Saturday, December 03, 2022

The Wayfarers: Appalachian roots music from Southeastern Ohio

If you've been following this blog for a while, you know that my taste in music is wide ranging. It includes pre-baroque through contemporary "classical"* music, all kinds of jazz, folk (American, English, Irish, and Scottish), blues, R&B, soul, country, Cajun, rockabilly, calypso, surf, British invasion, punk, psychedelica, reggae, '70s and '80s rock, and (yes) hip-hop.

One style of music of which I've long been fond is "old time" or "roots" music, including its predecessors and offsprings Appalachian, bluegrass, hillbilly, honky-tonk, and recently "Americana", formerly "folk rock", which combines rock and traditional country styles, and which has its origins in Bob Dylan, the Byrds, and in Gram Parsons' Cosmic American Music, A few days ago I was introduced to the music of The Wayfarers, a young (at least from my perspective) band whose "style encompasses Appalachian dance music, traditional mountain fiddle tunes, and pre-bluegrass music of the 1920's - resulting in a dose of nostalgic Americana." The group includes Josh Hartman on guitar, Brandon Bankes on mandolin, Matt Opachick on fiddle, Justin Rayner on banjo, and Nathan Zangmeister on washtub bass.

In the video above they play two very lively fiddle tunes, "Angeline the Baker" and the enchantingly titled "Sal's Got Mud Between Her Toes". It's 3:34 of sheer joy. 

 * I put "classical" in scare quotes because I've long wondered what to call music composed in our times that is played to audiences in places like David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center. I asked my friend, the composer Theodore Wiprud, what music he and his contemporaries are making today is called. How can you call contemporary music "classical"? Ted said some call it "symphonic", but noted that much of it is made for small chamber groups or for solo instrumentation. I've also seen it called "serious" music, but I wouldn't want to be the one to tell Wynton Marsalis that jazz (or tell Mick Jagger that rock) isn't "serious." Same for "artistic." I'm left with "music I enjoy that doesn't fit any other category."