Here’s to Essential Workers!

Posted by John Duggleby on May 20, 2020 in Music |

My friend Jen Frank created a new advocacy group called the Essential Workers Party, and asked me to write a “Woody Guthrie-type” rallying song. I channeled my “inner Woody” and here’s the result. Blessings to all you essential workers! Lyrics follow:

We’re Essential by John Duggleby © 5/2020

We’re the doctors and the nurses on the front lines saving lives First responders, PPE makers too We’re police and firefighters who are ready when you call And the ones who clean the buildings through and through

We’re the farmers and the pickers in the field who keep us fed The workers at the processing plants We’re the truckers driving overtime delivering the goods Store employees hustling ‘round like busy ants

We’re essential in the jobs we’re getting done Influential in what makes our nation run Our credentials are proven every day Help us reach our full potential in the safest, fairest way

We’re the cooks and the waitstaff at your favorite restaurant The helpers at your hardware store We’re the ones who staff the drive-thru at the pharmacy and bank And the people getting mail to your door

We’re the teachers finding different ways to help our kids to learn Social workers helping neighbors in need We’re the folks who fix the potholes and the signs along our roads And the ones who mow the parks and pull the weeds

We’re essential in the jobs we’re getting done Influential in what makes our nation run Our credentials are proven every day Help us reach our full potential in the safest, fairest way

We’re men and women, young and old, black and white and brown We live a thousand miles away, and right here in your town Every day, a million ways that we and you connect We’d like a decent place to work, fair pay and some respect

We’re essential in the jobs we’re getting done Influential in what makes our nation run Our credentials are proven every day Help us reach our full potential in the safest, fairest way Our power’s exponential when our chains are cast away


New Song: “Feet to the Fire”

Posted by John Duggleby on May 8, 2020 in Music |

My new song is a rockem, sockem gospel-tinged sendoff of one who needn’t be named– so I didn’t. Sing along with the following lyrics, and toss another log on the blaze! 


You know your daddy raised you well to travel down the road to hell

Treading on the backs of the people Of all the monuments that you raised to beat your chest and sing your praise

I never saw a one with a steeple

You fooled the folks from coast to coast, with your bully, cheat and boast

Nothing but a thief and a liar Now your scoundrel days are through, your final tab is coming due

We’re gonna put your feet to the fire.


To the fire, to the fire, your tootsies gonna crackle and burn All those chickens that you plucked are coming home to roost Now we’re gonna put your feet to the fire

Thought you had the final laugh, being God’s own sociopath Spitting on the glad hands that fed you Now your suitors realize your ego’s just a thin disguise And all the true colors have bled through


Now you’re standing all alone, we turned off your microphone Finished is your dance on the wire Time has come to end your tale, tell us how you’re liking jail When we put your feet to the fire



Hallelujah, time is right, everybody see the light Topple down your statue of clay Gloryosky, praise the the skies, as we watch your ashes rise Dark as coal dust on that judgment day



New (to you guys) song: “She’s a Low-Life Moonshiner (But Lord, I Love Her Still)

Posted by John Duggleby on April 22, 2020 in Music |

Considering that U.S. alcohol sales have risen over 50% since quarantining began, I’ve dusted off this song that I write a while back, but have never performed it actually or virtually until now. Channeling my inner George Jones: three chords and the truth– and booze. Bottoms up!


New Song: “Lean But Never Fall

Posted by John Duggleby on April 17, 2020 in Music |

This new song was inspired by a favorite tree in my Wisconsin neighborhood that teeters precariously over a lake, but never manages to fall in. I see a lot of symbolism in that! Give it a listen on YouTube and let me know what you think!


My first EVER self-made live music video

Posted by John Duggleby on March 24, 2020 in Music |

Since I lost eight St. Pat’s gigs this year, I’m adding to the COVID-19 songbook with one of my show favorites, “Seven Old Ladies,” which I lyrically altered to reflect our times. You can watch it on this You Tube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPhywR_JaGQ Due to some mic issues with the laptop I’m including the lyrics at the end of this note. Thanks to my musical compadre Lance Brown for one of the lines.

SEVEN OLD LADIES Lyrics by John Duggleby, “pottyright” 2020

(CHORUS) Oh dear, what can the matter be? Seven old ladies are stuck in the lavatory They got there and found there was no TP That was their problem laid bare

The first old lady was sweet little Carmen Her call from the stall was a squall quite alarmin’ She reached for a roll but could not squeeze the Charmin And that was her problem laid bare


The second old lady was Emily Snipes She ran out of paper, and Kleenex, and wipes So lining her undies were fat racing stripes And that was her problem laid bare


The third old lady was Elanor Sands Her supply of TP was not meeting demand She wiped with her fingers but at least washed her hands And that was her problem laid bare


The fourth old lady was Dutchess McDowd Who pronounced as she pounced on the seat good and loud “I’d swap my estate for a roll of White Cloud!” And that was her problem laid bare


The fifth old lady was Barbara Wold In a store did she score the last wipe that was sold But got mugged getting home—you could say she was rolled And that was her problem laid bare


The sixth old lady was Dowager Dell Her plantation house was acquiring a smell She had acres of cotton, but no Cottonelle And that was her problem laid bare


