Old Time News Review

2010.09.19

A nice review of If You Want to Go to Sleep, Go to Bed in the last Old Time News, from FOAOTMAD:

By Ray Banks

This is a collection of fiddle-banjo duets with some singing from two musicians whose names are relatively new to me, but whom I’m looking forward to hearing more from at this year’s Sweet Sunny South festival in September, where they will perform along with the New Deal String Band.

The recordings, on John Herrman’s Yodel-Ay-Hee label, were made in the performers’ homes, and have a raw, unengineered sound of the kind we’re all used to in modern field recordings, with creaking chairs and floorboards. The instruments are played loudly and enthusiastically with a good swing, and at a pace I’ve come to expect from some of the younger American players. The title of the CD is a quote from the Round Peak pioneer Charlie Lowe of Mount Airy NC who apparently liked his music fast.

The tunes on the CD are largely the session standards most of us have come to know and love, played tightly with a lot of both technique and energy. They play a lovely driving “Last Chance” and I like the fact that they play Bill Stepp’s version of “Bonaparte’s Retreat” (“that’s the boney part”) and not the usual one with the terrible sand dance. Their “Sandy River Belle” is a very different tune to the one I know, while their “June Apple” is good and wild.

The balance, unusually, is slightly in the banjo player’s favour; this unfortunately makes the fiddling on some of the tunes, whilst very good, a little less prominent than usual. There’s some singing on a few of the tracks from Robertson whose voice has a gritty quality that reminds me of gospel singer Blind Willie Johnson. The sleeve notes, by Hunter Robertson, give all the tunings used on banjo and fiddle, with some source information for the selected tunes.

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