Two for the Show
If you saw a photo of Ryan Tilby and Drew Williams, you'd think you'd seen them before, but you'd wonder where. It might take you a minute to associate their faces with the fat, sweet folk elements coming from the backline of Peter Breinholt's Big Parade. But while their faces may have you scratching your head for a moment, you'd recognize their playing like an old friend after just a few bars. Between them, they've brought to audiences all over the world enough mandolin, banjo, guitar, bass, dobro, and fiddle to serve as the girders upon which world-class acts are built. They share a musical vocabulary that spans genres and generations. As the two step confidently off the backline, some of the tastiest sentiments from that expansive musical vocabulary leap to life in Tilby and Williams' first duo release, 'Two for the Show.' With a generous nod to the roots of the Bluegrass tradition, there are enough genuine fireworks here for the most stringent of purists, together with enough innovation to demonstrate just how deep is the well of musical experience from which this cool water is drawn. The album breathes with spontaneity--innocence even--that while cleanly engineered, runs unhindered by the weight of heavy production. It's a front-row seat in an intimate house to two days worth of tracking-you get Tilby and you get Williams, and that's the meal. And what a meal. These two young musicians are both rooted in traditions older than their parents, and reaching beyond the conventions in a way that leaves you not knowing what to expect next. They do it with reverence, thoughtfulness, and, of course, monster playing. The bottom line is, with Tilby and Williams able to chunk out a diamond like this between first bell on Monday and the weekend, venerable bluegrass crossover acts like Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband, or even the auspicious Nickel Creek, had better watch their backs.