Patent Pending,
Through the Window
(Copper Creek, 2001)

Patent Pending has been around for quite some time. This bluegrass quartet formed in 1979, back when vinyl was still the rage! They met at a bluegrass festival in western Maryland and landed their first regular gig at the Birchmere Restaurant in Washington a year later.

According to the liner notes, a number of the songs on this disc came to the band in interesting ways. I found the history behind the tunes and the group to be quite fascinating, providing a really open and comfortable mood. Patent Pending is Eldred Hill (mandolin, lead vocals), Rusty Williams (guitar, tenor and baritone vocals), Jim Steptoe (banjo, bass vocals) and Leigh Taylor (acoustic bass and tenor vocals). Joining the group for this disc are Jim Unger and Jack Leiderman (fiddles).

It is a short but lively disc, dedicated to the memory of Bruce Kaplan, who originally planned to release it on vinyl through his label, Flying Fish Records. It is only now, after 12 years, that Kaplan's original intentions for the recordings have come to fruition.

"Through The Window" is a brisk piece about a young woman who has found herself in trouble. Due to prior nighttime excursions through her bedroom window, where she fell for the sweet lies of a drifter, she finds herself having to leave home for good. Amazing what can be found beyond one's own window.

The one piece that stood out for me on this disc is "Peacock Rag." It's a spotlight for the musical skills of this group, and believe me, they're all quite talented and capable of holding their own. This rapid melody is one which anyone who likes bluegrass can appreciate for the skill levels alone. However, it is a refreshing and enjoyable piece for the music as well.

The mandolin teases at the heart strings in the opening of "Future On Ice," a perfect accompaniment for the vocals. Not only are the lyrics themselves tugging at your tear ducts, but the vocals hold the appropriate level of forlorn melancholy, and the instruments are only there to focus and intensify the feeling. If you are suffering from any ailment of the love life, then this is either a song to avoid, or one to wallow in.

Patent Pending is a very gifted group, and one I would recommend to anyone who likes bluegrass. I'd also encourage those who aren't familiar with this music style to introduce themselves with this disc.

[ by Naomi de Bruyn ]
Rambles: 28 April 2002

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