Annie Lou is Anne Louise Genest, and the title alone to Grandma's Rules for Drinking, one of the all-time great CD placards, tells you one of two things: either you're in for a hellacious, roustabout, sod-encrusted, tongue-roughly-in-cheek cycle of ribald tales or else an endearing set of Mayberry tracks marking the quirks and humanities of rurality far more closely and much more warmly than the usual cynics, wastrels, and snarkosauruses dare venture. Hey, I loves me my Voltaire and Bill Hicks, but even we bastard critics needs us some fresh air and sunshine every so often, and Ms. Genest cleaves closely to Garrison Keillor and Mark Twain, and Lord knows we can always use a sharp eye leavened by a warm heart.
In fact, the penchant for lop-sided gentle grinnery begins right away in The Plaid Parade, as we learn of locals like Nellie Lewis, a kindly old ginnie who always bestows a kiss on the forehead of the young narrator on her way to school. Of course, it's also necessary to git jes' a bit adamant ever' now 'n then, and so Get Your Leg off Mine pops up to put a few brazen malingerers and maladroits in their place…and in an impeccable Appalachian voice and vivacity to boot. In fact, the entire Grandma's Rules disc is down-home rootsy and Mt. Pilot zesty, with John Showman's amiable talkity fiddle and Kim Barlow's perambulating banjo dancing a jig here, there, atop the table, on the porch, and down the lane.
Speaking of jigs and reels, square dancing, and maybe even clogging, Belvedere Hotel is an instrumental and the sort of thing to set Saint Pat and the leprechauns to fancy footwork amid a hoot 'r two. Annie plays guitar and sings in a soothing refreshing voice, even tackles the banjo on one cut, and writes everything 'ceptin' that one trad tune (Leg), and, hooo-ee!, she sure knows how to pen a nifty set of staves. And, yep, Granny does indeed have rules for drinking—sensible ones, too!—but you're going to have to lay hold of the CD to find out what they are, 'cause I ain't tellin'. Just make your way past the letter perfect cover and design work by Brian Kobayakawa, take Annie up on her 'dare ya to bike race to the General Store' smile on the inside photo, and dig in.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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