Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer - The Bramble and the Rose

The Bramble and the Rose

Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer

Philo CD PH 1055

Rounder Records
One Camp Street
Cambridge, MA 02140

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Allen Price
(al@squirrelheads.com)

Before there was Nanci Griffith, Iris Dement or Gillian Welch, there was Mary McCaslin. Her rich, pure voice could fill a room, backed only by her open-D tuned guitar. She would tell new tales of the old west, or revive a song from the past, like Ghost Riders In The Sky. And the first time I heard Nanci Griffith, Gillian Welch and Iris Dement respectively, it was to Mary McCaslin that they were compared. Fine as they are, Mary McCaslin remains the standard.

Jim Ringer was a folksinger who had known hard times, and even done a little hard time. He had been a prizefighter as a younger man, and worked the fields of California while growing up. His family passed along a rich catalog of traditional American music. He wrote Waitin' For the Hard Times To Go, later a title tune for the Nashville Bluegrass Band.

Together they were the perfect mixture of coarse and smooth; of grit and silk. This album of duets, first released in 1978, has been re-released on CD. It is as much a treasure as it was back then. With songs from both the contemporary and traditional worlds, the songs themselves show the contrast between these two colorful and talented artists. To hear them harmonize on Oh Death can be downright chilling.

With the untimely passing of Jim Ringer in 1992, this album takes on even greater significance. We won't be blessed with the blending of their voices again. At a time when disco was king, and punk was breaking out, along came Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer. They were a musical pairing which was simply meant to be.

Selections

  • Geronimo's Cadillac (Charles Quartro-Michael Martin Murphey) 3:15
  • The Bramble and the Rose (Barbara Keith) 3:15
  • Lonesome Road (Gaither Carlton) 4:15
  • Stages of My Life (Jon Wilcox) 3:00
  • Oh Death (Traditional) 3:18
  • Hit the Road, Jack (Percy Mayfield) 2:09
  • Copperfields (Herb Pedersen) 3:27
  • Mama Lou (Larry Murray) 2:46
  • I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby (Autry Inman) 2:21
  • Strawberry Roan (Bob Simpson) 2:20
  • Canaan's Land (Traditional) 2:18
  • Rank Stranger (Albert Brumley) 3:47

Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz

Copyright 2000, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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