PA’S FIDDLE: CHARLES INGALLS, AMERICAN FIDDLER
Pa’s Fiddle Recordings
This is part of a series of recordings of the songs and tunes Laura Ingalls Wilder documented her father playing on the fiddle in her books about growing up on the frontier. The music here is easy listening, acoustic string band music with some muscle. It is very pleasant and not truly aimed at a bluegrass audience, but there is plenty for bluegrass fans to like. Shad Cobb and Matt Combs, two of Nashville’s finest fiddlers, are here with Joe Weed on fiddles, and Cobb also plays some respectable banjo. No less than Bryan Sutton holds down the guitar, Matt Flinner is on mandolin, Dennis Crouch on bass, Buddy Greene on harmonica, and Jeff Taylor provides accordion, penny whistle, and piano.
The crew can be heard talking between some cuts and they flat tear up the two reprises of “Jesus Hold My Hand” where they give it a string band version of the Dixieland treatment. It swings. It is like they all had been good and patient, but finally had to blow some fuses on a number. They do give the fiddle tunes what for, but the songs are more sedate and there is a politeness to much of the recording.
This is a well-recorded effort that catches the beauty of these pieces with a very modern, yet respectful treatment. If you have ever spent time listening to field recordings by folks whose primary income was farming, you will know that Pa’s fiddle did not really sound like this, and that the whole setting for his music and life were far more primitive than what we hear on this recording. But this fits well with the modern mythology propagated by the television program and ensuing marketing of related products.
This is a pleasant recording that will be a nice addition to the library of fans of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. (Pa’s Fiddle Recordings, 421 E. College St., Murfeesboro, TN 37130, www.laura-ingalls-wilder.com.)RCB