the siamese cousins
I went to http://www.mountainroadsrecordings.com to check out the status on Scott Freeman and Edwin Lacy's new cd release as the Siamese Cousins, 2 CHAIRS, NO WAITING. I found they had a Preview This Album place where I clicked on the play triangle and it has played five tunes by now. It's a preview all right. Even allows me to hear the whole song from start to finish. I'm sitting here feeling gratitude to Karl Cooler of Mountain Roads Recordings for putting what is beginning to look like the whole album available to be heard here at the website. I'm now hearing Dori's second song, Gold Watch And Chain, the beautiful Carter Family song that she does so right. Her performance voice has developed beautifully and fast. I hear her more comfortable than ever, greater self-confidence now that she sees audiences listen to her. Steve Lewis is tearing up a lead guitar part, now Scott is carrying it with the mandolin, playing in ways that make my jaw drop. Edwin came in with banjo and they're all jamming with each other, all going at once, each doing his own sound and the music right there.
Edwin singing Gentle On My Mind. I think he said John Hartford composed it when he was in Glen Campbell's band. He wanted to use it for his own recordings, but Glen heard him picking it and wanted to record it. Edwin heard somewhere that Hartford had said he composed it for clawhammer banjo initially. Edwin picked up on that and is now recording it as a clawhammer tune with Edwin doing the singing. Edwin has soul in his singing voice. His banjo has soul too. I mean soul in the same way I'd say Ralph Stanley has soul. Scott sings Homeward Bound and picks his mandolin. They're on the last one now, Bowl Saint Croix. Must be David Johnson playing resonator guitar on it. It's over. Thank you, Karl Cooler, for that show. Now I don't have to wait another month to hear it. I love the cover. Really a clever image and a beautiful rendering of it in paint by somebody who did a beautiful job. Looks like Floyd the barber in the doorway is Willard Gayheart.
I did not know what to expect, so I didn't expect. All the time I've been hearing about them making recordings toward the collection I imagined it something on the order of what Riley Baugus and Kirk Sutphin recorded together, Long-Time Piedmont Pals, and one that Kevin Fore made with Kirk Sutphin, Round Peak, The Tradition Continues. Supreme albums of basically banjo and fiddle. This is what Scott and Edwin are doing, banjo and fiddle, mandolin and guitar with vocals about half the time. This album is not just pretty playing, its primary quality is the music. When these guys get together the music happens. They do not hesitate to make music. Edwin's banjo and Scott's mandolin sounded a little bit different from what I'm used to. I think there is more air involved in the venue at the Front Porch Gallery between instrument and mic and between speakers and audience. Not that there is a big distance, but a lot of air is involved. The recording of Edwin and Scott has both their instruments quite a lot more crisp to the ear---in the way lettuce can be called crisp---than my video recorder picks up. It is more articulate when the distance between the instrument and mic is just right and from mic to cd is no lapse. Plus, the recording of each instrument is on its own track. There is no blur of two different instruments playing close together. It's as close to what the instrument is doing as having my ear within a foot of the strings while Scott is tearing them up.
It was especially interesting to my ears to hear Scott and Edwin I've been hearing play together about 3 years now on an almost regular basis. They make music with Willard Gayheart and invited guests that is music I'd search the world over trying to find, and it's a 40 mile drive. Easy drive. Beautiful drive. I have 3 different ways to get there, each one of them 39.something miles and exactly one hour to the minute. Tomorrow night's guest I've seen before, Greg Cornett, and he's awfully good. However, Kilby Spencer's band, Crooked Road Ramblers is playing at the Jubilee in Sparta tomorrow night. I've not seen them in a year. Kilby gets better on the fiddle all the time and the band gets better all the time. He told me Peco Watson played banjo with them at Galax fiddlers convention and the band took 2nd place in old-time bands. Watson was banjo with New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters for quite a long time. I've not been to the Front Porch the last two Friday's due to circumstances. I don't like being gone so long. It feels like home there. The Jubilee feels like home too. I need to hear Kilby's band when they're playing so close to home.
I'm happy for the opportunity to hear Scott and Edwin's new album all the way through. I love it that Dori's two vocal moments were so superlative. The musicianship on the album is outrageously as good as it gets on a Friday night in Woodlawn at Willard's. When it's Scott, Edwin, Willard and Sandy playing bass, they get down and blow the roof off the place. It's music that satisfies the soul. This album is very different from the one Scott made with Johnny and Jeanette Williams. Can't say better because they're both up there at the top when it comes to how I'd rate them on a 5-star scale. 5 stars. No hesitation to question it. They're not 4.97. They are 5. I'm glad to see that Karl Cooler has an ear for what Scott is doing with music. Scott is a terribly complex musician who does chord progressions that make my jaw drop, who is articulate note for note, articulate like not missing any notes, and what he does with those notes makes some incredible mandolin and fiddle runs. He plays them very differently from each other, having no problem differentiating one from the other. I'm glad their good music as Siamese Cousins is available to be heard now. I noticed the MP3 is ready and the songs can be downloaded at .99 per. When I hear their music I feel gratitude that I have found mountain music in this lifetime. It's one of the greatest finds of my life.