Banjo V-I – Dave Richardson

This review of V-I is a contribution from Kevin Slick.

Colorado banjo master Dave Richardson has a new album entitled Banjo V-I, subtitled “acoustic artists interact with virtual instruments.”

Richardson combines these virtual and acoustic instruments seamlessly, playing banjo, guitar, mandolin, and bass. He’s joined by players like Greg Blake, Patty Clayton, Eric Wiggs, Ernie Martinez, and an array of Colorado bluegrass stalwarts.

Banjo has long been Richardson’s primary instrument, and while he’s more than capable ripping through a fast number, he plays with a sensitivity and style that weaves perfectly into the orchestral string arrangements that accompany several tracks. This interplay is especially evident on Precision Timepiece, which blends a slightly Celtic-feeling melody from the banjo with orchestral strings, which lift the song from a nice tune to something truly beautiful and memorable.

There’s a great variety os sounds on the album, a meditative banjo piece might be followed by a song like The Lights of Heaven’s Door, a little bit of bluegrass gospel that’s as traditional as it gets. 

Banjo pickers will have fun trying to keep up with Jack Rabbit at Kennywood Park, a delightful roller coaster of a tune that is guaranteed to blow the roof off.

Banjo V-I is a superb recording. The fact that some of the instruments are virtual, allowing one person to explore musical ideas that would otherwise be unavailable (unless you have symphony orchestra in the garage), makes it even more interesting.