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Jody Stecher

Going Up On the Mountain: The Classic First Recordings – 2000 (Acoustic Disc)

Reviewed by Brad San Martin

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CDs by Jody Stecher

Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Jody Stecher's early albums have long been required listening for burgeoning folk and bluegrass musicians - despite the fact that they have long been out of print. This handy compilation draws from his first two albums, containing all of "Going Up on the Mountai"n and most of "Snake Baked a Hoecake." The contents are so refreshing in their purity, clarity and enthusiasm.

A level blend of bluegrass, ballads and old-tyme country, Stecher's music can only be adequately termed "mountain folk." Neither modern nor entirely vintage in conception, it's a fusion that has influenced countless artists. Mike Seeger, Hot Rize and Dry Branch Fire Squad have all covered material from these classic albums. Many of these interpretations (there's only one original here and only six non-traditional tunes) are nearly definitive. Stecher's measured reading of the old-tyme chestnut "Wild Bill Jones" is astonishing. He's slowed it down and allowed the agony of this tale to present itself. "The Hills of Isle Au Haut" is presented in two versions, one being an amazing duet of Jody and his wife, Kate Brislin.

As usual, Acoustic Disc's packaging and fidelity is superb. Long absent but hardly forgotten, these recordings are an utterly essential component of any bluegrass, country or folk library.