With her lovely rendition of "Under the Weeping Willow Tree," Emmylou Harris pays tribute to "the big bang of country music." Back in 1927, a producer from New Jersey visited the mountain town of Bristol, which straddles the Tennessee and Virginia border, and recorded some of the region's finest musicians. The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, the Stoneman Family—they all got their start during these remarkable sessions. “These recordings in Bristol in 1927,” Johnny Cash later said, “are the single most important event in the history of country music.” A new album celebrates this turning point. On Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited(iTunes/Amazon), some of the industries biggest names, from Dolly Parton to Vince Gill, perform tunes that are now part of country music history.
Does Taylor Swift blare from your child's bedroom at all hours? Is Usher on constant shuffle in your house? Is watching The Voice the closest you get to family bonding? If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, then you could be suffering from Popmusicitus, a disorder affecting millions of people who've lost touch with their own musical traditions. But don't worry. There's help. At the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, Virginia, your family can rediscover mountain music, and Saturday, May 23, 2015 is the perfect time to start. On Junior Appalachian Musicians & Family Day, the center will showcase mountain music for the young and young-at-heart. An instrument petting zoo, will reacquaint you and yours with the instruments behind bluegrass and old time music, including the banjo, guitar, fiddle, dulcimer, and mandolin. You will also receive an intensive dose of traditional tunes from two of the best youth-led, bluegrass bands around. ShadowGrass is comprised of young musicians from Southwest Virginia and Northwest North Carolina. The band features Kyser George (bass), Luke Morris (mandolin), Presley Barker (guitar), Clay Russell (banjo), and Kitty Amaral (fiddle). The Wildmans is a family bluegrass band featuring Eli Wildman, age 14, and his sister Aila, age 12, on mandolin and fiddle along with their friend Hunter Crawford on guitar. The siblings’ mother Deb Wildman holds down the beat on bass. Since no program of immersion therapy is complete without good nourishment, The Galax Smokehouse will be on-site serving barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs, and side dishes. Can't make it to Family Day? That's okay too. Here's your chance to speak out about Popmusicitus. Do you think young people are getting more or less in touch with their musical traditions? And if you could get your family to listen to one bluegrass or old time musician more, who would it be?
Old time performers Anna & Elizabeth are it again. Since capturing hearts with their handmade crankies—magical scrolling displays that tell a story while they sing— this melodic duo has put together a new album. Called simply Anna & Elizabeth (iTunes/Amazon), the new release is chock full of storytelling ballads. Sixteen tunes draw deep from the well of mountain music, including this bare-boned rendition of "Poor Pilgrim of Sorrow," which Anna discovered while listening to a 1937 archive recording from Leslie County, Ky.
If you're an old time music fan, you know Galax, Virginia. It's no bigger than my thumb—just a few thousand residents—but home to more musical talent than five Nashville's rolled together.
I drove down there last week, and before I even hit the town's limits, I began to see signs for performances. There was the "special preacher's choir" at Galax Pentecostal Holiness Church; gospel singing on Tuesday nights at the local Bojangles (yes, the biscuit place); and a live radio broadcast of Blue Ridge Backroads from the historic Rex Theater.
Picking and choosing would have been tough were I not visiting with one of the area's foremost guides. Joe Wilson is a self-taught folklorist, activist, and advocate for traditional arts. In future posts I'll tell you all about his amazing work, which includes leading the nearby Blue Ridge Music Center and literally writing the book on Virginia's heritage music trail. For now, suffice it to say that Joe wouldn't steer me wrong.
Our night started at County Line Cafe, a classic, roadside eatery with an overflowing parking lot and rocking chairs out front. My simple dinner was good—soft green beans, mac and cheese, and potatoes mashed thin. Desert was great—blackberry cobbler. But what really stood out was the crowd. It looked like everyone knew everyone, country folk slapping backs and traded corny jokes, and I was reminded just how sweet small town life can be.
