Skip to main content

New Old-Time Music Roundup

This seems like an especially fertile time for new old-time music being released. In addition to the Mark Olitsky and Cary Moskovitz album we featured recently, here are a few other new or upcoming notable albums.

Trevor Hammons & Benjamin Davis, "The West Virginia Way"
I recently received a copy of this album as a prize for answering a trivia question on the Banjo Hangout. It's a stunner. Trevor Hammons is the great-grandson of legendary banjo player Lee Hammons. Benjamin Davis has been playing fiddle for five years and has studied under Pam Lund and Jake Krack. Both grew up in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. They're playing fits together so well that you might be shocked to learn that both Hammons and Davis were 15 years old when they were recorded for this album. Fifteen! If I had a time machine ...

The 16 tunes include rousing renditions of "Juliann Johnson," "Bonaparte Crossing the Alps," "Last Chance" and "Falls of Richmond," to name a few, as well as Hammons Family staples "Three Forks of Cheat," "Shakin' Down the Acorns" and "Cranberry Rock."

Henry Barnes, featuring Dan Gellert and Deb Posey, "Cat Town"
I just heard about this recording from Dan Gellert via the Fiddle Hangout. I don't know much about the album, other than Barnes is a fiddler based around Columbus, Ohio. He will be an instructor at the Allegheny Echoes Summer Workshops in June. According to the biography listed on the event website, Barnes has played fiddle for more than 20 years and studied under West Virginia fiddler Bobby Taylor. He has won fiddle contests in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia, and recently won the Ed Haley Memorial Contest and the Elmer Rich Memorial Contest. The 19 tracks feature an interesting assortment of tunes, including "Natchez," "Jonah in the Windstorm," "Bumblebee in a Jug" and "Everybody to the Punchin." Posey plays guitar throughout, and Gellert supplies backing on banjo for all the tunes except "Old Aunt Jenny," where he seconds on fiddle. You can sample the album at Bandcamp, with a purchase price at $9 for a digital download and $15 for a handsome CD package.

Stuart Brothers CD and DVD set
The old-time music community was saddened by the sudden death of Trevor Stuart in 2016. This recording, produced by the Old-Time Tiki Parlour, is the last by twin brothers Trevor and Travis as a duet. The release has gone to press, according to a recent email from David Bragger, and it should be for sale in the coming weeks.

The Skeleton Keys
Tricia Spencer and Howard Rains have been behind some of the most exceptional old-time music albums of the last few years. This music and art collaboration features the duo with a full backing band comprised of Charlie (ukulele) and Nancy (guitar) Hartness, Brendan Doyle (banjo) and Emily Mann (bass). The music will be accompanied by a 40-page booklet of artwork and notes to correspond with the CD. The project was the result of successful Kickstarter campaign and will be released by the Old-Time Tiki Parlour in the coming weeks.

There was also a recent Kickstarter campaign launched for the new project by Richie Stearns and Rosie Newton, so check that out if you're inclined to donate. If you're looking for other new old-time music releases, be sure to also check out the Old-Time Herald and the Banjo Newsletter. Please share in the comments if you know of other new old-time projects!


Popular posts from this blog

Master and Apprentice: Banjo Builder Workshop in Historic Peninsula, Ohio

The 191-year-old Peninsula, Ohio, provided the backdrop to a parade of pedestrians making their way from station to station across the bucolic village for Music on the Porches on Saturday.

Inside the close confines of Bronson Church, founded in 1835, a master and apprentice presented a free workshop on the art of instrument building. That master being the renowned banjo builder and artist Doug Unger and his former apprentice Mark Ward.

Unger and Ward began the workshop by playing several old-time tunes, discussing their work and the music, and taking questions from the audience. Unger then invited the spectators to step up to the front to see the instruments.

Highwoods Documentary Not a Lost Cause After All

So, once upon a time, I tried to drum up support for a crowdfunded documentary project about the Highwoods Stringband. I donated money to help out, and more than a year later I provided an update on the slow progress. Last I heard, there was some old footage of the Highwoods they were trying to acquire. It's been three and a half years now that I first heard about the project, and I still haven't received my DVD.

I figured that's the risk you take with these crowdfunded, Kickstarter-type projects. I had all but given up the documentary as a lost cause. Until today. If I managed to convince any of you to help fund the project, I felt it my duty to pass along this update directly from Highwoods mainstay Walt Koken.
"After several delays and setbacks, we, the members of the Highwoods Stringband and Mudthumper Music have procured the vintage footage and photos in cooperation with the original producers and put them into the hands of another videographer, Larry Edelman, in …

2016 Year in Review / 2017 Look Ahead

Well, it's been a minute, hasn't it? The last year has been difficult on many fronts. Playing music was no exclusion. The amount of time I spent playing banjo and fiddle suffered the most. I didn't blog much either, which you already knew. But it wasn't all bad. Here's a look back at last year and a look ahead to my goals for the year ahead.

2016 Notes
I have now been playing banjo for eight years and fiddle for four years. My focus remains on the fiddle, as I try to learn general technique and tunes. Time spent playing banjo was mostly to keep up with a handful of tunes I like most.

Playing Time: Due to increased work travel and other factors, my playing time was dramatically reduced in 2016. As mentioned before, I log my practice time in the quest to reach that fabled 10,000-hour mark. This last year was my lowest (by far) amount of time spent on banjo and second lowest time on fiddle.

New Tunes: Despite my reduced playing time, I worked through two fiddle instruct…