A blend of bluegrass/old time string band traditions and modern pop ideas, Hoe consists of 12 original songs--9 vocal, 3 instrumental--played on acoustic instruments (5-string banjo, mandolin, fiddle, upright bass, guitar--no percussion). Some have labeled it alt. Bluegrass, others Contempory Old Time String Band Music. Whatever it is, Hoe began as the first solo recording by the veteran Connecticut-based side-man/session player DICK NEAL. He is also the producer of acclaimed CD's by such artists as CHRIS BERARDO (Pure Faith, American Dust), THE MOCKING BIRDS (Still Here), and MARC DOUGLAS BERARDO (As You Make Your Way). Dick wrote or co-wrote the tunes on Hoe, produced the sessions, and played banjo, mandolin, and dobro. He also makes his debut as a lead vocalist on this set. After the release of the CD the main musicians appearing on Hoe (Liam Bailey: voice, fiddle, mandolin, resophonic guitar; Steve Combs: upright bass; Dick Neal: voice, 5-string banjo, mandolin; Chris Teskey: voice, Martin d-18 flat top guitar) became a performing quartet named--aptly enough, Hoe; Hoe regularly play shows around Connecticut, Massachusetts and the New York City area. The Hoe sessions were held at Dick's house over a long weekend, all tracks recorded 'live'--including most of the vocals--with the musicians facing each other in a circle. There were no headphones or isolation, the idea being to capture the feel of an after hours picking session at a hotel or in a living room. Overdubs and production tricks were kept to a minimum. The music on the CD is very, very simple--which is not easy to pull off; the songs are playful: songs about drinking, songs about eating--in fact Hoe may have invented the genre of 'eating songs' ('Piece of That Pie', 'Taste of Love', 'Everybody Got Some But Me')to go along with the more well-established category of 'drinking songs' ('The Whiskey Lake'). You can hear the joy in this music: it smiles; the writers play with their language, and the players have fun with theirs. Listen to the explosive slide guitar of Chris 'Smokin' Opey' D'Amato on 'When These Hard Times Are Over'; Liam Bailey's mad alternate-tuned fiddling on 'Piece of that Pie'; the deft bluegrass rhythm guitar of Chris Teskey on 'Mary's Room'; Steve Combs upside-down bass runs on 'Thief of Fire'--all this plus two Dick Neal 5-string banjo instrumentals, 'Walker's Mill' and 'Hickory Hill Hornpipe'.
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