Tom, Brad & Alice

We'll Die in the Pig Pen Fighting

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We'll Die in the Pig Pen Fighting Review

by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

On their third outing, Tom, Brad & Alice play down the vocals in favor of a number of skillful, old-timey instrumental workouts. The unusual title, We'll Die in the Pig Pen Fighting, evokes the robust spirit in which the trio approach these tunes. Banjoist Tom Sauber, guitarist Alice Gerrard, and fiddler Brad Leftwich join forces on 18 tracks, covering everything from fiddle tunes to waltzes to the blues. The opener, "Five Miles From Town," gives the listener a clue of what to expect. The band plays as one, with the fiddle carrying the melody, the guitar holding down the rhythm, and the banjo propelling the music forward. Infectious tunes like "Coal Creek March," "Arnold Van Pelt's Tune," and "Possum up a Gum Stump" seem tailor-made for dancing. Only a song or two waver from this course. Sauber offers a bluesy take on "Greasy Coat," complete with haunting, finger-style guitar. The spare singing that does occur on "Rattler Treed a Possum" and the title cut seem less like vocals than curious interruptions on instrumental pieces. It should also be noted that this string band music never threatens to overwhelm the listener with the noisy raucousness of bands like the Skillet Lickers. Instead, Tom, Brad & Alice deliver good, down-home music filled with energy and lacking in pretension. We'll Die in the Pig Pen Fighting will delight fans of old-timey instrumental music.

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