The Lonesome Ace Stringband. Old Time
Well, this one’s no surprise, seeing as how it features two of Canada’s biggest old-time rabble rousers: Chris Coole and John Showman. Coole’s one of the best old-time banjo players and has been mentoring other bands in his hometown of Toronto, as well as playing in an ass-kicking vintage bluegrass band, The Foggy Hogtown Boys, and cutting subtle, ethereal albums of spaced-out old-time banjo and dobro (or double banjo) duets with new Toronto resident Ivan Rosenberg. John Showman is the wild-eyed frontman in Canadian roots shit-kickers New Country Rehab. He’s accustomed to spinning these old-time tunes into extended jams onstage that pump hard enough to drive him into the audience fiddling away. Together with the driving country bass of Max Heineman from the Foggy Hogtown Boys, The Lonesome Ace Stringband tear through a spate of originals from the likes of Bruce Molsky, Roscoe Holcomb, The Hammonds Family, Art Stamper, Lily May Ledford and more, plus an opening original from Showman. The key here is not that they’re blowing up the form of old-time, but rather that they’ve crammed so much great energy into this music that it’s starting to burst at the seams. Showman’s fiddling can’t be constrained to the exact rhythms of specific Appalachian fiddlers, but keeps spilling out with excitement and racing off the track, snuffling along a dusty path through the backwoods around the track. Coole voice, likewise, is hard to constrain, pumping out lifeblood into the music and pushing past the dead-pan ballad style of many old-time singers. This album was made in two days and it sounds like it, in the best way. Each of these players is so good you’ve got to imagine there weren’t many extra takes and no need to leave anything on the cutting room floor. In some ways, this album feels like a victory lap for everyone involved after the success of all their other separate projects.