I left the cafe in a Galax frame of mind, which was fitting since our next stop was at America's most peculiar picture frame shop. Founded some twenty years ago, The Front Porch Gallery and Frame Shop redefines multipurpose. It provides custom picture frames, of course, but that's just the start. This little shop off Route 221 also showcases the owner Willard Gayheart's sketches. Inspired by mountain music scenes, Willard, a spry octogenarian, brings legends like Doc Watson and Ralph Stanley to life on the page. His hyper-realistic drawings have won him the nickname "Norman Rockwell of Appalachia." Art, as it turns out, is just one of Willard's talents. He also plays some mean guitar, usually alongside his son-in-law Scott Freeman. Now Freeman, being from Galax where town codes seemingly prevents a building from serving just one use, uses one corner of the frame shop to teaches music students, and he converts that same space into a stage for public performances every Friday night.
(Yes, that is four uses for one tiny store. Should we pause and call Guinness Book of Records?)
By the time Joe and I arrived at the frame shop, things were hopping. Twenty plus locals had packed into the room, all sitting on folding chairs softened by rough cut foam wedges. Willard was tuning his guitar on one side of the stage while his son-in-law did the same to a mandolin on the other. Between them, local picker Steve Lewis was looking the part of a backwoods professor, complete with glasses dangling from his neck and a camo cap. As he fiddled with his instrument, a fine guitar made by luthier Wayne Henderson, Steve told yet more corny jokes:
"Why don't you ever see hippopotamuses hiding in trees? Because they're really good at it!"
The crowd howled until the music started, and then everyone leaned in, tapping their toes and bobbing their heads to expertly wraught old time and bluegrass tunes. Over the next two hours, the musicians led the kind of give and take that only works in a small space, bantering with audience members, welcoming playful jabs from the crowd mid-show, and calling friends to the stage, right up from their folding chairs, to play a tune or two.
All the while, I snapped photos. A few are below. I can't say they represent life in this Appalachian hamlet. After all, I was only there for about six hours. But I do hope they show how charming one night in Galax can be.
The Irish love to sing. Walking through Dublin, Galway, or Shannon, you're bound to run into buskers on the street and live music pouring from pubs. If you're from Appalachia, it will surely feel familiar. During the 18th and 19th century, our mountains filled with immigrants from the British Isles who brought traditional reels and ballads, which, in time, evolved into mountain music. It's fitting, then, that three of Ireland's best folks musicians recently chose to record in our region. Last year, members of the band The Alt gathered in a secluded North Carolina cabin, where they laid down tracks for their debut album, a collection of traditional Irish songs. They were led by guitarist and vocalist John Doyle, a Dubliner who now lives in Asheville. John's ground-breaking work with Irish band Solas has influenced many other artists and his style of guitar accompaniment is iconic in Irish music. He met flautist and singer Nuala Kennedy while touring in Europe, and the two hit it off by exploring traditional songs they had in common. Deciding to form a band, they looked for a third voice. John suggested his long-time friend and fellow Dubliner Eamon O’Leary, who rounded out the trio. In that little mountain cabin, with no one to interrupt them but a few resident mice, these artists delved deep into their shared heritage and, in just three days, breathed new life into some of Ireland's oldest tunes. What emerged was an album that is swift and beautiful, one that captures the magic of Ireland's glens and villages and one that reminds Appalachian listeners of our own celtic roots. Listening to this tune from The Alt, do you hear anything familiar, that bears a semblance to Appalachian songs? https://soundcloud.com/www-tradconnect-com/the-alt-lovely-nancy
With a band name that sounds like it could be somebody's kindly uncle, Old Buck eased its way onto the Appalachian music scene last August, and it felt like it had always been there. Maybe that's because the quartet blends old time and bluegrass traditions in a way that just feels right. Collectively, band members Riley Baugus, Debra Clifford, Sabra Guzmán, and Emily Schaad have about a century of experience coaxing mountain tunes from string instruments. They came together at one of those edge-of-your-seat, time-of-your-life jam sessions that took flight and never quite came back down, and now, they're pouring all their skill and passion into a collection of classic tunes and a touring schedule that keeps the roads hot. This week, Riley Baugus took time to chat with me about Old Buck and his work with music legends. A featured musician in the film Cold Mountain and a favorite performer for super-producer T-Bone Burnett, Riley has worked with some of Nashville's biggest names. (Hints: One has won more Grammy's than any other living artist, and another is a true outlaw, having been arrested for pot possession multiple times.) Read on to learn about Riley's famous friends and how old-time music continues to inspire a sense of wonder in him.
