Where The Heather Don't Grow

by Black Jake & The Carnies

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Black Jake & the Carnies sets fierce murder ballads and cautionary tales to the beat of an old-time string band. The Ypsilanti septet's unique blend of Americana, Bluegrass and punk (dubbed "Crabgrass") sets a raucous pace for original songs about loup-garous and banjo-pickin' demoniacs. Their ten song debut record, "Where the Heather Don't Grow" was recorded and mixed by Jim Roll in his Ann Arbor, MI studio.


released April 1, 2008



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Black Jake & The Carnies Ypsilanti, Michigan

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Track Name: Paper Outlaw
Paper Outlaw

Phinias Philistine Pratt was a Phrenologist of note
He tipped his tall top hat to ride the tails of his coat.
In lecture halls and fancy balls and studious reviews
His dilligence rewarded as was right and just and true

There weren't much market for his trade since the crash of '29
the meritous man went strapped for cash though his skull be shaped refined
looked he with envy at his younger brother, the family cad
who lived at ease through grift and gun and good ol' smash 'n' grab

If a lesser man could do it so could he
But them lesser type of men just don't agree
You either got it or you don't boy
don't you pony up and choke boy
cause a master outlaw ain't no
paper degree

Well Phin as he now called himself got a nice new pair of irons
and a fancy new gettaway car with the latest chasin' tires
he walked and talked with swagger in his step and in his head
as this he knew was what was done in the circles he now tread

Younger brother found his new partner in crime an albatross
for to shootin straight and drivin fast this pinhead was a loss
and he had not heart to pick apart a rube with just one look
this way of life was not his art nor a science in a book


Well Phin, not one to be outdone, set to working twice as hard
learning other master's secrets from their table talk at cards
his keen and driven mind put forth to gain ascendancy
he set his younger brother up to fall through guile and subtlety

While the younger lad was locked away old Phinnie had a time
of starting his own outlaw gang and promoting it in crime
but his own ineptness left his newfound lackies unimpressed
so they sprung the younger, and brother, they left Phin's skull a bloody mess.


Well the younger lad stood over Mr. Phinneus Philistine P
and advised him to return to his studious life of drugery
for if he didn't do what God meant him for he may well wind up dead
saying "horn in on my racket anymore and I'll count bumps on your head!"
Track Name: No Diamond Ring
No Diamond Ring

He held his baby as she creid
He beheld her baby as she died
He knew from wrong and he knew from right
And that baby’s skin was a shade too white (just a shade too white)
He knew no court would see him through
But he knew just what he had to do

Crept from the quarters by the full moon light (by the full moon light)
With a bailin’ hook and a cookin’ knife (steel blade cookin’ knife)
The good book said he shouldn’t do
But the woman in the swamp said a thing or two
What spirit was a-guidin’ him
To the master’s house by the moonlight dim


The house slaves they just let him by (let him walk on by)
When they saw that hook and the look in his eye (cold dead look in his eye)
Didn’t need no light in the house you know
Cause Moses was aflame with a strangely glow
No door nor floorboard made a creak
As he stood o’er massah fast asleep


Stood there for an hour or more…
The wicked man resting safe and sure…
Moses couldn’t run with a foot cut off
And any dozen white folks’d string him aloft
Livin' or dyin’ it was all the same…(LIVIN’ OR DYING’ IT WAS ALL THE SAME!)
Moses raised that hook to his baby’s name

Track Name: Crazy MacCready's
Mamma McCraedy was a lady some said plum crazy
had a hold on her family's mind
Her broken body bent erratic locked up in the attic
had her lovin' little ones confined.

Papa McCraedy's in Hades and dealin' some shady
For the state he left his ladies in
A dance or more if you would chance with a McCraedy whore
You're cashin' out before he cashed you in.

Sister Sadie displayed a losing game of old maid
choosin' rogues and rakes for jacks
Dealt a better hand she'd understand how to lose that man
and keep a better suiter off her back.

Sonny McCraedy found a lady good plain and crazy
for the oldest boy of the clan
but how she cried when he lied and she damn near died
to see her angel baby spade a man.

