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MP3 Ken Waldman - 55 Tunes, 5 Poems

Old-time Appalachian fiddle and banjo--original tunes that sound a couple of hundred years old, or older.

61 MP3 Songs in this album (142:28) !
Related styles: FOLK: String Band, FOLK: Appalachian Folk

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Since 2000, Ken Waldman, Alaska’s Fiddling Poet, has released six CDs that combine old-time Appalachian-style string-band music with original poetry and Alaska-set storytelling. He’s also had six full-length poetry collections come out from five different publishers.
Summer 2008, Waldman shows he’s as ambitious as ever. His new book, Are You Famous? is subtitled Touring America with Alaska’s Fiddling Poet and it’s his first book of prose. Almost simultaneously, Waldman is releasing his seventh CD, 55 Tunes, 5 Poems, and it’s another of the one-of-a-kind projects that have come to be associated with Waldman. Recorded over three years in Chicago and Fairbanks, Alaska, the project documents Waldman’s considerable tune-writing skills. The 55 original tunes (actually 61, since there are 5 “bonus” tunes, plus an unnamed hidden track at the end) are mostly arranged with sparse, primal fiddle and banjo, occasionally with guitar (especially in the Fairbanks sessions), and even more occasionally with mandolin. For the most part, these newly composed tunes have both the power and simplicity of traditional classics, though there are enough reminders that it’s indeed 2008, not 1928, or 1838.
In Chicago, Waldman was accompanied by Jordan Wankoff, one of the mainstays of the old-time music community there, a multi-instrumentalist who has played on Waldman’s three most recent recordings. In Fairbanks, Waldman imported Mark Tamsula, from Pittsburgh, to join him. Tamsula, a member of several notable Pittsburgh string bands, has accompanied Waldman in his recent shows there, and proved an inspired addition to the project. Though the two CDs are obviously linked by Waldman’s compositions and fiddling, there’s always the sense that yet another satisfying little surprise awaits. The 2 hours and 20 minutes of music pass briskly.
A twenty-three-year Alaska resident, Waldman’s live performance has been described by Michael Miller, music columnist for The State in Columbia, South Carolina, as “Picture William Carlos Williams behind a dogsled. Walt Whitman jamming with the Carter Family.” According to Austin Chronicle writer, Ric Williams, “Feels like a Ken Burns movie. . . . Always recommended.” More recently, Shepherd Express Weekly in Milwaukee termed Waldman, “A one-man Prairie Home Companion.”

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