Recordings and Books

From The Folknik Sept/Oct 1998

Alone and Together

Alcazar 118, Alcazar Productions, P.O. Box 429, Waterbury, Vermont 05676

This is a new recording of stellar bluegrass artists Tony Trischka (banjo) and Beppe Gambetta (guitar). As they perform both alone and together, this CD is quite aptly named. This is a compilation of mostly live recordings from their May and June, 1991 U.S. tour.

Tony and Beppe play great together. Tunes like "Black Mountain Rag", a medley of "Red-Haired Boy", "Crazy Fingers", Bill Monroe's "Roanoke", "Lonesome Road Blues" and "Dear Old Dixie" are done really well. "West Bank of Eno" is a Trischka original as is "Solar Energy" with its intriguing melody with lots of unison banjo and guitar.

I am not a big fan of solo banjo, but Tony's medley of "Reuben's Train" and "Soldier's Joy" is nicely done in a special tuning with some great drone character. "My Country 'Tis of Thee" is quite melodic and has great well-thought out multiple harmonies. "Lake Flora", another Tony solo piece, has a haunting minor melody with dissonances that grab your attention. "Perriopolis" wasn't one of my favorites. It has some interesting concepts, but isn't strung together well.

Beppe solos on "Maibaum", an Irish-like tune. "Highway 80" lacks a definable melody line. "Family Whistle" is a catchy tune. "Pagannini's Perpetual Motion", another Beppe original, is accompanied by mandolin and bass. Classical fans will be amused and bluegrass fans will admire his technical abilities.

I recommend this CD for fans of hard-driving bluegrass and those who enjoy some unique and original bluegrass-style music.-Richard Brooks

I Am Your Winter Lover

Sharyn Dimmick (cassette only-510-524-0416)

This first recording effort by the folk club's own Sharyn Dimmick features several of the traditional a capella ballads we associate with Sharyn and her singing friends (such as Arlene Immerman, Phillip Garrison and Lyn Wolz, all of whom are on the album). It also offers some very fine original writing. Some of the song writing emulates traditional styles (such as the solo women's shanty, "Morning Shanty", and the love ballad, "I Am Your Winter Lover"). Other original songs are contemporary, such as "This Love Was On Landfill". Especially fine in this latter category is "Wallflower Waltz", a very telling song about wanting to be asked to dance in spite of shyness and physical difficulties.

The album is marred by some unfortunate recording and mixing work performed at a studio in Kansas City. Mixdown happened in Sharyn's absence, and what came out of the process is doubtless not as good as what went in. So don't expect a highly-polished sounding album. (Also, set your cassette player for no Dolby-that's the right setting for this tape, and you wouldn't guess this). But if you are the sort of person who can overlook some surface flaws, this album contains very strong material, original and traditional. Sharyn is a fine writer with an interesting, haunting voice, and a real love of the old ballad genre.-Mitch Gordon

Employee of the Month

The Austin Lounge Lizards

Sugar Hill Records SHCD 3874

Since I was about 6 years old I've been a sucker for novelty tunes. If Spike Jones recorded it, I bought it. I recently found a CD of the entire canon of Red Ingles. You get the picture. Now if Bob Wills had known Spike Jones or Tom Lehrer, we might have had the Austin Lounge Lizards a generation ago. But the wait was worth it.

The Lone Star Reptiles have a wicked sense of humor, they're industrial-strength pickers, and their vocal harmonizing is first-rate. We saw them in June at Freight and Salvage. My first impression was that they might have day jobs writing software or maybe selling copiers.

The "Employee of the Month" album cover shows a rat in an exercise wheel. They sell tee shirts with that design. Pat and I were especially tickled by "Hey, Little Minivan". The premise is that the teenager of 50s doo-wop nasal celebration, who had the hot rod, grows up and needs to drive the girls to gymnastics class and the grocery store and must settle for a different sort of transport. "Another Stupid Song About Texas" is a case where the title says it all. But of all the songs of love gone bad, I can't think of one that reaches the pathos depicted in "The Dogs Really Miss You".

When a close family member's life hangs by a thread, the family hovers nearby and gives support. In the song "Last Words", they cut to the bottom line by asking the question: "Can I have all your stuff when you're dead?" In a similar vein, have you ever wondered what your final reward will be? How about if everything you ever had was waiting for you on "The Other Shore"? That includes missing socks, lost earring backs, and jeans that are too small to wear.

The 1998 edition of the Austin Lounge Lizards consists of Boo Resnick, Hank Card, Richard Bowden, Conrad Deisler, and Tom Pittman. They have been consistent in including lyrics with their albums.-Roy Trumbull

Call Me A Taxi

Kathy Kallick

Sugar Hill SHCD-3856

Produced by Todd Phillips (with Todd on bass) and featuring a strong lineup of support musicians that include Good Ol' Persons alumni John Reischman and Sally Van Meter on mandolin and dobro respectively, this album also features some of the hottest names in contemporary bluegrass-Stuart Duncan, Alan O'Bryant, Lynn Morris, Tim O'Bryan, and Laurie Lewis, among others.

Out of eleven songs, most are written or co-written by Kathy with the exceptions of A.P. Carter's "My Old Clinch Mountain Home", "Send Me Your Address From Heaven" (Red Allen with new lyrics by Kathy) and the Bill Monroe/Robert Van Winkle "Close By". There is a nice range of styles, rhythms and moods. With this album, Kathy continues to secure her position as a strong woman's voice and dedicated songwriter in the male-dominated field of bluegrass.-Evo Bluestein

Book Review - The Musician's Joke Book: Knowing the Score

by N.J. Groce. Schirmer Books, $8.95 paper. ISBN Number 0-02-86480-0.

This is a nice collection of musical humor on a variety of topics: conductors, composers, singers, folk, traditional and country music, rock and jazz, bluegrass, banjos, and other instruments we love to pick on (pun intended). There are funny definitions of musical terms, amusing and historical drawings and photos, and much interesting discussion about musical humor. The book is recommended as a good bedside book, to be savored a few pages at a time.

- Sol Weber (excerpted from the Newsletter of the NY Pinewood Folk Music Club

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