If any would test them you can bet their ailments let them keep 'em all inline
To play a Crazy McCraedy was a day before dyin'
But the neighbors say maybe it'll turn out this time.
Track Name: Hunter's Moon
Hunter's Moon

Henry was a man of the world in the French Mackinaw fur trade
He'd track 'em, he'd fell 'em, he'd trap 'em, and he'd sell 'em
And that's how he made his name
In them tradin' posts men heard his boasts how he's gonna get the Loup Garou
An evil Injun spirit half-man, half-wolf
Stealin' brides before their honeymoon

So Henry made a vow on his wedding day
A pelt for his woman from his fell beast prey
And as he left with his musket he could hear her say,
Don't go out tonite, oh Henry, don't go out tonite!
Full moon's shinin' bright, don't be no fool out there tonite,
By that old Hunter's Moon

Henry tracked the wolf track to a cave about a quarter mile outta town
But he did step back at the mouth so black and the bones scattered all around
But Henry had to prove himself by the boasts and the oaths he'd made
So he stole inside and he steeled hisself 'till his pride made him unafraid

Henry crept down the winding way
When out in the woods came a wolfen bay
Then he remembered what his woman say,


Henry waited from dusk till dawn but no howlin' devil did show
Just a little relieved but a lot crestfallen as he made his way back home
His cabin there was a frightful sight with the stout oak door knocked down
There were signs of struggle but no sign o' life, just a bloody wedding gown

Henry rushed on back to the cave and he found that wolfman there
With the skin of his woman and a fresh new pelt of her flowing golden hair
They fell into a savage fight, then the beast fled past Henry
Sayin', "I curse you to stalk the moonlit night, a lone wolf just like me!"

Henry still hunts those woods they say
A wolf by night and a man by day
And every full moon them village folk pray,
Don't come out tonite, Oh Henry, don't come out tonite!
Full moon's shinin' bright, don't be no fool out there tonite,
By that old Hunter's Moon
Track Name: Jasper Watkins
Jasper Watkins

Jasper Watkins was a friend o' mine, he always made it to the church on time
he was always so kind and good to me, loved his friends and family
even on that cold November eve when I saw what men weren't meant to see

Oh Jasper Watkins, what have you done, with your cold steel knife and a loaded gun
you apologized like a gentleman, before you did them poor folks in
your clothes were a-glistenin' steamin' red, you left behind a trail of the dyin' and the dead
but you needn't come back from this journey, just said "now it all makes sense to me."

Oh Jasper Watkins, tell me what do you see
and I pray to God whatever devil took you
wouldn't ever take a hold of me

It started in the park by the old town square, our little church was havin' us a social there
with cider and apples and games and such, there was dancin' and drinkin' but not too much
He was minglin' as normal in his finery, then he took a little evenin' stroll down the street

come back with a bloody Sunday-meetin' dress ,that he bought for the woman that he loved the best
produced a nickel pistol from within his breast, and sent his darlin' babes to their final rest
when out come a dagger to his own best friend, I stood frozen there, more died some fled
the quiet compassion never left his face, of mania nor malice there not a trace
a look in his eye of knowing pity, as he finished with his work and he looked at me


Before he went to the hangman's tree, he told the particularly strange story
of the night on that cold November eve, first to the preacher man and then to me
said he didn't see demons nor enemies, only loving friends and family
and he wasn't even drinkin' nor ever angry, just suddenly knew what God had made him to be

killed 'em all for no reason with his heart still kind, breakin' up inside him for the grievin' left behind
but he felt deep within him for the very first time, not a care nor a trouble worryin' his mind
as he sank that steel again and again, first in his family and then his friends
and I asked him why he had spared me, he only sighed and said "one day you'll see."

Track Name: Styxferry County
Styxferry County

Jimmy was a lad of just 16 years but he plucked them strings so fine
that he didn't have a lick o' that tremblin' fear for the man in the Lost Souls mine
The man lived there so many a year that he gave the place its name
and from them hills everyone could hear his haunting tunes of pain


Jimmy went to challenge the men in the mine from Styxferry county
for to fairly aquire his banjo finer than any that could ever be
The Styxferry folk said "Jimmy don't you be no fool for pride,
for many have went and nobody won't come lookin' for you inside."


