Voyager Recordings & Publications

What the Reviewers Say

CD 367 Tenino Old Time Music Festival

The following reviews were of the three Lps we issued from which the selections on this CD were chosen.

*****

There is some beautiful fiddle work on this album done by Don Gish, Bill Yohey, and Loyd Wanzer. This is a variety album with a show of many kinds of fine listening. The harmony was well done. There are vocal solos, quartets, harmonica groups, steel guitar, etc. This is a varied program of entertainment and is well done. (Disc Collector)

*****

Voyager Records, Seattle, Washington, have released some more albums of well-recorded contemporary old-time music. In-depth review may appear in future issues of TFSB, but two deserve brief and immediate mention here. One is Tenino Old Time Music Festival (Voyager VRLP 308-S), which contains the best of three years of the Tenino, Washington old-time music festival, including sterling performances from fiddle champions like Al Sanderson, Joe Pancerzewski, Chuck Griffin, Bill Yohey and others, as well as folk singing, barbershop quartets, string bands, and a harmonica-playing trio of policemen. (Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin)

*****

A more satisfying album from the standpoint of authenticity is Tenino Old TIme Music Festival, 1973-1974. Although some younger performers from non-traditional backgrounds are represented here, they have gone a long way toward assimilating traditional style as well as content. All of the pieces on this album are instrumental and represent various facets of northwestern fold music tradition, including contributions from both the northern and southern Anglo-American traditions as well as the Scandinavian. Among the featured instruments are the fiddle (played both solo and in a stringband), harmonica, mandolin, guitar, button accordion, and tenor banjo (solo and band). Contest champions like Joe Pancerzewski and Benny Thomasson are heard here as well as newcomers who are likely to give a good account of themselves in future competitions. Notes by Neil M. Johnston outline the brief history of the festival and its charitable purpose and provide some background on the performances. (Journal of American Folklore)

*****

As you might already know this label deals primarily with old time traditional music and this one is no exception. For the most part it's traditional music with traditional instruments. 4 fiddle numbers, 1 fiddle & harmonica, 3 or 4 traditional bluegrass, some old time string band, 1 barbershop harmony, 1 dulcimer & guitar. Just fine old time music, don't miss this one. (Disc Collector)

*****

Around the third weekend of March each year the Tenino Festival is unleashed in Western Washington. This disc, running about 39 minutes, is a sampling from three recent gatherings, and consists of 22 old time selections, each by a different performer or group.

There are 7 accompanied vocal numbers (including one bluesy barbershop quartet), and the rest are instrumentals. The instruments include: guitar, banjo, fiddle, bass, mandolin, harmonica, dulcimer, accordion (referred to as the "stomach Steinway"), "gutbucket", piano, trombone, and even a kazoo (which was enthusiastically received). The jacket notes are quite detailed.

The groups are imaginatively named, my favorites being the Phyddle Phaddle Phogboung Band (they're the ones with the kazoo), and the Harmonicops, 3 local policemen flaunting a variety of mouth organs.

As might be expected, not all the performances are up to professional level (though many are), but all these folks are obviously having a great time, and the mood is catching. Some outstanding numbers are: Kansas City Kitty; Sugar in the Gourd (by Tall Timber, a fine bluegrass band); Sweet Sue; Yodel Your Troubles Away; and Scandinavian Waltz. (New York Pine Woods Folk Music Camp Newsletter)

*****

In a small, rural community in the state of Washington, the Tenino Lions Club promotes an Old-Time Music Festival as a community service project. The beneficiaries of the raised funds are numerous. Among them are an eye bank, a rehabilitation school to train piano tuners and technicians, and the CARE program. The Lions are to be commended on two counts: first, their efforts in behalf of the charitable organizations they help support, and as a spin-off of their effort, the preservation of interest in old-time music in their own community.

This album is a cross-section of performers appearing at the evening shows from three years of festivals. (In addition to the evening shows, the festival features workshops.) The cuts on this album feature 11 fiddle numbers, two harmonica band cuts, three vocals, and a sprinkling of guitar and mandolin.

Each of the fiddle numbers (except for "Fiddler's Waltz") is credited to the local fiddler performing. These are interesting as far as a chronicle of the "grass roots" music in the small Washington community. The harmonica numbers are performed by a trio of policemen accompanied by tuba and have the flavor of an evening at an amateur show where everyone has a great deal of fun. A cu6t that doesn't exactly fit into the old-time music category. "Copper Kettle," is performed on an electric guitar, but is nevertheless well-done.

The best, most entertaining addition to the album is a vocal number by Yvonne Reuge, "The Preacher and the ear."

This album would be useful if (1) you wanted to know what the Tenino Old-Time Music Festival is like or (2) you collect honest-to-goodness unpretentious music of the rural folk, or (3) you really like mostly fiddle music as played by the non-professionals. (Flatlands Occasional)

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