Since Martin Garrish seems happy to reside on Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, he may never reach a large audience. This, however, doesn't negate his ability as a guitarist, or his power to deliver a down-home folk song on Ocracoke Favorites, Vo. 1. Like Norman Blake, it's Garrish's off-the-cuff manner of playing and singing that endears him to listeners. Tuning into versions of "Are You From Dixie" and Jimmy Rogers' "Waiting for a Train" isn't much different than catching a singer at an out-of-the-way coffee house, or, if one resides in the country, a neighbor's back porch. The material here is eclectic, from folk revival favorites like "Unfortunate Man," to traditional pieces like the "Wabash Cannonball," to the Gene Autry favorite "Silver Haired Daddy." The only downside to this collection is that Garrish sticks to the basics when it comes to his guitar playing. Perhaps fancy guitar work would have been out of place on cuts like "I Had but 50 Cents" and "Jimmy Brown," but an instrumental or two would've been nice. A couple songs, "Graveyard of the Atlantic" and "Sail On Sailor," add a purely local flavor to Ocracoke Favorites, Vo. 1. Fans of down-to-earth folk music that evokes an older tradition will enjoy Garrish's disc.
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