Dutch Cove Old Time String Band

Sycamore Tea

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This is a family band performing old-time music with an emphasis on instrumentals. Although individual virtuosity often does come into play in this genre of music, there is also a tradition of old-time bands in which the players concentrate more on a group sound, without any individual's playing standing out as particularly flashy or intense. The latter is the case with this group, and in general it is an approach that works very well with the presentation of these types of tunes. A major difference between this type of project and an actual old-time recording from the '20s and '30s would be the subject of bass, both the instrument itself and the added amount of presence bass tones have on the technologically advanced recordings of a later era. There are old-time music purists who would practically wince at the basslines played by Cyndi Smathers, but to other ears it will be a pleasing sound, not necessarily an improvement over the real old-time sound, but musically defensible all the way down to the last plunk. What really makes it all work in the end is the fact that it is heartfelt, an essential quality in any old-time music. The type of interplay and communication skills members of the same family can demonstrate in a musical setting are also part of the success, although that it is not saying that these folks were able to agree on where to eat out for dinner when the sessions were over. The Smathers family throws several original tunes written in the old-time style into the program, and these are winners, particularly the moving "Uncle Turner's Waltz," written for the family member who apparently brought the first fiddle into the house.

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