The growth of popularity for old time string band music has been one of the most encouraging signs in the music business this past few years. Is there anything more lonesome than the sound of old time banjo and fiddle, along with an enthusiastic rhythm section?
Virginia’s Black Twig Pickers are among the young groups working this new old time scene, and they have announced a February 2015 release for their next album, Seasonal Hire. It was recorded as a collaboration with celebrated folk artist Steve Gunn, and the Twigs’ Nathan Bowles, Mike Gangloff and Sally Anne Morgan, all live without overdubs.
These folks are the real deal, seeking to preserve and protect the important legacy of Appalachian folk music, but not by reading books about it. Instead they have been seeking out the people who have lived and played this music all their lives, back in the hills and hollers, and learning the old songs and tunes directly from the old masters.
Seasonal Hire has a dark, eerie feel, with droning fiddles and plunky banjos behind Gunn’s lead vocals and guitar. Though four of the five tracks are old mountain ballads, they bring in aspects of folk musics from all over the world, but in a subtle way. It’s old time music, performed in a fresh and unique way.
Look for this one to get some attention when it hits next year.