lonesome-ace-stringbandTHE LONESOME ACE STRINGBAND

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The second outing for this Toronto old-time trio—Chris Coole on clawhammer banjo, Max Heineman on bass, and John Showman on fiddle (all three sing)—opens with an original tune by Showman, “The Hucklebuck,” a wild romp fueled by their energy and musicianship. Aside from “Mad As A Hornet” by Snake Chapman and “Let Him Go On Mama” by John Hartford, the other eight pieces are all traditional, beginning with “Saro Jane” from Uncle Dave Macon; they also have “Going Across The Sea” from Uncle Dave. Their “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” though, has a feel which is both contemporary and minor. “Old Paint” derives from Bruce Molsky’s version, “Hold On” from Dwight Diller, “The Boatman” from Dan Gellert, “Across The Rocky Mountains” from Roscoe Holcomb, and “Nancy” from John Salyer’s “Nancy Blevins.”

All of their arrangements fit together like fingers in a well-worn and comfortable glove. “Mad As A Hornet” starts slowly and then, suddenly, the enraged hornet flits around at full speed. “Hold On,” also known as “Keep Your Hand On The Plow,” blends very traditional singing with fiddle chords which sound ready to jump out of the furrows. That tension is characteristic of this band and adds depth to its music. “Nancy (Till the Tape Runs Out)” is where they release that tension to the full extent and come to a full circle of wildness under control. They may be gone for evermore, but it’s a listening trip many of us will enjoy taking. (

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