BYRON BERLINE, FLYIN’ FINGERS
Double Stop Music
Flyin’ Fingers, the latest release from Byron Berline, is undoubtedly a fiddle album. However, to stop there would be sort of like saying the 1946 Red Sox had Ted Williams, without mentioning Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMaggio, and Bobby Doerr, as well as two 20-game winning pitchers.
Berline, who long ago established himself as a Hall Of Famer with the bow, has put together a double album with 44 cuts, all penned by him, and he also picks up the mandolin and guitar on a couple of tracks. Besides showcasing his talent, he has quite a few talented friends that take turns on banjo, guitar, bass, resonator guitar, piano, flute, drums, and even bones and the accordion. Listeners are treated not only to the members of his band, but also Jerry Douglas and Alan Munde.
The title piece sets the tone for the whole project. There is some brief, but good writing as well; interesting liner notes should never be overlooked. Berline offers a short note of commentary on each track, giving some insight to what was on his mind. For example, “Memories Of Baker” is a nod to fellow master Kenny Baker; “Clear Water” may sound familiar, as it is “Billy In The Lowground” with a D-minor.
The problem you might find with this collection is the desire to refer back to those liner notes often to catch a title. There is such a variety of sounds and influences, from old-time to a more Scottish feel, to those that make a listener expect to hear a dance call. Others, such as “Ode To Billy Joe,” on which Berline writes that he used a friend’s instrument, make it hard to put a finger exactly on why it is so appealing.
It’s easy to get lost in Flyin’ Fingers, and I mean that in the best possible way. Berline stretches out, and it’s not hard to see how the former Blue Grass Boy has recorded with big names from rock-and-roll to pop to country. (Double Stop Music, 121 E. Oklahoma, Guthrie, OK 73044, www.doublestop.com.)MKB