Cold River Ranters: Watershed


Cold River Ranters: “Watershed”
12 tracks [45:23]
Wedgie Records
UPC: 700261433028

RELEASE DATE: 21 November, 2015


  • MAREK BENNETT banjo bass harp / banjo / bones / cajon / charango / jawbone / pianos / ukulele
  • NATTIE CARROLL accordion / bodhran / washboard
  • TOM JAWBONE bagpipes / banjo / bones / harmonica / jawbone / jug / jawharp / triangle / whistles
  • ERIK WALKER gopichand / guitar / harmonica

WITH: Jack Bopp (vocals) & Emily Hague (flute & vocals) on track 4.

RECORDED BY: Ben Rogers [ Loud Sun Studio ]
Marek Bennett
Anita Carroll-Weldon
Marek Bennett


At last, it’s here – Watershed, the second album from New Hampshire’s roaring roots band, The Cold River Ranters. The CD combines ten original compositions with a couple of traditional selections to present a one-of-a-kind sound firmly rooted in folk traditions.

But what particular traditions would that be?  Appalachian?  Celtic?  Latin American?  Eastern European?  African American traditions of the rural South?  And what sort of band are we speaking of?  A jug band that uses bagpipes and toy pianos?  A string band with an accordion and a bass banjo harp?  An Americana collective following in the footsteps of John Prine and Neil Young?  A vaudeville act with a progressive political agenda?  A cumbia dance band?  A Breton dance band?  A high powered rock and roll quartet playing only acoustic instruments?

Well, yes, and yes again – all of the above and a little more.  What we have here, then, is a sort of musical melting pot.  But how does it hold together and end up as something more than a rag-tag variety show?  The Ranters go for the universal in the roots they tap into.  They find a deep unity that starts with the rhythms of folk dances, and goes on to draw from the cares of the heart, and the concerns for family and community that have emanated from every tribe, village and neighborhood across time and the planet.  In Watershed, each song taps into timeless human experiences of water, nature, great changes, the end of the world and the promising work of crossing over to start the next – these are the ties that bind and fuel the repertoire of the Cold River Ranters.

Above all, the Ranters’ music means to celebrate.  Even when lampooning (and resisting) the construction of a powerline that would ravage the landscape of New Hampshire, or demanding an end to the influence of money in politics, the Ranters sound upbeat and enlivening.  Every song finds a reason to keep on singing, playing, working, living.  Without preaching or posturing, Watershed gazes into the onrushing tidal wave and intones a positive vision awash in energy and conviction – music for your next hootenanny-picnic at the edge of the apocalypse.



For the “Watershed” cover artwork, Marek took inspiration from a few historic images:

  1. Our front cover draws on a postcard by photographer J. A. French of Keene, NH, commemorating the 1888 Connecticut river flood: “High Water at Bellows Falls, VT May 1 1888”:
  2. Our inside artwork combines two 19th century images in a pastoral-apocalyptic landscape:
    “Keene, N.H., Monadnock Mountain from Beech Hill” (also by J. A. French)
    “Fugaku hyakkei (One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji)” (by Hokusai, 1834-5) (See esp. breaking waves from the boating sequence in Vol. II)
  3. Our disc artwork features details of a watercolor painting by Anita Carroll-Weldon, arranged by Marek:


The lyrics of “Watershed” are actually assembled from a collection of “Ancient Ranters Proverbs” that guide our every action; here are a couple such poems of ambiguous wisdom:

“Time is the source of all our troubles. Love is a wise bloodhound. You oughta be a mountain. They got a machine turning ’round the river.  Round and round, the words go round. I love the cool clear water… See that sea level rising? Though I had no good reason, I went up on the mountain. Want you all to come visit me.”

“Time is a boomerang,
an ancient book that says,
‘Hey buddy, you’re in my bed.’
This stick here that you see down by the shore
is a Percheron, a hound dog lying by the ocean.”

“Family is the rock,
Wealth’s not my romance.
Get ready for the tidal wave!
Way up North where the cold winds shiver,
I give my horn a blow;
Put some bait upon my hook:
Your life’s gonna change to the very core.”