TR: Riley, thanks for taking time to talk. Your band has a great sound. It's traditional old-time music but with little tinges of other stuff. What else am I hearing in there? RB: Well, there is of course blues, which certainly makes its way into old-time music traditionally, but you probably hear smatterings of classic country, some ever so slight bits of Cajun and zydeco and perhaps some bits of Scots-Irish influence. We, as modern players, have been exposed to many musical influences in our lives but choose to play traditional old-time music, while allowing it to breath and live and expand naturally. I, personally, am not interested in copying someone's performance of a fiddle tune exactly. The music is strong enough to stand on its own without having to copy exactly note for note, scratch for scratch, what another player has already done. That's not to say that the influence of the older players we learned from doesn't stay with the tunes as they are passed on. On the contrary, the passion and flavor of what made you love a tune in the first place always stay with you and hopefully come out in your playing. TR: I want to talk more about Old Buck, but first, I have to ask about Allison Krauss, Robert Plant, and Willie Nelson. I've heard you played with them and that you're T-Bone Burnett's key sideman. You even sang on the Cold Mountain soundtrack. What took you from being a North Carolina welder playing music on the weekends to being a favorite bandmate to all of these headliners? RB: It was a wonderful experience for me each time, working with Alison, Robert and Willie. I wouldn't say that I am T-Bone's key sideman, but I do appreciate the fact that he has seemed to enjoy working with me. It all started with Cold Mountain. Dirk Powell was the musical coordinator for that project, and he and I have played together since we were teenagers. Dirk had told Anthony Minghella and T-Bone how cool it would be to have banjos from North Carolina in this film. He asked if I could send them one to look at. TR: Send them a banjo you crafted by hand? You make them right? RB: I do make some of my own instruments. I make primarily banjos. They ordered three, exactly alike, circa 1850, with a home made sort of look. Before I was finished, Dirk called and said they needed someone to be Pangle's singing voice. TR: And Pangle was a character in the film who played banjo. That's fitting! RB: Right, so I sent them a CD, and they called back saying that I had the part. I went out to Nashville to the recording sessions. In one, Anthony Minghella said that there was a rumor on the internet that I was playing banjo for the Cold Mountain soundtrack and that we shouldn't have it be a rumor. He got me to play on some of the underscoring in the film too. Until this point, I was a weldor/blacksmith in North Carolina, playing music on weekends and making banjos in the shed out behind the house. Once Cold Mountain came out, there was touring and TV specials and great publicity. T-Bone called me back after the Great High Mountain Tour—the tour of music for Cold Mountain and Oh Brother Where Art Thou—and asked me to be part of the Alison Krauss/Robert Plant recording Raising Sand. That too was a really fun experience. It was great to get to work with Alison again after doing Cold Mountain and getting to spend so much time with her. Robert was a pleasure to work with as well. He was a great fan of traditional music. A little while later, T-Bone was starting a project with Willie Nelson—a recording of classic country songs from the 40s, 50s and 60s. T-Bone again asked me to play banjo. We ended up touring for a bit with Willie. It was a great band of all Nashville bluegrass/Americana players. I learned more about music in the short time I worked with Willie and T-Bone on this project than I had learned in the 20 years prior. TR: What an amazingly rich set of experiences, and I'm just floored that you make your own instruments. Do we hear any of them on the Old Buck album? RB: Yes, on the Old Buck album, I play number 006, which I made back in 1996. It has been with me for quite a while now and is my favorite instruments to play. TR: Since the album was released last summer, how has it been received? RB: Old Buck seems to have become a quite well received band. We have been doing as much touring as our schedules allow, and we continue to get hundreds of requests for the recording. TR: What is the band up to nowadays? Any upcoming shows that folks can catch? RB: We recently did a tour, starting in Cambridge, Massachusetts and worked our way down to Rockville, Maryland, to the Institute of Musical Traditions. We are scheduled to be at Pickathon in Oregon this summer, as well as at the Ashokan Southern Music Week in Olivebridge, New York, and we are building other touring dates as well. We're always putting together new music, drawing from our musical love and knowledge. We're looking forward to more touring and perhaps even another CD sometime soon. TR: Before we finish, I know you're a mountain boy by birth, and I have to ask—what first drew you to old-time music? My father and mother came from Alleghany and Surry Counties in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. They are country people who lived simply, and the music they enjoyed was country. At around 15 years old, I went to visit Tommy Jarrell up in Mount Airy. Tommy was in his 80s and a great old-time fiddle and banjo player and singer. It was a Saturday afternoon, and there was a gathering of people at Tommy's house, all there to play music with this wonderful and fascinating old man. I knew then that I had found the music that was to be my focus, the music that would transport me to ancient times. Traditional ballads and old modal tunes always made me imagine what the world was like one or two centuries earlier. Just talking about it now, I get that same feeling of mystery and wonder and hopeful optimism. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRrrYcoNHz4#t=11
