Bill & Libby Hicks,
South of Nowhere
(Copper Creek, 2001)

It's apparent that Bill and Libby Hicks enjoy making music. Their pleasure comes out in every note, every word. It's the same joy you'll hear on old releases by Bob Wills and Bill Monroe -- making music for the sheer love of the sound.

And they do a fine job of it with old-time fiddle music like that which would have provided a family's only entertainment in the days and areas where television, satellites and computers were unheard of. Good old bluegrass-style pickin' and fiddlin'. Which is not to say the CD is limited to just one music style. They've included a beautiful waltz, some blues, love songs and a lovely gospel song as well.

Veterans on the traditional music front, Bill and Libby Hicks are quite well known and have been making significant contributions for more than 25 years. Libby was teamed with Lightnin' Wells in the '70s while Bill was honing fiddling techniques learned from the likes of Burl Hammons and Tommy Jarrell. Together they are a musical dynamo.

While I will always choose the fiddle tunes when picking favorites, my "best pick" for this particular CD is the combination of two Tommy Jarrell songs, "Sugar Hill" and "Sally Ann," that is referred to on the liner notes as the violence medley. It's a guaranteed toe-tapper, with outstanding picking and harmony and as much regional flavor as a sugar-cured Virginia ham.

Joining her parents on vocals for several tracks, Anna Hicks shows what good genes and being force-fed music from birth will get you. She has a clear, strong voice that stands well alone, but is equally beautiful when joined by her mother.

[ by Sheree Morrow ]
Rambles: 23 February 2002

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