I gotta admit to a little trepidation when I ordered this - just how would I feel about one of my favourite artists paying homage to a banjo player whom I had never heard of?
Well, one spin of two packed disks on the CD player and I'm absolutely enthralled. Loudon, the assembled masses of the Wainwright / McGarrigle / Roche dynasty and Dick Cornette have pulled together an exquisite mixture of songs that Charlie Poole played in his short career and some new songs written about Poole or from his point of view. There's able assistance from others also such as David Mansfield and Chaim Tannenbaum who will be well known to Wainwright fans.
There's a real sense of respect for Charlie Poole and his music on these recordings. The old songs are wonderful - and sound fresh today almost 80 years after Poole's passing. There's a clear insight into a strong influence that Poole's kinda music had on Loudon's own career. And for an Irishman, there's a clear insight into the links between the folk music of the US and the traditional music that he Irish emigrants brought with them to new lands.
It's almost impossible to pick highlights - Old and Only in the Way could have been written by someone from this generation; it's followed by an amazing traditional instrumental Ragtime Annie. And High Wide and Handsome is a new Loudon song that I reckon hits the spot for him and for Charlie Poole's ghost.
A final word about the whole package - the 2 CDs are accompanied by a fascinating booklet on the project, Poole himself and the songs. All in all, this is a piece of work that everybody that was involved in can be proud of.The Jimmies