RAFE STEFANINI & DAVID BRAGGER
Old-Time Tiki Parlour
Rafe and David have teamed up for 17 wonderful old-time fiddle and banjo duets. They open with their powerful rendition of “Forty Weight Of Gingerbread” from Florida fiddler Arthur “Cush” Holston and conclude with John Morgan Salyer’s “Irish Boy.” In between, they nail one great tune after another. The heart of such duets is not only the individual virtuosity of the players, both of whom have that in spades, but also in their ability to sync those skills both rhythmically and melodically to fit together like a hand in glove. It certainly helps that both of these musicians are equally proficient on fiddle and banjo.
Their tune sources are impeccable, too, such as Andy Palmer’s “Shipping Port,” Wade Ward’s “Nitches Over The Hill,” and Clyde Davenport’s “Meriwether,” and Esker Hutchins’ unique “Billy In The Lowground.” “Toss The Feathers” is an Irish reel from John Howard in DDAD tuning. “Buck Snort” comes from Arkansas fiddler Lon Jordan. Delbert Hughes is the source for “Chinquapin.” Another West Virginia legend, French Carpenter, gives us “Down At The Mouth Of Old Stinson.” “Hamilton’s Special Breakdown” is a swinging dance tune, a version of “G Rag,” from Alabama fiddler Y.Z. Hamilton. Will Adams, an African-American fiddler from Maryland, is the source for “Smokey Hole,” which is sort of the title-cut. Rafe adapted “The Wise Maid” from a fiddleless version by the Irish band Planxty. Indiana master fiddler John Summers played “Pretty Little Girl With A Blue Dress On.” From there, we go into the Mississippi culinary portion of the show with “Sweet Milk And Peaches” from Narmour & Smith and “Poundcake And Sugar” from Stephen Tucker. At least one Round Peak tune is obligatory, and “Back Step Cindy” in the new style fills that role.
Rafe Stefanini hails from Italy, where his dad was a violin teacher, but he fell in love with American old-time music and has spent decades honing his skills. David Bragger has become a key force in the Southern California old-time scene with his Tiki Parlour record label, his bands, and a festival and other events that he directs. Together, they paint compelling portraits of these tunes with carefully chosen brush strokes. (Tiki Parlour Recordings, 9340 Gerald Ave., Northridge, CA 91343, www.oldtimetikiparlour.com.)SAG