1. Say Goodbye – Michael Dave and Chris Eldridge
2. Doe Re Me – Woody Guthrie
3. The Danny Thomas
4. Promontory Point
5. Single String Medley
6. Belated Weeding Hoedown/Angelina Baker
7. Ocracoke Lullabye
8. Great Big World/ Purple Trees of Colorado
10. I Wonder Where You Are Tonight
12. Wild Bill Hickok
13. Swag Bag Rag
Full Disclosure: These guys are friends of mine. I have a soft spot for 1-4-5 country style and honky-tonk music as opposed to the “new-grass” minor chord improvisation that sounds like a band that's tuning up.
That being said, Long Steel Rail, a quartet four-some of twin fiddles, pedal steel, telecaster quack, and slap happy walking bass, mandolin, guitars, put on a show that went by all too quickly, with some of the smartest originals that I have heard in a long while. With Eric Rosi-Marshall as front-man vocalist, David Gandin on bass, Ambrose Verdibello on fiddle, telecaster, banjo, and mandolin (who knew he could play all those instruments?) and “Fooch” Fischetti on fiddle and pedal steel played their hearts out on bluegrass, with a welcome (for this guy) touch of electrified twang.
I was once in the audience at a guitar workshop given by Bryan Sutton and Jack Lawrence, and it was as delightful as it was geeky. Sutton talked about how he, as a tween, would travel to festivals and record all of Jack Lawrence’s sets onto cassette tape. There is a photo of this in the liner notes to Sutton’s Not Too Far From the Tree and it’s as geeky as it sounds. He even held up a Radio Shack mic, one of the ones with the little switch on the side. At home he would play the tapes over and over again, learning Lawrence’s solos note for note. Lawrence told a similar story of how his mother says that he went into his bedroom at 13 and didn’t come out until he was 18. Seemingly for the duration he played Doc Watson records, moving the record with his hand over the solos, slowing them down in order to better hear the sequence of notes. “You could hold the records up to a light and see where all the solos were,” he said, the vinyl having been worn down by so many passes of the needle.
Ben Eldridge has said that The Seldom Scene “it started sort of like our Monday night card game.” All the members had careers. Eldridge was a mathematician, John Starling was a medical doctor, Tom Gray was a cartographer for National Geographic magazine. In the very early years they met each week in Eldridge’s basement in Bethesda, Maryland.
Excellent album, fully enjoyable! Sideline, a group of bluegrass musicians who play in other bands, has recorded an excellent album full of traditional bluegrass favorites and a few surprises!
My first impression on listening to the array of songs was that each song is played tastefully – just right. None of the songs are overplayed or have extravagant breaks, the melodies are easily accessible and enjoyable! Simple, straightforward, solid bluegrass and tastefully sung!