Reviews                  appalachianmusic.net

Updated  Thursday, March 31, 2016 03:46 PM est                                          Your online source for old time music news

 

Old Joe Clark by Robert H. Yonke, Jr.The Original Artwork of
Robert H. Yonke, Jr.
"The Bluegrass Painter"

I take much pride in recommending you visit this site. It's a wonderful collection of music theme art by a really great guy, Robert Yonke. I had the pleasure of getting to know "Fiddlin' Bob" a few years ago, and I was completely taken by surprise when he sent me a holiday card illustrated by his own hand. His gallery displays much of his own life and interests, from rural scenes of Garrett County, Maryland, picturesque views of Deep Creek, and many portraits depicting the spontaneity and colorful energy of festivals and jam sessions. I hope you enjoy it.
Mark     :8^{>~

http://www.appalachianstudio.com

 


Bruce Springsteen's
We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
Dec 7, 2007
Reviewed by Mark Tamsula

As an old time musician, I have only a peripheral awareness of contemporary pop music, and the people who do it. This is because I am primarily interested in Old Time, which hasn't had much widespread popularity and commercial success since the record industry was quite young. Granted, it has popped up occasionally in recent times, in movies like Cold Mountain and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou, Ken Burn's Civil War, but always in the context of period music, not something that the masses could ever hope to hear played on Top 40 again (although I often get requests to play Ashokan Farewell). When Bruce Springsteen released his album "The Seeger Sessions" last year, quite a few people in the Old Time and Folk community talked enthusiastically about it. I think some of the buzz was over the possibility that Springsteen's mainstream popularity would bring more well deserved attention to this largely ignored genre. This would have been a great accomplishment indeed if only he could have managed to produce a passably good album in this style.

You see, there are plenty of truly amazing Old Time artists who are currently playing the music they love. Some even perform and record it as a livelihood, and are doing it with a reverence for that art form and culture to the extent that they actually bother to know something about it, and the people who have carried on these traditions for generations. It's unfortunate, but it's very unlikely the fabulous music of these real players will ever see the kind of exposure that Springsteen's renditions will receive, which only adds to the heartbreak. This was my reaction to the first tune on the album, Old Dan Tucker, shortly after hearing the first brass section break by the Miami Horns. My expectations of hearing something that I would identify with as a folk musician began to evaporate. Just to be fair, I waited out the electric organ solos and tried to listen more closely to the banjo and fiddle, but the novice style bluegrass picking led me to suspect that some guitarist, namely Electronica style player Mark Clifford simply acquired a few banjo chords and some elementary finger-picking skills for the sake of this project. The fiddlers (credited as violins) did about as best as I've ever heard from any classically trained players trying to fake it.

Alright, so that was only the first tune, maybe I should allow them the artistic freedom to get silly with Old Dan Tucker. Next was Jesse James, a well known favorite in Bluegrass and Old Time circles. I've heard plenty of hot raucous versions of it to know that this tune rocks, and can be done with lots of cool. Maybe there is some union rule they had to follow that specifies there will always be a drum and electric bass on every track, adding that oh-so-special Country Polka flavor. Did they forget to credit Christopher Walken's artistic management on this cut? "You're gonna want to hear that cowbell! More cowbell!" 

It's not Bruce Springsteen's singing style I object to, I think that is the single element that still carries the project through. It's the indifference I detect in the arrangement of instrumentation and solo breaks that screams "Anything goes! Don't really care!, Doesn't matter!, This stuff isn't supposed to be cool anyway!".  Despite the talent and experience with other styles that these musicians probably possess, they demonstrated a certain degree of ignorance of folk music in regards to what sounds good or bad, what makes it work, and what doesn't. A musician begins to understand that sort of thing by first really liking some of it, then discriminating within its own context between the finer points. If there's one thing I've learned about performing is that music is very closely related to mood, and the mood of the artist is reflected in the mood of the audience. If the artist is indifferent about what he plays, the listeners will be as well. 

The slower ballads like Mrs. McGrath, O Mary Don't You Weep, and Eyes on the Prize, were much more tastefully arranged and delivered, suggesting Springsteen had a more heartfelt connection to the material, and I guess the musicians could relate somewhat better to the more bluesy, soulful tunes. This leads me to suspect that maybe this was the material that originally gave rise to the concept of the album, and the rest of the tune selections might have been just packaging to complete the cd. Otherwise, why not play with some real folk musicians, not just studio regulars who probably just saw a paycheck regardless of how indifferent they may or may not be to this style. 

