Hammer & String
The Girl Who Broke My Heart
Imagine an old-time band with fiddle, banjo, and piano. It’s not hard, as this lineup has existed for decades at different times. Not your typical southern lineup, but one that might have been found in many parts of the country. Old-time music, after all, is not the private domain of the South; it exists in all parts of the country with different traits. This band features Rhys Jones, one of the best of young fiddlers from the Midwest, backed by Joel Wennerstrom on banjo and Cleek Schery on piano and fiddle (on one cut).
Schery’s piano stretches the harmonic settings of the tunes, but stretching out the chords and making use of chord voicings is often used by Celtic bands to add harmonic interest and add drive to the tune. Jones’s fiddle drives straight ahead, full of interesting variations and understated improvisation. The band manages to keep a simple tune like “Citigo” going for much longer than one might think and keeps it interesting for the attentive listener. Wennerstrom’s banjo shadows the fiddle and keeps things percolating along.
As seems is a trend these days, there are no liner notes, so when listening to “Old Man In The Meeting House” one cannot gather if it’s another name for “Glory In The Meeting House” or a very close relative to that tune. The range and order of tunes allows for varied listening even with the format of an all-fiddle-tune recording. This is not truly old-time in the southern sense. It sounds like contra dance music, a dance form similar to square dancing. You could just call it old-time with a few curves thrown in. (Joel Wennerstrom, 205 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205.) RCB