The 1970’s were an amazing time for me (Cathy). I toured and performed in a duo with Duck Donald (yes, his real name) and we often expanded with a larger variety show including PETER PAUL VAN CAMP, The Only Performing Poet from Coshocton, Ohio. In fact, we all recorded “I’M GONNA TELL”, a live kids/family vinyl album, in 1978. On that recording, and hundreds of performances together, Mr. Van Camp recited this poem, “PUNCH, BROTHERS, PUNCH”.Mark Twain came across a short jingle of this title in a newspaper. He became obsessed with it and even wrote a short story about it called “A LITERARY NIGHTMARE”.
Peter Paul Van Camp added 7 verses and one German translation. Apparently, I am the first person ever to “cover” one of his creations. Here’s the live performance with me, Brad Kolodner on banjo and Amadou Kouyate on djembe. Below that is some hilarious correspondance from Peter Paul Van Camp. Many great memories and hopefully, there will be an opportunity to work with Van Camp again!!!!!!! He is a gem.
From Peter Paul Van Camp: Well, Cathy Ann, it may interest you to know that the first time you would have heard “Punch, Bros, Punch” was the first time I performed it, at the Norwood Hotel on August 12, 1977. It was part of a guest set with yourself & Duckworth.. In the year to come, it was read right out loud also in Owen Sound, Prince Rupert, Skidegate, Kamloops, Regina, Fort Qu’appelle, quite a lot in Toronto while I lived there, then back in Winnipeg, then at Mariposa, and it finally hit big at the 1978 Winnipeg Folk Festival (where Geoff Muldaur heard it and thought well of me), then in Sudbury, Ottawa, Montreal, the Vancouver Folk Festival, then Owen Sound again, and Edmonton, and then we recorded the album Sept 24,1978…unfortunately, on the 25th of October, ’78, during an ill-advised turn at the Royal Albert, a woman who was distraught and not sober took violent exception to the poem, and to me, and quite an awful scene ensued. I put the piece away for awhile after that….but from the itinerary above, it seems as if you would have heard it quite a lot, in its youth. How’s that for total recall?
Oh! I almost forgot. On January 4, 1978 I broke my jaw and nose in an auto mishap, loosening all my front teeth in the bargain, and found that when I attempted to recite “Punch Bros” on the 1st of February that I was almost, but not quite, healed up — as you no doubt can attest, the piece requires maximum facial flexibility, and teeth which are firmly in place. None of these conditions applied that evening, but have since re-established themselves somewhat. So long as no one punches me, I might be alright.
If after all this, you NEED a copy of the vinyl album, complete with booklet, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll fix you right up for $15 including postage ($17 to Canada).
Meantime, the audience had fun trying to repeat the refrains with me. See if YOU can do it!!!!!