Squirrel Stew

            Old Timey Victuals


Next Gig:
NJ Bluegrass and Old Time Music Association
Sunday 11/17/2013 - 1PM


Somerville, NJ
1st & 3rd Tuesdays of most months



"Old Time Music is Better than it Sounds . . . . "
                   . . . but sometimes it sounds pretty good


Ok - so the whole idea of an old-timey band is counter to everything that old-timey stands for - mixed jams of acoustic instruments including players of all levels and backgrounds. A cataclysmic cacophony that only sounds good to (some of) those playing; (and only those playing can discern any differences among the tunes).




However, as the jam progressed into the night and the crowd of players thinned out, the tempo picked up, the tunes got more complex, and we could actually HEAR each other.


So, we started a more limited jam, of 3.


An exclusive jam? Heresy! Blasphemy!!


Yes, and we feel very guilty about this, but it was just too much fun. We hope you like it.



Why Squirrel Stew?


Well, here's the recipe: take a bunch of musicians, scratch that, - - -

- - - take a bunch of guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, dulcimer, and bass players, with a variety of musical backgrounds that range from jazz and classical to minstrel, delta blues, and you-name-it. Now gradually add them to a group of similar players with varying familiarity with old-timey tunes. Then mix thoroughly in a blender and extract 3 players who have no parochial reverence, but love playing the tunes. Add some additional styles and you've got stew.


Why Squirrels? Nuts. . . .

Bob Bell

A master clawhammer, classical, and cluck banjo artiste, Bob is a raconteur in the classic old-timey style with a unique sense of humor. (If he had lived in the 20’s he’d be blind and dead.)


Bob likens playing old-timey music to a flight of starlings. He noted that even though most have no idea where they are headed, they appear to be flying in unison ("appear" is the operative word here). Bob almost never kicks off a song, unless we push him off a limb. We sometimes lay back in the middle of a tune and let him carry it. But as soon as he realizes that we did that, he starts flying into telephone poles and barns, so we take it back. Bob also channels Charlie Poole and sings vocals that appear to be emanating from a tube radio circa 1922.

Rick Carlson

Rick played guitar for many years until one day he happened into an old-timey jam and discovered that he was really a fiddle player!!! It scared him out of his wits.


Rick usually calls the tunes; however, he often cannot recall how to play the one he just called. Sometimes he just plays another and hopes we don’t notice. At other times, you may see him close his eyes prior to kicking it off while scratching out some melody and trying to kick start the random access ipod that he had surgically implanted. This is not to be confused with when he, Charlie, and/or Bob close their eyes in the middle of a tune. This either means that they are: (a) thoroughly engrossed in playing the tune, (b) grimacing in pain, or (c) fantasizing about the girl in the third row. 


In their spare time, Rick and Charlie hunt squirrels in south jersey. (They can get to a pretty good size out there.)

Charlie Pearlman

Charlie has also played guitar for many years in many genres. (You may have seen him at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco). He had no clue what old-timey music was until he happened into a jam and recognized the source of all the tunes he grew up with while watching Saturday morning cartoons, Our Gang comedies, and old hillbilly and western movies.


Charlie took to playing old-timey just like a fish out of water. Luckily, the folks at the jam invited him back anyway. He fakes a flat-picking style playing fingerstyle and fakes the bass lines with a heavy thumbpick. He has adopted Bob’s starling philosophy, but is not always successful, (which makes life interesting). He also has a tendency to play tunes a bit faster than they were intended, but stops just short of derailing (or at least tries to, really). He claims this keeps him awake when the fiddle and banjo players insist on playing in D all night. He also plays up the neck past the third fret, (which is forbidden in many jams). Some (many) would say that he still has no clue what old-timey music is, but he suspects that neither does anyone else playing it.