Old John Smokey
|Old John Smokey|
|First Appearance||Slower and Creepier|
Old John Smokey is a blues musician from Elmira, New York who is best known for playing the spoons. He briefly appeared during the "Slower and Creepier" episode of NSFW where he was to be the musical guest for the episode as part of the Summer Music Series, but was ultimately bumped due to time. After sitting through most of the episode waiting to make his Internet debut, he ended up throwing his spoons on the ground in frustration, got up, and walked off camera. However, he did have a single spoon moving to the beat during the ending theme.
After being told he could not play on the show, he tweeted, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!"
Justin and Brian claimed that Old John Smokey had to be bumped because he was booked as a guest on NSFW and they had reached their time limit for that show and contractually had to move on to the after show. Chatrealm didn't buy it.
Old John Smokey's upcoming album, which he apparently has or plans to use a Kickstarter to get funded, is named "Train Time Blues". Not many other details are known, but John had tweeted on July 6th that he would be able to post a free song soon. He has previously promised video or audio recordings, but none have surfaced to date. It would seem that John has to rely on friends or family to record and post these for him. On August 1st, he revealed that his nephew does the album artwork for him. He has also expressed interest in getting his songs on iTunes.
From what he has said on Twitter, he apparently likes to play around town including his local Denny's, some sort of event with a stage (possibly a hotel), and his town square on July 4th. For his 4th of July performance, he raised $32.43 and said he would donate it to local veterans. On one occasion, a waitress asked him to stop.
Train Time Blues
In promoting him on NSFW, Justin said his upcoming album was named "Train Time Blues". This was confirmed when Old John Smokey released a single from that album, "Rock Island", which said it was from "Train Time Blues" in the album artwork. "Papa Durnt Raise No Weezl" will also appear on this album.
"Rock Island" is the first known song to be released by Old John Smokey. The song is a cover of an old prison song. On July 13, 2011, 200 free copies were announced as available via Bandcamp. Since Old John Smokey was unable to perform on NSFW, this was the first time most of Chatrealm had heard him.
The Bandcamp page gives history of the song:
- John A. Lomax recorded this song at the Cumins State Prison farm in Gould, Arkansas, in 1934 from its convict composer, Kelly Pace. The Negro singer, Leadbelly, heard it, rearranged it in his own style, and made commercial phonograph recordings of it in the forties. One of these recordings was studied and imitated phrase by phrase, by Lonnie Donegan, who subsequently recorded it for an English company. The verses tell a humorous story about a train operator who smuggled pig iron through a toll gate by claiming all he had on board was livestock.
- The actual Rock Island Line was also known as the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad.
Papa Durnt Raise No Weezl
In promoting his appearance on NSFW, Justin claimed that John would be performing "Papa Didn't Raise No Weasel". On August 22, 2011, Old John Smokey added a recording of the song (titled "Papa Durnt Raise No Weezl") to his Bandcamp site. The song's album art indicates it will be on the upcoming "Train Time Blues" album. According to the Bandcamp page, the song is a tribute to his father.
Tweets prior to the release of the song indicated that the album art was one of several designs created by his nephew.
On March 6th (coincidentally, about the time that Google Play launched), Old John Smokey announced a new EP called "Sidetracked" which was available both on Bandcamp and Google Play. Like his previous releases, this also indicates that it will be part of "Train Time Blues".
Songs on this EP are:
- Keep Off the Jenkem 01:42
- Rock Island 02:18 (previously available)
- Shamokin' Dam Woman 00:26
- Papa Durnt Raise No Weezl 01:42 (previously available)
- Time on the Hill 00:55
- End of the Show Song 00:55 (cover of Get Set Go's ending theme for NSFW)
Liner notes say:
- While working on his upcoming album, "Train Time Blues", Old John Smokey has decided to make some sample tunes available to his fans. Some of these will be on "Train Time Blues" and there is a special bonus track on this album for his legion of fans who have found him through TWiT.tv's NSFW Show.
