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DAVE HUM - Celtic And Bluegrass 5-String Banjo 1 & 2

DAVE HUM - Celtic And Bluegrass 5-String Banjo 1 & 2
Private Label HUM001/002CD

Dave is a proficient musician who’s been “playing the streets” for some thirty years, winning the BBC Radio National Busking Competition in 1994. He started out on the guitar (classical, then swing, jazz and skiffle), subsequently becoming hooked on bluegrass banjo and mandolin and making a name for himself with The Huckleberries group, even notching up some TV appearances before becoming seriously ill with septicaemia in 2009 and diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer, which forced him to relearn walking and playing instruments. As a result, Dave has now forged his own technique, through sheer perseverance, bravely adapting his personal playing style; this in turn having been initially inspired by elements drawn from Earl Scruggs, Bill Keith and Don Reno (technical details are available on Dave’s blog).

Clearly, Dave derives enormous enjoyment from playing, and relishes introducing audiences to his favourite tunes, whether they be bluegrass, old-time, ragtime or celtic in origin; this may best explain his approach to making this pair of CDs, for his renditions of around forty of these tunes on the five-string banjo are efficient, reliable, lively and unfussy, aiming to be entertaining and accessible for a listening audience of a non-specialist (as opposed to roots purist or enthusiast) nature.

This therefore entails Dave employing his skills as a multi-instrumentalist in accompanying himself on various permutations of guitar, bass, mandolin, harmonica and percussion, with some keyboard programming along the way. The result may be attractive enough to Dave’s target audience, but the aforementioned purist is likely to find it a touch too studio-conditioned, even sanitised. More to the point, Dave’s choice of material occasionally strays quite some distance even from the stated description of contents “an instrumental selection of traditional Irish, Celtic and bluegrass tunes”, in including Speed The Plough, Cumberland Gap, Duelling Banjos and the Third Man theme (dare I say ho hum…).

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 93 of The Living Tradition magazine.