Volo Bogtrotters,
Old Time String Band
with Vocal Accompaniment

(Merimac, 1997)

Grab a banjo and join in! This is the sort of music you'd expect to hear while sitting on the front porch of some back-woods house in the mountains. The soft string-blend of mandolin and guitar mixes deftly with the fiddle and banjo, backed by bass and cello. This is community music, written when all were invited to join in the merry-making, with whatever instruments were available, be they banjos, ukuleles, beer bottles, or the human voice.

The Volos strive to recreate the best country music from the 1920s, and bring it forward to the 1990s. The result is a mixed bag. The music has the right feel, and there are quite a few classics such as "Lost Indian," "I Truly Understand," and "Bonaparte's March." You'll find yourself longing for the days when community porches were filled with people gathered together to chat and make music,when there was a true sense of community. The problem is, the recreation is a little too perfect. This means that the tunes drag on a bit too long for the average listener. This problem is greatly reduced by the vocals on many of the tunes. The words of the vocals keep the tune interesting when the repetition would otherwise be ponderous.

This would be a great recording to use to prepare for playing with a string band. The repertoire is an excellent example of what to expect from such an experience. Playing along with this recording would give the listener a great understanding of what to expect. Overall, this is a gem for those who are fans of the old-timey string band, but not destined for the shelf of the casual listener.

[ by Jo Morrison ]