We review Fiddler’s Pastime
By Rob Dickens
“Luck’s a fortune” they say. “Timing is everything” as well.
Enough with the cliches. The point is that we were in Nashville last September for AmericanaFest. My colleague Jim Jacob and a couple of friends were hanging out at the Station Inn one night (a very worthwhile thing to do!), principally to see Missy Raines at the behest of our friends.
We agreed we would spend the entire evening there, thereby avoiding spending time rushing around to other venues and risk losing our prime vantage point.
After Missy Raines, Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley blew the place apart with a masterful set, a hard act to follow for sure. Mile Twelve did in fact impress with its next-up set and, in particular, the band founder and fiddle player Bronwyn Keith-Hynes was a delight to watch.
The aforementioned fortune is that we got to witness Keith-Hynes just before the release of Fiddler’s Pastime (out September 4, 2020) her excellent debut solo album that establishes her as an exciting fiddler par excellence and provides her with a well-deserved solo spotlight.
Fiddler’s Pastime is a fiddler’s and music-lovers’ paradise. The joyful exuberance leaps out of the speakers.
The proof of the bluegrass and traditional music pudding here is many-fold.
First, a powerful collection of original fiddle tunes and traditional songs featuring a marvellous bunch of guest artists Sierra Hull, Tim O’Brien, Sarah Jarosz, Chris Eldridge, Laura Orshaw and James Kee.
Two, four impressive instrumentals composed by Keith-Hynes – the lively opener “Henderson Hop”, “Open Water” (see clip below), “North Garden” and the dreamy “Michelle’s Waltz”. The two additional instrumentals are the driving twin-fiddle take on the classic Bill Monroe/Vassar Clements tune “Fiddler’s Pastime” and a fiddle/banjo duet on the old-time tune “Happy Hollow”.
Three, the vocal numbers include O’Brien’s perfect, dusky take on “The Minstrel Boy” (one of my all-time favourite voices), Jarosz’s soulful version of Peter Rowan’s “Last Train” (see clip below), Eldridge sings John Hartford’s tasteful “Natchez Whistle”, plus the classic “Hello Trouble” and ” I Don’t Know Why”.
Other musicians contributing to the album are producer Wes Corbett on banjo, Jake Stargel on guitar, Harry Clark on mandolin and Jeff Picker on bass.
Here’s “Last Train” and “Open Water”:
Fiddler’s Pastime is a celebration of Bronwyn Keith-Hynes‘s first year of living in Nashville, TN. “I moved here in 2018 and it’s been a really inspiring time in my life, being surrounded by this incredible music scene” Bronwyn says. “I felt like I had to make an album to capture some things I’m excited about right now.”
Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes picked up the fiddle at age three and never looked back. The daughter of a first generation Irish American father and southern American mother, her first musical love was traditional Irish fiddling. But after a childhood of deep immersion in Irish music and culture, she traced its immigration across the Atlantic ocean and into the Appalachian Mountains and found a sound that resonated even more completely with her in the bluegrass music she heard as a teenager. In 2014, she formed bluegrass band Mile Twelve and has toured with them for the past six years across the United States, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, the UK and Europe as well as releasing 2 full length albums. Accolades winning the 2014 Winfield Fiddle Championship and being named International Bluegrass Music Association’s 2018 Momentum Instrumentalist of the Year.
We review Fiddler’s Pastime