There’s something intensely satisfying about skipping rocks. Each ripple rings away in perfect circles as the stone breaks the water’s surface. Ken & Brad Kolodner’s new album Skipping Rocksfollows suit.New tunes are ringed by Appalachian tradition and old tunes get a splash from the duo's fresh sound. You'll notice that the Kolodners play in lock step, like they have a uniquely deep connection, and that's because they do: they are father and son. “Playing as a father-son duo feels very natural,” says Brad Kolodner, who plays banjos, fiddle and adds vocals. “Besides being musical partners, we’re great friends. When we’re rehearsing, jamming, performing on stage or in the recording studio, we’re always locked in. Our musical sensibilities are very aligned.” Widely regarded as one of the most accomplished hammered dulcimer players in the US, Ken Kolodner shines more than ever on Skipping Rocks. His gentle groove is the calm water over which Brad’s percussive banjo skips. Drawing extensively from the canon of Appalachian old-time music, the duo can blaze through a melody with wicked precision or carefully deconstruct a tune, such as “John Brown’s March,” with inventive new arrangements. They also compose new songs to add to the tradition, such as Brad’s “The Orchard,” and Ken’s “The Reunion,” each with a backstory that you can almost hear through the notes. The overall sound of the album is comforting and familiar, perhaps because the tracks were recorded in the Kolodners’ living room. “There was something very special about recording our album in the house where my father raised me,” says Brad. “My father and I will stay up some nights until the wee hours playing tunes in our living room. Being able to capture those magical jams in the same living room was ideal.” From the faint creaks in the worn floorboards to the chirps of the tree swallows outside the window, the Kolodner's latest album brings us right into their lives. Even the below track, which was recorded in a studio, exudes a familial warmth, but don't take my word for it. Give a listen, and let us know: does Skipping Rocks make you feel at home?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9WnYn3thbs#t=129 * Post adapted from Hearth Music media release.
You might call John Showman a West Virginia export. Born to a native of The Mountain State, he was raised in Canada. At just six years old, he picked up the violin, never imagining that the instrument would be propped on his shoulder lifelong or that it would lead him back to his momma's mountains.
Today, he's the frontman for New Country Rehab, a Canadian band with wide-ranging influences (Latin grooves to surf-rock) that still holds tight to its bluegrass roots. John and his bandmates have been tearing up Toronto's acoustic scene for years and wracking up accolades on both sides of the border...and beyond.
The British magazine UNCUT called them "Canada’s answer to the Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons." Chris Pandolfi of The Infamous Stringdusters said they were the highlight of the 2012 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards in Nashville.
Next week, the band heads south again. On Friday, October 11, they take the stage at The Festy Experience, a three-day, twang-laced festival in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains.
For John, it's a musical homecoming of sorts. He'll be within spitting distance of his mother's home state and playing in the land where bluegrass was born. He's been rehearsing for the show nonstop but took a break this week to talk about mountain music and why he'll be avoiding brisket on this trip.
He also shared a toe-tapping backyard session of his band's hit single "Home to You." What do you think of New Country Rehab's sound, and where else should they be playing in the Appalachian South?
TR: Alright John, let's start with the fiddle. How did a nice Canadian boy like you end up playing such a Southernfied instrument?
JS: I started playing violin when I was six and went to Indiana University for classical violin performance. I got sick of it and put it down (I thought!) for good in 1991. Then I heard Irish fiddle for the first time and also bluegrass fiddle. I picked up the instrument again and got a gig with a Montreal band that played both styles.
TR: How did fiddling get you to where you are now?
JS: I just stuck with it. I stayed with the Irish band until I moved to Toronto, where there was, and is, an excellent acoustic music scene—lots of bluegrass and old-time. I formed a new, acoustic group (Creaking Tree String Quartet) and a bluegrass band (Foggy Hogtown Boys), the latter of which is still going strong. In 2008, I decided to make a group where I could front a band and do all the lead singing. New Country Rehab was born.
