Riley Baugus – Long Steel Rail
In his formative years, highly-regarded, old-time musician Riley Baugus often played with and learned from elders of the tradition in North Carolina and Virginia. Earnest study - and total immersion in the wealth of knowledge available to him by virtue of being an insider from the region - gave Baugus access to experience that positioned the North Carolina native as standard-bearer and direct link between the art's pre-commercial beginnings and today. On Long Steel Rail, Baugus continues to embrace his role in this lineage: singing, fiddling, and playing banjo with absolute love and respect for the humanity and tradition that brings music into his life. Produced by Tim O'Brien and Dirk Powell.
1. Long Steel Rail - 3:11 2. June Apple - 3:56 3. What Are They Doing in Heaven - 4:12 4. Sail Away Ladies - 2:13 5. Rove Riley Rove - 2:50 6. Wandering Boy - 3:43 7. Boll Weevil - 3:00 8. Old John Henry - 3:20 9. Willow Tree - 3:26 10. George Collins - 3:22 11. I'm Troubled - 2:55 12. No Corn on Tygart - 2:36 13. Lonesome Road Blues - 3:36 14. Now Is the Cool of the Day - 3:35
Riley Baugus (vocals, banjo) , Tim O'Brien (vocals, guitar, mandolin) , Dirk Powell (guitar, fiddle) , Tony Davoren (bouzouki) , Joe Thrift (fiddle).
1. AllMusic - Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
Fiddler and banjoist Riley Baugus traffics in old-timey music, a genre older, and some say, purer, than bluegrass. Long Steel Rail, then, is an album filled with traditional songs performed and sung in a traditional manner. Baugus' vocals carry an old country flavor that makes him a worthy interpreter of old warhorses like "Sail Away Ladies" and the title track, while the stripped-down arrangements complement the material. The only criticism one might offer of Long Steel Rail is that the production is a bit smooth for old-timey, meaning that the album has a lot more ambience (and a little less authenticity) than one might find on a Jean Ritchie album. Be that as it may, only hardcore enthusiasts will notice. Two names that show up again and again on the album's credits are Tim O'Brien and Dirk Powell, and one gains the impression that the project meant a lot to both performers. Long Steel Rail, in fact, isn't unlike a Dirk Powell album, though Baugus' rougher vocal style seems to have been drawn deeper from the well of tradition. One imagines that there isn't a big audience for old-timey music, say, compared to contemporary bluegrass, so it's nice that labels like Sugar Hill remain dedicated to a variety of traditional music styles. Baugus' Long Steel Rail will be warmly embraced by old-timey fans.