Erynn Marshall is a many times self-professed 'old-time fiddler' and proud of it, and well she should be 'cause the woman has past eras down cold—but also dubs in a rich modern spirit as well, something not so easy to define but definitely omnipresent. Perhaps the fact that Marshall's also an ethnomusicologist and teacher accounts for the pole shift from past to present, that chameleonic ability to make the old of days matter right here and right now, but, whatever it is, Tune Tramp is a plentiful compendium of mostly traditional songs presented with vivacity and often in alternate tunings.
I somehow suspect, Marshall being of the tutelary spirit, that she knows the various definitions of 'tramp' and was grinning as she named her CD, but the title actually comes from Carl Jones, with whom she duets, and refers to a genre of music the fiddler has a special affection for: hobo songs. The spare and lonely but venturesomely lyricked song is invested with sky and clouds, wind blowing the writer and players from place to place yet serene and reconciled to the life of the wandering soul. It's a special kind of music rapidly fading from the music world, I'm afraid.
The generous booklet to this CD shows a plethora of sessioneers (45!—count 'em: 45!), and each cut is commented upon while the disc itself is damn near a double-LP: 20 songs over a full 70 minutes, not one second anything less than captivating. I think, though, that Rambler's Blues captures everything best for me, a cut as drenched in the backwoods Nor'mericana hoot 'n holler and prairie-porch modes ('n, c'mon, Jeeter, ya gots ta admit them thar C'nadians ere every inch as good at this roots music stuff as the best 'Mericanners!) as anything I've heard. So, in closing, I think that…whoa!…hey!, I just realized why Tune Tramp appealed to me the moment I first spun it in the stereo: I get that same warm feeling that David Bromberg's work instills, the sense of far back populist timelessness rooted in the hills, plans, and mountains but brought to city folk all the same, 'cause they deserve it…and need it.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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