Notorious is an interesting and eclectic folk ensemble built around the duo of fiddler/singer Eden MacAdam-Somer and guitarist/banjoist Larry Unger.
Their full-sized band adds mandolinist Sam Bartlett and Mark Hellenberg on percussion and banjo uke. They cover an interesting range of tunes and songs from Appalachian old-time to Eastern European music and swing.
While it’s easy to assume which end of their musical spectrum will appeal more to readers of this publication, it’s hard to miss the fact that Notorious plays all these styles quite well. The fiddling is vibrant and exciting, and the material they take on wanders freely and happily from traditional pieces like “Hangman’s Reel” to a number of fine instrumentals composed by Unger (no surprise since many of his tunes have become modern standards on the contradance circuit on which Notorious also travels.)
MacAdam-Somer is also a fine and versatile singer. Two tracks that will have a special draw for lovers of old-time music are a nice arrangement of Si Kahn’s “Wild Rose Of The Mountain” with harmony vocals by Frances Cunningham, and a beautiful and poignant coal-mining song of her own composition, “Beneath The Stones,” on which the always able bassist Mark Murphy contributes duet harmony.
While Notoroius is ably qualified to supply music for happy contradancers, The Road To Damascus is an excellent and representative indicator that they can dazzle listeners at a concert or a festival, as well as on a CD player. It may even inspire some lethargic bluegrass listeners to get out on the dance floor! (Black Socks Press, P.O. Box 6322, Lincoln, MA 01773, www.notoriousfolk.com.) HK