Spencer and Rains, The Old Man and The Old Woman
Tricia Spencer is a born fiddler. It’s in her blood, having been born to successive generations of fiddlers.Tricia Spencer is well known across the country for her craft. She can fiddle all styles but her specialty these days, and her passion, is Old Time Fiddle. I reviewed her debut album, Fiddlin’ Like There’s No Tomorrow, about a year ago.
Tricia is a non-stop, high energy jammer, always up for a jam. She’s accommodating and patient, but when it’s her turn to take a break, she gets that look, that eye, and she places her soul in her hands and onto the bow and strings. Not long after getting Tricia’s album, I met Howard Rains via this Ezine. Howard is also a born fiddler, coming from a long line of Texas fiddlers. The Old Texas Fiddle is a wonderful collection of Old Time Fiddle tunes that migrated from Scotch-Irish Appalachia to Texas and went through the whole bastardization process resulting in a style all its own, still Old Time, but Texas flavored.
While reviewing Howard’s cd, I noticed Tricia, a Kansan, performing on some of Howard’s tracks. Next I heard, they were planning a recording together. What I didn’t know, love was brewing between the two. Howard told me that by the time he’d finished The Old Texas Fiddle, he and Tricia were very much in love. Two days after this duet recording, The Old Man and The Old Woman,( release date-3/10/2014) was finished, Tricia Spencer and Howard Rains were married. You’ve heard all about matches made in heaven, soul mates finally meeting up in the same life again, the stories go on and on, but you really need to hear this recording to appreciate the truth behind the myth. This is a love story alright, but all romance aside, it’s a rare sampling of two gifted, like minded musicians, forming a symbiotic relationship.
I can go back and listen to each individual recording, then to The Old Man and The Old Woman, and I can’t imagine these two not having performed together since the dawn of mankind…fiddling mankind that is. If their relationship is as rich and together and (pardon me but…) hot as this music, then they might just be another to contribution to the explanation behind global climate change. Howard and Tricia are unselfish with vocals which, by the way, are near sibling, connecting in a way that comes across as timeless. Their voices are similar, soulful and complimentary of each other, very smooth and soothing.
They take turns switching from fiddle to guitar with some bass overdubs here and there. They lay the fiddles down completely on track 2, a danceable country blues tune, “Green Rocky Road”, with Tricia on banjo-uke, and Howard on guitar, both on vocals. The Old Man and The Old Woman came together in just two sessions. It was performed entirely by both, at the 9th Ward Pickin’ Parlor, Lawrence KS, mixed and mastered by Mike Ward, the same genius behind Betse Ellis, High Moon Order.
Both musicians, on their solo albums, included tunings and sources in the liner notes, something that is a big benefit to folks wishing to learn these danceable tunes, since Old Time Fiddle can take one to numerous adventures in cross tunings. They did the same with this album and included an original song each, “Isabella Journey”, written by Tricia, and “Belladonna Waltz” written by Howard. The 2nd track, “Getting Upstairs”, (fit for newlyweds right after the wedding!) features both on fiddles with Howard overdubbing the guitar. Howard says, “This is one of the first tunes Tricia and I played together at Millfest in Kennard TX. It was this tune that I won her heart with.” Well, this tune sure won my ear and I Will be fiddling this tune on the porch this spring! There are so many versions of “Cotton Eye Joe”, track 7, I didn’t get too excited when I saw it on the track list. Now I keep going back to it because it is different from any version I’ve heard, in a very good way, with Tricia on the guitar and Howard fiddling.
You can tell they have a ball with this one. Howard cites Elmo Newcomer, Bandera, TX, for the source, from a Library of Congress recording. The last tune, “Wedding Dress” is a fitting way to wrap up a debut cd by this debut couple. It’s a haunting melody, with spine tingling harmonies.
Generously offering us 17 tracks, The Old Man and The Old Woman is an Old Time Music gem and if you’re an old time music fan and a fan of Old Time Fiddling, this album by Tricia Spencer(Rains) and Howard Rains is a must have for your collection. Howard is also an artist and painted the album cover. You can order this recording and others and read the complete liner notes at www.SpencerAndRains.com