CD-254 Daniel Greeson
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I met Daniel Greeson at the 2010 Old Time Fiddler's Convention in Galax, Va. Prodigious young talent is not an unusual thing to encounter at Galax, but when Daniel launched into a version of Benny Martin's "Two O'Clock," a tune one doesn't readily expect to hear from a thirteen year old, it caught my attention. Hailing from Greensboro, North Carolina, Greeson grew up a bluegrass fan, taking the fiddle up at age six because "it looked the hardest." Nine and a half years developing his talent under the tutelage of legendary North Carolina fiddler J.B. Prince ensued. Today, when not in high school, Daniel can be found making the fiddle look and sound decidedly easier, displaying his talents with North Carolina band Rich in Tradition, as well as the youth bluegrass and old-time project Close Kin.
And now of course, on his eponymously-titled Patuxent Music debut as well. A tour de force of bluegrass fiddle, this collection includes showcase tunes such as "Jerusalem Ridge, "Twinkle Little Star" and Sally Goodin," on which Greeson allows the tune and a tone that belies his youth (think Buddy Pendleton's texture with the sweetness and refinement of Kenny Baker) to carry the day. Mixed in are less obvious choices; Martin's aforementioned "Two O' Clock" makes an appearance, and Frank Maloy's "Magic Melody Reel" is an unexpected roller coaster ride. A twin fiddle relationship with master fiddler Casey Driscoll is forged on a trio of Monroe staples; "The Old Brown County Barn" opens the proceedings and provides a fitting mission-statement for what follows, while an 180 mph, one minute and forty-five second assault on "Roanoke" provides one of the album's finer highlights, and Danny Knicely appropriately offers a third fiddle to a bouncy rendition of "Panhandle Country."
Greeson is supported throughout by a fine group of musicians that imbue this recording with adventurism of spirit while keeping their feet firmly planted in tradition. Guitarist Danny Knicely provides several satisfying flights of fancy, particularly on "Wheel Hoss" and "Snowflake Reel," and his call and response interplay with mandolinist Taylor Baker, most notably on "Big Sandy River," provides some of the album's more entertaining moments. Banjoist Brennen Ernst contributes one of the prettier banjo breaks in recent memory on "Martin's Waltz," while Marshall Wilborn keeps it all in check by being Marshall Wilborn. The result is a perfect backdrop against to shine, and Daniel Greeson doesn't disappoint. - Joseph L. Scott