Jimmy got there about 1/2 past dusk and climbed on down the shaft
and the air was a flavor of sulferous musk from the hot hell-mouth outdraft
Then a ghostly voice come a-echoin' up from the black abysmal depth
said "Go back to yer mamma you gutless pup, don't you take another step."


Jimmy said "Be still you bedevilled man, I ain't afeared o' you,
I've come to best you if I can in a banjo-pickin' duel."
"If you can beat me I'll go home and you can keep my soul,
but if I win your demon roams and I keep your banjo."


The unclean man just laughed and said "Thet sounds right fair to me!"
Then he cracked poor Jimmy upon his head and kicked him in the teeth.
He swung that fine old instrument just like a miner's pick
an eternal life of pain to vent 'till the beatin' made Jimmy sick.


He said "Looks like I beat you good and my pickin's made you bleed
now leave my mine just like you should and leave your soul indeed
Jimmy were lucky to leave alive but he weren't the same again
He'd rather he did not survive than live each day in dread

So don't be wreckless like young Jim do what Huck or Sawyer'd do
If you deal with demon don't you be thick just bring a lawyer, too

Track Name: Where The Heather Don't Grow
Where the Heather Don't Grow

My old man, when I was young, one settin' of the sun
told a tale with me upon his knee
'bout this mamma and this dad and the little girl they had
this Maggie fair and sweet as any be
he said "Son, don't you know
you don't play, you don't go
where the heather don't grow
cause Maggie, she liked to go, she liked to play
where the heather don't grow".

One morning as she went to play her winding path went far astray
from the trails that she had known
On the hillock an isle in wildflowers where Maggie wiled away her hours
'nieth the tangled lilac grove
In the middle a spit of fertile earth, that barren loam where she made berth
Where the heather don't grow

she come back that night to her father in a fright
not knowing where his little girl go
she said with a smile how she spent a pleasant while
in that shady spot where no man e'er would go


Cause there ain't no squalls and there ain't no storms with the fairies and the unicorns
where the heather don't grow
and when she sets upon that ground the sprites and pixies flit around
where the heather don't grow
she plays with leprecauns and gnomes up from their kingdom right below
where the heather don't grow
they tell her of the times they'll have lo far below they'll take her hand
where the heather don't grow

Some months slid by, Maggie hid and Maggie lied
seein' naught but good in where she liked to go
but her mamma caught her there from the lilacs in her hair
and she gave her lyin' lips a hurtful blow

Sayin' "Maggie, don't you know...

Cause her new-found friends took her below into their heathen spirit home
where the heather don't grow
there were rainbow pools and showers of gold where fauns and satyrs romped and rolled
where the heather don't grow
and on a throne their prince of old who wished for Maggie's hand to hold
where the heather don't grow
he planned with her a wedding day when she would be with them to stay
where the heather don't grow

She come back one night with a will to do things right
and act just as her fairy prince had told
she crept up them creepy stairs to her parents sleeping there
to take 'em where they forbade her to go

The town sheriff came one day wonderin' where they went away
since three weeks hide nor hair they hadn't showed
the farmhouse was a sight to give a worldly man a fright
the blood-soaked bed with no sleepers to hold
he come back with the hounds and a party to search around
and they soon sniffed out a trail for trackin' down
two bodies drgged for a ways, but at the end there weren't a trace
of the girl or the mamma or the daddy in the barren ground

and they say Maggie, don't you know
musta took 'em far below
where the heather don't grow
cause Maggie's happy home and wedding day's
where the Heather don't grow
Where the heather don't grow...

