Jesse Smathers Needs To Know: What’ll I Do With The Baby-O

The mountain musician puts a high-energy spin on a vintage Americana lullaby.

Jesse Smathers outlines some questionable child-care options on his zippy romp through the classic hillbilly lullaby What’ll I Do With The Baby-O — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

Mountain music has been in Smathers’ family for generations. His grandfather Harold Smathers and grand uncle Luke Smathers recorded for June Appal and were awarded the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award in 1993 for their contributions to the state’s folk music. And that’s just one piece of the family tree: The Smathers musical tradition can be traced back to when the family first settled in the North Carolina mountains in the 1700s. So it’s only natural that Jesse picked up the guitar at age 11 and hasn’t looked back since.

With What’ll I Do With the Baby-O, Smathers carries on his family tradition with a track that’s both timeless and fresh. This traditional mountain lullaby is given an uptempo treatment and an arrangement that will have listeners ready to dance. “Whether it be a swinging two-step or a square dance tune, my family has always made music folks could move to,” says Smathers. “That influence has carried on into the music that I strive to make today.”

Smathers gathered a group of friends at The Shop Studio in Candler, N.C., to put together the exuberant, lighthearted track. “It’s a simple, classic melody,” says Smathers, “It drives along the verses, which are full of cute visuals that get sillier as the song goes on.” The song features remarkable interplay between Hunter Berry’s driving fiddle and Corbin Hayslett’s outstanding banjo work in classic string band fashion, while Nick Goad (mandolin), Joe Hannabach (bass), and Smathers hold down the rhythmic fort. Patrick Robertson joins in on harmony vocals, and a good time is had by all.

“It was such a treat getting to record What’ll I Do With The Baby-O on Jesse’s new project,” says Hayslett. “Putting a high-energy spin onto this old chestnut with a powerhouse bunch of musicians stands as a highlight of making music for me. Who says you need more than two chords to have a knockout track?”

With a new full-length album slated for release later this year, Smathers hopes What’ll I Do With The Baby-O will offer a taste of what’s to come — and make folks smile. He encourages listeners to “slip on your dancing shoes, and burn a hole in the floor!”

Check out What’ll I Do With The Baby-O above, hear more from Jesse Smathers below, and zip on over to his website, Facebook and Instagram.


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