An Education and a Riot

by Lee Shedden

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“Are these maracas more raucous than the other, less raucous, maracas?” - Lorrie Matheson

Do you know the old saw about the Holy Roman Empire? That it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire? Folk-rock is usually like that. Some sensitive beardo with his dripping-wet twenty-seven-chord songs about his _feelings_ and a band with a ukulele and a drum kit ain't folk, and it sure doesn't rock.
An Education and a Riot is a true folk-rock album: real folk songs, authorship unknown, handed down through the years—most of them predating the 20th century, some stretching back in one form or another to the Middle Ages—played with real rock instrumentation (aside from piano and drums, there are no acoustic instruments on this album) and real rock soul.
Viewed in another light, this might qualify as a science-fiction album, set in an alternate universe where "country" never diverged from "folk," where "rock" never diverged from "country" and "the blues" and where folk, rock, blues and country all came together in the postpunk/alternative music scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Shades of fIREHOSE, The Velvet Underground, Mudhoney and Nick Cave blend seamlessly with songs first brought to your ears by Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson, Lead Belly, and Clarence "Tom" Ashley.


released February 3, 2014

Chris Dadge: Drums
Art E. Eggles: Guitar, tambourine, triangle, vocals
Lester Gage: Bass, beer bottle, more cowbell, vocals
Lorrie Matheson: Keys, washing machine, more raucous, harpoonica, vocals
"Stagger" Lee Shedden: Guitar, wickercaps, vocals

Brooker Buckingham: Lead guitar on “Pick & Spade”

Cover photo by Elizabeth Shannon

Recorded August 2003–May 2004 at Arch Audio*, Calgary, except “Pick & Spade,” recorded live at King Henry VIII Pub, Calgary, August 2005. Produced by Lorrie Matheson and Lee Shedden. Mixed by Young Dave "is the guitar supposed to sound like that?" Alcock at Sundae Sound.

*back when it was called "Lorrie's basement and coat closet" so don't hold the cruddy sound against him. Go listen to the new Night Committee record & tell me it's not HAWT.




Lee Shedden Calgary, Alberta

The Neutral States
ex-Fire Engine Red
loving husband and father
and rocker of roll
wishes you only the best

