In his follow-up to Violin, Sing the Blues For Me, Raleigh's Marshall Wyatt reminds us once again of the singular importance held by that instrument, particularly in the vernacular music of the American South. Folks, He Sure Do Pull Some Bow! (a line from "The Memphis Blues," popularized by W.C. Handy) presents the violin in a myriad of marvelous contexts--blues, jazz, stomps, shuffles and rags--from 1927 to 1935, the golden era of 78s, so beloved by collectors of those fragile discs.
It was a time when a harmonica, soprano saxophone, violin and banjo might comprise a band. Or when a coronet, clarinet and trombone could get cozy with a piano, a violin and a washboard. The music was recorded in Chicago and New Orleans ... St. Louis and Louisville ... Charlotte and Shreveport. And it had a significant influence on contemporary music from country to jazz to rock 'n' roll.
Wyatt's liner notes give fascinating insights into what it took to be a musician in that era. There's Will Batts, "who learned to play fiddle at an early age, riding on horseback to country breakdowns." Or Frank Stokes, who, during the Depression, "traveled with circuses and county fairs to add to his meager income as a blacksmith." Wyatt provides some surprises, too: Blues guitar legends Big Bill Broonzy, Lonnie Johnson and Bo Carter also were accomplished fiddlers, and they do service here in groups including The State Street Boys, The Alabama Rascals and The Blue Boys. The 32-page insert of vintage photos, 78 labels and other memorabilia--some from UNC-Chapel Hill's Southern Folklife Collection--is priceless.
Author Peter Guralnick praises this CD's "wonderfully unexpected music." That's a great way of describing a collection of tunes that continually surprises, entertains and makes you want to cut a rug.