Chasing the Ghost

by Lydia Sylvia Martin

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This is my first solo album for banjo. I got the idea back in 2009 after playing in Santa Fe with the Martin Family. I had already taught and performed at Common Ground on the Hill on banjo, and I thought it would be nice to have a banjo album in case I were ever travelling alone and people wanted to hear the solo music. I started working on it in 2010 and eventually I added more musicians and even did a session in Brooklyn in 2012 that reached out to the Irish and blues connections as they relate to banjo.

In the years working on this album, I've also taught banjo privately and at gatherings such as Miles of Music and continued my personal research on banjo. I'd started on banjo in Maryland and West Virginia, and spent time listening to styles in North Carolina and East Virginia. I am fascinated too by Kentucky banjo. I also worked on film footage for my documentary project called Living Tradition, and published a book of banjo arrangements called Robert Johnson for Banjo, available from Hal Leonard Publications and co-authored by Dave Rubins.

In 2013 I got married. Work on the album continued. Mixing and mastering ensued over the next year and we decided to release an early, pre-release special edition so that the people who supported the Brooklyn Recording Session would have copies of the album in their hand. In October 2014 we had a gathering at NOMA gallery in Frederick for the early edition.

Now with the help of Kari Estrin we have finished the album, with new instrumental parts and harmonies added by Dirk Powell. Some of the vocal harmonies were also recorded at Asparagus Media. This final version is a twelve song album ready for radio play and your personal enjoyment. I hope you like it, and please reach out to me on email with any questions or comments. Thanks very much.


released October 1, 2016

Chasing the Ghost by Lydia Sylvia Martin,
produced by Dirk Powell at Cypress House Studio
Banjo, Vocals, Piano: Lydia Sylvia Martin
Harmonica: Phil Wiggins
Fiddle, Vocals, Guitar: Dirk Powell
Fiddle, Vocals: Claude Martin
Fiddle: Tony DeMarco
Fiddle: Cleek Schrey
Uillean Pipes: Joey Abarta
Vocals: Jeanean Martin
Guitar: Eli Smith
Bones: Dom Flemons

Off-site recordings done at Patuxent Records by Tom Mindte, Jalopy Theatre by Don Fierro, and Asparagus Media by Steve Steckler




Lydia Sylvia Martin Maryland

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Track Name: Undone in Sorrow
Over yonder in the graveyard, where the wild, wild flowers grow
Oh, there lays my own true lover, she's gone from me forevermore.

Fairer than the sweetest flower, restless as the wildest wind,
born with a love deep as the ocean, this was the girl that I did win.

I left her there, back on the mountain, to see the world, riches to gain.
Oh, when I returned, no earthly treasure could ease this heart so full of pain.

There so high upon the mountain, beneath a little mound of clay,
the girl that I returned to marry so still among the flow'rs did lay.

I'll go away and I will wander, lay aside my earthly gain,
and I'll not end as a man with riches. Undone in sorrow I'll remain.
Track Name: Dark Holler Blues
I'd rather be in some dark holler,
Where the sun don't ever shine
Than you to be some other man's darling
When you are no longer mine

When I sleep I dream about you.
When I wake I have no rest.
Every moment seems an hour...
Oh the pain in my breast.

At my gate you're always welcome
At my door, please enter in.
In my heart, I'll always love you.
You're the one I tried to win.
Track Name: Jo Bones
Had a calf I know'd it'd die x3
You could tell right well by the look in it's eye

Asked my kinfolks to come in x3
For to help me kill and skin

All the buzzards come flocking around x3
At last they lit upon the ground

They got mad enough to fight x3
Because we robbed them of their right

Keep one quarter yes I will x3
And sell the rest to Kaiser Bill
Chorus: Walk ol' Jo Bones, walk away
Walk ol' Jo Bones walk all day
Track Name: Strawberry Blues
Looked down the road, what do I see
Another man's got my woman, and the blues got me

Money, oh money, money I see
Raising strawberries made a man out of me

I've got money, I've got my shoes,
I've got a woman with the strawberry blues

Good lookin' women sure do make me tall,
I wish I could sleep tonight I have to work so hard
Track Name: Lonesome Road Blues
(chorus)Look up, look down, that lonesome road
Hang down your little head and cry x2

The darkest night I ever did see was the day I left my home
The day I left my home


A few good friends must part sometime, so why not you and I, my love
Why not you and I

Track Name: Cherry River Line
Well it's lonesome here, it's lonesome all the time.
Lonesome on that Cherry, Cherry River Line.

Got a girl on yonder's mountain, I know she won't be mine.
I know that she loves me, 'cause she's always on my mind.

Yonder stands little Miguel, her wineglass in her hand.
She's drinking down her troubles, courting another man.

Well, when I die just bury me by the tie.
I can hear that Number Four when she goes rolling by.

Well, it's lonesome here, it's lonesome everywhere.
Lonesome on that Cherry, Cherry River Line
Track Name: Hillsville John Henry
When you hear the whipporwhills a-hollering,
It's corn planting time, boys, corn planting time.

There's not a hammer in the Allegheny Mountains
That rings like mine, babe, that rings like mine.

When you hear my bulldog barking, there's somebody around, woman,
somebody around.

When you hear my forty-four a-roaring,
There's another man dead, another man dead.
Track Name: C and O Train
The old woman's standing in the door x2
The old woman's callin' (squallin'?) and the little children bawlin'
Johnny don't you come here no more.

(chorus) I'm bound for the C and O Train x2
I'll pick up my hat and my old walking cane
Bound for that C and O Train.

Well I never will get drunk any more x2
I'll lay my head on the bar-room floor (or, lean my head on the bar-room door) and I never will get drunk, no more.