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Track Name: The Coo Coo Bird
Gonna build me a log cabin on a mountain so high
So I can see Willie as he goes riding by
The cuckoo is a pretty bird, she warbles as she flies
She never hollers coo coo til the 4th day of July
I've played cards in England and I've played cards in Spain
I'll bet you ten dollars that I'll beat you next game
Jack of diamonds, I've known you from old
You robbed my poor pockets of my silver and gold
My horses ain't hungry, they won't eat your hay
I'll ride on further and feed them along the way
Track Name: Poor Lazarus
The high sheriff told the deputy, "Go out and arrest me Lazarus. Bring him dead or alive."
The deputy told the high sheriff "I ain't gonna mess with Lazarus. He's a dangerous man."
*Lord, lord.*
The high sheriff found Lazarus in between two mountains with his head hung down.
Lazarus told the high sheriff "I ain't done never been arrested by no one man."
The high sheriff shot Lazarus with a great big number: FORTY-FIVE.
They took poor Lazarus and laid him on the promissory counter. He said, "My wounded side!"
Track Name: Cocaine
Down on Hastings and Main in the pouring rain
Looking for the man wants to sell me that sweet cocaine
Cocaine, it's in my heart and all around my brain
You can snort it up your nose, you can stick it in a vein
Shoot it in your eyeball, it's all the same
Mama, come here quick. That old cocaine's bound to make me sick
Cocaine leave me in a powerful mess
Can't figure out whether I need to take more or less
Cocaine's for horses, it ain't for men
Doctor said it'll kill me but she never said when
I went to see my doctor down at the hospital
She said, "Boy, it says here you're 27 but that's impossible.
Looks like you could be 45."
Stagger down Commercial Drive
Feel sick & dirty, more dead than alive
Now I'm back on the corner of Hastings and Main in the blinding rain
Track Name: Drunken Spree
I love my darling, yes I do. I love her til the seas go dry
And if I thought she didn't love me I'd take morphine and die
Late last night when Willie came home he laid one rap on the door
Is that you, Willie, I'd like to know. Darling don't you rap no more
You laughed when you heard my mother say [unintelligible]
Oh me, oh my, never let a drink go by
I pawned my watch and I pawned my chain, I pawned my gold diamond ring
If that don't settle my drunken spree I'll never drink again
You left me standing 'neath the Langevin Bridge in all my dirty clothes
You caused me to weep and you caused me to moan
You caused me to leave my home
Track Name: Three Nights Drunk
First night when I came home, drunk as I could be, there's another mule in the stable where my mule ought to be.
I said "Honey, come here now, explain this thing to me. How come there's a mule in the stable where my mule ought to be?"
And she spake thusly: "Blind fool. Drunk old man. Can't you plainly see? That's nothing but a milk cow where your mule ought to be."
Now, I've travelled this world over a hundred times or more, but a saddle on a milk cow I've never seen before.
Second night when I came home, drunk as I could be, there's another coat on the coat rack where my coat ought to be. Do you see where this is headed?
I summoned her gently from her slumber. "Please explain this thing to me. What's with this coat?"
"Darling of mine. Can't you plainly see? That's nothing but a bedquilt that I sewed for my sister."
I pondered this for a minute. I've travelled this world over a thousand times or more, but pockets in a bedquilt? Such a thing is passing strange indeed. Yet! She is my wife and I trust her implicitly.
Third night when I came home having once again supped at the tavern, behold! Another head on the pillow where my head ought to have been.
I queried my good wife about this phenomenon with as much good humour as I could muster.
Exasperated, she replied, "'Twas the cabbage I would have boiled for you for your supper had you not squandered these past nine hours playing poker and drinking with your buddies down at the King Henry VIII Pub."
Now I've been a few places in my time, and I've eaten some strange things, but a cabbage with a moustache .... well, let me tell you, I was thankful that night for Canadian Pizza Unlimited.
Track Name: John the Revelator
Who's that writing the book of the seven seals?
John the Revelator
What's John writing?
About the Revelator
[unintelligible grunting], thousand cried holy mountain of balsam, son of our God
Daughter of Zion, Judah the Lion, the saviour said he bought us with the blood
He's the straight advocator, catch him on the battle of Zion
Tell him the story, writing the glory of God, Lord so to love him from high
Moses to Moses, watching the flock, saw the book where he had to stop
God told Moses "Take off your shoes. Out of the flock, now, you are Jews" [sic]
Track Name: Pick and Spade
I've been working with a pick and spade all day in the sun and the rain without a roof or shade
I asked my shift boss "How long's this trench?"
He said "Keep digging that trench until you reach the end, then turn around and fill it in again."
I asked my shift boss "How deep is this trench?"
He told me "It's as deep as the mountain is high so just keep digging until you lay down and die."
I got to dig one more trench: I'm gonna dig me a trench in the shift boss's head
And that is gonna be a better day. We can ride on the glory train when we lay down our pick and spade.
Track Name: Pretty Polly
I courted pretty Polly all the live-long night and left her next morning before it was light.
"Pretty Polly, come go along with me before we get married, some pleasures to see."
We walked over mountains and valleys so deep, then my pretty Polly started to weep.
We walked on a little further and what did we spy but a new dug grave and a spade lying by.
"Oh Willie, I'm afraid of your ways. I'm afraid you will lead my poor body astray."
"Pretty Polly, you guessed it about right, for I dug on your grave the best part of last night."
There's no time to talk, there's no time to stand. I drew up my knife all in my right hand.
I stabbed her in her heart and her heart's blood did flow, and into her grave pretty Polly did go.
I threw a little dirt over her and started for home, leaving no-one but the wild birds to mourn.
Track Name: Take This Hammer/Spike Driver Blues
Take this hammer and carry it to the captain. Tell him I'm gone.
This here hammer killed John Henry but it won't kill me.
If he asks you was I running? tell him I was flying.
No hammer on this mountain rings like mine.
If he asks you was I laughing? tell him I was crying.
This here hammer rings like silver and shines like gold.
I don't want no cold iron shackles around my legs.
John Henry was a steel-driving boy but he went down.
That's why I'm gone.