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Tony Williamson - Sessions at McBane Mill

Sessions at McBane Mill

Tony Williamson

Bonf 8003

Bonfire Records
1130 Cherry Lane
Graham, North Carolina 27253

A review written for Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Jim Zimmerschied

Like the old mill were the recording was made with its thick wooden walls for a sound studio, Tony Williamson and friends make their acoustic music seem alive and natural. Williamson is a virtuoso of the mandolin and variations there-of. The tunes on this disc are beautiful and rich. There are a number of familiar tunes as well as some new ones. The familiar ones are performed with creativity so they don't seem time worn. The new tunes are tasteful like the setting at the McBane Mill.

The ensemble is made up of Williamson on mandolin, Jeff Autry on acoustic guitar, Robbie Link on bass and Rex McGee on fiddle and banjo. The music is a mix of swing, soft bluegrass, jazz and easy listening. All of the music is played relaxed but precisely. The CD jacket describes the efforts put in by the sound producer Brent Lambert. This was no studio knock off. The sound techniques produced a natural, open sound that immerses you in the sound but doesn't drown you in it.

The tunes include Crazy Creek and a version of June Apple that starts out drifting along and ends in a whirl. Swing tunes include Spanish Eyes and several of the group's own composition. John Coltrane's Mr. PC is jazzy but who can define jazz? My personal favorite is a waltz called The First Waltz of Spring. On this one, Mr. McGee plays some terrific, almost classical, fiddle. All of the musicians are outstanding and the interplay is well woven. The players meshed so well that, according to the liner notes, there were not a lot of takes required. The guitar and banjo work are great but not showoff or dominating. There is even a nice bass solo at the beginning of Mother's Day for the bassists who never get recognized.

Tony Williamson contributed four tunes to the sessions. Postcard from the Island starts out almost classical and then develops a swing that draws you in. It is so good that they end the set with it in Postcard Reprise.

The complete tune list is:

  • Crazy Creek - traditional
  • Blue Heels - Autry
  • First Waltz of Spring - McGee
  • Wild Julio - Williamson
  • Postcard from the Island - Williamson
  • June Apple - traditional
  • Spanish Eyes - traditional
  • Mother's Day - Link
  • Now is the Time -Charlie Parker
  • Sunrise on the Water - Williamson
  • Mr. PC - John Coltrane
  • Postcard Reprise - Williamson

You will probably have to hunt for this album or contact the website to find it. But it will be worth the effort.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2003, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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