Woody Simmons,
Double Geared Lightning
(Pocahontas, 2006)

Until this CD showed up, I'd never heard of Woody Simmons, a condition that many people probably share. He lived most of his 93 years in the small town of Mill Creek, West Virginia, and never aspired to fame. As his friend Buddy Griffin said, "Woody may not have wanted to be famous. If you're famous, everybody knows you, knows what you do. But if you're legendary, it's just hearsay but they know it's true." This CD will convince you that Woody Simmons was legendary.

On Double-Geared Lightning, evidently put together for West Virginia Public Broadcasting, a couple of dozen admirers of Simmons' -- as well as the man himself -- discuss his life and his music. The CD is organized by chapters, like a print biography: "Woody Learns the Banjo," "Woody Picks Up the Fiddle," "Woody Becomes a Champion" and so on. Each contains the people in Woody's life remembering him and each is illustrated by tracks of Simmons' own playing. As such, it contains a couple of dozen tunes.

By the time you get through the CD, you'll have a better understanding of who Woody Simmons was and why he is considered a legend. From a consumer's standpoint, though, you might not want to hear the stories again. You will, though, want to hear the music more than once and, fortunately, the CD packaging gives the sources of the music used and contains ordering information.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

24 November 2007

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