Con of a Dragon Three Equals Equals Equals Dee
Making an appearance at Dragon*Con in 2012, Old John Smokey showed up to the The Diamond Club: A Novel launch party and started selling CDs for $1. The CDs, titled "Con of a Dragon Three Equals Equals Equals Dee", contained all the above tracks as well as several new ones in which he was accompanied by others, including Lou Rod Jenkins, Jar Bob, and Tilly Jenkins. The CDs were CD-Rs and the track listing was written in Sharpie. When not selling CDs out of a Walmart bag, he was often spotted in the hallway playing the spoons. During the party, he joined Ali Spagnola for three songs during her Power Hour. He joined her again during the opening song for Dragon*Con: Con of a Dragon Three Equals Equals Equals Dee.
Songs on his Con of a Dragon Three Equals Equals Equals Dee CD are:
- Vicario 00:48
- Papa Durnt Raise No Weezl 01:43 (previously available)
- Beatin' The Rug 01:37
- Rock Island 02:18 (previously available)
- Further Down The Line 03:27
- Keep Off the Jenkem 01:42 (previously available)
- Burn Down The Shack 01:53
- Shamokin' Dam Woman 00:26 (previously available)
- Color T.V. 01:18
- Time on the Hill 00:56 (previously available)
- Smoke Town City Junction 01:21
- Party Rock Anthem - Old John Smokey Remix 04:37
- End of the Show Song 00:56 (previously available)
Songs in the Key of <D*C>: The Dragon*Con Album
Released on Bandcamp and Google Play in December 2012, Songs in the Key of <D*C> included the new songs from the CD-Rs which were sold at Dragon*Con, but slightly edited to clean up the beginning and end of each track and removing up to 4 seconds from each track. A special bonus track, "Synonyms for Drunk", was added. It is the live duet with Ali Spagnola and Old John Smokey which was performed at the beginning of Dragon*Con: Con of a Dragon Three Equals Equals Equals Dee. (This track was edited to remove the part where Old John Smokey tells everyone he has CD's for sale for a dollar. That can still be seen in the NSFW episode.)
- Synonyms for Drunk (Live) 01:37
- Vicario 00:46
- Beatin' The Rug 01:33
- Further Down The Line 03:26
- Burn Down The Shack 01:52
- Color T.V. 01:14
- Smoke Town City Junction 01:20
- Party Rock Anthem - Old John Smokey Remix 04:33
Released on Bandcamp on December 23, 2012, Smokey Christmas features three holiday-related songs performed by Old John Smokey, Lou Rod Jenkins, and Tilly Jenkins. Old John Smokey complained on Twitter about Google Play's approval process which would delay the release on that service until after Christmas.
- Jingle Bells 01:43
- Old Smokey Night 01:32
- Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel 00:44
The album liner notes say:
- It's been a big year in the Smokey household and I wanted to say thank you. What better way to do that than giving you more of what you fans love? Here's our take on some traditional Christmas songs.
- I want to give a very special thanks to my friend Ali Spagnola for letting me accompany you at Dragon*Con, to Tom Merritt for posing with me to prove we're not the same person, to the Chatrealm Diamond Club for being enthusiastic fans and spreading the word, and to the hosts of NSFW Show, Brian Brushwood and Justin Robert Young, for letting me reach your audience and making me who I am today.
- From me and my friends Lou Rod & Tilly Jenkins, we wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!
The Merritt of a Man
Released on Bandcamp on December 29, 2013, shortly before Tom Merritt's last Tech News Today on TWiT, The Merritt of a Man is an album with just one song: This Song Has Merritt. It contains references to various shows Tom Merritt has done. The album art was based on a photo shot at The Diamond Club: A Novel party at Dragon*Con 2012.
- Jingle Bells 02:09
The lyrics are:
- Did you hear the buzz out loud?
- There's tech news today.
- Tommy in my top 5,
- But he's going away.
- Feel like I'm stuck on autopilot
- Doctor said, "It's a thing."
- Cuts like a sword and laser
- To lose the former frame rate king.
- The quality of being particularly good or worthy
- That's merit
- It takes a stone cold cord killer
- To make East meet West,
- But my current geek
- Has a new fourcast.
- Since he's not in Petaluma,
- I'm afraid we gonna lose ya
- Tom Merritt.
