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Mike Feist of Tykes News

reviews Old Virginia by Rattle on the Stovepipe

Most visitors to Whitby Folk Festival will be aware that the trio of Pete Cooper, Dave Arthur and Dan Stewart can be relied upon to rattle stovepipes and anything else in earshot with their combination of fiddle, banjo, and guitar, with occasional switches to mandolin and melodeon. Their latest recording, Old Virginia, showcases American old time music at its best with a wide range of tunes and songs culled from a variety of sources.

The CD comprises mainly traditional material, some of which, e.g. Sandy Boys, Duncan and Brady, New River Train and the imaginatively–titled Shove the pig’s foot a little further in the fire, are well known, but others much less so –Bonnie Prince Charlie, Elk River Blues. Chinquapin Hunting and the resigned air Coleman’s March attributed to a wrongfully–condemned fiddler. And if you’ve been wondering about this band’s name, the song Rattle on the Stovepipe is included; whether you’ll be much the wiser depends on what you make of such lyrics as ‘She was kissing, I was wishing/Didn’t know what she was about’!

Dave Arthur contributes a new song about an Englishman caught up in American history – Young and Venturesome set to the Angelina Baker tune. He also supplies an appropriately plaintive tune to Don West’s moving poem, Bill Dalton’s Wife, which has topical relevance in the context of paying for private medical care. Both song and tune fit seamlessly with the traditional offerings. Mention should be made of the exemplary sleeve notes which encapsulate all anybody would wish to know about the songs and tunes plus – and prospective players take note – the tunings used for each number.

So altogether a welcome contribution to American old–time music both this side, and dare I say, the other side of the pond. If you’re not already into this genre or just like good music, this is a good place to start!