Those who saw the film Crumb might recall that cartoonist and musician Robert Crumb has a huge collection of old 78s in his house in southern France. Crumb’s recordings served as the inspiration for this band of English and American expatriates in France. Crumb also did the artwork for the CD in addition to whistling on “Home Sweet Home!,” playing guitar and tenor banjo, and doing a lot of the singing. Ian McCamy is the fiddler and he also sings, Ilan Moss plays five-string banjo and fiddle, and Stephen Harrison plays piano, bass, and guitar.
Some of the sources cited in the liner notes are Charlie Poole (“Goodbye Booze”), the East Texas Serenaders (“Mineola Rag”), Clayton McMichen and Riley Puckett (“Old Molly Hare”), and Leonard Rutherford, Lowe Stokes, Gus Cannon, Uncle Dave Macon, Jean Carignan, and Eck Robertson. The only tune learned directly from other players is “Walk Along John To Kansas.” The oldest source I know for that is the 1943 recording of Arizona fiddler K.C. Karchner who said it “came from the South.” The band plays it with two fiddles.
The sources give an idea of the breadth of the material and of old-time music itself: rags, a waltz (“Saint Jobe’s”), two quicksteps, one nicely crooked tune from Kentucky (“Monroe County”) and one from Quebec, which is actually a waltz, too. The 17 tunes and songs are all well-played and fun to listen to because the musicians were obviously having fun themselves. There are, indeed, more pretty girls than one, and three of them are all over the fiddler on the CD cover. This is a very nice collection of tunes and songs which should give old-time music lovers much enjoyment. (Arhoolie Records, 10341 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, CA 94530, www.arhoolie.com.) SAG