On December 5th, 2013, it was announced that his contract with life would not be renewed. He supposedly spent his last few days on Earth in an undisclosed hospital. He death was announced on December 10th and the BNN immediately jumped on the story. Fans from around the world called in to remember his life and sent their condolences over Twitter using the hashtag #DeadJohnSmokey. Within minutes, #DeadJohnSmokey was a trending topic in the US.
Once the story had already blown up, Old John Smokey called in to deny rumors of his death. Turns out he just faked the whole thing. WHAT A DOUCHE!
Old John Smokey joined Twitter shortly before the Slower and Creepier episode at the request of Justin and Brian. According to John's first tweet, "I'm very excited to be on the Nsfw Show tonight on Twit. The guys told me they would plug my tweeter. Here it tis!"
John is clearly new to Twitter. His first replies to people had their names without a preceding @ until Drewshipper corrected him. His capitalization and punctuation comes and goes and he routinely attempts to type more than Twitter's 140 character limit.
Old John Smokey was only seen on screen briefly. Since he was wearing a hat and had a beard, people have assumed that it was Tom Merritt in disguise (because Tom likes hats and is apparently the only person in the world with a beard.) After the show, a number of people sent tweets to Tom and he tuned in later to find out what was going on. Tom said he had been out by the pool and hadn't seen the show.
In the weeks since, Old John Smokey has continued to tweet. Some have noticed that he has sent tweets while Tom has been in the middle of Tech News Today or Frame Rate or when he has been visible on screen and could not have typed them. According to Twitter, Old John Smokey has posted using either the Twitter web site or Echofon. Tom has also been known to tweet using the Twitter web site, but uses different Twitter clients on his iPhone and iPad.
The release of the "Rock Island" and "Papa Durnt Raise No Weezl" songs have provided further evidence that Tom is not Old John Smokey due to the obvious difference in voices. However, some members of Chatrealm still believe that Tom Merritt is Old John Smokey despite repeated denials by both Tom and Old John Smokey.
At The Diamond Club: A Novel launch party at Dragon*Con 2012, we finally got undeniable proof that Tom Merritt is not Old John Smokey.
Old John Smokey had indicated via Twitter that he wouldn't able to attend Dragon*Con 2011, but people suggested to Tom that he should cosplay as Old John Smokey. At the end of the show, a man came out wrapped in an American flag, ran around the room, and started to play the spoons. It's not clear if this was actually Old John Smokey or merely Tom Merritt dressed as Old John Smokey...but after the show, Old John Smokey tweeted, "I'm so confused", but it's not known if this is in reference to being confused after being removed by Horseboy, Evil Horseboy, and Abe T. Alien...or confused at seeing someone dressed like him on the live stream.
There was a fan dressed as Old John Smokey in the front row of Dragon*Con: Con of a Dragon 2: Double Complete Dragon. During the show, Brian referenced people cosplaying characters they "invented", to which Tom was quick to defend Old John Smokey as a legendary musician.
Old John Smokey indicated on Twitter that he would perform during TWiT Ain't Nothin' But Pitches and Shows, however he later indicated that he wasn't able to get online because his Ethernet cord was unplugged.
For months leading up to Dragon*Con 2012, Old John Smokey promised to be at "the dragon conference". On Mustache Sniffers, Brian played two songs which will be among those given out on CD to attendees at the con. These were included on his "Con of a Dragon Three Equals Equals Equals Dee" CD.
He did indeed show up at Dragon*Con where he played at The Diamond Club: A Novel launch party and at the start of the NSFW episode Dragon*Con: Con of a Dragon Three Equals Equals Equals Dee.
In mid-December, Old John Smokey posted a T-shirt to Teespring featuring artwork created by Martin Anderson. It sold for $14.99 and needed 20 people in order to be printed. It reached 20 after 3 days.
- When Rhett and Link appeared on Conan, the act following them was also bumped. It seems it's bad luck to be scheduled after them.
- Old John Smokey loves the Chemung County Fair and was looking forward to getting a soft pretzel and funnel cake.
- Leo Laporte learned about Old John Smokey after This Week in Tech on December 2, 2012. It can be seen in the Justin.tv Archive at 11:59:00 or so.
- "He's not black!" -Leo Laporte
NSFW Summer Music Series