Jason Cade won first place in fiddle at the prestigious Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop, W.Va., in 2016, and the two tunes he played in the finals are on this CD, “Buck Hoard” from Alva Green and “Old Hen She Cackled” from John Salyer. While those two powerful tunes feature Rob McMaken on banjo-uke on the first and Cade fiddling solo on the second, they are joined by John Grimm and Beverly Smith on many of the 16 tunes on this recording, the third from this band. On the opening cut, “Wiley Laws’ Tune,” Cade on fiddle and McMaken on mandolin are augmented by Grimm on banjo and Smith on guitar. Cade picks up the banjo on “Hello John D.” Cade and Grimm double fiddle on “Five Miles From Town.” On Osey Helton’s “Rocky Road To Dublin” Cade, Grimm, and Smith all fiddle while McMaken plays dulcimer. The one waltz included is “My Heart’s In The Highlands.”
Great music, and particularly great fiddling, is a seamless fusion of rhythm and melody which has the power to reach deep inside us and inspire strong emotional responses. Cade’s fiddling does that to full effect, and the other players deftly enhance it. “Vance No More” has the plaintive fiddle floating over the solid base of the dulcimer. We get to hear vocals on an unusual and appealing version of “Bile Them Cabbage Down” from Byard Ray, on “Shady Grove” (note the nine beats in the A part), and on “Hog-eyed Man.” The final tune features the foursome in a full string band version of “Big-Footed Man” from Wiley Laws, Osey Helton, and Manco Sneed.
Even when you think you know a tune from its name, more often than not, you may be surprised at the versions here. There is gold and platinum and plenty of diamonds to mine from this recording, which has this reviewer’s highest recommendation. It’s a masterpiece. (Yodel-Ay-Hee Records, 107 Ingle Rd., Asheville, NC 28804, hogeyedman.reverbnation.com.)SAG