Windy Days and Dusty Skies

Joe Carr and Alan Munde

Flying Fish Records
FF 644

A review for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Alex Wright (Chromamus@aol.com)

The name of the album is a contradiction of the content and nature of the material contained within it. It's a pleasant day throughout the album without many windy days or dusty skies, but that doesn't take away from the enjoyment of the music. It is a friendly, feel-good / good-feeling album. Everybody plays very easily within their capabilities displaying a grace and maturity commensurate with the collective history of the players and their long list of distinguished guests (Roland White, David Grier, Ed Marsh, Beppe Gambetta, Laurie Lewis, Texas Shorty Chancellor, etc.). To be sure, there are not many risks taken with this album of front porch family style bluegrass music.

The sculpted melodic lines of the original and traditional West Texas Swing selections rely on a demanding, faithful reading, occasionally sacrificing a looseness to textbook arrangements. As self-stated 'Professors of Bluegrass Music' many historical influences are in evidence as they play a representative cross-section of styles based loosely on the overall theme of 'West Texas tradition'.

Beppe Gambetta's introduction to the traditional instrumental "Forked Deer" lends an open and flowing feel. David Grier and Ed Marsh's contributions to "Hotfoot" give that song a natural, unrestrained bounce. The rendering of the fun danceable tunes "Jordan Am A Hard Road To Travel", "Millwaukee Blues", and "Nancy Jane" are held in check by the vocals. Even in these lighter moments the playing is faithful to tradition.

One standout original is the title tune ("Windy Days and Dusty Skies") which has a chorus that will prove to be irresistible to vocal bluegrass groups. Joe Carr's instrumental song "The Mike Richey Special" (named after a guitar pick) brings out the natural strengths of these players in a tight, and melodically demanding composition. The Ed Marsh composition "Fifty Dollars" brings together the talents of Roland White, and Randy Howard playing expertly off each others Mandolin and Fiddle, respectively.

Also included on the album are two other original songs by production assistant and fiddler Ed Marsh, "Blue Skies, Blue Water" and "Mountain Girl". Other selections include: "Two Different Worlds" (well known as a Don Reno number) written by Fred Rose; "Amarillo Highway" by Terry Allen; "Texas Blues" by Helen Phillips (well known as a Bob Wills Standard); and the fun tune "Put The Baby Down" by Mark Kreitzer.

Overall, the album blends several different traditions in a fun, easy-to-listen-to display of musical prowess and knowledge by two players who have contributed to the history of contemporary bluegrass music. Here Carr and Munde give respect to those traditions they have grown to love and appreciate in their own experience.

This review is copyrighted by Three Rivers Folklife Society, 1995.
It may be reproduced with prior permission and attribution.

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