Jim Lloyd And The Skyliners - Songs From My Attic

Jim Lloyd And The Skyliners - Songs From My Attic

Mountain Roads Recordings

Jim Lloyd is a banjo-picking barber from Rural Retreat, Va. Active in the old-time community of southwest Virginia, he and his band, the Skyliners, acquit themselves with aplomb on this outing of mostly novelty numbers and old country songs. The Skyliners are comprised of Mark Rose on bass and Trevor McKenzie plays guitar, mandolin, and banjo. Rose is a solid musician, his timing and note choice while walking through the project add a swinging underpinning to the project.

They open with “You Can’t Grow An Onion Upside Down,” a Tom T. and Dixie Hall number that is full of that great wit and common sense. McKenzie sings lead on a powerful rendition of “Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down,” accompanying himself with some effective banjo playing. Lloyd struts his own banjo chops on “Waiting For The Robert E. Lee,” one of two tributes to the late, great banjo player from Gray, Tenn., Will Keys. The other Keys cover, “Evergreen,” is a strong tribute to the man who showed us all that there is another way to play old-time banjo.

The interplay between the guitar and banjo in the arrangements catches the best of that old-time stringband sound. That interplay that would morph into bluegrass under the hand of Bill Monroe, reflecting more contemporary sounds but still retaining something of the past. Here, the past is held high and sounds great. The casting of the Harley Carpenter song (not traditional as per the liner notes), “Three Men On A Mountain,” in the mold of Dock Boggs, gives this song a new dimension making it sound much older than its thirty-odd years.

The combination of Lloyd and the Skyliners works well. This is a fine program by folks who just sit down, sing, and play with honesty.“Valentines’ Day” features some nice twin guitar on the break. The inclusion of Fats Waller’s “Feet’s Too Big” really shows off Rose’s bass playing and a side of Jim Lloyd that often gets overlooked by the light his personality casts. This is recommended to all fans of honest, no pretense, old-time music. (Mountain Roads Recordings, 3192 Highway 412, Bristol, TN 37620.) RCB