Bad Livers,
Horses in the Mines
(Quarterstick, 1994)

Bad Livers is a down-home, foot-stompin' bluegrass band, and Horses in the Mines is as bluegrass as you can get. It begins with a frolicking buck-dance number called "Where They Do Not Know My Name." The banjo is enough to make anybody want to cut a rug.

"Turpentine Willie," with Mark Rubin on a tuba, is a slow but bouncy, light-hearted blues tune. The tuba sets the mood as playful and funny, definitely making you picture Willie falling down again. It just has a "drunk" sound to it. You cannot help but smile when you hear it; I love hearing brass in my bluegrass.

"Old Folk's Shuffle" has a mandolin breakdown that moves you. I wager you will not keep your feet still when it plays. "Horses in the Mines" has a hound dog barking in the background that will tickle your fancy. "Time and Time Again" and "High, Lonesome, Dead and Gone" are reminiscent of Hank Williams Sr., with the nasal, whined lyrics and suitable pacing for a cuddly slow dance. The latter becomes like a cross between "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and "Cripple Creek" with some wild rhythm breaks and changeups. Then it stops and goes back to the Hank style.

"New Bad Liver Singer" features a harmonica playing and a dog barking, whining and "singing" -- don't resist, you will laugh. "Clawhammer Fish" and "Blue Ridge Express" are great buck-dancing tunes. "Stevejames" takes the music back to the basics of bare banjo picking without accompaniment. This is how it is supposed to be done, folks. Even the end is true to the front porch style.

The Bad Livers are Danny Barnes, Mark Rubin and Ralph White III. Steve James joins them on mandolin. Unfortunately, the sixth and final CD produced by this group, Blood and Mood, was released in 2000. The members have since gone their separate ways and are pursuing independent projects.

This is classic bluegrass with a touch of jazz and a whole lot of blues tossed in. The selections span the bluegrass genre between the extremes, from the supersonic speed buck-dancing pieces to the super-slow blues songs where you are dancing so slowly that you are practically standing still. If you like bluegrass, this CD will tug at your heart and assault your feet. Order yours today and let your hair down with a good ole foot-stompin' break from the world.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 3 April 2004

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