With a lineup of fiddle, banjo, guitar, and washtub bass, The Gilded Bats play rockin' old-time string band music - from driving dance tunes to crooked modal tunes, from lonesome mountain ballads to rough and rowdy songs. Comprised of Norbert Sarsfield's West Virginia inspired old-time fiddling, Andrew Epstein's dynamic and inventive clawhammer banjo, and the rock solid rhythm section of Bill Bryant's guitar and Chris Clark's thumping washtub bass, the Gilded Bats are Eastern Iowa's premier old-time stringband. The Gilded Bats self-titled debut CD was funded in part by a grant from the Iowa Arts Council. The Gilded Bats are part of the Mud Dauber Records family of recording artists. ____________________________ CD Review The Gilded Bats are an old-time quartet from Iowa. Their self-titled CD is a joyous collection of classic old-time songs and tunes. The band is comprised of: Norbert Sarsfield, fiddle; Andrew Epstein, banjo; Bill Bryant, guitar and Chris Clark, washtub bass. All four members sing, and Andrew adds jaw harp to the proceedings. The liner notes to this CD are scant but informative. The band makes no mystery of where they learned the 15 selections here, and they supply both the classic source as well as a more contemporary link to the various tunes. The CD opens with 'Hail Against the Barn Door' from the playing of Lum Hawkinbury through the fine young contemporary fiddler Jimmy Triplett. As I sit here watching the snow ricochet off of my back porch I realize that this tune perfectly portrays the percussive repetition of the storm outside. Tommy Jarrell and Matokie Slaughter as well as The Rockinghams are the source of 'Baby-O.' The vocals have just the perfect amount of verve so right for this music. Later we are treated to another tune from the playing of Jimmy Triplett, 'Sally Coming Thru the Rye' with Ward Jarvis as the classic source. Fiddler Norbert Sarsfield really has the tune's wild and wooly nature captured and the rest of the band supply a strong foundation for this classic melody. 'Give the Fiddler a Dram' is oft heard but the Gilded Bats chose the Holy Modal Rounders version as their framework, hilarious lyrics and all. The CD closes with 'Sally in the Garden' from the playing of Lee Triplett. This spooky tune is a fine workout for Norbert and banjoist Andrew Epstein and it's fade out leads the listener to a hidden track, but don't fret, I won't betray the surprise. The Gilded Bats bear witness to the fact that old-time music is alive and well in the upper Midwest. Great job! --Tom Druckenmiller, _Sing Out!, Spring 2008 ____________________________ CD Review The debut disc on artist/engineer/producer Patrick Brickel's new label, 'The Gilded Bats' showcases a muscular, energetic old-time stringband that's steadily been expanding it's profile in Eastern Iowa. Comprised of Norbert Sarsfield (fiddle), Andrew Epstein (banjo, jaw harp), Billy Bryant (guitar) and Chris Clark (washtub bass), The Gilded Bats apply their kinetic pickin' to an endearing set of 16 evergreens culled from the hill-country canon -- and everybody sings with gusto. Befitting a band whose moniker was cribbed from the title of a 1966 novel by eccentric Gothic marvel Edward Gorey, the songs' subjects tend to be at least a tad bit twisted, as in the Holy Modal Rounders' 'Give the Fiddler a Dram' -- 'Pretty little girl with a red dress on/She took it off/I put it on/In come Johnny with the big boots on ...' Funded in part by a grant from the Iowa Arts Council, 'The Gilded Bats' is crisply played and sung, and the disc is brilliantly recorded and mastered (kudos to Justin Kennedy and Brickel), resulting in a freshly-packed barn dance that's ready to go. -- Jim Musser, Iowa City Press-Citizen, 11/08/2007 ___________________________________________ CD Review The Gilded Bats play old timey folk music. If you look on the back of the CD there's a logo for the Iowa Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. These guys wrote grants to pay for this CD - pretty nice trick I'd say. But The Gilded Bats aren't just clever, banjo-strumming slackers, there's some real meat on those bones/wings. The Gilded Bats are a lot more polished and less punk rock than their fellow travelers Escape the Floodwater Jug Band, but they have what a lot of traditional music seems to be lacking these days: attitude. There are a lot of talented musicians in Iowa City making music superficially similar to that of The Gilded Bats, but to my ears, most of it isn't nearly as interesting. I can't even put my finger on why that is, except that despite their accomplished musicianship they bring out the darkness, dirt and grit that keeps folk music from being safe and boring. --Kent Williams, Little Village, November 2007.
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