cassette insert features a drawing of a woman playing a keyboard of cats

stories & songs about cats

  • Fran Stallings: vocals, autoharps, percussion, stories. 
  • Gail Huggett: vocals, hammered dulcimer, autoharp. 
  • Moby Anderson: string bass

This CD is sold out! But the cassette version can still be mail-ordered from this site or from Bandcamp, which also offers digital downloads.

drawing of Fran and Gail performing together

Professional storyteller Fran Stallings and singer/songwriter Gail Huggett performed traditional and unconventional material together as "Prairie-Fire." Bassist Moby Anderson, on loan from Country Heart string band, played back-up for us when he could get away from his oil field valve business. Rehearsals were supervised by Fran's marmalade tabby Sanza, Gail's tortoise-shell Natasha, and Alexander Pusskin, who moved on to his tenth life as we finished recording. 

CATNIP JIG (instrumental, 1:05)

Original dance tune by Gail Huggett, ©1994. Hammered dulcimer GH; autoharp FS; bass MA.

A SECOND LANGUAGE (story, 0:49)

Fran's retelling of a tale from folk culture. Frank de Caro's The Folktale Cat has a British version, "The Linguistic Cat".


Music Leslie Fish, lyrics Mercedes Lackey, ©1986 Firebird Arts and Music Inc. Used with permission. Vocal GH; autoharp FS; bass MA.


Fran's retelling of an African American tale heard from Linda Levy. Julius Lester's "Why Dogs Chase Cats" (in The Knee-High Man & Other Tales) has a different plot! 

BELLA CHOW (song, 1:52)

Original lyrics Cynthia McQuillan (©1991 Unlikely Publications, BMI) to an Italian folk song called "The Black Rose." Used with permission. Cynthia's own version is on Bedlam Cats. Vocals FS & GH; autoharp FS; bass MA. 


An Oguss family story, ©1994, told with the permission of Fran's sister Emily Oguss Robertson.

THE CAT CAME BACK (song, 2:46)

By late 19th C vaudevillian Harry Miller, with later folk process additions. The melody varies regionally, too. Vocal & autoharp GH; bass MA.

THE CAT & THE COW-HORSE (story, 3:48)

Fran's retelling takes off from "The Camel and the Cat," a Syrian and Lebanese tale in Leslie W. Leavitt's Stories from the Near East (London: Longmans, Green & Co).

(I Love) CATS (song, 2:12)

Lyrics Anne Davis & Meg Garrett, music Cynthia McQuillan ©1982. Used with permission. Another version is on Bedlam Cats. Vocals FS, GH; autoharp FS: bass MA.

CATNIP REEL (instrumental, 1:46)

Gail's 4/4 version of her 6/8 jig. There's more than one way to skin a cat! (© 1994 Gail Huggett) Hammered dulcimer GH; autoharp FS; bass MA.

OLD GREY CAT (instrumental, 2:31)

Traditional. Adapted from The Ruffwater Fake Book (Judi Morningstar, 1991). Hammered dulcimer GH; autoharp FS; bass MA.

THE ANTIQUER'S CAT (story, 4:44)

From contemporary folk culture, as retold by Fran.

DON GATO (song, 2:17)

Mexican folksong. English words by Margaret Marks. Vocal & autoharp GH; shaker FS.


Fran's retelling is based on J.H. Knowles's Folk-tales of Kashmir (London, Paul, Trench, Trüber, 1893) collected from a narrator named R'azi. Parvati is the maiden aspect of Kali Ma, Queen of the Heavens.

TOBY WAS THERE (song, 3:06)

Lyrics & music by Gail Huggett ©1994. Vocal & hammered dulcimer GH; autoharp FS; bass MA.

THE CAT'S NAME (story, 3:37)

This is Fran's bilingual retelling of Neko-no Namae, a traditional Japanese folktale which she heard (all in Japanese) from katarite teller Hiroko Fujita. The story is used here with Fujita-san's permission and assistance.


Lyrics & music Jane A Robinson (©1989 Unlikely Publications, BMI). Used with permission. Her own version is on Bedlam Cats. Vocals FS & GH; hammered dulcimer GH; autoharp FS; bass MA.

BOOKINGS & TOUR INFO: Fran Stallings, 1406 Macklyn Lane, Bartlesville OK (Call 918-397-3079)

Comments from Listeners

"I loved receiving your tape. I've been listening in the car. Very fun. Thanks!"

Stevie Beck, Associate Producer, Prairie Home Companion, St. Paul MN.

"We play it over and over in carpool, laughing our heads off, while the youngest children say, 'Huh?'"

Mother of teenagers, Bartlesville OK.

"My daughter (12 yrs) took it to her room and played it for a couple of hours. I think it is helping her to learn English."

Nak Sung, research scientist, Phillips Petroleum Company.

"I'm delighted with the tape. The quality is really, really nice. It has so much appeal to it!"

Ivan Stiles, editor Autoharp Quarterly magazine; 1993 winner, International Autoharp Competition. Phoenixville, PA.

"Absolutely love your cassette. I have a cat and the songs have special meaning for me. Great job!"

Lu Mitchell, singer/songwriter and grande dame of folk music. Dallas TX.

"It's fantastic!"

Lonnie Liggett, composer and Midi-magician. Tulsa OK.

:"...delightful ... new hit tape..."

"Judging from the very enjoyable tape Cat o' Nine Tales, their other programs must be wonderful. We can only hope there will be more tapes!!"

Mary Lee Welch, newsletter editor, Oklahoma City Traditional Music Association.

review from Territorial Tattler, 
newsletter of the Oklahoma Storyteller's Guild

Yarnspinner Fran Stallings and singer Gail Huggett have combined their talents to produce a delightful recording of stories and songs ranging from the traditional to the unconventional, with feline protagonists in center stage. Stallings introduces listeners to a bilingual circular tale from Japan; an African American pourquoi story; a Middle Eastern tale re-set in the American West; a legend from India; a personal family story; and several droll tales from popular folk culture. The songs are no less intriguing and diverse, from that chestnut "The Cat Came Back" to the sprightly Mexican "Don Gato"; from Huggett's original ballad "Toby Was There" to some pretty strange filk including "Overflowing Catbox Blues." Bassist Moby Anderson especially shines on the bluesy numbers, and backs up Stallings' autoharps and Huggett's hammered dulcimer in some lively instrumental pieces.

"Aside from the recording's variety, what makes this worth listening to is the quality of the recording as a whole. There is good balance, not only of singing voices but where instruments are involved. Another plus is the care taken to give sources, credits, and citations. All in all, if you have a favorite feline, this will put you forever in their highest esteem.

-- Robert Rodriquez, nationally known folk singer, producer of folk music & storytelling radio shows. NYC.