From the depths of the winter season in Ontario, Canada, and created during the equally-bleak depths of the covid pandemic comes a wonderful album called Adeline.
Long story short, this is an all-star collaboration between musicians that normally play for other Canadian bluegrass and old-time bands. To further describe the atmosphere behind this recording, these veteran pickers decided to get together during a winter storm in March of 2021 to record this wonderful album in a 70-year old cabin in minus 18 degree weather.
Adeline is made up of Adrian Gross of the Slocan Ramblers on mandolin, Mark Kilianski of the Golden Shoals band on guitar, Sam Allison of Sheesham and Lotus on upright bass and bass harmonica, John Showman of the Lonesome Ace Stringband on fiddle, and Chris Coole, also of the Lonesome Ace Stringband, on the banjo.
These hardy north-of-the-border rippers, some of whom had never met each other until this session, braved an electrical outage in sub zero weather and still managed to lay down some warm, upbeat jams in the Kawartha Highlands area of Ontario, also known as the ancient lands of the Anishinabewaki and Mississauga Tribes.
Utilizing IBMA Hall of Famer John Hartford’s so-called ‘Windows system’ of playing old-time rhythm, this frozen quintet of top-notch roots musicians used spontenaiety to shed the grown-over scabs that formed after not playing in a band setting for over a year. The end result is an album that will lift you up. Old-time music and bluegrass have always been intertwined, despite the separate jams you might see at the Galax or Mt. Airy festivals, and this album is proof that the both genres produce music with drive.
The album starts off with “Evening Prayer Blues,” a cut that originated with Deford Bailey yet became famous when Bill Monroe changed a few small things and kindly put his name on it later on. The second number out of the gate is the Ernie Carpenter-penned “Shelvin’ Rock’ and this one smokes. Other great tunes on this fine collection include Lowe Stokes’ “Katydid,” the bass harmonica-driven “Red Prairie Dawn,” written by Garry Henderson, the mesmerizing and almost-ambient tune “Paul David,” Bill Monroe’s “Whitehorse Breakdown,” Earl White’s “Hickory” and other fun cuts by Art Stamper, Ed Haley and Eck Robertson.