The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Sam's Song

Sam's Song

#308 / Jan. 26 Podcast

No transcript...

It was 15 years ago when Sam St. Clair brought us this tune, and it quickly became his theme song. Ever since then, “Ain’t No Free” has been a beloved standard in many a Flood show.

So, of course, the song had to have a place of honor at our big New Year’s Eve birthday bash at Alchemy Theatre several weeks ago:

Click the video above to watch — or re-watch, if you were in the house with us that fun evening — Sam’s latest performance of the tune, as videoed by Pamela Bowen and Gina Martin from their front-row seats.

About the Song

“Ain’t No Free” was written by Terry Adams and originally recorded in 1977 by his band NRBQ (New Rhythm and Blues Quartet), which released it the following year on the group’s sixth studio album, At Yankee Stadium.

In keeping with the band's sense of humor, the album's title is a joke. The recording’s credits read "Recorded at Bearsville Studios, November 1977 (not at Yankee Stadium)." The packaging included photographs of the band members in an otherwise empty Yankee Stadium.

Those photos were taken as a birthday treat for bass player and founding band member Joey Spampinato, a lifelong Yankees fan. His bandmates arranged a private visit to the ballpark.

In the Beginning

NRBQ — born in the mid-1960s in Shively, Ky., near Louisville — was formed by Adams and Spampinato, along with guitarist Steve Ferguson. Like a more worldly older brother of The Flood, NRBQ has an inspiring eclecticism, blending rock, pop, jazz, blues and Tin Pan Alley tunes.

Its songs have been performed by Bonnie Raitt, Los Lobos, Dave Edmunds and others.

The group even served as the unofficial "house band" for TV’s “The Simpsons” back in the late 1990s. That was during seasons 10 through 12, when NRBQ fan Mike Scully was head writer and executive producer. Several NRBQ songs were used in the series, including "Mayonnaise and Marmalade," which the group wrote specifically for the show.

Meanwhile, Back in the Floodlandia

Because we save just about everything, we actually have archival Flood footage of Sam doing this song 15 years ago:

The video above, shot by Pamela, captures one of the first times Sam performed “Ain’t No Free,” this time before a roomful of people at the Bowen house at a jam session in November 2009. Click here to see it in all its YouTubey goodness!

The Studio Version

Two years later, Sam and company laid down a studio version when The Flood trekked to Bud Carroll’s Live at Trackside venue to record the Wade in the Water album.

These days the entire disc can be heard for free on our Radio Floodango music streaming service. Click here to give it a spin.

The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Each week The 1937 Flood, West Virginia's most eclectic string band, offers a free tune from a recent rehearsal, show or jam session. Music styles range from blues and jazz to folk, hokum, ballad and old-time. All the podcasts, dating back to 2008, are archived on our website; you and use the archive for free at: