I’m not sure how I missed the Dillards playing The Darlings in the Mayberry RFD reruns as a kid. I’m also not sure how I managed to avoid adding them to my music collection up to this point. But between many other musicians covering their music and the ability to find almost everything on YouTube I”m not unacquainted with their music.
This CD is a mix of old and new Dillard tunes. That mix doesn’t always work as well as it should, especially as band members change, but the new tunes hold up well with Rodney’s “up in the holler” vocals and the fine backing of the band consisting of Rodney Dillard on rhythm guitar, Steve Bush on lead guitar/banjo/mandolin/bass/Ozark Harpolin, George Giddens on fiddle/mandolin, Tim Crouch on fiddle/mandolin, and Boone Carlin on bass. Dave Creech joins in with guitar on “Dooley”, and Beverly Cotten-Dillard provides the lead vocals for “Salty Dog Blues.” Brian Dillard joins the band for harmony vocals.
Since “Dooley” and “Salty Dog Blues” have already been mentioned let’s dive into the old tunes first. “Dooley” and “There Is A Time” are the first two Dillard tunes I came across, and I can always listen to them, “Dooley” being the classic moonshiner’s tune, and “There Is a Time” probably the best song to ever sum up life in three and a half minutes. “Ebo Walker,” “Banjo In The Hollow,” “Doug’s Tune” and “Leaning In His Everlasting Arms” join the old classics, and you swear you can feel the band members of the past looking out for the band members of the present. If you aren’t familiar with the Dillards this CD is worth picking up just to acquaint yourself with these tunes.
Of the new tunes, “The Darlin Boys” and “The Mayberry Hat” are reminiscent of Mayberry RFD and small town life. “There Goes The Neighborhood” is a humorous take on gentrification as seen from the other side and will really get a grin out of you. The biggest surprise on the CD is the closer “Wet Shoes In The Sunset,” a banjo track with full orchestral backing (a Darling “missing track”). You usually couldn’t think of the words “banjo” and “orchestra” at the same time without cringing, but I have to give them huge credit for pulling it off, and tastefully at that!
Rural Rhythm Records