Been A Long Time (2021)



“Been a Long Time is political folk at its best and will be greatly appreciated by fans who have been waiting six years for a new Kahn album.” — Ronnie Lankford, AllMusic

“Si Kahn has created a sweet and lively collection of new songs on Been a Long Time” — Matt Watroba, Sing Out!

“Si Kahn’s Been A Long Time is the second great CD to come out of the late, great Charles Sawtelle’s Rancho DeVille recording studio this year…. Backed by a luminous band including Sawtelle on guitar, Laurie Lewis on fiddle and vocals, Pete Wernick on banjo, Tom Rozum on mandolin and vocals, Todd Phillps on bass, and a few special guest artists, this is the first time singer and songwriter Si Kahn has been able to record a bluegrass project, and it’s a gem.” — David J. McCarty, Bluegrass Unlimited June 2001

Si Kahn (vocals)
Laurie Lewis (fiddle, lead and harmony vocals)
Tom Rozum (mandolin, harmony vocals)
Todd Phillips (bass, harmony vocals)
Pete Wernick (bluegrass banjo, harmony vocals)
Charles Sawtelle (lead and rhythm guitar)
Mike “Woody” Woods (clawhammer banjo)
Sally Van Meter (dobro on “Just A Lie”)
Tom Haver (mountain dulcimer on “Grandma”)
Anita Dolen (additional fiddle on “Hear that Sound”)
Bonnie Carol (hammered dulcimer on “Dancing with the Johnson Boys”)

About the Songs comprising Been A Long Time
All songs by Si Kahn © Joe Hill Music LLC (ASCAP)

  1. Going Down to the Old Home Place (D): Asheville writer Thomas Wolfe probably wasn’t thinking of the “Over the Rhine” neighborhood in Cincinnati where so many Appalachian migrants ended up, but he sure was right when he titled his novel You Can’t Go Home Again.
  2. Houses on the Hill (G/2): Back when I was an organizer with the Textile Workers Union of America, I wrote “There’s some things you can count on/Some things don’t ever stop/Like a lot of folks being on the bottom/And a few way up on top.” The old mill towns were designed to reinforce that reality.
  3. Hear That Sound (G): Where would bluegrass music be without the sacred trilogy of music, moonshine, and murder?
  4. Been A Long Time (G/5): After he deserted the Czar’s army in Russia, my Zade (Yiddish for grandfather) Gabriel Kahn was a pick and shovel laborer helping build the Canadian Pacific Railway. I would give a great deal to have him hug me again.
  5. Long Way To Harlan (G): I love making traditional songs part of my songwriting. Here I take “It’s a long way to Harlan/It’s a long way to Hazard/Just to get a little brew, boys/Just to get a little brew” and turn it into a Los Angeles love story.
  6. Just A Lie (Am/5): I was just parking my van in the nosebleed lot at MerleFest, when coming from the main stage a good quarter mile away I heard Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum dueting on this song, a wonderful welcome home to a great festival.
  7. Tarpaper Shacks (D/2): So many people work their lives away, hoping for their award in heaven. As a lifetime union and civil rights organizer, my job is to help them try to get it here on Earth.
  8. First Time Lover (C/2): If reincarnation is real, I want to come back as Laurie Lewis.
  9. Dancing with the Johnson Boys (Am/5): For the Johnson boys in the traditional song, “the sight of a pretty girl makes them afraid.” As with so many men, did their fear of women lead them down the dark path to violence?
  10. Brown Lung Blues (G): I worked for several years as a volunteer with the Carolina Brown Lung Association, helping workers disabled by the dust in the cotton mills get compensation. These courageous people are all gone now. So are the mills.
  11. Grandma (D/3): I will always be grateful to have been raised by a large, loving, public spirited family, with 20 aunts and uncles, all but one z”l. In case you didn’t learn this in Catholic school, z”l is an abbreviation for the Hebrew phrase zecher l’shalom, “May their memory be for a blessing,”
  12. Where the Song Never Ends (D/2): After the great musician and folklorist Ralph Rinzler died of HIV/AIDS in 1994 at 59, his spouse Kate Rinzler asked me to write a song in his honor and memory.