BCH: Berline, Crary and Hickman - Chambergrass: A Decade of Tunes from the Edges of Bluegrass

Chambergrass
A Decade of Tunes from
the Edges of Bluegrass

BCH: Berline, Crary and Hickman

SUG-CD-3945

Sugar Hill Records
PO Box 55300,
Durham, NC, 27717-5300

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

Over the years, Byron Berline, Dan Crary and John Hickman have worked on a number of different projects together. They've worked as a band, played on each other's albums, and branched out with individual projects.

This release is a retrospective of instrumentals they have recorded together over a ten year period. It successfully captures their energy and musical prowess with a collection of tunes ranging from the traditional (Forked Deer) to the experimental (Storm Over Oklahoma). Even the most traditional offering is played with the graceful style that each player possesses. Often performing without benefit of a bass player, they redefine the traditional roles of their respective instruments to compensate. They do this so effectively that one barely notices which tracks are played with or without bass.

On most tracks it is clear that Berline is the front man. He usually opens and closes the number, and is the first to stray from the basic formula. While each player is a master in his own right, one can hear each person tugging the others along for a musical side trip as tempos change, keys modulate, or melodies alter. A notable exception is their unique twist to Under the Double Eagle, opening with Hickman's blistering banjo, sliding down to 3/4 time when Berline's fiddle comes in, back up-tempo on Crary s turn on the guitar, followed with several staccato strokes from Berline on mandolin. Not since Norman Blake have you heard as inspiring an arrangement of Under the Double Eagle.

While each has gone their separate ways, one cannot help but believe that Berline, Crary and Hickman won't soon find another excuse to get together. One can only hope, but in the meantime, this album is a fond look back.

Selections

  • Forked Deer (traditional)
  • Big Dog (Berline)
  • Fall Creek (Berline)
  • Bonaparte's Retreat (traditional)
  • Pistol Pete (Berline)
  • Fisher's Hornpipe (traditional)
  • Night Run (Crary)
  • Turkey in the Straw (traditional)
  • Under the Double Eagle (PD, composed by Josef Franz Wagner)
  • Henry's Hornpipe (Berline)
  • Early Times (Berline)
  • Storm Over Oklahoma (Berline& Crary)
  • The Dusty Miller (traditional)
  • Old Time Medley (traditional)
  • Cricket (Berline)
Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz

Copyright 2002, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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