Patuxent CD-312 Tom Mindte & Mason Via
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A dozen dynamic duets from Tom Mindte and Mason Via – an eclectic blend of experience and exuberance…..
Mindte is a seasoned, flexible vocalist with enviable mastery of the mandolin and a repertoire that ranges across a multitude of musical genres. Via is a new exciting voice on the scene, combining his Southern musical heritage with a rage for exploring new musical creations and fluid finger work on the guitar. The match-up is nothing short of fine.
Supporting Via and Mindte throughout is Ben Somerville on bass. Sparkling solo additions feature five musicians all notable in their own right: Rob Benzing on bluegrass banjo (Heed this Advice), Brennen Ernst on piano (I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday), Victor Furtado on old time banjo and Nate Leath on fiddle (Rockingham Cindy), and Donnie “Dobro” Scott (Run and Hide).
Mindte and Via trade off on lead and harmony singing, each of them equally able to growl out a low line or wail a high tenor. Even though theirs is a recent link, they sing together like they’ve always done that. Such is their shared timing that you can almost see their voices meeting in midair with no space in between. On every number they offer guitar and mandolin breaks that can be soothing, closely matching the material, or surprising and even a little scary when they break free of all restraint for a few manic bars.
The songs here move from the danceable Rockingham Cindy to the tragic tale of The Drunken Driver. Frustrated love is highlighted in the traditional ballad Midnight on the Stormy Deep and the bluesy Girl I Love Don’t Pay Me No Mind. Mindte displays emotional depths by first reverencing the lyrics of nostalgic favorite Little Moses, then oozing sarcasm in his rendition of Best Female Actress. The duo cuts loose on fast tracks I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday and Run and Hide. Via presents two numbers for this production that showcase his gifts as a songwriter: Heed This Advice warns “there’s crooked and evil creatures in this world”; Love in My Heart is a frazzled lament – “All I want to do is scream, got love bursting from the seams.” Two gospel numbers, I Am the Man and Looking for the Stone, are standouts – Mindte’s close harmonies and fast fugues following along with Via’s drive and sincerity on the lead make for a fusion that sounds positively righteous.
-- Barbara Scott