Like the music of the delta that moved against the flow of the Mississippi and arrived in places like Chicago and Kansas City with blues disciples and refugees with a guitar and a song in their heart, bluegrass in the Yukon is a long, long way from home.
Like the blues, bluegrass travels well: it requires small instruments. In addition, bluegrass, like the blues, carried in the hearts and felt in the bones of those who know and love it, is a state of mind.
Harmony and rhythm are the stuff of bluegrass, rhythm and polyrhythm. The intricacy speaks when the music starts. Bluegrass, well played, can be as thrilling as a symphony and as subtle as a string quartet.
It deceives the ignorant into thinking it is a simple music. Simple in its basic tunes perhaps, but the complexity is in the expression of the music. I for one concur with Neil Young’s famous Union Hall announcement and say, “‘Live Music is Better’ bumper stickers should be issued”.
Hungry Hill creates original music in the classic bluegrass style. Bob Hamilton, Jenny Lester, Mark Thibeault and Nadine Landry are veterans of the last Hungry Hill album, Ride, with the addition of Ross Nickerson from Tucson on banjo. Nickerson is featured on two of the album’s 10 songs.
This powerful group of musicians has produced a foot stomping album of songs that was beautifully realized at Hamilton’s Old Crow Studio, just up the highway.
How will I know when I reach that shore, will joy surround me forever more? How will I know when my time is through, will I be alone or there with you?
Ride is only one of many songs on this album that bring to fore the classic themes of bluegrass and old-timey country.
The chorus of the song gives us an example of a fine and mature sentiment of love: Let’s stop and talk about it now ones going for a ride/ if we lose control completely all our dreams will be denied.
Ain’t Got No Sugar Dad Now tackles the popular theme of “had my fill of love and now watch me leave … and like a bird somehow, gonna fly right from your front porch ain’t got no sugar dad now“.
The idea that time passes us by and you “can’t go back” to a town where “even snow blows right on through” is cleverly evoked in the lyrics of Gopherville.
Hungry Hill is a purveyor of fine bluegrass and old-time music and it has a great web presence with its sites, www.hungryhill.ca and its MySpace page at www.myspace.com/hungryhillcanada from which you can view some great YouTube of the group in action.
Sharing the love of bluegrass, Hungry Hill is a group of like-minded artists that, all too rarely, come together to create an album. They are currently on tour throughout the summer. Their schedule is on the web.
Hungry Hill’s Ride can be found in any fine local music shop.