Thursday, November 05, 2015

The Ragpicker String Band

I am familiar with the marvelous mandolinist Rich DelGrosso, and Guitarist Mary Flower, but not with multi-instrumentalist Martin Grosswendt. Together they constitute The Ragpicker String Band whose eponymously titled debut disk is on Yellow Dog Records. Mixing in some classic songs from the likes of Mississippi Sheiks, Sleepy John Estes and Blind Willie Johnson with originals from Flower and Delgrosso, they bring considerable instrumental skill and vocals to songs of social satire and simply plain mischievous fun resulting in an album that at times evokes classic string bands and at other times a scaled down and slightly toned down version of R. Crumb's Cheap Suit Serenaders.

There is the lovely "Honey Babe" that opens this along with a wonderful rendition of The Sheiks "Lonely One In This Town," to go with the whimsical play on words of Flowers "Minor Blues" and  DelGrosso's  hilarious "Google Blues" about a man who thinks he's getting lucky except for the lady googling his shady past. It is extremely difficult to restrain oneself from loud laughter listening to this. There are plenty of instrumental joys to be heard aswell inlcuding Grosswendt's slide steel guitar of his fiddle on ""Lonely One In This Town," and Delgrosso's playing the "44 Blues" motif on the mandolin on his "Black Mattie."

A nice, and unexpected, string trio rendition of "Blue Monk" adds to the musical variety here. The Ragpicker's String Band score with some marvelous music and plenty of fun listening.

I received my review copy from Yellow Dog Records. Here is a video of Rich and Mary performing "Google Blues."

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