Kings of Mongrel Folk: Still Going Strong
This second release from Mark Graham & Orville Johnson aka The Kings of Mongrel Folk continues their tradition of genre surfing, mind bending, and tradition tweaking. Superb playing, soulful singing and inventive and humorous songwriting make this another must have disc for fans of that singular style of music called Mongrel Folk!! From Sing Out! The Kings of Mongrel Folk (Graham & Johnson) are back with a 12 song collection (plus a hidden live surprise) that continues in the tradition of clever songs, well-played. When the duo gets together the music leans toward country and blues, but it doesn't stop there. The combination of Graham, known for his well-crafted, offbeat songs, harmonica and clarinet playing, and Johnson, known for his Dobro and slide guitar work, creates a hybrid of music that can only be defined as, well, mongrel folk. Perusing thru Still Goin' Strong you will find a smattering of bluegrass, klezmer, gospel, traditional and country blues, and even something that sounds like Johnny Cash wandering into a science fiction convention. If any of this makes you curious I encourage you to gain an audience with the Kings. A good place to start is with this latest recording. From Victory Music Review Before you listen to a tune the cover will get you grinning on this, another outing from well known Puget Sound mongrel folkies Mark Graham and Orville Johnson. A pitifully hulking man on crutches, his home in flames in the background, glares from beneath his bandaged head determined to carry on, hence the title. The title song features a getting-thru-it-all lyric fused with humor and powered musically by Tim O'Brien's guest fiddling and Graham's harmonica. The material here is not as fall down funny as some of Graham's earlier stuff like Oedipus Rex, but Corn Kingdom Come isn't bad, with it's punny tribute to bootlegging and, who knows, Robert Mitchum? Johnson's Always Something is a delightful dead ringer for a Jimmie Rodgers tune. The musicianship as usual is first rate with bits of klezmer, old-timey, blues and New Orleans in the mix. Their voices harmonize well. Especially on the wry After the Fall. The production is excellent, allowing plenty of space for the various slide guitar and clarinet figures going on in the music. This is a fine CD of good songs and superb musicianship. From Green Man Review Mark Graham is known for his singing and harmonica/clarinet playing with Kevin Burke's Open House and he's put out several solo albums with cute lyrics. Orville Johnson is known as a roots dobro player and slide guitarist, a prolific sideman as well as having a few CDs on his own. This mongrel folk duo blends blues, bluegrass (Tim O'Brien plays fiddle on the title track), country, and some other stuff. It's a mix of music played for it's own sake... My favorites here include a cover of Shadrach, one of my favorite gospel songs from the Art Linkletter show. Graham's low pitched voice is great, and the harmonies are as smooth as the walls of the fiery furnace. Another standout is a Graham composition called High and Lonesome. This is about a country DJ who dies and becomes a spirit. Orville Johnson is a joy to hear on his steel guitar. He is particularly fine on Dead of Night, After the Fall, and Come Back Baby, three in a row, right there. Mark Graham heats it up with harmonica and clarinet on a number of tracks. The musicianship is wonderful...