Stay Ahead of the Wolf

by Driftwood Soldier

  • Streaming + Download

    Pre-order of Stay Ahead of the Wolf. You get 3 tracks now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it’s released.
    Purchasable with gift card
    releases October 18, 2019

      $10 USD  or more


All My Friends
You Gotta Stay
Put Me Down
If It's Not Obvious
Old Man Catfish
When It Ends
Blue Way


Stay Ahead of the Wolf is the second full-length album from West Philly mandolin-bass gutterfolk duo Driftwood Soldier.


releases October 18, 2019

Driftwood Soldier is:
Owen Lyman-Schmidt: Vocals, Mandolin, Suitcase, License Plate
Bobby Szafranski: Bass Guitar, Bottle Caps

All songs written by Owen Lyman-Schmidt, except 'Banker and a Liar' written by Greg Cartwright.
All songs arranged and performed by Driftwood Soldier.

Additional Instrumentation:
Katy Otto: Drums on 'Put Me Down,' 'Marietta,' 'Old Man Catfish,' and 'When It Ends'
Eric Sherman: Trumpet on 'You Gotta Stay' and 'Sunnyside'
Matt Heckler: Fiddle on 'All My Friends' and 'Banker and a Liar,' Banjo on 'All My Friends'
Caitlin Quigley: Backing vocals on 'Put Me Down,' 'Marietta,' and 'Banker and a Liar'
Jacob Brunner: Piano on 'Blue Way'

Produced by Driftwood Soldier with Erin McKeown
Recorded by Alex Santilli and Eric Bogacz at Spice House Sound in Philadelphia, PA
Mixed by Ted Hutt and Ryan Mall at Kingsize Soundlabs in Eagle Rock, CA
Mastered by Ryan Schwabe


all rights reserved



Driftwood Soldier Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Driftwood Soldier isn't your average mandolin-bass foot-stomping gutter-folk duo.


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Track Name: John Henry
John Henry was a little child of four sitting on his loving daddy’s knee. He picked up a hammer and he tossed it to the floor saying, “this here hammer should have set me free Lord, Lord but them businessmen gonna be the death of me.”

“John” said the Captain, “you’re a wonder to behold, you’re fast and fit and stronger than a bull. I give you ten cents more, ‘cause you do the work of four. It’s boys like you that keep my pockets full Lord, Lord and my pockets are overflowing they’re so full.”

“But John there’s a man with a steam drill in town and it doesn’t need to eat or drink or rest. Before they go and invest in it, the company wants me testing it by racing it against my very best Lord, Lord, John I do believe you are my very best.”

“Well Captain,” said John, “I got a wife and a child and I surely can’t afford to be replaced. I ain’t flattered or amused at the way I’m being used, but I’ll lose my job if I don’t win this race Lord, Lord life is hard for a poor man of my race.”

“So go get me my oak-handled twelve pound sledge and a shaker who knows how to sing. Go get my two quart canteen and your God-damned machine and I’ll show you how a desperate man swings Lord, Lord, this whole world’s gonna hear my cold steel ring.”

There was fire on the mountain. There was thunder in the sky. The earth shook and a crowd began to form. The wind bent the trees, brought the people to their knees. There’s a man at the center of that storm Lord, Lord, there’s a man at the center of that storm.

His canteen was empty. That oak handle’d split. His shaker was gasping for air. But when the smoke and dust all cleared, the crowd began to cheer. John Henry beat that steam drill and fair Lord, Lord John Henry beat that steam drill and fair.

The Captain said, “I confess I’m impressed, but then I did say you was the best. It’s too bad these other drivers ain’t half as strong. None of them have got the skills to join my brand new crew of drills. They’re gonna have to pack their bags and move along Lord, Lord, it’ll just be John and them drills from now on.”

Well his back was wide as a railroad track, each arm was like a cross cut tie. But his heart was a heart just like any man’s heart. You break a man’s heart and he dies Lord, Lord, you break any man’s heart and he dies.

They buried John Henry not four feet from where he fell. They laid his hammer down at his side. “Wasn’t that steam drill killed my man, “ said his good woman Polly Ann. “It’s them greedy sons of bitches took my husband from my side. Their greed’s the only reason that he died.”

I ain’t as strong as John Henry was and the truth is ain’t never gonna be. But long as they keep on building tracks on the backs of the poor black sons and daughters...
Muddy Water’s said it, Huddie Ledbetter said it, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, Mavis Staples said it, I sure won’t forget it. I sure won’t forget it. I’m gonna swing this hammer, gonna swing this little mando-hammer. I’m gonna swing this hammer, swing this mando-hammer, swing this hardwood, steel string, baby sledgehammer ‘til those people killed John Henry come for me Lord, Lord I said those people killed John Henry gonna have to come kill me, ‘til those people killed John Henry come for me.
Track Name: Marietta
Wyoming is big as a mother’s embrace. I fell into her arms like an angel from grace. Like an angel asleep at the wheel of his Ford, pulled living from the wreckage by the mercy of the Lord.

When I woke up they gave me my savior’s address. I stopped in to visit and to give her my best before catching a bus to some better luck town. She said “Won’t you come in, my man’s not around.”

Thirty years old I’m still no good at folding. I call every hand with whatever I’m holding. She raised me her skirt and I bet all I could. There’s some days I wish that I had misunderstood. It’s most days I wish that I had misunderstood.

That first week, it slipped on into three or four. I took what she offered and I never got more than a single small smile, her hand on my chest. Just the silence that is spoken by the damned and the blessed.

All I know anyway’s what I’ve been told. What do I care if the glue doesn’t hold on that broken down wreck of a man that she keeps. In a bedroom where only her memories sleep.

Well I don’t recollect why I left when I did. It was like being back in that slow motion skid. Marietta’s as fixed as a tongue in a groove. You could uproot a mountain and she’d still be unmoved.

I wasn’t lying, when I told her I wasn’t trying to stay I just wanted to hold her. It’s not in my nature to get on my knees. I’m leaving Marietta, you can do as you please. Farewell Marietta, you’re gonna do as you please.

Some stories out there don’t wanna be told. They slip through your fingers, when you try to hold them. Like a portrait erasing itself as it’s drawn, or like Marietta, here and then gone.
Track Name: Banker and a Liar
You paid sapphires to the swine with your chalices of wine and your niece who wears your dreams just like a crown. All that power has escaped you though you toiled all the day through for the promise of a hummer and a pound.

I don’t know what to do for you. I could draw you a picture of the world, and it’s true I could have loved you, but your dreams are on fire and your prophet is a banker and a liar.

If their money won’t fulfill you there are medicines that will do all the thinking for you so you can relax. The poison piss of easy living full of shit and unforgiving to the poor who rest your burdens on their backs.

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