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The banjo reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!

6980 reviews in the archive.

Martin Fox & Jeff Winegar  The Way It Was Recording/Album Reviews

Submitted by oldwoodchuckb (see all reviews from this person) on 6/13/2008

Where Purchased: Elderly Instruments

Overall Comments

Martin Fox & Jeff Winegar - The Way It Was

I find fiddle/banjo duets more fun than playing in a full stringband, but they are also considerably more stressful in front of an audience - and recording brings it to a whole new level of tension. Without a guitar to broaden the sound, every note from both instruments can be clearly heard. The smallest mistake will stand out like a gorilla at a cocktail party. There is simply no place to hide.
Duets are also harder than soloing. Playing alone, you can slip in a couple extra beats if you need them or cover a goof by adjusting something else it all comes out right in the end. Playing with another musician you must to stay with the program or you Both end up falling flat on your faces.
When a duet works well however, the combination of old time fiddle and clawhammer banjo is pure bliss. The instruments were born to be together – especially when two consummate musicians like Jeff Winegar and Martin Fox are doing the playing. These are superbly tight duets in a very modern, yet completely old time, style. Winegar’s banjo makes elegant arabesques around Fox’s rich fiddle lines which are in turn twisting back on the banjo. The level of “interactivity” is stunning throughout the program.
Most of the tracks are tunes that have not been recorded too often, so it is not only a good listening record, but also good for the musician or band out to build repertoire. The key and fiddle tuning are given for every track. Oddly enough the banjo tunings are not, but everything I’ve tried seems to work well in the tuning I normally use for the given key.
While every track on the album is excellent there are a couple I want to point up as especially neat and/or challenging. My wife and I have been having a lot of fun with “Highlander’s Farewell”, and “Moonlight” which are both pretty straightforward but she has also learned the aptly named “Horse and Buggy-O”. The tune is very crooked and I can only catch on to it after about a dozen times through. The tune called “Rocky Road To Dublin” on this record is not the well known Irish jig but a modal melody from an Edison cylinder recording by Allen Sisson, who was a Civil War veteran. Now THAT really is “old” time music.

Overall Rating: 9

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