Marvin Gaster

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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many productions of this nature that have come out of this part of the country, all attempting to create high quality historical documents of old time music.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.

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