Livin’ In America



Sweet River Band is a five-piece group based in Nantes, France.  This project showcases their affection for American music with a collection of tunes showing their influences of bluegrass, old time, blues, swing, folk, country, and even rock-and-roll. The group is Claude Cordina (guitar), Patrick Couton (banjo, dobro, autoharp), Sébastien Farges (bass), Philippe Fontalirand (mandolin), and Hervé Lelou (violin). The band was formed by Couton and Lelou in 2010. They were then joined by Cordina and Fontalirand in 2011 and finally by Farges in 2012. Individually the members were inspired by such as Doc Watson, Marcel Dadi, Leonard Cohen, Vassar Clements, Stephane Grappelli, and even Jimi Hendrix. 

The players are quite good, and their song selections for this project cover the various styles from the American songbook. Bluegrass and old-timey can be heard on the title cut “Livin’ In America,” “Won’t Be Long,” and the instrumental medleys “Indian Ate A Wookchuck/Valley Forge” and “Chinquapin Hunting/Half Past Four.” Jazz, swing and pop are covered by “The Devil With The Devil,” “Home,” and the Bangle’s “Walk Like An Egyptian.” There are two co-written by Tim O’Brien “Walk Beside Me” and “More Love,” and there is the bluesy “That’s How I Learned To Sing The Blues.” 

Other selections include Paul Siebel’s “Louise,” and Gillian Welch’s “Wichita.” The vocals are good and there is lots of interplay between the instruments. Some members have toured the U.S. but as a band they have yet to make the trip. The CD itself has few liner notes other than song list, etc., and since this is French band, most of their on-line information is in French. This is a pleasant project from one of our international friends., 

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