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The Freight Hoppers

Waiting on the Gravy Train – 1998 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Stephen L. Betts

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CDs by The Freight Hoppers

The Freight Hoppers, an old-time fiddle and banjo-based quartet from North Carolina, might at first confound listeners with their musical homage to the likes of Uncle Dave Macon, the Carter Family, and Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers.

Yet, with their brand new album, a flaming hot collection of 16 tunes, the Freight Hoppers exhibit, through their fervent instrumental work, and mountain-soaked vocal style, a clear understanding (to borrow the title of their 1996 debut disc) of not only where they come from, but where they're going.

This is faithfully rendered old-time music that's just the right thing for the new millenium. From the opening strains of "Ain't That Trouble In Mind," to the joyous album closer "Shortenin' Bread," The Freight Hoppers instill every note of their music equal parts respect and energy. For good measure, fiddler David Bass even manages (at selected outdoor performances, mind you!) to combine his lightning-quick playing with a little dancing, and, yes, some fire-eating too! In short, this is one red hot band and one mighty fiery record!