Papa Joe

Papa Joe


Papa Joe is a solo folk artist who performs original songs, both comic and serious, about all aspects of life. He also performs traditional folk songs and covers by past and contemporary folk artists.


Although he learned to play guitar in his late 20s, Papa Joe didn't start writing and performing until his fifties. In 1997 he attended a songwriter's seminar at the Kerrville Folk Festival, and was encouraged by folk icons like Peter Yarrow, Chuck Pyle and Michael Johnson. In 1998 he formed The Ditch Lilies with Mark Weierman, another singer/songwriter from Ohio. They produced a CD, were nominated for Best Folk Act by the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, then dissolved amicably in 2000.

Since then, Papa Joe has performed in a number of local venues, sometimes accompanied by his daughter, Bonnie, who is also on several tracks of his CDs. He is an officer in the Queen City Balladeers, one of the oldest folk music organizations, supporting folk, traditional and acoustic music in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky/Eastern Indiana area.


Mr. Monkeyshines

Written By: Joe Kretschmer

Here come Mr. Monkeyshines, movin’ on down the road
Nobody knows where he comes from, no one knows where he goes.
Mr. Monkeyshines, won’t you stay a while?

Mr. Monkeyshines is a rambler, come many a mile,
He make the little children laugh, and he make the ladies smile.
Mr. Monkeyshines, won’t you stay a while?

Mr. Monkeyshines says to the farmer’s wife, “I’ll make you a deal.
I’ll mend that old broke down fence if you fix me a home-cooked meal.”
Mr. Monkeyshines, won’t you stay a while?

Mr. Monkeyshines tells a story, swears that it’s all true.
Children chase him down the street; monkey see, monkey do.
Mr. Monkeyshines, won’t you stay a while?

Mr. Monkeyshines makes music; he’s a one-man band.
Old kazoo in his mouth, a banjo in his hands.
Mr. Monkeyshines, won’t you stay a while?

I Like Turtles

Written By: Joe Kretschmer

I like turtles; they're so much fun.
I like turtles; they sleep in the sun.
I like turtles; they walk, don't run.
When everyone’s finished the race they’ve just begun.

I like turtles; they don’t make a sound.
I like turtles; they really get around.
When they come to a hill, they just roll down.
They got no lips, so they can't smile or frown.

[bridge 1]
Turtle been around for milltions of years.
They can blink, but they don’t shed tears.
Can’t wear glasses—they got no ears.
I…like turtles!

I like turtles; they’re quiet like a stone.
I like turtles; don’t talk on the phone.
I like turtles; they don’t whine or moan.
All they want is for us to leave’em alone.

I like turtles; sure are swell.
I like turtles; they got a pretty shell.
I like turtles; they got a funny smell.
They can come to your door, but they can’t ring the bell.

[bridge 2]
Turtle doesn’t need a Cadillac.
Got everything he needs right on his back.
Turtle not mean, turtle not scary; turtle just eat them fruits and berries.
I…like turtles!

I like turtles, they sit real low.
I like turtles, they walk real slow.
I like turtles, just wanted you to know.
Next time you see a turtle you should say “hello.”
I like turtles…a lot.

Double Life

Written By: Joe Kretschmer

Double Life (3:35)
There's a song I like to sing, late at night when no one hears a thing
And I can set my spirit free…
And there's a place I like to go, far away where no one ever knows,
That's it's right inside of me…

I play a certain role, throughout my busy day…
Mingling with people in a very busy way…
Nodding acknowledgment to everything they say…
They think I'm right there with them, but I'm really far away…[walk down]

And it's a strange thing to feel, knowing only half my life is real,
That all the rest is fantasy…
And I don’t mean disrespect to reality, but if you just reflect,
Often it’s a boring place to be…

So I continue living with my clone…
One of us is public, and the other all alone…
One synaptic memories, the other flesh and bone…
One of us will hang around when the other one is gone…

If you should see me, and you wonder which one of us you see,
Ah, I guess you’ll never know…
And if we start to fight, you can bet that it’s not a pretty sight,
But sometimes that’s just how we grow…

I guess it’s only natural, this duality…
Two eyes, two arms, two legs, almost perfect symmetry…
Opposites atrract with magnetic energy…
When one of us is occupied, the other one is free…

So when all is said and done, these two are really only one,
No matter how different they seem…
One lives in the now…dealing with the what and when and how.
The other is living in a dream…

I’ll travel through the universe right here in my mind…
You go off adventuring and I’ll stay here behind…
No one can predict just where our paths will wind…
Until the journey’s over, who knows what we will find…?


Open Mike, released 2004

Listen to selections at

Set List

Songs in a set depend on the venue. In addition to his original songs, Papa Joe selects covers geared to the audience, e.g., older folks could hear covers by Pete Seeger or Stephen Foster, while audiences with children would hear his various animal songs, plus old favorites like "I'm Gonna Tell on You."