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.
Less than a month after spearheading an unforgettable night of re-imagined Woody Guthrie songs in GuthrieUNCOVERED, Johanna Rose and her Nickel&Rose counterpart Carl Nichols came to Colectivo’s Back Room performance space to adapt another traditional folk number with a public domain distinction. The history of “Red Rocking Chair” is cloudy and its roots have buried by the sands of time. The song’s original author is unknown, but the crux of the 19th century composition has remained relatively intact. It has, however, taken on new lyrics and different names through the generations.
The somber and bluesy Appalachian number has been called “Done All I Can Do” and “Red Apple Juice” early in its life, but its lyrics have also inspired names like “Sugar Baby” and “Honey Baby” when being passed among musicians. “Red Rocking Chair” is yet another permutation of the aged arrangement. Nickel&Rose puts their own spin on the seminal song, and even included a rendition of the duet on the project’s debut EP last year. This likely won’t be the first time you’ll hear “Red Rocking Chair” (even if it’s called something else) and it surely won’t be the last, but none of those renditions will sound quite like this.