Good Old Boys
John Hartford String BandRounder CD 0462
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
One of John Hartford's long standing trademarks has been his ability to dance and play banjo or fiddle at the same time. With a mike attached, a board is placed onstage for Hartford's shuffle. This, however, does not come close to being his most significant tap dance.
Somewhere over the many years Hartford has been performing and recording, something happened. The Hartford of earlier years wrote of topics that the founding fathers would disapprove (remember Granny Won't You Smoke Some Marijuana?). He led new converts, including this reviewer to bluegrass and traditional music.
Today, Hartford is looking back, singing of the old days of his youth, revering the memory of Bill Monroe, and listening to the Grand Old Opry on the radio. Joined by an all-star string band, Hartford takes us on a musical time trip on his new CD, playing all new material. As time passes, Hartford's fiddle just gets smoother, his banjo picking sweeter, and his voice more distinctive.
The pinnacle of this album is Hartford's ten-minute tribute to Bill Monroe, The Cross-Eyed Child. In it, he tells the story of not only Bill Monroe, but also the effect Monroe's music had on Hartford and all of us.
Good Old Boys represents the dichotomy of John Hartford's music. While traditional in sound, it looks ahead; but it always acknowledges the music that has come before it. As Monroe would say, he comes hither to go yonder.
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All songs written by John Hartford
Edited by Paula Gregorowicz