"There's nobody on the local scene quite like yellow jack"
- Bob McLennan, President, Sportsmen's Americana Music Foundation

L to R at the Lockport Locks: Warren Namingha, Keith Glass, Dennis Reed Jr, LaiNIE REID, Andrew Gianni. Photo by Lisa Glass.

Fiddle tunes, Appalachian murder ballads, bluegrass standards, folk revival anthems, union songs, ballads and spirituals can be found shoulder-to-shoulder in our eclectic live sets with more modern fare like the Grateful Dead, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Avett Brothers, Michelle Shocked, Old Crow Medicine Show, the Carter Family, Bright Eyes, Violent Femmes, Pete Seeger and really too many more.​​​​​​​
Buffalo-niagara history in song
We love sharing our appreciation for local history through music. We seek out old songs about the area, and have also written many of our own. A sampling of our history-related repertoire celebrating the Erie Canal and beyond:
The Automatic Man** (Yellow Jack original)
Quebec-born WNY inventor Philip Perew (1862-1946) built a so-called "Frankenstein of Tonawanda" in the mid-1890s. He claimed the towering wooden automaton could be a super soldier, an advertising device, or (when equipped with a hidden phonograph) a persuasive political orator. In the end, it became a brand likeness for a hooey foot corn cure. It was reported to have walked in the opening ceremonies of Buffalo's Pan-American Exposition in 1901.
Buffalo Gals*
Yes, that old chestnut! The song is thought to be dedicated to the "working girls" of Buffalo's rowdy Canal Street (once called the "wickedest street in the world"), and enjoyed popularity in the minstrel shows of the mid-1800s. It is based on an older traditional melody, and exists in many other versions dedicated to the ladies of other locales. We follow Woody Guthrie in adding the "Danced all night with a bottle in my hand" chorus and other verses, including a verse with the epic dad joke, "She was a bootlegger's daughter but I loved her still."
The Burning of Buffalo (Yellow Jack original)
A sweeping and sometimes darkly funny account of the horrifying events of December 1813 on the Niagara Frontier, performed in the style of an Irish jig.

E-ri-e Canal (The E-ri-e Was Risin')*
This rousing number laments an imminent tragedy in its singalong chorus: "The E-ri-e was a-rising, and the gin was a-getting low!" 
From Buffalo to Troy
"Johnny Bartley used to sing [it] at the 'Alhambra Varieties' on Commercial Street, in Buffalo, in the eighteen-eighties." Harold W. Thompson's "Body, Boots & Britches" (1939)
Highway 62** (Yellow Jack original)
A fever dream history of Niagara Falls Boulevard and beyond, name-checking former Buffalo mayor and two-time president Grover Cleveland, McKinley assassin Leo Czolgosz, and touching on the intergenerational anguish of certain Buffalo sports disappointments that shall not be named here.
The Legend of Hannah Johnson* (Yellow Jack original)
A new song about an old fortuneteller, Hannah Johnson (c.1799-1883). She was born as a slave in Schenectady in the house of New York Governor Yates before being freed as part of the so-called Gradual Emancipation of New York. From about 1826 (just after the opening of the Erie canal) she lived in the town of Wheatfield, in present-day North Tonawanda, with her husband, John. It has been suggested that she assisted Blacks seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad into nearby Canada. Hannah became a part of local folklore in later generations, an occult figure that haunted the woods on North Tonawanda's southeast side.
Low Bridge! Everybody Down!
No Erie Canal repertoire would be complete without this Thomas S. Allen classic. We give it a bit of an update to a folk-punk tempo, and include all the additional verses as they appeared in the first-known sheet music of 1913 (including the refrain "fifteen years on the Erie Canal," not "fifteen miles").
The Lumbershovers' Song** (Yellow Jack original)
"Lumbershovers" load and unload the great quantities of lumber that arrived in the Tonawandas from the Great Lakes and was sent to the east along the Erie Canal. This song celebrates the harmony and honesty of work life on the Erie Canal. Some of its depictions were inspired by Richard Garrity's book, "Canal Boatman: My Life on Upstate Waterways" (New York State Series).

Murder at the Docks (Yellow Jack original)
The Erie Canal was big business with big money at stake, and tensions could run high. On the P. W. Scribner docks in Tonawanda in 1895, they exploded into the grisly double murder of canal boat captain Lorenzo Phillips and his son Charles, as surviving daughter Flora hiding in the cabin below is left to drift towards the falls with her dead family.
O Mighty Niagara* (Yellow Jack original)
Many have succumbed to the deadly allure of the Niagara Falls, and its promises of fame and immortality.
O Captain, My Captain (The Love Song of Samuel de Champlain) (Yellow Jack original)
When French explorer Samuel de Champlain met up with his young interpreter and guide Étienne Brûlé in 1615 after a four-year separation, it might have gone something like this. This gently fictionalized account "critiques colonial practices, prompting listeners to reconsider historical narratives of discovery".  That's what ChatGPT says, anyway.
White House Blues
Traditional song about the 1901 assassination of President William McKinley at the Pan Am Exposition in Buffalo, NY.
Where Is Love?** (Yellow Jack original)
The notorious Thayer brothers were the unfortunate subjects of the only public hanging in Buffalo, attracting virtually the entire regional population.
Another song about the McKinley assassination.
* Available on A Horse Apiece (2020)
** Available on Highway 62 (2022) 
We've recorded two full-length studio albums: "A Horse Apiece" (2020), and "Highway 62" (2022). You can find them on all major music services, and purchase items from our Bandcamp page.
Dennis Reed Jr (Guitar, banjolele, harmonica, vocals)
Andrew Gianni - Mandolin, tenor banjo, vocals
Keith Glass - Bass, vocals
Lainie Reid - Fiddle, tenor banjo, vocals
Warren Namingha - Percussion

SOME places we have performed
Brownie's (North Tonawanda)
Buffalo Wings and Brewhouse (North Tonawanda)
Canalfest of the Tonawandas
The Cave (Buffalo)
Canalside (Buffalo)
Community Beer Works (Buffalo)
Days Park Tavern (Buffalo)
DHU Strand Theater (North Tonawanda)
Duende at Silo City (Buffalo)
East Aurora Music Festival
Eugene V. Debs Social Hall (Buffalo)
Hilltop Inn and Grove (Lancaster)
Hot Mama’s Canteen (Buffalo)
Music is Art (Terrapin Station Stage)
Mohawk Place (Buffalo)
North Tonawanda History Museum
Old Man River (Tonawanda)
Nietzsche’s (Buffalo)
Penny Lane (Clarence)
Savage at Woodcock (Newfane)
South Buffalo Irish Festival
Sportsmen’s Tavern (Buffalo)
Sweetness 7 Cafe (Buffalo)
Witter’s (North Tonawanda)
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