TR: When I listen to New Country Rehab, I hear a bunch of different influences. How would you describe your sound?
JS: We start with a template of a country band—fiddle, electric guitar, double bass and drums, and just take the music into outer space. For every traditional element there is something original and exciting...crazy guitar riffs, Latin-flavoured drum and perc grooves, surf-rock bass lines, big fiddle melodies. The thing that keeps it all together is the intent of the band. We are singing about timeless and time-honoured themes: love, loss, spirituality, crime and redemption, sinners and saints.
TR: How has mountain music—old time and bluegrass—shaped the band and your musical life?
JS: I was always drawn to the sound of the fiddle played in the southern styles. I don't know why—I never grew up around it—but it just feels like the right way to use the instrument. Once I started getting into the songs and the musicians who were playing it, it was game, set and match. I'm hooked for life.
TR: When you've toured around the South, have you found favorite spots to play?
JS: Lexington and Nashville are great. Virginia looks like it will be a great place to discover. And my Mom grew up in West By God Virginia, so I'm hoping to play some shows there. We feel like kids in a candy store at this point...American audiences are great, and we are thrilled that we're being well-received.
TR: What about favorite spots to eat? I mean good eats is half the reason to go on tour, right?
JS: At this point, we're all just trying to stay lean! Southern cooking is a vortex of flavour and fat. I try to get salads as my main course whenever possible and whenever the spirit stays strong, although I'm a sucker for brisket. I'm gonna start writing songs about arteriosclerosis soon.
TR: Finally, I have to ask...is Showman your God-given name? It couldn't be more perfect for your chosen career!
JS: Yup and yup. I'm glad it suits what I'm doing, because in grade school people turned it into bad things. "Shitshow" and "Showgirl" were some of the funniest. Sometimes I still get "Snowman" from well-meaning and short-sighted hotel clerks. As for the name itself, it's pretty rare. There are only a few of us up in Canada. I think there are maybe a couple hundred in the U.S. though!
Georgia native Caitlin Marie Bell has breathed new life into Appalachia's gothic tradition. Her latest album Blood and the Water (iTunes: Amazon) builds on a musical heritage that stretches back hundreds of years. Lyrics about ghost children and murdered lovers harken to the death ballads of an earlier time. "River Song" for instance, the album's first tune, is sung from the perspective of a woman who drowned while waiting on her beloved. The lyrics alone are sad, but Caitlin's high, haunting voice imbues them with a pleaful desperation that brings the character—this dead woman—back to life. It reminds me, with its plaintive sound, of the later works of Ralph Stanley and old tunes about the thin line between love and loss like "Katie Dear." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNcvNNIrrhI&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DfNcvNNIrrhI&nomobile=1 The rest of the album mixes original tunes and new arrangements of traditional folk songs. "The original compositions on the album are somewhat of an ode to my family and my childhood," said Caitlin, who was raised near the base of the Appalachian Trail and now lives in New York City. But even these new songs were, in part, inspired by older numbers. "Like me, many of these traditional tunes 'grew up' in Appalachia," Caitlin explained, "And I feel deeply connected to them." She recorded these classics, like "Three Little Babes" and "Omie Wise," with reverence for the way they've traditionally been sung but also with an eye for innovation. She said that she was trying to "shine a new light on these historic folk songs." Do you think Caitlin hit the mark? Please leave a comment below and let us know how you like her album, both the new tunes and the old.
In the heart of bluegrass country, a super-sized festival has taken root. Centered around the arts and music haven of Floyd, Virginia, the aptly named FloydFest is now in its twelfth year, and it's drawing some of the biggest names in the unplugged scene. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Old Crow Medicine Show. Rising Appalachia. They all steered their tour buses to Southwest Virginia a week ago and were greeted by somewhere near 20,000 fans. (Organizers are still counting.) Given my druthers, I would have been right there in the throng with my folding chair and beer cozy, but alas, I have a finite number of vacation days. While music lovers were jamming in the Blue Ridge, I was manning the office 5-x-5 and listening to my own little honkfest from traffic outside my window. I suspect I'm in good company. If you didn't make FloydFest either, don't despair. You can still catch the best of the event thanks to the interwebs. YouTube has surfaced some downright amazing tunes. Which is your favorite? And what would it take to get you to FloydFest next year?
