Friday, September 12, 2008

Russ Barenberg: When At Last

Russ Barenberg

When At Last

Melody is the main thing here: guitarist Russ Barenberg leads listeners on a dance through tunes which draw on old time, Celtic, country and bluegrass ideas, and which are wholly original. It’s a lovely dance, too, by turns funny and reflective, fast paced and slow. Barenberg doesn’t speak or sing a word, but he sings through his hands, and surely it’s no accident that his publishing company is called Laughing Hands. Barenberg’s musical experiences stretch back to the 1970s bluegrass band Country Cookin’ and to Fiddle Fever and Ken Burns’ soundtracks, and forward to the most recent Transatlantic Sessions taped in Scotland. Also forward to this year's Grammy and International Bluegrass Music Association Awards. A track from When At Last called Little Monk has been nominated for best country instrumental by the Grammy selection committee, and the album itself is an interesting and adventurous choice in the running for best instrumental album of the year at the IBMAs. Barenberg is supported by and Nashville to New England group of musical friends including Jerry Douglas on dobro and Ruthie Dornfeld on fiddle.

Speaking of Transatlantic Sessions, here is a video of Barenberg with singer Julie Fowlis, fiddlers Jenna Reid and Aly Bain, and others, from the 2007 series of programs.

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