Dave Soldier
The Kropotkins

official website of the Delta punk organization

Discography | Photos | History | Lyrics | Videos | Pirated Recordings | For press and programs


PortentsPortents of Love

Lorette Velvette vocals, guitar
Charlie Burnham vocals, violin, mandocello, mandolin, guitar, harmonica
Dave Soldier vocals, banjo, violin, guitar, piano
Dog (Mark Deffenbaugh) guitar, bass, fife
Alex Greene piano, bass,† piano, organ, bass drum
Jonathan Kane snare drum, drums, bongos
Rory Young synthesizer, recorder


1. The Moonís Already Down (Dave Soldier)
2. Fred Goes Out at Night (Vince Bell, Fred McDowell, Soldier, Velvette)
3. On the Wall (Louise Johnson)
4. The Stars of Country Music Greet the Spring (Dave Soldier)
5. No Good Lover (Mickey & Sylvia)
6. Cricket Blues (Dave Soldier)
7. Clara (Dubose Heyward & George Gershwin)
8. Stoney Lonesome (Bill Monroe)
9. Whippoorwill Blues (Dave Soldier)
10. This Land is Your Land (Woody Guthrie)
11. Scriptures (Charley Burnham)
12. Deep Water (Alex Greene & Lorette Velvette)
13. Pale Wildwood Flower (Joseph Philbrick Webster)

Paradise Square
Mulatta Records

Lorette Velvette (vocals, guitar)
Charlie Burnham (violin)
Dave Soldier (banjo, violin)
Dog (guitar, bass)
Samm Bennett (bass drum & percussion, vocals)
Jonathan Kane (snare drum)
Alex Greene (keyboards)

Doug Easley, bass
with BJ Cole, pedal steel guitar
Ron Franklin, fife

They Are There (Charles Ives)
Beulah Land (Burnham)
My Body Lies on the Mountain (Soldier)
Wandering on This Earth (Velvette)
If I Had My Way (Burnham)
Found You in My House (Soldier)
Biloxi (Soldier)
Little Drag Racer (Soldier)
The Yankee Rag (Greene)
Soon As the Rain Lets Up (Bennett)
Bringabye (Bennett)
Grateful Wanderer (Bennett)

Five Points Crawl
Mulatta Records

Performers: Lorette Velvette (vocals, guitar)
Charlie Burnham (violin)
Dave Soldier (banjo, violin)
Dog (guitar, bass)
Maureen "Mo" Tucker (bass drum, vocals)
Jonathan Kane (snare drum)

Crazy Hannah (Mo Tucker)
Starkweather (James Tucker (Mo's Brother), lyrics, Dave Soldier music)
Truckstop Girls (Soldier)
I Gotta Man (Charlie Burnham)
Drivin' to Spring (Soldier)
Justice Down South (Soldier)
Seconds Past Midnight (Velvette & Soldier)
Sissy Wa Wa (Velvette, Soldier, Rory Young)
Junior's Groove (Vevette)
Forever Motel (lyrics James Tucker, music Soldier)

The Kropotkins

Performers: Lorette Velvette (vocals, guitar)
Mark Feldman (violin), Dave Soldier (banjo, violin)
Dog (guitar, bass), Samm Bennett (bass drum, vocals)
Jonathan Kane (snare drum)

Koch Records, out of print, some copies still available from Mulatta Records: will be re-released

Tunes: Cold Wet Steel (Soldier)
Shake 'Em on Down Fred (McDowell)
Everdream (Soldier/Rory Young)
On This Earth (Soldier)
Pachman Farm (Bukka White)
Something Crawling Round My Bed (Velevette)
Good Cheap Transportation (Bennett)
Coal Black Wind (Soldier)
Some of the Dust (Bennett)
The Nasadiya (Soldier)
Crow Jane (Soldier, based on anonymous song)

Photos (go ahead and reproduce)

from left: Lorette Velvette, Jonathan Kane, Dave Soldier, Mo Tucker ("Maureen Tucker"), Dog (Mark Deffenbaugh), Charlie Burnham, photo by Ron Gott in NYC (2000)

Kropotkins in November 16, 2009 at Poisson Rouge, NYC
Alex Greene, Jonathan Kane, Ron Franklin, Dog, Lorette Velvette, Charlie Burnham, Dave Soldier, photos by Sarah Greene

Alex, Jonathan, Ron Franklin, Dog, Lorette

Ron, Dog, Lorette, Charlie hidden, Dave

Ron, Dog, Lorette, Charlie hidden, Dave

Kropotkins with Othar Turner and his family in Como, Mississippi in 2000

Dave, Maureen, Othar, Dog

Othar Turner and Maureen Tucker - two greats of American rhythms

Othar Turner and grandsons, Lorette, Dave, Jonathan, RL Bryce, Dog, Maureen Tucker

