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Wild Hog in the Red Brush

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Album Review

John Hartford would just grin crookedly at you if you brought up the subject of virtuosity in his presence. Half the charm of his music is his loopy sense of humor — he often counts a tune in by grunting rhythmically or by singing the title, and his fiddling is always just a hair away from wobbling off the side of the road. But his knowledge of the traditional repertoire is encyclopedic, and he can fiddle in more idioms than most can recognize. On this outing he's joined by banjoist Bob Carlin, guitarist Ronnie McCoury, mandolinist Mike Compton, and bassist Jerry McCoury for a sprawling tour of obscure tunes, a number of which Hartford learned from old recordings by Ohio fiddler Ed Haley. Each track is annotated and pedigreed (sample: "French and Solly Carpenter who were friends of Ed Haley's played this according to Wilson Douglas"). The whole thing's a hoot and a joy, and is recommended strongly.


Born: 30 December 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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Wild Hog in the Red Brush, John Hartford
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