Milwaukee Record is proud to present Public Domain. The monthly video series features Milwaukee musicians setting up at Colectivo Coffee to adapt some of the world’s best-known songs in ways they’ve never been heard before. Watch the entire series here.
“Shady Grove” has been covered, added to, and augmented hundreds of times since its inception. In fact, music scholars suggest the oft-adjusted Appalachian folk standard is itself a variation of a European song from the early 1600s called “Matty Groves.” Since crossing the pond and taking on a new name in the 18th century, “Shady Grove” has become a common song in both traditional and contemporary American folk circles. There’s estimated to be more than 300 variations of the song in existence, including renditions from the likes of Jerry Garcia, Doc Watson, Ricky Skaggs, The Chieftains, The Kingston Trio, Whiskey Shivers, and Taj Mahal. Oh, and there’s also a cover by Milwaukee mandolin legend Jayke Orvis.
The .357 String Band founding member, namesake of Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band, and current member of The Goddamn Gallows included the traditional on his 2010 solo album, It’s All Been Said. Though the song’s meaning is ambiguous and open to interpretation, Orvis’ version is unlike any of its counterparts. He decided to reprise it on video at Colectivo’s Back Room in a performance that showcases his fast-picking style and a lyrical delivery that accentuates the timeless folk favorite’s dark undertones.