One of the joys of reviewing is when you play a CD from someone you’ve never heard of before, and it’s simply wonderful. Hog-Eyed Man is the name chosen by the duo of fiddler Jason Cade with Rob McMaken who plays lap dulcimer and cross-tuned mandolin. In that configuration, the fiddle is out front and center and the focus is on the tunes.
These are 17 great tunes from a platinum mine of old-time tune sources in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Virginia. Only one tune is recently composed, “Winder Slide,” written by Joe LaRose in 1980 and known mainly from recordings by Bruce Molsky and Rayna Gellert. Much of the rest of the material was collected by fiddler and folklorist Bruce Greene. There are three tunes from the great Isham Monday: “Apple Blossom,” “Bill Cheatham,” and “Far In The Mountain.” Three also come from Hiram Stamper (Art’s dad): “Betty Baker,” “Pretty Betty Martin,” and the tune the band takes its name from, “Hog-Eyed Man.” Two tunes each come from Byard Ray, North Carolina fiddler Marcus Martin, and Kentucky fiddler John Salyer. Throw in Emmett Lundy, Roy Bennett, Luther Strong, Jim Bowles, and you have a tune list to admire.
The droning rhythmic backup by McMaken combines with Cade’s powerful fiddling to make an almost mesmerizing sound. It would be difficult to pick out one or two tunes to highlight because they all sound powerful and compelling to my ear. Anyone who loves old-time American fiddling will enjoy listening to this CD, and I will not be surprised if some of these tunes start being played soon in old-time jams around the country soon. (Yodel-Ay-Hee, 107 Ingle Rd., Asheville, NC 28804, hogeyedman.reverbnation.com.)SAG