2014 album. Bluegrass.
Hailing from The Netherlands, bluegrass band The Oldtime Stringband’s repertoire is well rooted in bluegrass traditions - inspired by the genre’s origins from the early Scottish and Irish folk music and American folk music from the 1940’s - but also showcasing the band’s endless creativity by delivering an “Old Time” feel to more recent songs.
The Band: Shelly O’Day: Guitar, autoharp, Cajun-triangle. Ton Knol: Guitar, mandolin. Ruud Spil: Banjo. Nico Keereweer & Nout Grupstra: Fiddle. Nico Druijf: Upright bass, singing saw, originally got together in 2011 specifically to provide musical accompaniment to a documentary about the Dutch cow-painter Ruud Spil. Both the musicians and the audience enjoyed it so much that the band started what the fivesome called “a stampede of interest”, resulting in the collective self-producing their first album ‘Gotta Quit Kickin’ My Dog Around’ 2012.
On their second album ‘Chicken Crows For Day’, rather than the obvious or the corny, the band engage the listener with breadth of their knowledge of deep traditional bluegrass tunes coupled with the bands own original penned tracks, including a great song about the youth of singer Shelly who grew up in California. And surprisingly as band member Nico Druijf explains the album was “recorded live in the studio in one day, standing in a circle, playing and having fun.”
The album includes 15 cracking tracks including “Sandy Boys”, which is a great old-timey tune associated with the playing of a renowned fiddler from West Virginia, Edden Hammons albeit its origins are probably in the minstrel shows of the 19th century. There’s an old Cajun waltz called “La Valse de la Belle”, “The Blackest Crow” which dates to just after the American Civil War of the 1860s and “Goodbye Old Paint”, supposedly written by black cowboy Charley Willis and The Oldtime Stringbands' version of “High Sierra”, most famously covered by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt on their ‘Trio II’ album from 1999, plus the bands interpretation of Neil Young’s “Dance, Dance, Dance” adding a bit of Cajun spice to the mix. The closing track on the album is “Pretty Saro”, an English folk ballad which has a long history dating back to the 1700’s which Bob Dylan covered in 1970 for his ‘Self Portrait’ album but it wasn’t released until 2013 on one of his ‘Bootleg Series’ Volumes.
All in all ‘Chicken Crows For Day’ is an album that is as diverse as it is captivating one which rightly received acclaim in magazines and online publications.