Lorette, Dog, Dave, Mark Feldman, Samm, Jonathan, 1994 photo by Aldo Mauro

Mark Feldman, Jonathan, Samm, Lorette, Rog, Dave, 1994


the Kropotkins consist of

Lorette Velvette (Hellcats, Tav Falco, recorded w. Sonic Youth, Jessie Mae Hemphill) vocals, guitar
Charlie Burnham (Cassandra Wilson, James Blood Ulmer, Henry Threadgill), violin
Dave Soldier (Thai Elephant Orchestra, Soldier String Quartet, John Cale, Bo Diddley), banjo & violin
Dog (Mark Deffenbaugh) (John Cale, Souxie & the Banshees), guitar
Alex Greene (Iggy Pop, Jim Dickinson, Reigning Sound), keyboards
Jonathan Kane (February, Rhys Chatham, LaMonte Young, Swans), snare drum
Ron Franklin, jack of all trades

Nearly eveyrone writes some of the music. On the new CD, there is one "cover", by Charles Ives

on Paradise Square, we are joined by
Doug Easley, (Sonic Youth, Jeff Buckley, Cat Power, White Stripes), bass
Samm Bennett, (John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, SKIST), percussion
BJ Cole, (John Cale, Elton John, Luke Vibert), pedal steel

The Kropotkins were founded by Jonathan Kane and Dave Soldier in 1994 after they heard Mississippi fife and drum music and flipped out on it. We asked was what would rock n' roll sound like if it went down those rural routes? Othar Turner and Sid Hemphill showed you could mix the bass and snare drum with the banjo, fiddle, and guitar and vocals. Everything can be played without electonics at a barbeque.

In detail, in 1992 I was on a tour with John Cale and Bob Neuwirth with John on Bosendorfer piano, the Soldier String Quartet and the British pedal steel player BJ Cole, singers Tiye' Giraud and Sam Butler. We traveled in two enormous tour buses full of equipment and required many hours a day to set up. One day waiting for soundcheck in Stuttgart I heard a Japanese bluegrass band playing Bill Monroe on the street. It took a minute for them to set up and they could play anywhere. Monroe's music was transcendent, many years after he created it and in a foreign country played by unexpected musicians.

Bill Monroe's music, along with Howlin' Wolf, hearing unreleased north Mississippi tapes by Alan Lomax at the Smithsonian, and cassettes of Junior Kimbrough, RL Burnside and Othar Turner that the writer Robert Palmer had given me, inspired the Kropotkins.

I called up my favorite musician for each part. Locating Lorette Velvette was an adventure, the only player in the group I didn't really know and had only met once when she opened for Othar Turner in 1992 at the Bank on Houston Street - I thought I was hallucinating. I tracked her down in Memphis when the Cale and my String Quartet group performed at the 25th anniversary of Elvis's death. From the Cale entourage, we invited the great Mo Tucker to play. And my favorite violinists, Charlie Burnham and Mark Feldman, and favorite slide guitarist, Dog (Mark Deffenbaugh) as well as percussionist Samm Bennett. Mo Tucker performed with us 1998-2002, and wrote some great material on Truckstop Girls.

It's a great group, we have a great time playing, but farming for Alex and Lorette, as well as work and families keep us from performing as much as we'd like. Also, Alex, Lorette, and Ron live in Memphis, and Charlie, Dog, Dave, and Jonathan in New York.

We've played memorable concerts at the Bottom Line, Knitting Factory, Tonic, Joe's Pub, Poisson Rouge, Issue Project Room and the Blues in Roots Festival in the mountains of British Columbia.


(blue ones from Poisson Rouge, December, 2009, light ones from Issue Project Room, February, 2010) - there are more on YouTube.

Pirated Recordings: more will be up soon

Truckstop Girls live at WFMU Radio

for press and programs

San Francisco East Bay Express
LA Weekly article about Lorette
Entertainment Weekly
Time Out

press quotes:

The New Yorker: "OFF THE WALL. It takes a lot of guts (and a lot of brains) to try to imbue northern Mississippi fife-and-drum music with an anarchic spirit. The composer Dave Soldier, a neuroscientist, and the drummer Jonathan Kane, a downtown no-wave legend, perform as the Kropotkins, with an assist from, among others, the fine Mepmphis-based singer Lorette Velvette." (pick of the week, Feb 8, 2010)

"In 1994, inspired by the fife-and-drum blues of northern Mississippi and the bluegrass inventor Bill Monroe, the iconclastic downtown composer and scientist Dave Soldier (he's a professor of neurology at Columbia) fromed the Kropotkins, named after the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin. While the group is conentional by the standards of some of Soldier's other projects (he once created enroumous instruments for a group of Thai elephants to play), it can nonetheless seamlessly weave a Charles Ives cover into a set of soulful, if sometimes angular, country- or blues-tinged originals. Besides Soldier, who plays violin and banjo, the sextet includes the co-founder Jonathan Kane on snare drum, the Memphis-based singer Lorette Velvette, and the sweet-toned violinist and singer Charlie Burnham. For this performance they'll be celebrating the rlease of "Paradise Square", an engaging collection of new songs named for a vanished nineteenth-century park in lower Manhattan." (pick of the week, Feb 8, 2010)

