1 Wheels of the World/Queen of the Rushes/John Dwyer’s/Christmas Eve
Marla – mandolin; Erin – fiddle; Richard – guitar
We open the album with our “meet the band” set. The lighthearted slip jig Wheels of the World shares its air with the more serious-minded song of the same name. Queen of the Rushes, easily confused with The Humors of Ennistymon, comes from an old Stockton’s Wing album forever imprinted on Marla’s then-soft brain in the early ‘80s. Erin learned John Dwyer’s at a session in The Lantern in Loughrea, Co. Galway about 20 years ago. Christmas Eve made a surprise appearance to close the set one night. We’ve played it that way ever since.

2 Heather on the Moor Traditional, arr. John Doyle and Three Mile Stone
Erin – vocal; Marla – mandolin, harmony vocal; Richard – guitar, harmony vocal
Special guest: John Doyle – mandola
Erin hadn’t sung this Paul Brady classic since about 1985, but as Richard and John’s infectious arrangement fell into place one night in the studio, how could she refuse?

3 Brian Montague’s/The Noisy Curlew/The Drake’s Neck/Free and Easy

Erin – fiddle; Marla – mandolin; Richard – guitar, tenor banjo
Erin got the first tune from fiddler Brian Montague of Belfast at a noisy street-corner session in the village of Glencolmcille in about 1986. After 23 years of trying to find its name the oldfashioned way (asking every new musician she met and setting Myron Bretholtz on the case), Erin turned to Facebook. Brian had joined days before. The tune is his own composition, he’s never named it, and he’s delighted to hear it here. The rest of the tunes just fell into place.

4 Gipsy Princess/Granny in the Corner/Fleur de Mandragore
(Michel Bordeleau)
Marla – mandolin; Erin – fiddle; Richard – guitar
We like to take Gipsy a little slow for a barndance and give it somewhat of an American flavor. Granny in the Corner is a little-played tune from the great Fermanagh flute player Cathal McConnell’s early solo album. Mandragore is a contemporary tune composed in the crooked
Quebecois style by Michel Bordeleau of La Bottine Souriante.

5 Last Winter Was a Hard One
Traditional, arr. John Doyle and Three Mile Stone
Marla – vocal, mandola; Erin – mandolin, fiddle, harmony vocal;
Richard – guitar, harmony vocal
Marla learned this from the wonderful local singer Michele Delattre, who got it from Joe Hickerson. This Irish-American song, with its combination of arrogance and humor, is an insightful peek into the immigrant experience that is no less true today. The fiddle break was the result of Erin’s attempt to learn Cold Frosty Morning from a clawhammer banjo recording.

Last winter was a hard one, Missus Reilly, did you hear?
‘Tis well yourself that knows it, its been for many a day.
Your husband wasn’t the only one who sat behind the wall;
My old man McGuinness couldn’t get a job at all

The politicians promised us work on the boulevard
To work with pick and shovel, and haul dirt on the yard.
Six months ago they promised us work we’d surely get
But I’ll tell you, my good woman, they are promising it yet.

So Rise up, Missus Reilly, don’t give away to blues
You and I will cut a shine, new bonnet and new shoes
Hear the young ones cry? Neither sigh nor sob
We’ll wait till times gets better and McGuinness gets a job

Bad luck to those Italians, I wish they’d stayed at home,
We’ve plenty of our own kind for to eat up all our own;
They come like bees in the summertime, swarming here to stay,
And the contractors they hire them for forty cents a day.

They work upon the railroad, they shovel snow and slush;
But its one thing in their favor, Italians never get lushed
They bring their money home at night, take no dinner wine
That’s one thing I wish I could say of your old man and mine!

But springtime it is coming, work we’ll surely get,
My man will get his job again, he makes a handsome clerk
Oh see him climb the ladder as nimble as a fox,
Yes he’s your man to handle the old three-cornered box

6 Old Innishowan
Erin – fiddle; Richard – guitar
This restrained and dignified air appears in an early edition of the Irish Folk Song Society Journal, which was published from 1904 to 1939.

7 I’ll Mend Your Pots and Kettles-O/Martin Mulvihill’s Jig
Marla – accordion; Erin – mandolin; Richard – guitar
These two tunes come from the lovely, feminine box playing of Mary Rafferty. Thanks to John Skelton for turning Marla on to Mary’s recordings.

8 Piper on Horseback/Mullingar Lea/Molloy’s Favorite
Richard – tenor banjo, guitar; Marla – mandola; Erin – fiddle
Richard learned the first tune in this groove set from banjo player extraordinaire Dave Cory. Momentarily distracted by the banjo, Richard relinquishes the backup seat, which Marla commandeers with her mandola. Erin just sticks to business.

9 Tommy Sullivan’s/Padraig O’Keeffe’s/Rose Anne’s/The Minnow

Erin – fiddle; Marla – mandolin; Richard – guitar
Fiddler Maurice O’Keeffe of Kiskeam, Co. Cork, recorded the middle two polkas and many other tunes for Erin during a 1998 visit that was arranged by their mutual friend John Coakley, who simply announced one morning, “I’ve already called Maurice and told him you are coming.” Maurice learned the first one from Padraig O’Keeffe; Rose Anne’s, says Maurice, “was the first tune I got from my late master, John Lenihan.” Marla learned the last polka from fiddler Cait Reed, who dubbed it The Minnow due to a curious similarity between its
closing phrase and the theme song of a ridiculous sitcom that swims around in the American baby-boomer subconscious.

10 Song of the Wage Slave
(words by Robert Service, music by Marla Fibish)
Marla – vocal, tenor guitar, mandolin; Erin – harmony vocal, fiddle; Richard – guitar
Marla put this Robert Service poem to music about 20 years ago. Despite a protagonist who sweats and toils in ditches, it still seems to resonate with us urban desk jockeys. When all is said and done, somehow all we ever really want is a little peace and quiet and a good night’s sleep.

