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The Legacy of Tommy Jarrell, Vol. 1: Sail Away Ladies

Tommy Jarrell

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Album Review

Any label could rest on its laurels having released only one album such as this, a collection of fiddle solos with occasional vocal interludes that hardly sound anything like a smooth Nashville country singer, to put it mildly. Yet this music is the source of so much bluegrass and country, and much more. It is a kind of playing that reaches a state that would be somewhere over the rainbow, well beyond the reaches of a typical Nashville record or a slick set by a bluegrass group at a festival. This music is also a dialogue with and about nature. One moment Jarrell is a man, the next he is speaking in the voice of a rooster or a dog, like some kind of Chinese chen player. He is photographed sitting on a chair in some backyard or farm, and these are definitely outdoor sounds, like so much vintage old time music. Jarrell's fiddle rings with numerous overtones as if notes were bouncing off nearby foothills. It almost feels as if his each of his four strings is a different instrument, and one of them is definitely a set of bagpipes. The label provides a great deal of interesting written material including fiddle tunings and backgrounds on each song. In this type of material the concept of authorship is that the performer starts out with traditional material, but once a certain amount of his own flourishes are added it is considered to be his own composition or version of the song.

Biography

Born: 01 March 1901 in Mount Airy, NC

Genre: Country

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

The old-timey sounds of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina were preserved through the recordings of fiddler, banjo player, and vocalist Tommy Jarrell. Although Jarrell didn't begin recording until his retirement from the North Carolina Highway Department in 1966, his nine albums...
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