Bad Dog,
Oldtime Blah Blah Blah
(Carryon, 2005)

Surely all four members of Bad Dog would agree that vocals are not their forte. Except for Stephanie Delage's guest vocals on "Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad," the vocals aren't credited. The lyrics, when present, seem a near afterthought, something thrown in for those who just have to hear a human voice from time to time. These bad dogs sing with clarity but little else. Never mind the title of the album; the bad dogs are devoted to the music, not the Oldtime Blah Blah Blah.

But who cares, with their fine playing? Mark Olitsky's banjo moves with a deceptive wildness through "Cotton Eyed Joe" and "Cumberland Gap," while his turn in "Magnolia One Step" shows the true discipline of his playing. Leo Lorenzoni's guitar is the grounding force in "Fell on My Knees" and "Jenny on the Railroad" and kicks up its heels for "Greasy String." Jason Sypher doesn't hide his bass under a bushel, letting it drive "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad" and "Magnolia One Step." Andy Williams' fiddle takes the lead on almost every song, and truly shines on standard fiddling tunes like "Fire on the Mountain" and "Piney Woods Gal."

They don't do anything startling, or push their instruments to do anything unexpected. They just play, and play together, with a consistent strength and fluidity most performers are pressed to keep through even one song.

It's always impressive to find a musician who can play a half-dozen instruments, write his own songs and choreograph his own videos. Bad Dog's Oldtime Blah Blah Blah shows just how good music can be when a musician devotes himself fully to the power of a single instrument. It's a grand display, and a reminder, if one is ever needed, of why these tunes have lived long to be traditions.

by Sarah Meador
10 June 2006

Buy it from