen below:

Piffle Sayers EP Tracklist

  1. Glow In The Dark Scratch And Sniff
  2. Jonny Todd
  3. Stagolee
  4. Dearest
  5. A Blessing in Disguise
  6. Slippin’ and Slidin’
  7. John O’Dreams