THE OLD TIME BAND
DOWN BY THE BRAZOS
Hen Cackle Records
Peter Feldmann, mandolin and guitar, and Wayne Shrubsall, banjo and guitar, may not be household names across the nation, but these two gentlemen have been on the scene in various capacities with numerous groups in the southwest and California. Fiddler Bruce Thompson has been in a band with Shrubsall for thirty years and now is also in this group. They blend a great respect for the traditional American songbook with a strong disregard for categorization of this same music. In this 14-track project, we are treated to blues, cowboy songs, bluegrass, and old-time fiddle tunes.
The depth of knowledge is evident as these men play and sing with conviction. They play “Katy Hill” in an old-time style, except there is no guitar, and the fiddle, clawhammer banjo, and mandolin all take breaks. The absence of bottom end makes the tune float along very nicely. Then they tackle “Hot Corn, Cold Corn,” the old Flatt & Scruggs favorite. Their spirit is very good and similar to the original version. They opened up a favorite old blues, “Somebody’s Been Using That Thing,” that comes off, well, if not as ribald as some of the older versions.
They visit repertoires of many of the old-time greats such as the Delmore Brothers, Grandpa Jones, and Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith. The trio medley of “Robinson County”/“Mississippi Sawyer”/“Oklahoma Rooster” not only covers a lot of geography, it demonstrates Thompson’s fine fiddling.
Feldmann, who handles the bulk of the leads, is unpretentious as a singer in the old folk-singer tradition. The depth of material is bound to please, as there are blues and humorous songs side by side by side by side in this entertaining project. There is a high level of musicianship, the picking solid, but not showy. The material is cherry-picked from the wealth of older recordings, reflecting the eclectic tastes of this trio. (Hen Cackled Records, P.O. Box 614, Los Olivos, CA 93441, www.hencacklerecords.com.) RCB