5535 31st Ave NE
Seattle, Wa 98105
A review written for Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange by
This is an old timey style collection of songs and music not all traditional but sounding like the tunes from bygone days. The musicians call themselves Smoke Creek and are on their own label(the quality of the recording is very good). Mike Murray is the lead vocalist and banjo player - claw hammer and two finger style banjo, not your slick bluegrass approach. He has a wonderful voice somewhat reminiscent of Burl Ives (bless his soul). Susan Ellis plays a hot fiddle and fills in the highs on the vocal side. They have occasional help from an assortment of other musicians on guitar, dobro and vocals.
There are fourteen tracks, all vocals except one instrumental medley. Eight are written by Mike and/or Susan, the rest traditional like Turkey in the Straw (as a vocal?), Coleman's March or Briar Picker Brown. The new songs are good- a couple Mac's Redemption and Red Pickup are outstanding. The former is a real toe tapper and is hard to believe it is not a traditional tune - it may become one. The latter has a nice melody with accompaniment on dobro by Ted Briggs-Comstock . Mike and Susan show their harmony abilities in I Heard the Bluebird Sing. Mike writes a moving gospel number in Walls with an extra bass partby Jay Finkelstein.
This is a an album with a lot of surprises. Ever hear of a manjo? Sounds like something between a banjo and a ukelele. Mike plays it on a couple songs like Foggy Old London. His talking blues style on Down By the Barber Pole is a humorous saga of a dishonest barber's just deserts. If you like old time tunes and music (country dance music), you will enjoy this album by a couple of talented singer/musicians from Seattle.
Edited by Kerry Dexter