Various Artists

Folksongs of Illinois #2: Fiddlers

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The first volume of the Folksongs of Illinois series included songs from all styles and eras of folk music produced by the state. The second one, however, showcases Illinois folk music that features fiddlers, and therefore has narrower and more specialized appeal. Still, although the music is less varied than on the first volume, there obviously were pains taken to ensure more variety than many listeners would expect out of a compilation such as this. There's some of the Appalachian-style folk that many would associate most strongly with folk music in which the fiddle's prominent. But there are also recordings -- stretching all the way back to the 1920s, and all the way up to shortly before this 2007 release -- that draw from genres associated with the African-American, Polish, Mexican-American, and Irish heritages of the performers. Jazz influences are heard as well, particularly on "Gotta Go" by Eddie South, who did some duets with Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt. There's even a well-known performer, Alison Krauss (represented by a track from a 1989 album), though otherwise the artists will be recognized only by some collectors and folklorists. Paul Tyler's liner notes in the 28-page booklet give extensive background about the evolution of fiddle music in Illinois and its sociological/historical context, as well as detailed track-by-track descriptions.

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