Caleb, Sammy, Reeb, and Nadine are back with 16 selections on the eighth Foghorn Stringband recording. They open with a sprightly version of “Stillhouse” from Virginia banjo player Matokie Slaughter and then go into a powerful Reeb/Nadine duet of Hazel and Alice’s “Mining Camp Blues.” The blues theme continues with Caleb singing “Columbus Stockade Blues” to Sammy’s driving fiddle. Then it’s “Old Molly Hare.” The breakneck pace slows with the Child Ballad “Henry Reed,” which is sung as a duet by Caleb and Reeb. Clyde Davenport’s “Lost Gal” is next; they also play Clyde’s “Chicken Reel.” “John Hardy” has a few sources listed; Caleb sings lead with Sammy on harmony and his usual hard-driving fiddle. “What Will We Do?” comes from the British Silly Sisters. It’s a poignant piece sung a cappella by Reeb and Nadine.
The Cooke Duet was one of the most high-powered gospel singing groups I’ve ever heard, and their “Longing For A Home” suits perfectly the sharply-edged singing of Reeb and Caleb. “Jailbreak” is a fiddle tune by the late Garry Harrison. Sammy sings lead on “Pretty Polly.” “Paddy On The Turnpike” is from Fiddlin’ Powers, and it really moves down the road in these hands. “Leland’s Waltz” by Tim Foss shows that they can play slow and sensitive when they want to. Nadine sings “90 Miles An Hour,” a Hank Snow novelty song. The final tune is “Chadwell’s Station” by David Russell Hamblen, whose music was rediscovered some years ago.
The Foghorn Stringband just gets better and better with stirring vocals and powerful instruments. The essential skill of traditional musicians is to play songs and tunes in their own styles without losing the connection to their roots. Foghorn has mastered that skill, and their music deserves to be heard and enjoyed. (www.foghornstringband.com)SAG