Short of working with other, traditionalist folk musicians, I would have had a greater overall appreciation and respect for the project if Springsteen would have recorded all the selections solo, with only guitar accompaniment, maybe some harmonica. It would have presented a much more genuine approach, consistent with the style, but still giving him every opportunity to put his own touch on the work, it certainly couldn't have been any worse. The other possibility I could have really been excited over is if he would have actually done what was suggested at the outset, bring the coolness of Springsteen, which is what he is best at, into the folk genre. Imagine a rendition of  "Froggie Went A Courtin'" done with that same Rockabilly rhythm that he used in "I'm On Fire", country boy hollers and all. They're not all that different...

Hey little girl is your daddy home, uh huh,
Hey little girl is your daddy home, uh huh,
Hey little girl is your daddy home,
Did he go away and leave you all alone
Uh huh,.. uh huh,.. I'm on fire
whooo  whoooooooooooo!

By the way, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions won the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album

Serenity Now    :8^{>~


Charlie Poole reviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air"

WHYY, May 16, 2005 - Rock historian Ed Ward reviews a three-disc release of a Charlie Poole recording from the 1930s. The record, You Ain't Talkin' To Me, is from the Columbia Legacy label.

Listen to the broadcast stored on NPR's website http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4653453

YOU AINíT TALKINí TO ME was compiled and produced for reissue by Henry Sapoznik, who brings to the project his expertise as a professional musician (adept at banjo and guitar) in the old time and klezmer fields. As an award-winning author, producer, archivist, historian and radio producer he also wrote the definitive 6,000 word liner note essay that completes the package. Additionally, Sapoznik commissioned noted illustrator R. Crumb to create the cover art for the box set.

"Charlie Poole (1892-1931) was the prototypical rough-and-tumble, hard-living Ė and prematurely dying Ė country performer," Sapoznik writes. "Like Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams, he sang his life, and his fans idolized him for it. But the recordings collected here reveal something far more profound: Charlie Pooleís role as the patron saint of modern country music."

YOU AINíT TALKINí TO ME: CHARLIE POOLE AND THE ROOTS OF COUNTRY MUSIC (Columbia/Legacy C3K 92780)

DISC 1

1. Shootiní Creek 2. Baltimore Fire 3. Leaving Home 4. Thereíll Come a Time 5. White House Blues 6. The Highwayman 7. Hungry Hash House 8. The Letter That Never Came 9. Take A Drink On Me 10. Husband and Wife Were Angry One Night 11. Rambliní Blues 12. Took My Gal A-Walkiní 13. Old and Only In the Way 14. Donít Let Your Deal Go Down Blues 15. Bill Mason 16. A Kiss Waltz 17. Flop Eared Mule 18. A Trip to New York Part 1 19. Sweet Sixteen 20. Write a Letter to My Mother 21. If the River Was Whiskey 22. Motherís Last Farewell Kiss 23. Milwaukee Blues 24. Where the Whippoorwill is Whispering Good-night

DISC 2

1. The Girl I Left in Sunny Tennessee 2. Sunny Tennessee 3. The Bulldog Down in Sunny Tennessee 4. Moving Day 5. Itís Moviní Day 6. Home Sweet, Home 7. Iím the Man That Rode the Mule ĎRound the World 8. Man That Rode the Mule Around the World 9. Lynchburg Town 10. Going Down to Lynchburg Town ĖIntro 11. Some One 12. Monkey on a String 13. Monkey on a String 14. Can I Sleep In Your Barn Tonight Mister 15. May I Sleep In Your Barn Tonight, Mister 16. Married Life Blues 17. The Infanta March 18. Sunset March 19. Iíll Roll In My Sweet Babyís Arms 20. Goodbye Eliza Jane 21. Good-bye Sweet Liza Jane 22. Good-Bye Booze 23. Goodbye Booze 24. You Ainít Talking To Me 25. You Ainít Talkiní to Me-

DISC 3

1. If I Lose, I Donít Care 2. The Battleship of Maine 3. Budded Rose 4. Standing By a Window 5. Uncle Daveís Beloved Solo 6. Come Take a Trip in My Airship 7. I Once Loved a Sailor 8. Dixie Medley from "Spooning and Ballooning" 9. My Wife, She Has Gone And Left Me 10. My Wife Went Away and Left Me 11. Baby Rose 12. Just Keep Waiting Till the Good Time Comes 13. Shuffle Feet, Shuffle 14. Coon From Tennessee 15. Coon From Tennessee 16. On the Banks Of The Kaney 17. Dixie Medley 18. Southern Medley 19. The Man Who Wrote Home Sweet Home Never Was a Married Man 20. Sweet Sunny South 21. Take Me Back to the Sweet Sunny South 22. Oh! Didnít He Ramble 23. He Rambled