Old Time music is something I'm passionate about. The raw, down and dirty earthbound rootsy sound of the Southern Mountain region holds a special place in my heart. I loved sharing Old Time music with my friends until I was met with the all too typical criticisms of "It sounds too Old."
Here I thought that was the point.
Old Time is a glimpse into America's musical roots of country, blues, folk and gospel...it pre-dates it all. That said I could never really slip too many albums into the dare I say modern discerning listener's collection. It's tough to get people into this stuff.
Ivan Rosenberg may have solved that problem.
Rosenberg plays his Dobro, resophonic and clawhammer banjo effortlessly on his latest album "Oldies and Old Time" bridging the cultural gap from front porch mason jar guzzling mountain singers with familiar melodies of standards, originals and and even few by Willie Nelson. Rosenberg who hails from the California Bay area and former fixture in the Western Montana bluegrass community now makes his home in Toronto Ontario. Known not only as a recording artist but as a talented engineer for roots musicians, he has also worked in Hollywood where his Dobro skills have graced the soundtracks of big budget films and television. This guy is top shelf. His performances on this disc are subtle, charming and expressive without getting shall we say too earthbound; while at the same time everything he's presented the listener with here is still deeply rooted in early American Old Time musical tradition. I listened to this album over and over again by the fire in my backyard, tapping my toes on the concrete slab like it were the front porch of a smokey mountain cabin and soaking in the frailing five stringed charm of the original "Abject Woodchuck" and a great, breathy parlor styled performance of an Eddy Arnold cover "You Don't Know Me" Ivan refers to this album as an "oddball recording" - I don't hear that. I hear a quiet master tying conflicting genres together into something that appeals to someone that may not be attracted to the the tried and true primitive genius of Old Time music.
This album will not smack you in the face. It's like a strange fabled elixir. Those unaccustomed to the simple elegance of the music here may treat it as bittersweet musical medicine or dismiss it as snake oil. Sure, there's plenty of pop sensibility at play here, but not too much sugar for the soul; just enough. After all - the muddy roots need to keep enough soil and dirt on them to be, well...the roots! Rosenberg has indeed done just that in my opinion - marrying catchy, familiar melodies to history and tradition with fabulous results.
I recommend this to any fan of Tin Pan Alley, Bluegrass and Classic Country. Ideal for front porch rocking (in a chair that is!) or a quiet road trip. Goes perfectly with a cold beer by the fire as well.
Hey, Ivan...oddball recording my ass! This is great stuff!
For more information about Oldies and Old Time and Ivan Rosenberg's music visit the following links :