MATT BROWN & GREG REISH, SPEED THE PLOW

BROWN-&-REISHMATT BROWN & GREG REISH
SPEED THE PLOW

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   This is a duet album in the truest sense of the word. Two voices work in concert to bring the listener a compelling experience of such depth and nuance that it can be savored repeatedly. Matt Brown is one of the many younger musicians on the old-time scene and a highly accomplished fiddler. He grew up in and around the music, learning from some of the very best musicians playing in what is referred to as the “revival.” It’s true that this music all but disappeared once, but it’s in good hands now.

Greg Reish has played music for more than forty years, as a session guitar player in Nashville, also taught in academic positions, and is writing a book on old-time guitar. The level of his playing here indicates that he’s more than qualified to write that book. He demonstrates what the guitar’s role behind a fiddle is better than most of the recordings out there. There are old 78s that have this level of performance, but it’s a rare achievement. Few guitarist know how to hold the rhythm, brace up the fiddle, and add the panache that makes the tune shine like a gem.

Brown has a powerful bow and a clean touch on the strings. Reish’s guitar underpins the fiddle at every turn, and they move as a unit through a wide ranging program of twenty-plus tunes on sixteen tracks. There are a lot of Kentucky tunes here, as they are popular these days, including two from the late Blind Ed Haley, “Dunbar” and “Bluegrass Meadows.” There’s a fine medley of “Matt Simond’s Tune”/“Old Buzzard”/“Brickyard Joe.” The first tune came from John Summers of Indiana and the two others from the fiddling of Doc Roberts.

A very fine blues tune shows up from the Wise Brothers of Knoxville, Tenn. The brothers made one recording and “Yellow Dog Blues,” a borrowing of a W.C. Handy piece, was quite a legacy to leave future musicians. These gentlemen do it justice. The range of tunes is amazing—breakdowns, blues, a waltz, and what sounds like an old pop tune turned into a fiddle tune. That they are all played so well is a rewarding treat for the lover of great old-time fiddle. Fiddlers take note. This is one dandy recording. (Matt Brown, 1941 W. Argyle #1, Chicago, IL 60640, www.oldtimestrings.com.)RCB

 

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