Where You Been So Long
An Introduction to this Sound Recording, By Aaron Cohen There was a time---way, way back---when folks got together in a circle, gathered around a microphone and sang ballads that came from shared traditions or arose out of their comments on the day's big events. These singers and musicians just had their voices, whatever strings they could carry and maybe some dog-eared songbooks. Indeed, that oh, so long-ago half-year between October 2005 and April 2006 must have been a whole different era. It was during those months that Tangleweed holed up with engineer Mike Hagler in Chicago's Kingsize Sound Labs to record Where You Been So Long, it's follow-up to the band's debut, Just A Spoonful. As three seasons changed this quintet took on rags, Western swing, Irish jigs, bluegrass and some of the earliest forms of jazz through a filter tinted with the immediate thrills of rock 'n' roll. No crew of samplers, guest singers or makeup artists were needed to configure this sonic panoply. One case in point is the Tangleweed original: "Hard Times." With Kenneth "Kip" Rainey's wonderfully strange mandolin solo and collective lyrics protesting war and economic deprivation, the group could be taking a page from the Gilded Era and Spanish-American War, or describing the mood of America while thousands of it's citizens have fallen in the Iraqi desert. Or fiddler Billy Oh reviving the Hot Club of Paris on "I've Found A Baby." Dropping his bass for an accordion, Paul Wargaski adds a new texture to the narrative of Irish immigration on "Leaving of Liverpool"; another song about a movement that could have happened in the last month or last century. Eventually, it's all about the very human condition: Women are never far away as banjo player Ryan Fisher attests on "Black-Eyed Susie"; neither is booze as guitarist Scott Judd will claim on "With a Bottle In My Hand/Farewell Blues." Near the end of the disc, the guys in Tangleweed sing about the fifteen cent morphine with a beer chaser that costs just as much. The narcotic of choice and it's price is the only line on this disc that sounds like it still belongs to a more distant past. Aaron Cohen Associate Editor, DownBeat.