Patuxent CD-339 Randy Barrett - Shake, Rattle & Roar
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There are a small handful of banjo players who are adept at bluegrass three-finger picking and clawhammer’s rhythmic downstroke. Randy Barrett is one of those few and he alternates styles beautifully. On Shake, Rattle & Roar, you can hear the color of sound in the varying dynamics and harmonic structures. Randy is a tunesmith and arranger extraordinaire. Influenced by Earl Scruggs, Eric Weissberg and every old time tune he ever heard, Randy’s tone and timing ring true to the possibilities of the five-string banjo. His liquid fingerpicking on “Midnight on the Water” reminds us of the emotion a well-played banjo can evoke. He takes you square dancing on “Tiber Creek.” The depth of the recording comes full circle in the exquisite version of “Walkin’ Boss," which came to the folk world through Clarence Tom Ashley. Randy builds a bluegrass arrangement of this song, adding verses to expand the story line with his rich voice.
You can tell that Randy is not only a player, but he is a listener, which makes him an awesome ensemble leader. And check out the ensemble. Danny Knicely’s mandolin gets as close to the edge of the cliff as it can, never falling off during “Pony Express.” Similarly, Nate Leath has a wild yet curated touch on the fiddle, easily playing old-time, swing or hardcore bluegrass. If you are looking for guitar tone, look no further than Tom McLaughlin. Mark Schatz locks the band together with his inimitable style and some tasty solo work as well.
The entire album is a delight – full of tasty licks that never overpower the ensemble sound. It is music made by people who enjoy making music together. And it’s going to be on my heavy rotation list for a long time.