Live from the Make Believe
(Solponticello, 2003)

Dromedary's second CD, Live from the Make Believe, is a very entertaining instrumental album of fine world music. For those of you unfamiliar with this duo, they combine the Bolivian charango, Appalachian dulcimer, Spanish guitar and mandolin to create 11 originals, traditionals and covers.

Dromedary was formed by Andrew Reissiger and Rob McMaken and is based in Athens, Ga. Both are "masters of multiple instruments," according to their promotional material. Andrew has roots in Santiago, Chile, and his instruments include the charango and guitar. Rob comes from a very musical family and has traveled the globe with his music. His instruments include the guitar, dulcimer and mandolin.

There are actually 12 tracks on the CD. Track 2 is a performance of "Ukrainian Stomp" that is performed by the duo in a studio with Rob on the Appalachian dulcimer and Andrew playing guitar. Track 12 covers the same tune. However, this time (as well as on a few other tracks), guest musician Andrej Kurti, a violinist from Yugoslavia, joins the duo for a live performance. From the liner notes, you find out that this version is either "drunk gypsy" or "pure vodka," they aren't sure which. I think it's "just great" as this is easily the best track on the CD.

The most intriguing cover on Live from the Make Believe is "Airbag." If you are familiar with Radiohead, this instrumental version takes this song in a new direction. With Rob on the mandolin and Andrew on guitar, this version is very mellow, yet still manages to maintain your attention. I can honestly say that this rendition has grown on me more than the original.

Ryan McMaken, a dobro (lap steel guitar) player, also joins the duo for several of the live tunes. The one that I like the best is "Cassiopeia's Dance," which the liner notes say was named for Rob's favorite constellation. This piece has an Ionian feel to it, yet these three manage to segue into "Amazing Grace" at one point. It truly adds another layer to this selection.

It is hard to say which half of this CD -- the studio created first half, or the live second half -- is better. The quality of both is excellent. Other than the last track, I could not tell the live tracks were performed live. I am certainly enjoying my copy of Live from the Make Believe. The one question this CD bring to my mind, however, is why would the duo name themselves after a one-humped Arabian camel? At least one listener would like to know.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 3 April 2004

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