"postmodern pre-blues" (R. Christgau, Village Voice)

Village Voice: "Kropotkins left decorous in the dust. Nothing with drummer Mo Tucker, the thundergoddess behind the Velvet Underground, could be described as decorous. Soldier's banjo suggests that the high lonesome sound is an overtone series generated by the open strings of the Delta bottom. Kropotkins find common ground between the non-Western tunings and African beats of the old blues and the barbaric harmonies of early minimalism. Velvette wows with an iron determination to get through at all costs. Reality TV? This is reality music, man, and we need more of it." - David Krasnow, 2001

Entertainment Weekly: "New York avant-gardist David Soldier and a cadre of experimentalists take apart the Mississippi Delta Blues and reassemble them into a jagged, slightly nightmarish soundscape. The core instruments are fiddle, banjo, and drums (plus Lorette Velvette's flat-affect vocals). You would expect so self-consciously arty an enterprise to reek of pretensiousness; instead, The Kropotkins is funky and listenable."

Time Out: "Any self-respecting fan of downtown music could tell you that a project involving drummer Jonathan Kane, multi-instrumentalist David Soldier and violinist Charlie Burnham is bound to be both intensely eclectic and a whole lot of fun. Formed in the early '90s and recently resurrected, the Kropotkins purvey a wild, fantastical blend that draws equally on postmodern Tom Waits-ian clatter and Mississippi fife-and-drum music." (February, 2010)

East Bay Express: "The Kropotkins could be considered an alt-rock/underground supergroup: it's made up of Lorette Velvette (the Hellcats, Tav Falco's Panther Burns); avant-classical violinist Dave Soldier (the Soldier String Quartet, Elliott Sharp, John Cale); Moe Tucker (Velvet Underground); Jonathan Kane (Swans); jazz violinist Charlie Burnham (James Blood Ulmer, Ronald Shannon Jackson); and guitarist Dog (drummer/composer Samm Bennett). The Kropotkins use the vocabulary of Delta blues, old Southern backcountry fife-&-drum music, and raw rock 'n' roll, which ends up sounding something like a skiffle group from hell or Leatherface's back-porch string band. Scratchy fiddle, yowling electric slide guitar, drums that alternately sound martial then harmolodic à la Ornette Coleman, percussion coming over the shortwave from Jamaica and West Africa, and the deadpan stray-cat vocals of Ms. Velette lead you through areas of New York and the rural South that you'll never see on a tourism commercial. The '77-era Mekons-like "Seconds Past Midnight" seems to chronicle the last hours (or an S/M session) of some schnook ("they brushed his hair and beat him tenderly/ that fool thought death didn't know his name"), and the stark, swampy, slithering blues that is "Junior's Groove" might make R.L. Burnside join the priesthood. Their music doesn't merely draw upon the blues tradition for its mojo -- it draws upon the African roots of the blues, without ever coming off as wannabe ethnomusicologists."

AllMusic: A stunning follow-up to their self-titled debut, the Kropotkins' Five Points Crawl probes the subconscious of a parallel American landscape littered with truck stops and roadside motels. Their unique sound mixes the instrumentation of an American Revolutionary militia band (fife, field drum, banjo, violin) fused with a punk-inspired and historical sense of the Mississippi Delta blues. An eclectic mix of veteran musicians and accomplished songwriters (Dave Soldier, Charlie Burnham, Dog) create an atmosphere of twang and trash while the extraordinary and subtle Memphis singer Lorette Velvette drawls out surreal and sultry vocals, backed up by the driving rhythmic energy of Moe Tucker and Johnathan Kane. Highly recommended. " -Zach Layton

Tiny Mix Tapes: "the music is always pretext. Pretext for Lorette Velvette and Samm Bennett, whose vocals, sung with tender or ironic tones, outline scenes from outdated places and times, sketching the timeless failings of their fellow man, taking part in the constitution and perpetuation of a specific idea in the American myth."

Bio for Programs

The Kropotkins were founded by drummer Jonathan Kane and violinist/ banjo player Dave Soldier in NYC in 1992 after they heard Mississippi fife and drum music and flipped out. We asked was what would rock n' roll sound like if it went down those rural routes? Sid Hemphill showed you could mix the bass and snare drum with the banjo, fiddle, and guitar and vocals. Everything can be played without electonics at a barbeque. We asked our favorite musicians on their respective instruments, singer Lorette Velvette from Memphis, violinist Charlie Burnham, guitarist Dog (Mark Deffenbaugh), and drummer Alex Greene, also from Memphis. It's a great group, we have a great time playing, but farming for Alex and Lorette, as well as distance, work and families keep us from performing as much as we'd like. Over nearly 20 years, we have had three CDs, the newest called Paradise Square (Mulatta Records), and we hope to record some new music next year in New Orleans.

for concerts contact

Dave Soldier ds43@columbia.edu