Posted by Bill Rogers on Sunday, April 7, 2019
Brian Godchaux and Sandy Rothman: The Red Fiddle and the Silver Banjo
ToneBar Records, 2015. Available at https://redfiddlesilverbanjo.weebly.com/the-musicians.html.
A CD I was woefully slow to pick up—and one that I’m listening to a lot. This is fiddle and banjo music as it is meant to be heard—live recordings with no edits or overdubs. The tunes are traditional, with the exception of “Red Fiddle Blues,” a standard blues by the players. There are 13 tunes, ranging from the Appalachians to Ireland to Canada to Texas, and more than 65 minutes of music. The shortest tune is 3:14. The longest, 6:31.
Godchaux and Rothman have played together (and apart) for decades. Both are superb players. Their fiddle and banjo collaboration goes back to the 1990s, and has reached a level of comfort that comes through here. Though Sandy is a veteran bluegrass player, the music here has a distinctly laid-back, old-time ambiance. For banjo players, listening to Sandy’s playing behind Brian’s fiddle is a lesson in how to support a fiddler completely and interestingly, but without stealing the show. Anyone wishing lo find ideas for playing fiddle backup on the banjo has plenty of opportunity here. The players roam through variations and improvisations, neither repeating the basic melody time after time nor straying so far that it’s unrecognizable. Every tune is listenable.
If you want to get an idea of what Brian and Sandy sound like, a few of their tunes can be found on YouTube with a simple search. If you haven’t already discovered this CD, I highly recommend it. It’s a gem, and will give hours of enjoyment—or study, as you may choose.
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