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The Cabin Creek Boys (and ladies) play high-energy stringband music, which they describe as old-time or sometimes simply “hillbilly.” To my ear, on some of their vocals (especially trios), they sound more like a bluegrass-styled group. On the other hand, their instrumentals are straight-ahead old-time music, featuring great fiddling and clawhammer banjo.

For over 13 years, they’ve been performing at fiddlers’ conventions, festivals, square dances, and other community events. Led by multi-instrumentalist and award-winning husband and wife duo Chris and Erika Testerman, the band also includes Jackson Cunningham on guitar, Trish Kilby Fore on clawhammer banjo, and Jerry Steinberg on upright bass.

Their instrumentals include the popular “Fire On The Mountain” and fiddlers’ convention favorite “Bill Cheatham,” but they also perform such lesser-known pieces as “Sally Was A Poor Girl” which they learned from Muncy Gaultney of Ashe County, N.C., and the traditional “Blue-Eyed Girl” which they learned from an Enoch Rutherford home recording.

There are several tunes this writer had never heard before: “Sapsucker Peckin’ On A Long Leaf Pine,” which Trish learned from the playing of Harold B. Hausenfluck and Wade Ward (it’s known as “Peachbottom Creek” on Folkways FA 2380). Another is “Bassett To Shootin’ Creek,” a never before commercially recorded gem of a song written by the late Rafe Brady, a prominent fiddler from Patrick County, Va., and the hard-driving fiddle-banjo duet “Old Molly Hare.” Perhaps their most unusual piece is the “Great Physician,” a Primitive Baptist hymn that Chris learned from an Albert Hash recording; he performs it here as an instrumental.

Vocal numbers by Cabin Creek lead toward bluegrass, with a distinct nod to the Stanley Brothers. “There Is A Trap” is a Stanley number they perform duet style, and their trio version of “Drinkin’ From The Fountain” is especially effective. Another compelling trio, the Sloas Brothers’ “Sea Of Regret,” was influenced by the version performed by Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley. A song from the Carter Family, “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” features the lead singing of Erika Testerman, with Jackson Cunningham picking his archtop guitar Maybelle Carter-style. Generally, duets feature Jackson on lead and Chris on tenor. All things considered, this an excellent release by a versatile group. Recommended. (Cabin Creek Boys, 567 Joan Cir., Salem, VA 24153.)WVS

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