James LaRue,
Banjo Jimmy Playing Songs to Remember

If you don't like old-timey banjo music, you have my permission to stop reading now. On the other hand, fans of banjo pickin' might enjoy Banjo Jimmy Playing Songs to Remember.

James LaRue & his Red Rose Ramblers have been a fixture at Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, Pa., for nearly three decades. Sitting under the shade of a tree, this laid-back group of elderly musicians offer visitors a wide and ever-changing variety of blues, country, New Orleans jazz and gospel songs. For those of you not familiar with Kitchen Kettle Village -- or Intercourse -- it's a pleasant way to spend a summer afternoon, and busloads of visitors come from far away to sample the food, shopping and music.

Jimmy, a self-taught musician who has been pickin' since he was 8 years old, plays most string instruments plus accordion and trombone. The rest of the Red Rose Ramblers are Bob Kreider, bass; Paul Painter, banjo; Ed Mummert, guitar; and Don Clear on bones.

The CD opens on an unusual note: "Under the Double Eagle," a John Phillips Souza march played with a bluegrass twang. Among the 18 selections on this CD are banjo standards including "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues," "Alabamy Bound," "Memories" and "Swing Low Sweet Chariot."

While Jimmy's tenor banjo dominates most of the CD, his singing voice is heard on most of the selections. His voice sometimes strays from perfect pitch, but it's a voice that makes the listener want to sing along.

Banjo Jimmy Playing Songs to Remember is a sing-along, toe-tappin' treat that takes his audience back to its youth -- a time of county fairs and concerts in the park on summer evenings.

review by
Bill Knapp

30 August 2008

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