droll yankees was a record label founded around 1960 to document "the sounds of old new england", and released records covering material ranging from sounds of the natural world and old trains or boats, to off-color new england humor and farm life. founded by peter kilham and alan bemis, it eventually took a sidelight to droll yankees' burgeoning bird feeder business, and now only a few of these records are available from them as cassettes (albeit with completely different cover art).

the original purpose of the record label is well-explained in the liner notes from dy-1, "the casket sinkers/caused by rum":

"now that the true yankee dialect is disappearing it suddenly becomes of value as does any rare book or scarce commodity. bemis and kilham and a few of their friends, who are real old-time yankees, feel that what little remains of the old-time humor and quaint language should be recorded before it disappears forever. with this in mind the company droll yankees inc. was formed by bemis and kilham, and a series of records is planned, all authentic, and on many different themes."

the later recordings, starting with dy-14, "birds on a may morning", switch to a different type of documentary recording, with the goal of creating a "picture in sound" of old new england, whether it be of the sounds of a particular wild habitat, or those of the disappearing steamboats and steam trains.

a good number of the releases originally came in plain sleeves with pasted-on front covers and sometimes printing on the back covers, though this isn't a hard and fast rule - it is just as common for them to have standard, printed sleeves. the later lps came in what i would commonly refer to as "12" sleeves" (that is to say,like 7" single sleeves, but 12" size) - these usually have pasted-on artwork, as well, as do the 7" releases. later rereleases of 7"s and other lps were sometimes simply printed on the sleeves in a more typical fashion. all of the records have a sort of unifying graphic design aspect to them - black and white artwork using 1800s style fonts and engravings was a common theme, though later on color photographs and drawings produced for the release became more common. design extended to the record labels, as well. i've not really bothered to document the variations in the actual record labels - i've seen 2 or more different labels for a single release - but i have tried to keep on top of changes in the cover art.

what attracted me to the label originally was a copy of "songs of the forest" that i fould in a local record store - it appealled to me both as a documentary recording, and aesthetically (in terms of the design aspects mentioned above), so i gradually set out to find some of the other recordings listed on the sleeve. over the years, ive collected most of their output, and this is as complete a discography as ive been able to assemble from the information ive found, which has primarily come from sleeve notes - an attempt to get a discography from droll yankees as they exist today was fruitless.

if anyone reading this happens to have material to add, please feel free to let me know.


cat. # (format) title track listing notes
dy-1 (lp) caused by rum/the casket sinkers caused by rum // the casket sinkers "two grave diggers talk."

"two new hampshire grave diggers talk shop and drink"

various off-color old yankee stories concerning drinking and grave digging
dy-2 (lp) swearing in the bushes swearing in the bushes / nailed to the floor / the little foxes / the hired girl / cappy's bible / all winter long / the lion hunting dog / store bread // the cess pool / by a whisker / indecision / the privy bell / giant cucumbers / how i met my wife / the little oar / twice in a dory "a shocking record for men"

"shocking record for men - almost spotless by modern standards"

various off-color old yankee stories and jokes
dy-2 (lp) oakum bay - songs of old castine theres a compass in my heart / the sardine factory blues / oakum bay / my old blue serge suit / jake and joe / boy bring the bucket // town meeting / the livery stable / madakawando's daughter / why doesn't the clam get claustrophobia? songs and stories of old new england, composed and sung by frank hatch, w/ peter kilham and alan bemis

while very obviously a droll yankees lp, this one is a bit of a mystery, as no reference to it is made on any of the other records or inserts, and it duplicates the catalogue # from "swearing in the bushes".
dy-3 (lp) stories for gentlemen going fishing // pogey boat "two country boys swap off-color stories while fishing"

"don't buy it."

"more of the same"

more off-color old yankee stories
dy-4 (lp) capt.nickerson and the tug gaspee the tug gaspee // capt. nickerson "an old time skipper on narragansett bay"

"hear the gulls, whistles, bells, and capt. nick"

"hear the gulls, the whistles, the bells and nick's salty language as tug gaspee docks a ship"

recordings of tug boat work on providence harbor, and stories of the clipper ship days
dy-5 (lp) morris bridges - oratory, elocution, tragedy, drama, recitation, reading, tableau and conversation
"maine talk. not funny"

"maine lobstermen tell stories. not very funny, and quite off-color"

various off-color maine stories, some with musical accompaniment
dy-6 (lp) alan bemis - fresh as a haddock some dirty - they're crawling / i haven't missed a thing / i'm moving to south freeport / fresh as a haddock / zel brown's fast cow / the young pig / the time of day / god how i dread it / what did you marry her for? / thumb tack / gin and orange juice / are you stuck? // that's once / you're afire / my jesus shoes / haircuts to take out / time by the cow's udder / i've got a bicycle / her and me / got a nice day for it / don't want to be beholden to nobody / ain't acquainted down that way / it startled him some / sheep's end "all of alan bemis' best clean short stories on one record"

