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Gum Tree Canoe

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Album Review

Hartford's most even Flying Fish album, with equal measures of songwriting whimsy and expert musicianship, Gum Tree Canoe includes a number of tunes that would remain concert staples for the length of his career. From the relaxed stroll of the album's title track to a rendition of Doc Watson's "Your Long Journey" to an original breakneck bluegrass instrumental, "Jug Harris," there's not a clinker to be heard. Hartford's banjo playing is exceptional, as is the accompaniment provided by a host of fine country, bluegrass, and newgrass pickers, Roy Huskey, Jr., Sam Bush, and Jerry Douglas among them. Riverboat tales, an R&B staple, and the Rolling Stones couldn't sound more at home together than they do on this fine album from one of roots music's genuine originals. Flying Fish's remastered CD, issued in 2001, includes two previously unreleased tunes and a short written tribute by Hartford String Band banjo player Bob Carlin.


Born: December 30, 1937 in New York, NY

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

John Hartford remains best known for the country-pop standard "Gentle on My Mind," a major hit for Glen Campbell and subsequently covered by vocalists ranging from Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin. The song remains among the most often recorded in the history of popular music, its copyright netting Hartford well over a hundred thousand dollars annually for many years. But there was more to Hartford than that curious mix of highly literary folk music and MOR romantic nostalgia, told from the perspective...
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