Jason Barie, aka the Ramblin’ Fiddler, returns for his second appearance as the comic persona for the album Radioactive. In the latest episode—fully illustrated by Barie’s brother Eric in the CD book—the Ramblin’ Fiddler battles Shock Jock, who is warping the minds of teens with the devil’s music. The Ramblin’ Fiddler comes to save the day of course, and blows away Shock Jock with his incredibly fast fiddling. This, as you’ll find out listening to the album, is not too much of an exaggeration. The man can play with lightning speed.
To top this interesting backstory, the real story of Barie’s life is one of intrigue. He began playing at a young age and inherited his grandfather’s fiddle at age 11. In a few short years he would start a long, fruitful journey playing with many of the greats—some of whom appear on this album. In his home state of Florida he started in the local group Sand Mountain, then went on to play Loraine Jordan and Carolina Road. To match all his musical endeavors, he also spent a great deal of time learning how to repair and restore instruments. Sometime later, in 2009 he became the fiddler in the famed group Quicksilver with Hall of Fame inductee Doyle Lawson.
It wouldn’t be a complete comic hero themed album without a slew of superhero bluegrass players to accompany the Ramblin’ Fiddler on his quest. The big one that folks are gonna be talkin’ about is Bobby Osborne appearing alongside Doyle Lawson singing the Paul Williams classic “That’s Why You Left Me So Blue.” Lawson also sings “Keep A Memory” with Russell Moore and Paul Williams himself appears on “I Thought You Were Calling My Name.” Additionally, Danny Davis, Tim Raybon, and Jeff Parker contribute their vocal talents and and Michael Cleveland plays twin fiddle with Jason on the Barie instrumental “Calaveras County.”
There is too much good stuff to list in this short review, but one favorite is Barie doing a great cover of the nostalgic “Toolbox,” a song about harmony with the things that serve you. Upon first hearing “The Man From Jenkins” I thought I’d accidentally hit fast forward but it’s just good old lightning fast picking with banjo from Philip Bostic and bass from Randy Barnes. That’s just a fraction of the monumental talent amassed on this record.
At the end of the forementioned comic strip, the Ramblin’ Fiddler is defeating bad music in order to stay active on the radio, hence the title—Radioactive. Be sure to keep tuning in for more episodes of the Ramblin’ Fiddler, you’re not going to want to miss it!