You'll forgive me if while listening to this, I can't get the Prairie Home Companion out of my head. After each track, I expect Garrison Keillor to break in, welcoming Mustard's Retreat to Lake Wobegone or sliding into a segue to another scene related to the program. But Keillor never does and the folkie and sometimes goofy blues and roots music rides from track to track marred only by the occasional applause and laughter. This is interesting stuff, partially because many of these songs were saved from perdition, uncovered only recently and until then, forgotten. Or maybe I should say, temporarily misplaced.
Half of the tracks are from the WFBE days, when David Tamulevitch and Michael Hough hosted The Mustard's Retreat Show on that public radio station. Some are from shows at The Ark in Ann Arbor, one of the group's favorite haunts, and three are singular performances. One of those is a song from the first studio sessions they recorded in 1976 with Libby Glover. Yes, they were once a trio, but who could blame Libby for moving on after sharing the stage with two cutups resembling an NPR-versioned Smothers Brothers. If she had been alongside Tommy and Dickie, the results would have been the same.
The songs are light, airy and sometimes downright funny and one can only imagine what went on between them. If it fit the music, the repartee had to have been humorous at the least.
The music and musicianship are pretty impressive as well. Mostly it's just David on guitar and/or harmonica and Michael on the bass, but it's enough. They sing well together and the choice of songs makes sure things don't get too complicated. No more complicated than, say, The Kingston Trio at the Hungry I or any of the myriad of folkies who have filled Keillor's dance card at the week's end. In fact, they do have some of that Kingston Trio magic about them on a few of the tracks and it is very refreshing to hear.
What Mustard's Retreat has here are unfettered live performances from their peak years. There was a reason their radio show garnered the response that it did. It was fun. It was good. And that's entertainment.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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