Old Crow Medicine Show, "Wagon Wheel": The only song I know that mentions my hometown of Roanoke. Fittingly, it's rhymed with "toke."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbEyIvKKUxc&feature=related&nomobile=1 Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, "Home": Lead singer Alex Ebert drums up some of the best audience interaction I've ever seen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZO_xafpz4w&nomobile=1 Rising Appalachia, "Swoon": The gals from Asheville woo the crowd with their sensual world beat. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhgmRQ2pUDg&feature=relmfu&nomobile=1 Michael Kiwanuka with The Boston Boys, "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay": Never heard of these fellas, but they do Otis Redding proud. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=related&v=7iva-vQhDkw&nomobile=1
“You can’t go wrong if you play it right.” These simple but profound words were spoken years ago by the Cajun duo Octa Clark and Hector Duhon, but they fit the mind of 81-year old fiddler Fletcher Bright perfectly. For over seventy years, Fletcher’s been fiddling up a storm in Chatanooga, Tennessee. He was there when Arthur Smith’s 78 rpm records were the hottest fiddling around. He was there when bluegrass was perfected by the Monroe/Flatt/Scruggs trinity. He was there studying when newcomers like Mark O’Connor and Byron Berline revolutionized the bluegrass violin. He was there when another new generation, led by The Punch Brothers, again redefined bluegrass, and he was an inspiration to a young Noam Pikelny. And he’s here now, 13 years into a new century as bluegrass has attained a greater grip on the American cultural mainstream than ever. But let the generations come and go, let time roll on by, Fletcher Bright won’t change his course. He’ll keep steering his riverboat fiddling straight ahead, taking time to explore some of the many divergent streams of American fiddle traditions, but never veering too far from the main current of bluegrass fiddle that he’s been navigating all the way from the original source of the music. [youtube]nKJk3TazIJ0[/youtube] Fletcher’s new album, Fine Times at Fletcher’s House, is a gloriously impromptu affair, a series of lively and joyful duets with the great American banjo player and scholar Bill Evans. The two friends met at some of the many music camps they both teach at over the years. Fletcher’s known as a gracious and inspirational teacher, but he’s also the kind of person who can put his own ego aside and join other classes to learn new tunes and new riffs on the fiddle. Bill Evans became a favored jamming partner for Fletcher, and when Bill approached Fletcher to cut this album, Fletcher agreed readily, figuring he’d better record it before he got too much older. For Bill, this album is a more traditional outing than his last recording, 2012’s In Good Company, which featured guest spots from celebrated bluegrass musicians and was widely acclaimed for its inventive arrangements. For this album, Bill looked to focus solely on fiddle and banjo duets, one of the oldest combinations of instruments in American roots music. Together, Bill and Fletcher retreated to Fletcher’s home on Lookout Mountain, and sat down for a few days together playing some of Fletcher’s favorite tunes. This music wasn’t extensively rehearsed, and it was recorded with minimal interference. This is exactly how the music is played and enjoyed off the stage today–just two friends reveling in the tunes they love so much. There’s something beautiful and refreshing in how much fun the two are clearly having together. The tunes come fast and furious here, from the rapid-fire fiddling of the Benny Martin tune “Two O’Clock,” to the haunting ancient tones of Marcus Martin’s “Polly Put the Kettle On.” Fletcher’s diverse taste brings tunes like the Shetland classic “Da Slockit Light”–given a tastefully subtle accompaniment from Bill’s banjo–and “Going to Israel,” learned from Seattle fiddler Ruthie Dornfeld. Generations touch hands across the decades, as with the Arthur Smith tune “Fiddler’s Dream,” which Fletcher first heard Bill Monroe’s band play in the 1940s, and the tune “Greasy Coat,” an old-time tune whose setting on the album comes from three young Berklee College fiddlers that Fletcher heard a few years ago. If Fletcher’s album seems eclectic, that’s because he came of age at a time when the separations between music genres weren’t so distinct as they are now. That’s why you can hear so many different influences in his music. You can hear the droning, keening wail of Tennessee’s Appalachian mountain traditions, you can hear the swift edginess of modern bluegrass solos, you can hear the old call of the original Celtic roots of the music, and you can hear the simple joy of the tune, as two masters sit down to hammer out some great music together. * Post provided by Hearth Music.