Mike Marshall
& Darol Anger,
The Duo Live:
At Home & On the Range

(Compass, 2002)

When Mike Marshall and Darol Anger speak of being "on the range," they refer to that open road that they are three-quarters of the way to having traveled a million miles over.

They began their musical sojourn in 1978, performing together in the David Grisman Quartet. They continue to put on a live show of some of the best in Americana acoustica today. This album is a testament of the quality of their live performance in delivering the goods in folk and bluegrass with a touch of jazz.

The "at home" part of the title refers to the extra tracks recorded just after their U.S. eastern seaboard tour along which they gathered these gems. The scintillating music here summoned warmly from wood and wire by the sonic alchemists includes fun Marshall originals such as "Frogs on Ice" and "Big Man from Syracuse," and traditional tunes artfully arranged for subtle showcasing of technique (but never showboating) such as "In the Pines" and "Down in the Willow Garden," and a healthy dose of Bill Monroe via "Jerusalem Ridge," "Big Mon" and "Old Dangerfield," and more.

Pristine production accentuates a very personal intimacy right from the beginning of this disc, as the opening applause fades and measured interplay of "Down in the Willow Garden" begins. The unison of mood also steps into more lively areas with tunes like the bright and uplifting "Big Man from Syracuse." The duo keeps alive a sophisticated and rooted acoustic tradition that sounds distinctly American with veiled suggestions of Celtic melody. As such, fans of the music would do well to check out the fascinating new folk sounds out of Scandinavia that are sonically analagous. Anger certainly has and presents his own homage to the neo-Nordic folk in "VŠsen Your Seatbelt/The Crossing" as his rich, brown-toned baritone violin echoes the sounds of the nyckelharpa of those lands.

- Rambles
written by Tom Schulte
published 19 April 2003

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