Review: The Truffle Valley Boys – Looking for An Old Fashioned Church

For several years I’ve been very tickled by Facebook posts from a wonderful bluegrass band from Italy called The Truffle Valley Boys. I’ve corresponded to give them my encouragement and to learn more about them. Matt Ringressi plays mandolin and he is clearly inspired by the late Everett Lilly. Banjo picker German Ciavone is a disciple of Don Stover and Wade Mainer. These two guys are as HARD-DRIVING as any bluegrass pickers I’ve heard in decades.

They’ve just released a lovely gospel LP that they produced themselves. It as recorded at home with a reel-to-reel tape recorder and one big old Altec 639 mike.

Denny Recchio plays guitar and EXCELLENT old-fashioned Dobro in the spirit of Uncle Josh Graves, Kenny Haddock, Russ Hooper and John Duffey. Emanuele Valente plays powerful and pushy bass fiddle. On a few cuts they have a guest Swiss electric guitarist Pacal Ammann who plays a fine conservative 1950s style like Paul Yandell from Louvin Brothers records, or old Grandpa Jones or Charlie Monroe records. Not at all disturbing to a bluegrass ear (quite fitting in fact!).

They sing in excellent un-accented English, with stout trios and complex vocal arrangements like Reno & Smiley.

The overwhelming impression is the LILLY BROTHERS and DON STOVER come back to life.

They have 12 songs from a variety of US sources. I had only heard two of these songs before. The fellows really mine the deep catalog of old country music.

“There Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down” from Brother Claude Ely

“O Death”

“Walk Around Me Jesus”

Everything about The Truffle Valley Boys puts me in mind of eager and hard-charging local bluegrass band from the 1950s and 60s. The recording is as far from slick as possible. While the instruments are nice and clear, the vocals are right on the edge of overdriving the mike – not “quite” causing distortion, but you know they’re really bellering.

The LP cover photo evokes the old King and Starday LPs in lovely sepia tones.

These boys are dead serious about their music. I’m trying to get them hooked up with the Boston Bluegrass Union or IBMA to get over here to the States. They would KILL with their hustling one-mic choreography and full-power picking and singing. If they do cross the pond I hope HVBA will book them for a show!

When I read that their recording was out, I ordered on-line immediately. I thought I was ordering a CD. The mail quickly delivered an LP however. And it’s only 10” in diameter, the size of a 78 rpm disc!! Pretty cool. I’m not sure, but perhaps European CDs don’t work on the different US electrical standards (50 Hertz vs. 60 Hertz?). In any case, I dusted off the turntable and threw this biscuit on and was transported back to the days when I was just learning bluegrass music.

If you have a turntable and you like bluegrass the old way, I highly recommend that you get on line and order your copy of Looking for An Old Fashioned Church by the Truffle Valley Boys. The price including Priority mailing from Italy is $38 and PayPal is accepted.

Visit their website and order your copy now.

Tenbrooks TR-3001

Dick Bowden

Dick Bowden recently retired after a 45 year career in the paper industry, and moved from Connecticut to Big Indian NY (Ulster County) where he ekes out a precarious existence as a groundskeeper. Dick has been performing bluegrass music on banjo and guitar since 1966 in his home state of Maine, throughout New England, and internationally with The Case Brothers - Martin & Gibson. He has performed for HVBA with the Old Time Bluegrass Singers, and also sent in a squadron of Dick Bowden's Flying Circus. Most recently Dick has played Dobro (tm) with the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band. Dick has written many articles for Bluegrass Unlimited, Bluegrass Today, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass magazine) and HVBA.

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