Review: Byron Berline – Early in the Morning

You would be hard-pressed to find a more accomplished and prolific fiddler than Byron Berline. The Oklahoma-based former Blue Grass Boy recently released an impressive three-CD set in 2020 entitled, Early in the Morning. Exclusively available through his music store website, Double Stop Fiddle Shop, this collection incorporates an amazing array of original tunes featuring a long list of notable musicians such as Ned Luberecki and Jens Kruger, with eclectic instrumentation from cello to bones. The set includes one CD of bluegrass originals, one of old-time originals and one of swing originals.

“Plain Country”

“Dust Bowl Blues”

“Candy Apple”

The bluegrass collection features 22 tunes, in a variety of keys and flavors. A number of the tracks showcase twin fiddles, such as “Kickin’ the Can,” “Jan’s Tune,” and “Crazy Horse.” Standout tracks include the classic double stops of “Plain Country,” the mournful minor “Dust Bowl Blues,” the ominous chord progression of “Storm Clouds,” the joyful abandon of “Candy Apple,” and the hard-driving “Trapp Line,” co-written with guitar player Thomas Trapp. “Whirlwind” evokes images of a western dust storm and “Big Tige” was written as an homage to one of Berline’s favorite fiddlers, Benny Martin.

Whether you are a bluegrass musician or a fan, you will certainly enjoy this entertaining and creative collection of Byron Berline’s original bluegrass tunes with his smooth, energetic, and soulful fiddling. The bonus is that with one album you get three CDs in different styles! Stay tuned for an upcoming review of his old-time CD.

Natalya Weinstein

Natalya Zoe Weinstein is a fiddler and singer with the Asheville, NC-based band, Zoe & Cloyd, with her husband and music partner, John Cloyd Miller. She is also an instructor in the traditional music program at Warren Wilson College and a fiddle teacher at the Academy for the Arts in Asheville. Natalya holds an MA in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State University, where her thesis was entitled, “Jim Shumate and the Development of Bluegrass Fiddling.”

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