The modern musical arts based on traditional string music divide into many camps. Some use the instruments familiar to old time and bluegrass to push boundaries, while others demonstrate an almost fanatical devotion to the old masters. In between you can find every gradation on that scale. But ultimately, the most satisfying results tend to come from those who simply play the music they love with passion and sincerity.
Such is Live, a recent release from Mike Compton and Joe Newberry, recorded at a concert for Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music in Newark, DE during the winter of 2012. The dozen songs and tunes will be familiar to anyone who follows bluegrass and old time music, save one original of Joe’s based on a Kipling poem. All are performed as duets, with Compton on mandolin and Joe on guitar or banjo.
Both men are adept in a variety of styles, with Mike’s fondness for the music of Bill Monroe and Joe’s for old time blues and dance music clearly evident. Big Mon’s catalog is represented by his Rocky Road Blues and Kentucky Waltz, plus a quirky blues, Evening Prayer Blues, written by Deford Bailey and recorded famously by Monroe.
Old timers like Rocky Island, Raleigh and Spencer, and Fly Around My Pretty Lil’ Miss have the air of two friends having a go at a few of their favorites. You’ll get the same vibe from their renditions of East Tennessee Blues and Sittin’ On Top Of The World.
There is no pretense here, no slick arrangements and no after-the-fact overdubs. Just honest, real music performed by artists with a deep appreciation for the folk traditions that came before them.
Live is available from iTunes and other digital retailers, or on CD from Mike’s web site or either of their live shows.