The Eelpout Stringers are based in Minnesota. They feature Loyd Mitchell on guitar, Karl Burke on bass, Nick Rowse on fiddle, and Craig Evans on banjo.
They have recorded 25 tunes and songs, mostly traditional, aside from “Quecreek” by Julie Miller, “Orphan Train” by Utah Phillips, and “Hobos In The Roundhouse” by Bill Isles. There are a few medleys, such as “Chinquapin Hunting” to “June Apple.”
I have to say that some of the playing is quite far from the versions I know of these tunes. That is not necessarily a bad thing; many common tunes have unusual and interesting settings. However, it is this reviewer’s judgment that the playing ability of the musicians does not meet the demands of the tunes or the standards one would expect. The fiddling is missing the bowing rhythms that one would expect to hear in old-time tunes, and that colors everything I hear. This is music where rhythm should rule, and it does not here.
The banjo playing is somewhat better, but this is a fiddle-led band. The singing also lacks the edge and power one might expect; their rendition of “Orphan Train,” for example, pales by comparison to that of Utah Philips and others who have recorded the song. What I mostly hear in all this music is the out of place beat that disrupts the rhythm, and that is difficult to listen to. (Eelpout Stringers, 14585 Cameo Ave. W., Rosemount, MN 55068, www.eelpoutstringers.com.) SAG