"a fine colleftion of maine & new hampshire stories by alan bemis"

various old yankee stories and jokes
dy-7 (lp) cape codder & down easter
"stories of the cape & down east. a very good record"

"stories of the early days on cape cod and on the maine coast told by will young of brooklin, maine,řand capt. leon b. nickerson of dennisport."
dy-8 (lp) ross mckenny as jean-baptiste my father's cow / the hot rodder and the calf / the birds i missed last year / the grandfather's clock / the unfortunate moose / the thankful snake / how i broke my leg / how do you turn this thing off? // my grandfather's muzzle loader / the maganette and the fish / can i put your token in mister? / hello pea soup! / out to make a little doe / where the bumble bee make his mistake / the calf, the cat and the castor oil / how big you catch them in texas? / baptiste was the first man to fly / you want bull moose in your lap? "french-canadian stories"

"ross mimics to perfection the french-canadian story teller jean baptiste"
dy-9 (lp) sandy patton - never trust a skier bend in his knees / farmer's cursed wife / the great american bum / the ballad of dr. freud / hi-ro-jerum / fire down below // the goddam cat / go 'way, old man, go 'way / duncan and brady / never trust a skier / go 'way from my window / come all you fine and tender ladies / gamblin' man "really folk songs"

"actually folk songs by sandy paton, the green mountain bard"
dy-10 (lp) aus tirol wohl is die welt so gross und weit / tyrolean milking song / carnavalito (chilean dance) / wohl is die welt so gross und weit / dos a cascabeles (spanish folk song) / ghost riders in the sky / droben auf an tannabaum / wann un himmel (going to heaven) / 's hoamatl (beautiful valley) // tirolean march / tirolean climbing song / wann ich auf hoen bergensteh (high up on top of a mountain) / zwoa brettl'n a g'furiger schree (happiness of skiing / tiroler holzhackerbaum (woodchopping) / the third man / das schonsk auf der wlt, ist mein tivolerland (beautiful country, tirol) / russian folk songs / tirolean hunting song / muss i denn (goodbye) "yodelling songs from the tirol & other countries by a trio with two guitars and a zither. droll yankees best."

"yodelling songs from the tirol - folk songs from the andes - happy & spirited. by three tiroleans, two with guitars and one with a zither. everyone loves it."

songs from some austrian ski instructors at the alpen inn, in vermont

sleeve variation 1

sleeve varation 2

dy-11 (lp) francis colburn - a graduation address from upstate vermont part one // part two "this take-off by francis colburn is the funniest of all"

"francis colburn is the first great raconteur to come out of vermont, & after listening to his graduation address, you will never be able to sit through another with a straight face. for all ages."

recording of francis colburn's legendary graduation speech
dy-12 (lp) francis colburn - i went stone blind my father & his stanley steamer / brother bill doesn't know either / i went stone blind / away from home together / junie boy / suction / my pig / $34.00 / my mother was a lady / bird in a gilded cage // we stay well up here / wes tewksbury's phongraph / dissertation on store teeth / my teeth and my phonograph "more francis colburn. all clean, and very amusing."

"francis colburn is so popular we had to go to a lot of trouble, and put him on again. here he tells droll stories with alan bemis & peter kilham. like dy-11, this is for everyone, and all clean"
dy-13 (lp) barn talk scrod / walter & foster in boston / the key to the men's room / good night, pheobe / that's once! / where it will do the most good / she scatters // the surprise party / swearing in the bushes / we just found out / hardly got my bait back / my, ain't you lucky! / there's a new crowd doing it / you s.o.b., you broke my cookies! / twice in the hay now "not revolting, just a conversation spiced with real old new england flavorful dirt. it all happenned when foster wheeler, alan bemis, and peter kilham met at an up-country party. if you want to hear what litten of the conversation was clean, listen to dy-12."

