Friday, April 06, 2007

Music III

I think I’m going to chuck my identity as a political gadfly and become a music critic. It is so much more interesting than following the minute machinations of the power elite. Commenting on politics is like discussing vanilla ice cream. No surprises. Oh well, I go through these phases…

Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver have to be one of the tightest bluegrass ensembles to grace the scene in recent years. Their current album, There’s More Behind The Picture Than The Wall is a tour de force of tight harmonies and amphetamine fast solos. If it doesn’t get you off the couch dancing then you have no soul (and may be a buddhist). There's an otherworldly dimension to "The Phone Call.” Lawson sings lead on that one, and according to Amazon, “ sounds close to the classic country of George Jones on the title track.” I wouldn’t go that far, but it is a nice vocal.

Lawson began his professional career in 1963, playing banjo with Jimmy Martin's Sunny Mountain Boys. In 1966, he began an association with J.D. Crowe, first playing guitar but soon moving to mandolin. He joined the Country Gentlemen in 1971 and remained a member until 1979. In 1979, Lawson left the Country Gentlemen and formed his own group, Quicksilver, which has become kind of a farm team for bluegrass, producing talent that has gone on to play with Kentucky Thunder and IIIrd Time Out, among others. His catalog is heavily gospel influenced but the recent record is more secular. Worth a couple of listens.


Anonymous said...

A "special friend" once gave me a CD called banjo music. Ever since, I have been having a hard time deciding which instrument is my favourite; the pedal steel or the banjo. This does not help me with the battle.

Mark said...

The banjo always struck me as an instrument that was so freakishly difficult to play fast that anyone who mastered it must have sold their soul to the devil. The pedal steel, with all of its glorious tonality and interesting round-the-corner melody tricks seems to sound best when it's played by stoned hippies and drunk cowboys. So I guess its a tie for me too.