Various Artists

American Fogies, Vol. 2

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On the first American Fogies disc, producer Ray Alden gave a glimpse of the range of acoustic traditional music being made in the United States. On the second volume he narrows his focus a little, looking most intently at music made by women and also old-timey music -- with the former members of the seminal New Lost City Ramblers featuring prominently in the latter. Of course, Alden doesn't limit himself exclusively to these two things; like a magpie, he gathers glittering music, like Michael Lightnin' Wells' "Crawling King Snake" with its lovely slide work, or Ralph Blizzard & the New Southern Ramblers. Perhaps surprisingly, a fair bit of the music comes from the Pacific Northwest, with artists like Laurie Andres, Hank Bradley, and Cathie Whitesides. But music knows no boundaries, as West Virginian Elaine Purkey reworks "Wayfaring Stranger" into a moving song about miners shows. So there's old-timey, cowboy songs, sizzling instrumentals ("Kansas City Kitty" from Gretchen Van Houten and Joyce Yoxall is one of the delights of this record), and even a track from the Heartbeats featuring Donna the Buffalo's Tara Nevins. Amazingly, it all fits together with remarkable internal logic, flowing gorgeously from cut to cut until it winds up with contributions from the people who helped revive old-timey music in the '50s, the New Lost City Ramblers. The Tracy Schwarz Cajun Trio hark back to the early, more formal days of bayou music and Mike Seeger offers an object lesson in banjo picking on "Down the Road," while John Cohen, along with daughter Sonya, becomes part of Last Forever on "Dillard Chandler," an interesting variation of "Little Saro." It makes for the perfect conclusion, paying tribute to those who helped ensure that this music, with its varied roots, remained healthy.

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