Adapted from Robert Service’s poem of the same name.

Look at my face, toil-furrowed; look at my calloused hands
Master, I’ve done thy bidding, wrought in thy many lands
Wrought for the little masters. Big-bellied they be, and rich
I’ve done their desire for daily hire, and I die like a dog in a ditch


But when the long, long day’s over, and the big boss gives me my pay
Hope it won’t be hell-fire, as some of the parsons say
And I hope that it won’t be heaven, with some of the parsons I’ve met
All I want is just quiet, just to rest and forget

Thou knowest my sins are many, and often I’ve played the fool
Cards, whiskey, women, made me the devil’s tool
I was just like a child with money; I flung it away with a curse
Feasting a fawning parasite, glutting a harlot’s purse

Living in camps with men-folk, a lonely and loveless life
Never knew kiss of sweetheart, never caress of wife
I with the strength of two men, savage, shy and wild
Yet how I’d have treasured a woman, and the sweet warm kiss of a child

I, the primitive toiler, half-naked, grimed to the eyes
Sweating deep in their ditches, swining stark in their sties
Hurling down forests before me, spanning tumultuous streams
Down in the ditch, building over me palaces fairer than dreams

Master, I’ve filled my contract, wrought in thy many lands
Not by my sins wilt thou judge me, but by the work of my hands
Master, I’ve done thy bidding, and the light is low in the west
And the long, long shift is over. Master, I’ve earned it…rest

11 Rodney’s Glory/Love Will You Marry Me/John Stenson’s
Marla – mandolin; Richard – guitar; Erin – fiddle
This set is a Marla classic. She has played these A tunes together for ages and loves to take her sweet time building up from set dance to hornpipe to reel. We modified the venerable Stenson’s just for a bit of fun.

12 Snug in a Blanket/La Gigue à Médée/Tommy Peoples’
Richard – guitar; Erin – fiddle; Marla – mandolin
Richard was captivated by Snug in a Blanket when he first heard Dave Cory play it late one night in the pantry at Lark Camp. Gigue à Médée seems to be the Quebecois version of a hop jig. With Tommy Peoples’ we make the ever-so-ordinary hop jig to reel transition.

13 Dark is the Color
Erin – vocal
Before taking up Irish fiddle, Erin was a pupil of the great Connemara singer Joe Heaney, who remains her strongest musical influence. The song chooses the moment; this was the one to sing at the time.

14 La Valse des Pastouriaux
(Jacky Molard)/Will You Come Home with Me / Miss Walsh
Erin – fiddle; Richard – guitar; Marla – mandolin, accordion
We close with a last waltz by Breton violinist Jacky Molard. Erin especially loves the way Richard plays guitar on Will You Come Home with Me. The last jig is a rogue two-part version of the more common three-part Miss Walsh. Marla learned it years ago from Seamus Egan—the one from Sligo, who passed through San Francisco for a few years and now resides in Portland, OR. We’ve almost recovered.

All music traditional, arranged by Three Mile Stone, unless noted.

her grandfather’s 1921 Gibson
A model mandolin, Gibson H1
mandola circa 1914, Cairdin
Mini-Deluxe C#/D accordion,
Martin 1929 5-17T tenor guitar

Santa Cruz Model F and Lowden
O-25 guitars, 1920s Vega
Tubaphone Style M tenor banjo

an interesting violin, bows by Erin
Shrader and the Oberlin bow makers

Wild Hog Vineyard Porter Bass
Zinfandel, 2005

The first time I remember seeing Marla was in a little afternoon kitchen session at least twenty years ago at Lark Camp, a world music camp in Mendocino, California, where Irish music enjoys disproportionate representation. She was sitting across from me playing the mandolin, wearing an old grey plaid flannel shirt and, as I recall, we both looked up at the same time which meant, “That was fun.” It was also easy. About ten years later, Richard appeared at Lark with a guitar and was soon driving every session he could get into, far into the night. Some years after that, the three of us shared a moment of last-night-of-Lark magic over a song. On the strength of that magic, I finally moved to the Bay Area. It had always felt like my musical home more than anyplace else—and I’ve tried quite a few places. Finally, some years of foot-dragging later, we officially became a band. So, the album you hold in your hand is a milestone of sorts, not so much of miles, but of years. More than twenty years of listening, learning, leaning into a tune. Of life going on, with music on the side, yet always in the center, drawing you in like a campfire on a cool, damp night. Will you join us?

Three Mile Stone thanks
John Doyle for his experience, encouragement and exuberance; our engineers, Jim Nunally and Glenn Barratt, for great ears, incredible patience, and attention to detail from coast to coast; Barry Fisher, the eye behind the lens; Alan Perlman, ELS (Emergency Luthiery Service); Deb Sibony, for her elegant sense of design; Lizanne Knott, Derek Bianchi, Frank Simpson, Connie Doolan, Judy Forrest, Cathy Peterson, Myron Bretholz; Mickie and Beth Zekley; and Daniel and Marion Schoenfeld of Wild Hog Vineyard for their hospitality and for providing the wonderful setting for our photographs. And our friends at Cabin 11.

Erin thanks
Bryan, Sharon, and John Shrader, Maurice O’Keeffe, Tom Croen, and the Oberlin bow makers.

Marla thanks
Jamie Bell for waiting up for me, and for your patience and feeding; Miriam Adrianowicz, Tanya Liszniansky, Sylvia Herold, Chuck Ervin, Lewis Santer, and Susan Spurlock for your ears and your encouragement.

Richard thanks
Charlotte and Irwin Mandel, Dave Cory, and Angelina Carberry.