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Uncle Henry's Favorites

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Album Review

North Carolina has always been a hub of old-time musical activity, although over the years the action has switched from the hills to the campuses back to the hills again. Banjo and fiddle player Marvin Gaster has been around the whole time, and plays in a historic style that largely vanished once players started sticking picks on their fingers and going progressive in the '50s. There have been many productions of this nature that have come out of this part of the country, all attempting to create high quality historical documents of old time music. From the Red Clay Ramblers to the Hollow Rock String Band, this is certainly one of the best. Every aspect of this production is top notch. The packaging includes a wonderful booklet that includes a short-story length biography, as well as really extensive information on each track. Musically, Gaster is a gas, and he certainly was in good hands here. Producer Bob Carlin is also one of the great old time banjo players of the new generation. He treats this project with love and respect, also playing guitar on some of the tracks. It was a wise decision to mix the band up. There are some of Gaster's senior cohorts, such as harmonica player Wade Yates, who passed on shortly after these sessions. The younger crowd is also on hand, with players such as guitarist Beth Hartness and guitarist and fiddler Robert Mitchener making nice contributions. A hefty two dozen tracks are presented, meaning, on top of everything else that is grand about this collection, it also serves as a one-stop archive of a particular type of material. Bravo, bravo to everyone involved.


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s

North Carolina's Marvin Gaster is a rare individual who has been part of two vastly different scenes in the ongoing drama of Appalachian music. He plowed behind a mule, and played music as entertainment at parties or other social events that allowed the hard working folk to unwind. He also studied for a history degree at UNC-Chapel Hill in the '70s, when there was more old-time music being played on that campus than anywhere back in the hills. And in his middle ages he has taken part in such modern...
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