No Label, No Number
The Haints is an oldtime trio which came together in far western Canada in 2007. Erynn Marshall, fiddle, banjouke, and vocals, is from Victoria, B.C., but has steeped herself in West Virginia and Kentucky fiddling and has previous recordings both solo and with Chris Coole. She also wrote Music In The Air Somewhere, about fiddling and singing in West Virginia. She now resides in Galax, Va. Pharis Romero, guitar and vocals, is also from British Columbia. Jason Romero (banjo, guitar, banjouke, and vocals) was making a name for himself as a banjo player and maker in Arcata, Cal., when he met Pharis on a trip up north. All the banjos he plays on this recording were made by him. Daniel Lapp joins the band on bass on “Jake’s Got A Bellyache” from the Hammons Family of West Virginia and on harmony fiddle on “Life’s Fortune,” which is a waltz that Erynn wrote for Pharis’ and Jason’s wedding. All three are fine singers, and their voices blend well.
Erynn, who won first place in fiddle at the 2008 Appalachian Stringband Festival in West Virginia, is a fine talent who plays with power and control and always sounds relaxed. Jason is accomplished at both clawhammer and fingerpicking on the banjo.
The CD opens with a fine version of “Knoxville Rag” from the Kentucky duo Burnett and Rutherford. There are nine instrumentals and six songs on the recording. “Lowe Bonnie” is a Jason/Pharis duet from Jimmie Tarlton. Jason leads on banjo with a medley of “Devil’s Dream” from Mike Seeger and “Last Chance” from Hobart Smith and on “Baptist Shout,” performed in a lovely oldtime threefinger-style. Erynn solos on French Carpenter’s haunting “Old Christmas Morning.” She learned “Eadle Alley” from Melvin Wine. Pharis’ clear voice takes the lead on Charlie Poole’s “Milwaukee Blues,” on Land Norris’ “Charming Betsy,” on “When The Good Lord Sets You Free,” from the Carolina Tar Heels, and on Henry Thomas’ song “Bob McKinney.” “Tupelo Blues” comes from the dynamic Hoyt Ming and His Pep Steppers, and the Haints capture the driving tension in the tune just right. Fans of fiddle banjo duets will enjoy the medley of “Chattanooga” with “Hogs Walking Through the
Pasture” which is done tuned down to F.
Each of the 15 pieces is performed wonderfully, with obvious love and respect for the sources. Lovers of oldtime string band music need this recording in their collections. (Jason Romero, 3600 Telegraph Rd., Cobble Hill, BC, VOR 1L4, Canada, www.thehaints.com.) SAG