The seventh and last one was dear Mrs. Parted With the urge for to purge, to the toilet she darted But to her relief, the old gal only farted And that was her problem laid bare




New Castaway double album drops anchor

Posted by John Duggleby on July 7, 2019 in Music |

Ahoy mates– look what just washed in! it’s my new DOUBLE sophomore album Castaway. No five-song EP for Johnny; Castaway billows with 20 originals plus “The Parting Glass”, my frequent goodnight tune at Celtic shows. Castaway is certified genre-free as a collection: It rambles across a rhythmic rainbow of pop/rock, folk, alt/country, world, blues, bluegrass, and the ever popular “other”. You simply gotta find something you like. Check out the tunes on my Soundcloud site, https://soundcloud.com/duggleby

If you’re interested, send a check for $15 plus $2 shipping ($17 total) made out to John Duggleby, River Rat Records, 5322 Norma Road, McFarland WI 53558. And if you want you want my entire recorded Dugglopedia, I’ll (gently) toss in my first album, Better Late Than Never, for only $10 and free shipping. OR, you could always pick it up at one of my live performances (see my Calendar page). Any questions, give me a holler at me@johnduggleby.com.


New Show: Island Style!

Posted by John Duggleby on March 8, 2019 in Music |

Where I live in snow-covered Wisconsin, summer is still a distant longing.  But to help warm up any special occasion I’ve developed “Island Style”: a new global revue of music inspired by islands from Jamaica to Canada, Hawaii to New Zealand.  My seaside serenade is accompanied on guitar, ukulele, and handpan.  It can be adapted to specific audience ages, and locations such as libraries, senior venues, festivals– anywhere folks want to have a good time, anytime of year.  To learn more about my new show or book a performance, give me a holler!



Walking to the Border

Posted by John Duggleby on November 6, 2018 in Music |

I re-shaped the old Fats Domino classic “Walking to New Orleans” as “Walking to the Border”, a tribute to the Honduran Migrant Caravan. I’ll let it speak for itself; you can hear it below:


Feel free to share it. And special thanks to my compadre Dave Hopper who produced and recorded it.


RIP Big Al Byla, Piper Road Spring Band

Posted by John Duggleby on May 31, 2018 in Uncategorized |
I first saw Big Al Byla onstage at Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival in about 1974. I last saw him less than a couple of weeks ago at his “straw house” as Billy Kangaroo and I watched his beloved Lithuanian national basketball team which had miraculously made it to the semifinals of the European tournament.

These two events sort of bookend the breadth of a guy whose interests and talents matched his presence when he launched into “Jerusalem Ridge” onstage. The musical prowess of this three-time Wisconsin State Fiddle Champion is legendary. I learned a ton from Al and the rest of Piper Road Spring Band during a 20-year period when I sat in with them frequently. Perhaps the biggest impression was their enduring popularity everywhere from Madison to the Florida Keys.

But music was just a fraction of the juggernaut that was Big
Al. He was one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, able to converse on almost anything from novelists to bullhead breeding habits. And he had an insatiable appetite for new information. As I recently explained the origins of Hawaiian slack key guitar to him, I swear there was a tape recorder between his ears getting it all down.

As Billy and I left his place on May 18, Al was in good spirits even though Lithuania got trounced on the hardwood. I noted that “Wait till next year” ultimately happened even for the Cubs, and I was keeping my homemade “LIE-TU-VA!” (the Lithuanian chant) jersey for game watching in 2019.

Sadly that and other parties with Al will not come to pass. Still, I’m so grateful for the way he’s enriched my life. Much love to Becky and his longtime bandmates and friends. I know the Big Guy is watching over us, probably humming yet another encore of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”



Remembering M-M-Mel

Posted by John Duggleby on November 20, 2017 in Uncategorized |

RIP M-M-Mel Tillis.  One of the most unlikely entertainers I’ve ever met, Mel turned his chronic stutter into an asset as he played it for laughs.  He was a big deal in the 1970s, when I inadvertently found a home for some of my earliest freelance work writing about country musicians.  I met him much later, in the early 90s, when a magazine sent me to report on a then-new “Hillbilly Vegas” sprouting up in Branson, Missouri.  Mel was one of the artists who had “retired” to Branson to escape the grind of the road, though he was still performing at his own theater 6-7 days a week.

It was there, in his dressing room before a show that I first encountered the Country Music Hall of Famer in his underwear, ironing his powder blue suit pants.  No roadies for Mel and no pretense, as he invited me to ask away.  I flipped on my recorder and alternately scribbled and waited—he was a stutterer, all right—as Mel answered my questions and pressed out his wrinkles.  Suddenly he thundered, “OH SHIT!” (no stutter)  when he burned himself with the iron.  I hope still have that tape.  Amazingly, Mel’s stutter disappeared when he was in his true comfort zone—singing.

Mel was a hugely successful songwriter, penning many country number ones for himself and others.  He didn’t dwell on his shortcomings, but just got into the arena and played—a inspiration for my forays onto center stage in recent years.  All that, and he was a genuinely nice guy.  I’ll m-m-miss him.

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