This is an album of fine old-time music…
The Reed Island Rounders have a conservative, old-fashioned approach to their music. They take a technique-should-be-in-the-service-of-music-and-not-the-other-way-around approach. And although the Reed Island Rounders may not show off their technique, they certainly have plenty of it; and they combine it with skill and taste to produce excellent, straightforward, no nonsense music equally suitable for dancing as well as for comfortable, enjoyable listening.
characteristic that distinguishes the band is how well each musician's
playing is integrated with the others. Cornette's solid rhythm guitar
provides the foundations for Vornbrock's fiddle and Jones' banjo and her
occasional vocal, and each instrument blends in with and complements the
others. Betty's fiddle weaves in and out of Diane's banjo line, which
in turn punctuates and accents the fiddle while the guitar supports the whole structure. There are sections in "Yew
Piney Mountains" where Betty's fiddle flows down a scale with
short, swinging, graceful strokes of her bow while Diane's banjo drops
with her, matching her step for step and note for note, in a descending
helix of musical interplay. Jones is a fine clawhammer banjo player who
can use that often hard-driving technique to bring a relaxed sense of
rhythm and melody to a tune occasionally using a brush stroke to insert
a well crafted arpeggio--all of which is much harder than just playing
a great extent this is Vornbrock's album. It is her fiddle that shapes
and defines most of the tunes, dancing through the album like a prima
ballerina in a pas de trios (trois?). Even on "Coo Coo", which
Jones' banjo opens with the well known Galax Lick arpeggio that Clarence
Ashley's 1929 recording more or less welded into the song, it is
Vornbrock's pulsing fiddle that not only carries much of the melody but
also provides the rhythmic drive. She has both the skill to infuse
her playing with clear, crisp articulation and the musicianship to use
that articulation to keep the themes fresh and inviting no matter how
often they get repeated in a given selection.
the selections are instrumentals, but there are a handful of vocal
which Jones is the lead singer. Her singing voice is low, rich, and
expressive. She is a fine singer and she brings a relaxed, comfortable
quality to her songs that make them most enjoyable.
fine it is-- not only for the quality of each selection, but because of
the overall consistency. The Reed Island Rounders set a high standard on
the opening selection and maintain it all the way to the end. This is an
album without disappointing selections which, along with the full
package of more than 73 minutes playing time make it a generous,
~ by A.V. Shirk, OTH Summer 2003
"This cassette (and CD) of 21 instrumentals features the fine fiddling
of Betty Vornbrock. The majority of the selections are modal tunes and
waltzes, and the group is at their best with these pieces. Frankly, Betty
is one of the best waltz fiddlers I've ever heard.
Andy Buckman's melodic banjo compliments Vornbrock's fiddling very well. The mix is a good one, nicely highlighting the interplay between the fiddle and banjo."
| Fiddler Magazine:
"Betty's fiddle and Andy Buckman's banjo are of one mind as
they wend their ways through these tunes. Billy Cornette's guitar shadows
the two melodic adventurers.
This set of well-played tunes should be in every old-time music lover's library. Even if you think you already know these tunes, these folks have put something special into them that makes them come alive all over again."
| The Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette:
"The Rounders know their music and are comfortable playing
together. With tasty versions of 21 well-chosen tunes, "Wolves in the Wood"
offers the right balance of fiddle, banjo & guitar."
| The Old Time News:
(Friends of American Old Time Music and Dance, FOAOTMAD Gainsborough, England): "I sometimes feel that some of the modern Old Time bands play dance tunes too fast to dance to, so perhaps that's why I like this tape so much. Many of the tunes are well-known ones but not played in that kind of frantic way that takes all the swing and subtlety out of them. And subtle & tasteful is what this playing is, without losing any of the drive and rhythm essential to this music."
Bluegrass Unlimited: "The Reed Island Rounders is an old-time trio that has a firm grasp of
things old-time and melodic. There are some mighty fine waltzes to be heard on
this recording, along with some of those great crooked West Virginia
Betty's bowing has an organic grittiness to it that inserts a pointed drive to
© Reed Island Rounders, 2007