So my daddy told to me the sad strange history
of the house and land where we had made a home
a look of worry in his eyes, the helpless warning of the wise
that vaguely tells but ne'er can clearly show
Sayin' "Son, don't you know...

but what daddy didn't know
I liked to play, I liked to go
where the heather don't grow.
Track Name: Bone Man
Bone Man

Back in Louisiana when the days was black as pitch
Lived a lone creoley granny was a lonely voodoo witch
And she would dance around them graveyards where no dancin’ partner tread
And so she summoned up the spirits of the rightful restin’ dead
Yes she drew a magic circle ‘round that gleamin’ marble tomb
And then she drew them gleamin’ bones out from their own eternal womb
And then she cast the evil spell that puts the soul back in the frame
And when the bone man come around he cried aloud in burnin’ pain, and she said,

“Ha, ha, ha, ha! I said the magic words!
Ha, ha, ha! And now you understand!
Ha, ha, ha! Don’t say another word!
Ha, ha, ha! Just take me by the hand, just take me by the hand,
And Dance Bone Man!”

That bone man tried to fight it but he couldn’t break her spell
So he bowed to her politely and he swung his partner well
Oh yes they danced around in circles ‘till the dawnin’ early light
Then she’d put him back to rest but she come back there every night, a-sayin’,


One night them church folk caught her dancin’ with the risen dead
So they clapped the chains upon her, passin’ judgement on her head
She would rot inside that graveyard hangin’ from a steel cage
‘till the birds and beasts had pulled up all the meat up off her frame
‘n’ as her pearly bones collapsed and fell the gibbet danced about
swingin’ to and fro alone until her pieces scattered out
and ev’ry night a few would disappear into an opened tomb
and when he had ‘em all collected with him in his dusty gloom, Bone Man said,

“Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha! Shoulda listened to my words!
Ha ha ha! But now you understand!
Ha ha ha! Don’t say another word!
Ha ha ha! Now I got you by the hand, now I got you by the hand, and now you’re always gonna dance
With your Bone Man!
Track Name: Happy Easter To Ya
Happy Easter To Ya

Billy and Johnny were close as brothers now
Billy and Johnny were lifelong friends but
Billy and Johnny got to fussin' and a-fuedin' 'bout
where their property line done ends...

Billy killed a chicken that strayed to closely
Johnny shot a goat that chewed his leaves so
Billy threw a rock through Johnny Boy's window and
Johnny sent the buckshot through his eaves...

But come Easter Sunday preacher preached about the Lord
How He raised up from the dead
and how He sews up what we tored
and how we'll raise up with Him if we love our brother man
So Billy and Johnny was a-weepin' as they shook each other's hand
And said, "A happy Easter to ya, my good man
I'm gonna love you like I knew ya once again."

But next stormy Monday the rain come a-leakin'
through Johnny Boy's window and Billy Boy's eaves
Johnny's little girl caught death from a fever and
Billy's wife too done died in her sleep...

So they armed all the chillun with musket and pistol and
filled their heads with a family feud until
next spring them woods was a-filled with
the fire and smoke as the minieballs flew...


But when they come home from church that Sunday
quite a little massacre met their eyes
their sons and daughters broke a Mexican Standoff
all their little bodies marked the property line...

Billy and Johnny couldn't stand to live but
Billy and Johnny couldn't die from grief so
Billy and Johnny agreed to a duel so
they could die fightin' and rest in peace...

Billy and Johnny fell that day of one mind and accord
Thinkin' 'bout them better days and grievin' to the Lord
Buried in neighboring graves until that trumpet sound
Then they'll rise upon that day and promptly look around

And say "A Happy Easter to Ya, my good man."
Track Name: Swing Low
Swing Low

I looked in the mirror and what did I see
the boys in blue was a comin after me

Swing low...

We busted out of boot camp at lake cassidy
livin in them backwoods for a month or mebbe three
Dave and Manny got the groceries from pullin b and e's
An I got myself a shotty out of some fool's back seat

Swing low...

When they saw the blue lights flashin', my boys was cross with me
I put it down to envy and I shot em down like skeet
Well shootin and a speedin both at once ain't so easy
Well I missed some geezer's towncar and I hit his neighbor's tree

I blacked out and had a vision bout the boy that I used to be
and I'll be damned if I could tell you how he turned into me
There ain't nothin' good about me but I know I must live free
And I pray that God in heaven can accept a wretch like me

I came to the blood and mud and a backwards bendin knee
and a dozen pissed-off staties pumpin' lead rocks into me
I couldn't hear nothin but my heartbeat gettin slow
And my desperate prayers to Jesus for to save my depraved soul

Swing low...