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CD 371 PHIL and VIVIAN WILLIAMS: PIONEER DANCE TUNES OF THE FAR WEST

Excuse my writing in the first person, but back in January I advised fans of 19th century fiddling to eschew the star-studded mishmash called Arkansas Traveler that was supposed to pay homage and interpretation of the music associated with Little House on the Prairie. Take the kids to a Washington Old Time Fiddler's event, I said. Well, now comes another splendid alternative: the Williams's new collection, Pioneer Dance Tunes. These are the numbers that Pa Ingalls and the people like Pa who moved to the Pacific Northwest really played, the way they really played 'em. And with no production slickery, no visiting Nashville hat acts and slumming Bluegrassers, this record is pure, honest fun, a get-up-and-dance delight, whereas Arkansas Traveler imploded of its self-importance. Pioneer Dance Tunes is a whoop, from "Nelly Bly" to "Little Brown Jug," 19 jigs, reels, polkas, schottisches and waltzes later. Of course, the CD is also a fine work of scholarship, as all Voyager releases are, and the spare but effective liner notes tell the tales of both the familiar ("Captain Jinks" or Washington's near-anthem "The Old Settler") and of those tunes that might have fallen forever through the cracks in the floorboards (such as the Irish "Rory O'More," the German "Lauterback Waltz," and "Varsoviana" from Minnesota's Scandinavian melting pot.) Vivian fiddles, of course, while Phil is always there with perky backup on mando, guitar, banjo, accordion. . . and comb & paper, jews harp, wood blocks and fiddlesticks, too!. Just the record we needed! (Tom Peterson, Victory Review)

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