DENNIS ELLIOTT, FIDDLER’S DREAM
This self-produced CD features Elliott’s obvious talents on banjo, mandolin, guitar, and especially fiddle. He has won many contests on fiddle, banjo, and mandolin, not only in his native Louisiana, but also in his current home in Virginia and beyond. His playing on these instruments is solid and dead-on. He plays banjo in both the Scruggs- and melodic-styles with equally good results. His mandolin is tasteful and fluid. His emphasis is on fiddle and, here, his fiddling shines throughout. The program is made up of seventeen tunes including two from Bill Monroe, “Ground Speed” from Earl Scruggs, and Vassar Clements’ “Lonesome Fiddle Blues.”
At times, his fiddle renditions take the tune to a new place. “Martin’s Waltz” is a tune that takes quite a bit of finesse to play, and he does play it just fine, until he goes over the top with innovations that would give the late Clark Kessinger a run for his money. And like Kessinger, these improvisations can actually distract from the melody. The original “New South Breakdown” features some odd fiddle bowing that gets at the back of the beat, giving the tune the feel of pulling backwards. The rest of the material is quite exciting, and Elliot handles it all with ease as he glides through workouts such as “Crazy Creek,” “Road To Columbus,” “Jole Bon,” and the title track.
If your tastes run to hot bluegrass fiddle backed by solid banjo and mandolin, you’ll find a lot to like here. Bass, the only instrument Elliot does not play on this project, is handled by Brian Sulser with the utmost skill. This is a fine effort showcasing an obvious talent. (Dennis Elliot, 1205 Whitby Rd., Richmond, VA 23227, www.dennis-elliott.com.)RCB