I've been a fan of Erynn Marshall's fiddling from way back when she was living on Vancouver Island in British Columbia and collaborating with the great Canadian clawhammer banjo player Chris Coole and the great stringband The Haints with Pharis & Jason Romero. Since then she's moved out to Appalachia to work at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, VA. Making her home there, she married the esteemed old-time guitarist/mandolinist and singer Carl Jones, and has continued to make some of the best Appalachian old-time music in North America. Her new album, Greasy Creek, is one of her best yet, a beautifully intimate recording of deep drone fiddling inspired not only by the elder fiddlers she learned from (Erynn worked at the Berea College's archive of Appalachian music and wrote a book on West Virginia fiddlers), but also her travels and the musicians' she's met these days on the road. All of the tunes on the new album are traditional, which might not come as such a surprise these days. Indeed, I've got a stack at my house of recent albums from fiddlers that feature original tunes, but the problem is that it's no small feat to create a new tune in an old tradition that sounds like it fits. And not only that, but sounds so great that other traditional musicians are dying to learn it and pass it on. The last tune that went around like that that I can remember was "Obama's March to the White House" from The Canote Brothers. Yet here, a goodly chunk of the tunes ("Redtail" and "Rory's Tune" especially) on the album made me twitchily want to grab my fiddle to try them out. If you didn't know the tunes were all original, I'd challenge most old-time fiddle heads to proclaim this on their own. Each tune sounds like it comes from an old source, and I have no doubt that I'll be hearing some of these tunes a few years down the line or more at old-time sessions.
Erynn's joined here by husband Carl Jones, as well as renowned clawhammer banjo players Adam Hurt and Bob Carlin, plus bassist Joe Dejarnette and best-kept Galax secret Eddie Bond, an amazing powerhouse fiddler in his own right. Greasy Creek is more than a tribute to these old traditions, it's an attempt to create something new and compelling to inspire players today. And it works!