Bill Cagley

Friends in Music

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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

Ten years after Bill Cagley, Bob Black, Tom Schaefer, and Sandy Njoes joined forces on Hot Pickin' and Cool Tunes, Friends in Music picks up the lost thread and, as incredible as it may seem, the musicians only rehearsed these old-time instrumentals for one day before entering the studio to record them. Their session delivered 14 fresh, sparkling tunes, from well-known pieces like "East Tennessee Blues" to lesser-known jewels like "Chinquapin." Everyone shares equal billing in this partnership. Cagley handles most of the guitar work and he's a fine flat-picker, while Black divides his time between the banjo and five-string resonator guitar. Njoes' bass work provides a steady underpinning for the boys, and Schaefer's fiddle adds a glossy sheen. Since there are no vocals, there's plenty of room on pieces like "Chickadee Waltz" and "Cherokee Shuffle" for these players to strut their stuff. And while the band is clearly founded in old-time string band music, the musicians don't shy away from soloing. Nonetheless, Cagley, Black, Schaefer, and Njoes proceed at a deliberate pace, guaranteeing that the music respects its original sources. For those who've been waiting ten long years, the wait is over. For those whose memory doesn't stretch back that far, Friends in Music will serve as a fine introduction to this sprightly string quartet.

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