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Robbie Thomas of EDS

reviews no use in cryin' by Rattle on the Stovepipe

Rattle on the Stovepipe are Dave Arthur (banjo, guitar, melodeon, vocals), Pete Cooper (fiddle, viola, vocals) and Dan Stewart (guitar, banjo). An EFDSS Gold Badge holder, Dave Arthur edited this august magazine for twenty years, and was one half of the duo Dave and Toni Arthur, recording albums for the Transatlantic, Topic and Trailer labels. Pete Cooper (fiddle, viola, vocals) has many strings to his bow, being a respected performer, writer and fiddle pedagogue. The syllabus of Pete’s respected London Fiddle School (based in Cecil Sharp House) reflects his eclectic musical tastes. Dan Stewart, the youngest of the three, is a senior analyst in the pharmaceutical industry and is also a master of the guitar and banjo.

Rattle on the Stovepipe move in the musical realm that stretches between Appalachia and England, although their feet are placed more in the Carolinas than the Costwolds. Their instrumental skills and immersion in their chosen genre are such that you might think that the band is American born and bred. However the songs are sung in the band’s native English accents, eschewing the cod, mid-Atlantic accents so often heard in old-time and bluegrass bands from this side of the ocean. The songs and tunes on this CD reflect the band’s area of interest, ‘Old John Peel’ rubbing shoulders with ‘Rock that Cradle, Joe’ and Carolan’s ‘Princess Royal’ preceding a version of ‘The Two Brothers’ collected by Sharp and Karpeles in North Carolina. The arrangements of the songs and tunes sound authentic to the old-time tradition, but also reflect the musicians’ musical backgrounds and influences. Dave Arthur handles the majority of the songs and his supple, melodious voice runs smoothly in and around the old-time instrumentation, while Pete Cooper’s edgier, tougher-sounding vocals lurk a little deeper inside his two songs, especially in the late Craig Johnson’s ‘Damned Old Piney Mountains’.

Rattle on the Stovepipe are a band who don’t get out and around the country much, so for most of us, their CDs (and YouTube videos) are the only chances that we’ll get to hear them. No use in Cryin’ lets us experience a band secure in its music and at the height of its powers. If you’ve heard them before, this is a CD that you’ll want, and if you haven’t, it’s a great place to start.