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M U S I C R E V I E W S • SEPTEMBER 2007 • IRISH EDITION

The Contra Rebels - Down the River • Album Reviews By Jamie O'Brien


Contra Rebels Todd Clewell (left) on fiddle and Henry Koretzky on mandolin (photo/Emmy Truckenmiller)

Contradancers in the Philadelphia area and much further afield will be aware of this band, a regular on the dance circuit. Led by fiddler Todd Clewell with Henry Koretzky (guitar, on this album); Glen Carson adds banjo and Bruce Campbell bass.

From the opening "Four Potatoes" on fiddle to the fading mandolin trill some 40 minutes later, the Contra Rebels play in an infectious danceable style which leaves you bouncing in your seat (at least that's what I'm doing here at my desk!) There is a lift in the music that captures the essence of old time dance music, while the approach to the tunes also makes for enjoyable listening.

Clewell's fiddling swings and sings through the melodies, shadowed by Carson's effervescent claw hammer banjo. Koretzky and Campbell are inventive and solid creating the bed for the tunes to emerge from. These are musicians who know their music and know each other's playing.

The ten medleys mainly delve into the traditional old timey repertoire, but are not regionally bound: from Pennsylvania to Galax, VA to New England and north across the border, they have chosen a fine selection of varied tunes which fit together comfortably.

Featuring mostly reels, the band adds a delightful Pennsylvanian polka and a lyrical waltz - Barb Schmid joins the band on second fiddle for this. She also adds a harmony on the only vocal track, a song written and sung by Clewell which closes out the album.

If you like old-timey, contradancing or just plain good music, this is worth listening out for.

-- Album Reviews By Jamie O'Brien

 

 


June 24, 2006: Pennsylvania old-time group places 5th at 2006 Elk Creek, Va Fiddler's Convention. Todd Clewell & Barb Schmid twin fiddled, Bill Goldberg played the banjo, Mike Columbus on guitar and Suzanne Gates anchored the group on bass. "Sarah Armstrong's Tune" and "Shoo Fly" were the tunes played for the competition. The band was called "River Rhythm Ramblers"