MP3 Airtight - Bridging the Ages
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20 MP3 Songs
COUNTRY: Traditional Country, FOLK: Traditional Folk
Aside from the obvious inference about the band's extraordinary "tightness," the name Airtight identifies a prominent area of the Embarras (pronounced "Am-braw") river just outside Charleston, Illinois, hometown to all Airtight band members. There are only a few bridges that span the Embarras river in home Coles County, and one of the more important bridges for rural and agricultural concerns is at Airtight.
In much the same way, the Airtight stringband represents some significant musical and generational bridging as well. With ages spanning four decades, Airtight's bandmembers represent an extraordinary cross-section of musical and life experiences. You name the musical idiom and at least one of Airtight's bandmembers: John Bishop (fdl.), Jesse Danner (gtr.), J.B. Faires (bass) and Steve Harrison (bjo.), is likely to have engaged it, if not mastered it.
Airtight's focus is on Midwestern-style traditional American music. While prominent oldtime stringbands of the past couple of decades have nicely represented the Appalachian (aka "Mountain"), the North-eastern, some Southern and even Ozark styles of traditional American country music, Airtight is quickly gaining recognition as a shining example of the classic Midwestern idiom.
It's the dance music of rawboned, tough-as-leather prairie folks, and they liked it steppy.
Half the bandmembers share common roots with other current Midwestern oldtime stringbands such as New Bad Habits, with that band's lead fiddler Lynn "Chirps" Smith once being a fellow bandmember (on mandolin) in the renowned and officially declared state of Illinois oldtime stringband, the Indian Creek Delta Boys (1970s-90s).
It was with the Indian Creek Delta Boys that John Bishop and Steve Harrison were booked to play for some of the most prominent traditional music festivals of the day, literally coast-to-coast, from the Hudson River Clearwater Revival (NY) to the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, WA, and a kazillion venues in between.
Likewise, bandmember experience at commercial recording runs deep with credits including two commercial oldtime stringband albums plus the popular "Young Fogies" various artists albums (both Vols. I and II) produced by traditional American music champion Ray Alden.
Of core significance to Airtight's repertoire are the selections that were field collected first-hand in downstate Illinois in the 1970s and early '80s. Some songs and fiddle tunes presented by Airtight have never before been made publicly available, either by commercial recording or released from scholarly archives, the Library of Congress (Folkways), or performed in public -- at least not for several generations dating back to early radio days.
But don't let that suggest that Airtight's presentation of this treasured music is anything but spirited, up-to-speed, and abundantly fun; connecting with audiences young and old, musicians, fans and casual festival-goers alike. An Airtight performance means rollicking good entertainment, not a scholarly seminar on traditional American country music -- though it could probably double as either.
From original songs like "Old Days" and "Plum Pudding" to rescued-from-oblivion gems like "Malinda" and "Dixon's Hornpipe," to familiar standards such as Charlie Poole's "Baltimore Fire" or The Skillet Lickers' "Hand Me Down My Walking Cane," Airtight promises top-notch musicianship, ear-to-ear grins and a knee-slapping good time.
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