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[Mighty Tobar Productions (2009)]
Peter K Siegel and Eli Smith
Twelve Tunes for Two Banjos
[Banjeau 7001 (2009)]
Derek Krogh, who was a member of Back in the Saddle, a prominent group in the Bay area in the late Seventies, actually began playing the banjo in 1963 but he didn’t release an album of his own until Banjomatic in 2004.
Banjonator, the sequel, leads off conventionally enough with “Cripple Creek” but two tracks later Krogh straps on an electric banjo and, with the support of organ, bass, and drums, offers up “Riptide,” a terrific bluegrass surf music tune. Other tracks that stand out for their originality are “Fandango,” which features a string quartet, and “Pedal to the Metal,” a rockin’ good tune that features ex-Todd Rundgren associate Roger Powell on organ. That still leaves room for several good jams, and a couple of breezy jazz compositions.
Long-time folk music fans will undoubtedly be familiar with Peter K. Siegel, who has produced dozens of fine albums by such artists as Doc Watson, Hazel Dickens, Joseph Spence, along with the recent Friends of Old Time Music box set for Folkways. This album, purportedly the first album ever recorded that’s entirely devoted to the music of two banjos, is the first time Siegel has recorded his banjo playing since he played on Elektra’s Old Time Banjo Project in 1964. Seven of the twelve tracks feature vocals by either Siegel or Smith, the rest being instrumentals. Notwithstanding the double banjo concept, an approach that was popular in old time music of the Twenties, the repertoire itself doesn’t contain too many surprises. “Jesse James,” “Soldier’s Joy,” “John Henry,” and “Sweet Betsy from Pike,” and “Ever See the Devil Uncle Joe?” are among the most well-known tunes.
—Paul E. Comeau (Comeauville, NS, Canada)
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