by Joseph Scott
Patrick McAvinue gets the fiddle. That isn’t just to say he can play one, though he most assuredly can. But he also understand the fiddle’s history in and importance to bluegrass, and to country music in general. And he aims with every performance to make his audience understand as well.
There is no better place to start than with “Rutland’s Reel”, the title track and cd opener. Patrick is joined on the Howdy Forrester opus by force of nature and fellow fiddler Michael Cleveland for a three minute, thirty-nine second roller-coaster ride of pure uncut fiddle nirvana. But that is only beginning. Mr. Cleveland also joins in on twin fiddle for a breakneck, on the edge of control rendition of the traditional “Down Yonder”, as well as Frank Maloy’s sweet, “Henry Rutland’s Country Classic Waltz”.
But this album isn’t just about twin fiddling. There is plenty of hardcore bluegrass to be found here as well. Audie Blaylock joins the party to provide lead vocals on such bluegrass classics as “Body and Soul” (Bill Monroe, “Skip Hop and Wobble” (Jimmy Martin), and “Lonesome Without You” (Stanley Brothers). On these selections Michael Cleveland puts down his fiddle and picks up his mandolin to join in with fellow musicians Pete Kelly on banjo and Barry Reid on bass to create an ensemble sound that will harken back to the days of phonograph needles and one mono speaker.
But don’t worry, there is still plenty of spotlight left for Patrick McAvinue and his fiddle. Veteran banjoist Chris Warner joins Patrick on a couple of old time fiddle and banjo tunes, “Charleston No. 1” and “Soppin’ The Gravy”, allowing the fiddler to display just how much fiddle knowledge and history he has sopped up in his young life. Patrick also reintroduces a couple of near-forgotten chestnuts back into the bluegrass vocabulary, Kenny Baker’s “Rinky Dinky Do” and Ricky Skaggs “Irish Spring”. Finally the album closes with Bill Monroe’s mandolin classic “Old Dangerfield”, on which you can here these master musicians really stretch out and have some fun.
One thing is for certain for all of us who cherish the fiddle: In the capable hands of such a caretaker as Patrick McAvinue, good times are set before us.