Darol Anger, Fiddle and production
Courtney Hartman, Guitar
Joe Walsh, Mandolin
Lukas Pool, Banjos
Sharon Gilchrist, Bass
What is this recording about?
Darol Anger, Joe Walsh, Courtney Hartman, Lukas Pool, and Sharon Gilchrist joined forces for a relaxed picking session in which humor, imagination and spirited musical conversation percolate. It's an almost-live recording of a band, playing stuff you'd want to hear around the weekend breakfast table, late at night, or on a pleasant drive. The thing about the American string music world is that most fans also play music themselves. The "audience" is not much different from the "pros". Each sector drives the other. So this recording is for everybody. This band is not one you're likely to hear out on the fester or club circuit. It's a rare and special convening of mutual admirers who happen to enjoy each others' musical conversation. A multi-generational summit meeting of like-minded musical groovers. A fortuitous conclave in the Boston String Music Enclave. So we rounded up some of Darol & Joe's orphan originals, a couple of ragin' Fiddle Tunes Of The Moment, and a trio of Requia for folks we loved. We spent all of 2 & a half days tracking these ten tunes; the general feeling is sparky, informal, and kind of emotional sometimes. We didn't try to fix every note, either.
…And where will you find that pesky groove? Even the FBI will tell you: look in the E–AND-A section of your local bar.
The Gravel Shore (Anger)
A Cape Breton blues, sort of, winding out periodically onto Bluegrass straightaways. Originally written for the incomprehensibly great fiddler Natalie MacMaster and performed by her on her recording Blueprint, produced by Darol. This band absolutely tears it up with a bit more wooly & bully soloing, and intimations of those really wild cliffy shorelines up north, with ferocious surf and tides.
Farewell to Trion (Trad.)
Trion, Georgia is where they have a denim factory and maybe not a whole lot else. I think I get how someone might want to leave there but feel nostalgic about it enough to write this beautiful tune. Courtney brought it into our session, and I've heard James Bryan do it beautifully.
Fiddler's Pastime (Clements)
Did Vassar ever actually record this? Maybe not, but apparently he made it up, and indeed it sounds like a further meditation on Muleskinner Blues. We recorded it as a salute to our beloved old friend… thanks, Vassar! I learned it from Stuart Duncan, who got most of it from Kenny Baker. But Stu-Bob also dug up the Mystery 3rd Part (in A) which keeps horning in on the proceedings. Kind of a cool toboggan ride. I'm dedicating it to Stuart anyway.
Homer The Roamer (Hartford)
Written by our crowd's Great Man, musical polymath/historian/philosopher John Hartford. I think it was John's project to fold some Celtic-style into his fiddling. The circularity of this tune is hypnotic. Courtney managed to convince me of the tune's qualities by playing it once. Thanks also to David Blackmon for bugging me to play this tune for literally years.
Denver Belle (Trad.)
Courtney is our Denver Belle of Choice.
Maine is a pretty amazing place, full of exceptional people, at least the ones I know there. And the light there is a lot like the Pacific Northwest, all blue and glinting with water.
Pogo Big (Walsh)
Or pogo home. So says my little brother, Micah, to whom this one is dedicated.
La Ville Des Manteaux (Trad.) 7:04
From Corsica, or Sardinia, or Louisiana, or all five. Learned from Michel Doucet, King of the 'Kadian Fiddlers. The original has great Old French lyrics about The Town Of Raincoats (um, really!?) being an OK town, if you like towns. Other lyrics confess that the residents made fun of Napoleon for being short, and then look what happened. This tune contains about 70% added material made up by Darol…. not to mention everyone's fecund and lavish solos. This version is more like a leisurely peregrination through the surrounding countryside, swigging local vino.
High Ham (Anger) 5:38
Title courtesy of David Grier, who says it sounds a bit like (Hi Ham a) Manno' Constant Sorrow. I can't tell anymore. But I wanted it to sound like deadly badass implacable Dozer-Grass monster boots kind of thing. And so it was.
Canyon Moonrise (McGann) 6:13
John McGann, hero and inspiration to so many, teacher and friend to me and the rest of the band, passed on far too soon. It’s impossible to sum the man up in any quick way: he was one of a kind, one of a musically inspiring, masterful kind. You hear our sense of loss and love for John, though, while we play this beautiful tune that he wrote.
Grey Owl (Arcand)
One of the quintessential and most popular Metis fiddle tunes, written by John Arcand. I learned it from Jimmy LaRoque, and everyone else here learned it from Bruce Molsky who got it straight from John. This was the last tune the band cut and you can hear everyone starting to get in a party mood. Ready for that beer!
Recorded at Dimension sound, Jamaica Plain, MA by Dan Cardinal
Fiddle: Cascade Fathead Ribbon > Focusrite Voicebox > LA-3A
Guitar: Neumann SM69 (XY stereo) > True Precision > Harrison EQ
Mandolin: Audix SCX-25 (wide stereo) > API 512A
Banjo: Coles 4038 and AKG C451B > Great River MPNV
Bass Low: Wunder Audio CM7 > Vintech 273 > Demaria ADL-1000
Bass HI: AKG C451B > Vintech 273
Fixed and Mixed by Darol at Fiddlistics Studio, Arlington, MA
Mastered at Ken Lee Mastering, Oakland, CA Graphics: Gwen Terpstra
Cover art: Peter Whitehead Photography: Amanda Kowalski
Darol plays a Nathaniel Rowan 5-string violin on this recording, and also plays Jonathan Cooper, G. Edward Lutherie, Bob Kogut, and Barry Dudley violins...consecutively, not simultaneously. He uses D'Addario strings, Coda bows, Baggs preamps, and teaches at Berklee and at www.artistworks.com. He thanks Emy Phelps, Jonathan Cooper, the fantastic musicians on this recording, faculty and students at Berklee, the geniuses at ArtistWorks, and a large group of wonderful people who have helped him recently. If you play fiddle, or want to, please check out www.artistworks.com/fiddle or my personal website darolanger.com. Courtney plays a Bourgeois guitar and uses D'Addario strings, Fishman preamps and K&K pickups. She thanks Darol and Emy, for their love and inspiration, the Hartman family, her dad Jim, Angela Tourney, Della Mae, and the wonderful music family in Boston and at Berklee. www.courtneyhartman.com. Lukas Pool thanks his parents, his family's Music Store–Mountain View Music – and the music communities of Boston and Mountain View, Arkansas for all the opportunities, support & love. He would also like to thank the other musicians on this recording for their trust, friendship, and support. Sharon says thank you to her wonderful family and friends, Stephen Gilchrist, Laurie Lewis, Tom Rozum and the Right Hands, Mike and Cat, Jim Hyatt at the 5th String, Tammy Rogers, D'Addario Strings, and a very special thanks to Darol and Emy. Joe Walsh thanks Jean, Kevin, Emily, Elise and Micah Walsh for being a caring, energizing, and supportive family, and he is grateful for the chance to make music and spend time with such an uplifting, inspiring collection of human beings as the musicians on this record.
A special thanks for the generosity and love of music that Richard Zirinsky embodies.