This is one of the best 1930's recordings of true old-timey music available. The thing is, it wasn't recorded in the '30s. It was recorded in 2007. In what one can only describe as an admirable feat, Paul McGowen left the cozy confines of Seattle, where he honed his skills in traditional old-timey music with Northwest bluegrass favorites The Tallboys and on the streets, for the "backwaters" of Arkansas and the roots of the music he obviously loves. He settled in and with Skye McGowen and fiddler Pete Howard formed Shout Lulu, a throwback to the days of barn dances and border radio.
In March, the trio headed into the studios of Curly Miller and Carole Ann Rose, The Old 78s Recording Studio, to record a plethora of old-timey tunes, all steeped in the music of old. The standards are here—Bowling Green, Darling Cora, Old Paint and a handful of others—and there are others not-so-standard—Half-Shaved, Hogeye, Puncheon Camps—all sounding authentic and dated but without the scratchy noise and pops incumbent on original transcriptions.
The assumption here is that all involved in this project are traditional music anthropologists to a degree. Each song seems to have been well researched (a source or sources are given for each track) and studied before being committed to recording. Miller and Rose add their bits (Rose plays a Custom Built Banjo Guitar, which is a guitar tuned a whole step lower than a guitar and has a banjo twanger string—how cool is that?) and Skye even breaks out her "shuffleboard" on the odd track, pounding out rhythms with her feet (complete with wooden taps). If these guys were teachers, they'd have students clogging from class to class. It's plain fun.
It comes to mind that a few record labels have made it a point to make some of the old recordings available by the likes of Gid Tanner and his Skillet Lickers and J. E. Mainer's Mountaineers: Rounder and County to name only a couple. Well, sometimes it's about the music and sometimes it's about the money and sometimes, like this time, it goes way beyond that. It may be just what it is, but damn, man, what it is!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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