“Fat Man & Little Boy: the Atomic Duo,” is the latest project from Bad Livers founder Mark Rubin featuring the hot mandolin and plaintive vocals of young Silas Lowe. This release marks Rubin’s first foray into American folk music since the last Bad Livers CD almost a decade ago, and is the first recording he has made as a singer and guitarist. Inspired by the great “Brother” vocal duets and string bands of the Depression era and formed on a dare, Rubin and Lowe have in a very short time risen to the vanguard of the emerging re-interest in acoustic roots Americana in their home of Austin TX.
Recorded live and without overdubs in the course of 3 hours on lovely spring afternoon, their new CD features instrumental rags and waltzes, breakdowns, blues and ballads marked by hot picking and tight vocal harmonies that harkens back to the rough and ready sounds of both urban and rural songsters. It was a common interest, nay obsession with, pioneer Texas musical acts like the Dallas String Band, the East Texas Serenaders, western swing crooner Floyd Tillman and others that brought Rubin and Lowe together initially. Playing a guitar and mandolin graciously provided the National Resophonic Guitar Company; they are most comfortable performing entirely acoustically, without microphones, much in the same way their musical forefathers found perfectly acceptable.
And unlike many acts today mining a similar vein, they strive to present their music devoid of hokey trappings of nostalgia, infusing the wise old parables of American Song with the intimacy and urgency of the modern era. Relying on material whose content speaks to the ages, they include in their live sets numbers penned by contemporary songwriters, many of whom they known personally and have worked with such as Don Walser, Danny Barnes, Steve James and others.