Patuxent CD-369 Stephen Wade - Hands on the Tune
Buy and Download >
An impassioned banjoist, a nimbly authoritative clog dancer, a soulful singer of folk music and an enthralling tall tale raconteur … a wondrous artist, this Stephen Wade. – TIME MAGAZINE
Hands on the Tune
On this live concert album recorded in 2017 and 2022, Stephen Wade draws from songs, melodies, and styles rooted in Southeastern folk tradition. Based on a lifetime of personal contact with exemplars of this music, his performances attest to a welcome truth: that individuals adapting a traditional tune can renew a shared repertory. These performances feature a variety of five-string banjos—open back, resonator, a wooden-hooped mountain design, a gourd, and a Civil War-era fretless—as well as guitar. In addition to solos, Stephen is joined by multi-instrumentalist Zan McLeod and Dobro-player Russ Hooper. This collection, equally divided among old favorites, new interpretations, and numbers he has never previously recorded, forms a companion to Stephen’s forthcoming book, Our Common Life: Folklore from the Front Porch to the Concert Hall (University of Illinois Press). 72-minutes with illustrated booklet.
A 2013 Grammy nominee, Stephen Wade is the author of the prize-winning book The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience. Prior to that work he edited and annotated A Treasury of Library of Congress Field Recordings (Rounder, 1997), and for a decade wrote and narrated a series of occasional song studies for NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition. He founded and directed all five years of the American Roots Music Program at Rocky Ridge Music Center in Estes Park, Colorado. On Labor Day 1979 he performed for President Carter at the White House. This invitation stemmed from his one-person theater piece, Banjo Dancing, which, over the course of its eighteen-years, became one of the five longest-running, off-Broadway stage shows in the United States.
For the Patuxent label he previously recorded A Storyteller’s Story: Sources of Banjo Dancing (2019) and Americana Concert: Alan Jabbour and Stephen Wade at the Library of Congress. (2017). He also appears on the Patuxent Banjo Project: The Best of Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD., and Southern PA (2014).
Over the course of Stephen Wade’s half-century career as a musician, performer, educator, and author, critical reception to his work has remained consistent. “Throughout, the eclectic virtuosity and unending joy of Stephen Wade's playing and voice ties it all together, never failing to entertain while enlightening,” commented Bluegrass Unlimited in May 2020. In 1979, the Wall Street Journal called him, “A man of rare ability; a one-of-a-kind all-American original.” In the early 1990s, The Times of London said, “Wade is a phenomenon, a curly-haired, gentle voiced enthusiast in a crumpled suit … nor is he sentimental: just in love with his old banjo and all those sad, sardonic, stories he can tell to it.” The lead critic in the San Francisco Examiner concurred: “He’s a kind of people’s court jester, an archivist who puts us at ease with our folk heritage, making us feel at home with the tales and melodies he’s collected as if they were our personal heirlooms. He is, in a way, a walking, talking banjo himself.”