An and sampling of the printed menu Mike Cohen distributes at his performances and an article link:


The Menu of Antique Songs

Questions: about long forgotten characters and their stories

Answers: found in museum quality songs from the folk tradition.

Collected and performed by

Michael J. Cohen

Accompanied by 5-string banjo, guitar and accordian



Pick the question(s) that interest you and I'll sing you an old time song that holds an answer to them.

(Below are 70 of the song questions from the 252 songs in the collection)


1. Who regretted not playing in pooks of hay?

2. Who talked between two armies, like brothers,?

3. Why would Saro give her heart to a freeholder?

4. What happened to ugly and mishapened sister Sally?

5. Who slept in old log barns with his turkey?

6. Who smoked a cigar without lighting it first?

7. Why was Rex thought to be a king?

8. What kind of refugee do you find in orchards?

9. How did a shy rat become bold and defiant?

10. Where do the green waves blow your time away?

11. How would George Penny's renters end up in jail?

12. What makes a sailor go home to the North Country?

13. Near where do you find supper on the ground?

14. What things should girls beware of when courting?

15. Who encouraged a bum by taking him to her kitchen?

16. Who had some ol' gal telling lies on her?

17. Whose hat was in the hat rack where no hat oughtta be?

18. What bird feared the hand of God and face of the dead?

19. How did a wild boar influence somebody's love life?

20. She wanted to marry him, so why did she say "no"?

21. What foolishness filled the empty lives of young folks?

22. Why would you want to be a lizard in the spring?

23. How did John escape from prison by fixing his shoes?

24. What died with the buffalo killed on the range?

25. What roving jewel was given empty bottles?

26. What happened when Mom left with Shallow Brown?

27. What is a good deterrent for bigotry against the Irish?

28. Why did Miss Bailey hang herself in her garters?

29. Who lost his pay for flying on the job?

30. Where did foreman Mean Jim Mitchell keep his shanty?

31. Can a common sailor win the heart of a Squires lady?

32. What was the question of a mermaid to her son?

33. What profession gave a Rocky Mountain high?

34. Why didn't Uncle Bob Hawkins wear a white shirt?

35. What boys should women hop-up on without fear?

36. How does Lady Fortune stop fortune wheels in Dublin?

37. What possessed Billy Grimes to change a mother?

38. Who started a war with hammers, picks and shovels?

39. Where did a raccoon get more simmons than he wanted?

40. How does a miller determine who inherits his mill?

41. What town used to pay colored folks to see them bow?

42. What are the risks of washing a small baby?

43. When it was raining cats and dogs, who got the skunk?

44. What animals are hidden at the Wild West Show?

45. Who forgot combinations to combination underwear

46. Why did people eat rotten fruit off the ground?

47. What preoccupied a sailor with roses and posies

48. Where did the pretty maiden chew tobacco?

49. Where did the preacher go with the collection?

50. Where do sailors women wear baskets on their head?

51. What occurred as the wind blew across the wild moor?

52. Is it worth keeping a dilapidated arm chair you inherit?

53. How did Howard make pretty girls hop so high?

54. Will a workman revenge moving his father's grave?

55. What child was bought for a bottle of fine whiskey?

56. Why did William Morgan need a Texas oil well?

57. What are the other words to Jingle Bells?

58. Do pigs have any pride with regard to alcoholism?

59. Who got scraped from slopes and poured from boots?

60. Where were roaming trials and troubles first begun?

61. Is it bad to go on the moor without wearing your hat?

62. Where is the best place to haul down your sails?

63 What kind of deficient house did Tom Height build?

64. Who inappropriately came to his wedding in an oxcart?

65. What did folks do for Joe after shooting the buzzards?

66. When times get hard, what gets carried away?

67. Who shaved his face with a hammer?

68. What did Risky Rob tell Robin to say to Bob?

69. What is it best to do when the winter star appears?

70. Is it worth leaving a house carpenter for sweet Willie?

Forthcoming appearances:

Call Mike for updates on San Juan Island where he performs once a week.

By appointment at the English Camp Visitors Center, San Juan Island, WA. For information/confirmation call

360.378.2902 (Park)

360.378.6313 (Mike)


Mike Cohen
P.O. Box 1605
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Send email


Little known Facts about the 5-String Banjo (FSB) and those who play it.

True: The FSB comes from the 17th Century combination of an African Drum head and the Violin, then called a Banjar. The 5th string drone and extended neck was added by Joe Sweeney in 1837.

Almost True: The FSB is different than a:

Guitar because you can tune a Guitar, a Guitar holds more beer, and makes a better canoe paddle.

Trampoline because you take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline

Onion because no one cries when you cut up an FSB.

Dead Skunk because there are no skidmarks on the road in front of an FSB.

A masked man entering a bank with a FSB case produces hysteria because he actually might play it.

Perfect pitch means throwing a FSB into a dumpster without hitting the rim.

People take an instant dislike to the FSB because it saves time.

An FSB's range is as far as you can kick it.

You prevent a FSB player from drowning by taking your foot off his head.

Never drive off a cliff in a minivan with three FSBs in it; you can fit one more in.

The least-used sentence in our civilization is "Isn't that the FSB player's Porsche?"

The most common thing said to an FSB player in a three-piece suit is "Will the defendant please rise?"

Ten FSBs at the bottom of the ocean are called a good start.

You can tell an FSB player because he or she thinks the instrument is in tune when the strings are equally tight and the pegs line up and are welded in place.

If lost in the desert and you see a good FSB player, a bad FSB player and an oasis, aim for the bad FSB player because the others are only figments of your imagination.