Anyone who thinks that traditional roots music can't be hip and cool has never opened their ears to The Duhks, an eclectic group of sharp-playing, hot singing youngsters who know exactly what traditional music of North America should sound like. It's a sweet, soulful blend of Celtic swing, Delta blues, and pure Appalachian mountain music, played with a lot of youthful enthusiasm and tremendous skill. Call it Contemporary Acoustic or Progressive Soul-grass, this is Americana, and it's great.
These Winnipeg natives do a hell of a job of proving that Appalachian/Delta music lives and thrives north of the border. Blowing away common perceptions of what old-time mountain music should sound like (not to mention blues, folk, and gospel), this fivesome, consisting of Leonard Podolak (the group's founder, who also plays banjo and sings), Jessee Havey (vocals), Jordan McConnell (guitars, pipes, whistles, and vocals), Tania Elizabeth (fiddle, violin), and Scott Senior (percussion), look more like a tough grunge band than they do either a high lonesome bluegrass band or a blues band, but they know their sound. It's a fusion, music drawn from the vast and eclectic rootball that is Americana music, drawing all the way back to the Emerald Isle for the sweet, lonely Celtic strains woven in with a rich gospel flavor, the down home sound of the hollers, and the thump and growl of the Mississippi Delta blues. Who would have guessed they come from Manitoba?
is counted as the group's second official disc - from Sugar Hill Records - it's really their third, counting a self-titled Canadian debut re-issued by Sugar Hill as well as last year's Your Daughters & Your Sons.
It's a more than worthy followup. Starting out in high gear with the lowdown blues of "Ol' Cook Pot," Migrations
is not so much a migration as it is a steady, straightforward demonstration of musical skill. Jesse Havey's voice rattles the floorboards on "Mountains O'Things,"
a richly mature voice (far older than she looks), practically mired in deep Louisiana mud. But after starting in the very deepest deep south, the music moves with some spritely fiddle to the foggy Smokey Mountains with "The Fox and the Bee."
The amount of music that these kids can get out of their instruments is proof enough that maybe Dylan didn't really have to plug in, after all. Standout track "Who Will Take My Place"
features layers upon layers of instrumental sound and vocal harmonies that plain send chills up the spine.
Combining traditional songs with new, Migrations is a terrific listen. The group shows more than a little promise, and are yet another example of what's wrong with today's country music, 'cause these kids should be on the charts. They should be shooting to the top as one of the finest young country acts today. But instead only those in the know can hear 'em. So spread the word. This group is great.
- Ol' Cook Pot
- Mountains O' Things
- Heaven's My Home
- The Fox and the Bee
- Down to the River
- Who Will Take My Place
- Moses Don't Get Lost
- Three Fishers
- Domino Party!
- Out of the Rain
- Turtle Dove