IAN SIMPSON & JOHN KANE, BANJO AUSTRALIS
Simpson and Kane are back with more banjo workouts, this time focused on music from their native Australia. The 15 cuts here include some medleys and a surprising number of songs that are somewhat familiar. “I’ve Been Everywhere” is here listed as “I’ve Played Every Note.” There is a medley from the popular folk group The Seekers who had some hits in the late 1960s. The “Rocky Top” of Australia is here too as a banjo duet, “Waltzing Matilda.” These two gentlemen cover a lot of ground, playing in both bluegrass and old-time styles and taking on a wide range of material including television show themes—Australian, of course.
Assisted by Peter Denahy on fiddle, Mark Walmsley on piano, melodeon, and bass, Simpson lays down not only his fine banjo tracks, but also guitar and double bass. Kane handles the banjo, guitar, mandolin, and ukulele. This all-instrumental tour de force of their local and original music serves to demonstrate the flexibility of the banjo. Standout cuts include “Under the Milky Way,” “Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gumtree” with its fine twin banjo arrangement, and “Friday On My Mind,” a kind of surf banjo anthem. These fellows are obviously having a great time, and there is an infectious joy in their music.
This is a fun recording that will appeal to fans of banjo who are ready to hear new material that has not been overdone. (Ian Simpson, 6 Chidzy Dr., Seville Grove, WA 6112, Australia.)RCB