"foster wheeler, alan bemis and peter kilham liven up a vermont party as they revert to plain old-fashioned dirt"
dy-14 (lp) birds on a may morning bird songs w/narration // the songs alone recording of various eastern bird songs, in wild context

front cover

back cover

dy-15a/b (lp) the sea at castle hill/the alexander hamilton the sea at castle hill // the alexander hamilton of the hudson river day line recordings of the ocean, and of the sounds of a hudson river triple-expansion side-wheeler paddleboat.
dy-16 (lp) songs of the forest bird songs w/narration // the songs alone recording of new england woodland birds, with a focus on thrushes

sleeve variation 1

sleeve variation 2

dy-17 (lp) the swamp in june swamp sounds w/narration // the sounds alone bird songs, frog calls and other sounds from a new england swamp
dy-18 (lp) the farm farm sounds w/narration // the sounds alone typical sounds from a new england farm

originally came with an insert sheet
dy-19 (lp) will holmes' horse a ride in will's wagon // will and dan-d go woodcutting / introduction and mowing the field / raking the hay / plowing / harrowing sounds of new england horsefarming
dy-20 (lp) deep sea fisherman on the way to the fishing grounds / dropping the gear and dragging for flounder / hauling in / back to point judith // the sounds alone a trip on the dragger "roann" out of point judith, rhode island, with a narration by captain westcott
dy-21 (lp) the frog pond pond sounds w/narration // the sounds alone frog calls, with some birds as well, from a new england pond
dy-22 (lp) the edge of the meadow bird songs w/narration // the songs alone bird songs from a new england meadow

sleeve variation 1

sleeve variation 2

dy-101 (7") on the old fall river line sailing on the good ship sunshine / taking a trip up the hudson // when the bell in the lighthouse rings / on the old fall river line no. 1 of the mystic seaport series

recordings of vocal music from early 1900s phonograph records
dy-102 (7") from across the briny ocean the bonnet trimmed with blue / oh fella-fella-fox / birdget donahue / grasshopperr green // when the bluebirds nest again / my dear old mother's knee / the butcher boy / with my bundle on my shoudler no. 2 of the mystic seaport series

"margaret toomey sings both the happy and the sad songs that boston's irish sang in 1900"

sleeve variation 1

sleeve variation 2

dy-103 (7") sounds of the sea steamboat leaving newport on a foggy morning // along the shore no. 3 of the seaport series

"hear the surf on the sand of fire island, on the rcks of maine on pebbly shores of narragansett bay. hear the gulls, the bell bouy, and whistles in the fog"

various ocean sounds of old new england

later pressings have the cover art printed directly on the sleeve, w/ descriptive notes and a catalogue on the reverse. later still, the cover art loses the white border, and the notes on the reverse disappear.
dy-104 (7") songs of the clippers round the bay of mexico / the alabama // shenandoah / johnny come down to hilo no. 4 of the seaport series

shanties from the clipper era
dy-105 (7") tug boats tug gaspee docks an eygptian tramp steamer / tug mauritania II docks the tanker athelchief no. 5 of the seaport series

recordings of tugs operating in providence harbor

sleeve variation 1

sleeve variation 2

dy-106 (7") steamtown a ride on the monadnock and northern railroad - w/ narration // from bellows falls to chester / up the williams river gorge recordings of new england steam railroads

later pressings have the cover art printed directly on the sleeve, w/ descriptive notes and a catalogue on the reverse.
dy-107 (7") barnyard animals
recordings of common new england barn animal sounds
dy-108 (7") hudson river steamboat leaving new york / steaming up the river / engine room / bear mountain pier // w/o narration 1963 recording of the triple expansion side-wheeler alexander hamilton of the hudson bay line, with commentary by donald c. ringwald
dy-109 (7") green mountain railroad engine 1293 hauling the local from riverside to chester depot, vermont // 1293 and 15 pull into chester depot, shuffle the cars, and double-head south for riverside
dy-201 (7") evening on mt. stratton tirolean march / wohl ist die welt so gross und weit / brossen auf an tannebaum // tirolean milking song / carnavalito / s'hornatl no. 1 of vermont 7" series
songs from some austrian ski instructors at the alpen inn, in vermont

short version of dy-10
dy-m-1 (7") spring morning bird songs w/ narration // the songs alone recordings of bird songs on a may morning

short version of lp dy-14

sleeve variation 1

sleeve variation 2

dy-m-2 (7") the brook bird songs w/ narration // the songs alone recordings of bird songs along a new hampshire stream

later pressings have the cover art printed directly on the sleeve, w/ descriptive notes and a catalogue on the reverse. later still, the cover art loses the white border, and the notes on the reverse disappear.

sleeve variation 1

sleeve variation 2

dy-m-3 (7") song sparrow bird songs w/ narration // the songs alone recording of song sparrows, with background noise

stated to be the first in a series of recordings of "individual birds and frogs"
dy-m-4 (7") sapsuckers and flickers sapsuckers w/narration / flickers w/narration // sapsuckers / flickers / baltimore oriole recording of new england woodpeckers

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