Personnel: Isak Howell (vocals, guitar); Mike Gangloff (vocals, banjo, fiddle); Nathan Bowles (vocals, banjo, washboard); Sally Anne Morgan (vocals, fiddle); Joseph Derjarnette (vocals).
Audio Mixer: Jason Meagher.
Recording information: Tupelo, Floyd County, VA (01/2012).
There are three ways to have the music of the old-time Appalachian mountain string bands in the 21st century. The first, and best, is to listen to these wild and woolly bands themselves, since the music is readily available in its original form, drawn from old 78s and field recordings, in a digital platform, if one cares to look for it. The second is to have a current band of musicians enthused by the music re-create it in facsimile form, matching style for style, and plenty of 21st century string bands have done that, essentially cloning and freezing it in amber. The third possibility is to take the template of the old string bands and use it as a springboard for expanded versions in a new century, drawing from the form rather than simply re-creating it. This third path is the one the Black Twig Pickers have taken, and the group's recordings have all the wild and crazily pitched turns and drones of those old string bands translated forward. This is a group that seems to remember that the old-time music was essentially a dance music, and the long fiddle breaks and reels aren't all that different than an electronically driven trance dance beat, full of drones and wobbles, and all there to get folks to dance and have a good time. Rough Carpenters is a wonderful mix of that notion and a sweet and grateful kiss to the past, a thing that is much more difficult to do than it sounds. Welcome to 21st century Appalachian string band music. It hasn't changed that much. It doesn't have to, because it still works fine. ~ Steve Leggett