Kicking it all off with a fine reading of “Daley’s Reel,” there is a lot to like on this first solo release by this young western North Carolina fiddler. Gardner has played fiddle in the bluegrass band High Windy, and more recently for Paul’s Creek, an old-time band out of the Asheville area. He brings this full range of experience along with a healthy dash of Celtic influences to this project. “Squirrel Munster” is a genre-expanding cut featuring the unbounded talent of Charles Wood on banjo. The old West Virginia song “Cherry River Line” is treated as an atmospheric Irish lament. He completely recasts it into something new and contemporary. “Midnight On The Water” is a dreamy reading of the standard with rich fingerpicked guitar. There are bouncy old-time tunes like the “Booth Shot Lincoln”/“Gunboat” medley and “Lazy John” and the wonderful banjo and fiddle on “Chinquapin Hunting.” Gardner not only builds banjos he does a great job of playing them as demonstrated on the medley of “Rachel”/“Forked Deer” medley. He can turn around and burn the house down with a rousing “Katy Hill” and render a reading of “Denver Belle” that will make us glad someone is carrying on with the good taste of the late Kenny Baker.
The play on words that is the title hints at the balance of different styles and Gardner’s ability to bridge the gaps between them. He is supported by some of the best musicians from his home region, an area rich in musical tradition. The last cut sounds like an old 78 through studio effects, but reminds us as we listen to that solo fiddle that the tradition and art of fiddling in western North Carolina is in good hands. (Tim Gardner, 223 Summerglen Dr., Asheville, NC 28806, myspace.com/fiddlintim.) RCB