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Kathy & Bob Drage of Around Kent Folk

reviews Poor Ellen Smith by Rattle on the Stovepipe

Rattle on the Stovepipe sing and play American traditional Old Timey music, with a few English ones thrown into the pot. It is a classic line up of guitar, fiddle and banjo. The trio are Dave Arthur vocals, banjo and guitar; Pete Cooper fiddle; and Dan Stewart guitar and banjo. All are master musicians but there is no sense of ego between them, they play the music they love, know their material and honour their sources.

'Deadhead Suckers' has many theories on its origin but is generally believed to be about layabouts and ne'er do wells. 'Hang Me Oh Hang Me' recorded by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax in Hazard Kentucky, 'Swannanoa Waltz' the annual Gathering is a good place to meet North Carolina Old Time community. 'Poor Ellen Smith' is a typical murder ballad, 'Black Bottom Blues', either a generic term for an African American downtown area or as in Detroit, an area where music clubs sprang up. Sexual jealousy in 'Wild Bill Jones, 'Southern Soldier', written by Dave is about a man caught up in the civil war. 'The Devil's in The Girl' a cautionary tale of seduction and abandonment, `Over the Mountain/Old Jimmy Sutton is played by Dan on a copy of a 19th C minstrel banjo. Of course there has to be a version of 'Stackolee' whilst 'Walk Along John to Kansas' is great for flat foot clogging. The CD ends with a Dave Arthur written version of Blood Red Roses.

Pete and Dave have written comprehensive notes for each track, both fascinating and valuable to anyone wanting to learn and perform them. Dave is a great storyteller which is evident in his handling of ballads in particular. They have the rare gift of drawing you into a song.