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Yodel-Ay-Hee Records YODELAYHEE090

No, Hog-Eyed Man isn’t a shanty crew; instead, the biggest clue to this new duo’s music lies in the name of the label – that is, if you’re already familiar with its releases by The Stairwell Sisters or Riley Baugus. What you get here is pure unadulterated old-time music of the southern Appalachian variety – and played with verve and commitment aplenty by Jason Cade (fiddle) accompanied on lap dulcimer or (occasionally) mandolin by Rob McMaken.

The disc’s 15 tracks present a host of fiddle tunes, many learned from Jason’s parents’ near-neighbour Bruce Greene in North Carolina. The vast majority of the tunes are less-often-heard repertoire emanating from the mountains of Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia, and many of the selections were sourced from scratchy field recordings of solo fiddlers like John Salyer, Bill Hensley, Isham Monday and Hiram Stamper, real old-timers whose repertoires pre-date the string-band era. Several of the tunes employ quite idiosyncratic phrasing, which is known to be something of a characteristic of Southern Appalachian fiddle music, but foot-tapping is impossible to resist, especially on rollicking pieces like Railroad Through The Rocky Mountains (from the playing of Jim Bowles of Monroe County) and Jenny Run Away In The Mud In The Night (from Marcus Martin). Virtually every tune here is a discovery, in fact, and the impact is considerable when the musicians play as expressively as they do here. It’s glorious, and emphatically not too much to sit through in one sitting – indeed, I went back and played the entire 44-minute disc all over again afterwards and I hardly ever feel that way about all-instrumental records!

The music on this CD was recorded with immediacy and honesty, entirely live in one room, with no overdubs or pauses. The two musicians play spiritedly and give a sense of total involvement and feel good abandon within the tradition they clearly treat with respect while making the style work for them as their own. This is an unpretentious disc that really delivers on its humble premise and can be thoroughly recommended to old-time devotees.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 105 of The Living Tradition magazine.