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Middle Spunk Creek Boys | Table for One

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Table for One

by Middle Spunk Creek Boys

The fourth album by Minnesota's ancient and venerable bluegrass band, going even further afield stylistically, but always keeping a foot firmly on bluegrass first base.
Genre: Country: Bluegrass
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Little Willie's Return
1:47 album only
2. Girl of My Dreams
2:10 album only
3. Our Hearts Beat in 3/4 Time
3:25 album only
4. He Died Alone
4:36 album only
5. The Erlking
3:01 album only
6. Tell Me Something
2:59 album only
7. Roll On John
4:19 album only
8. Spirit Island
2:01 album only
9. Table for One
2:24 album only
10. Over in the Glory Land
2:12 album only
11. Luther and Angie
4:29 album only
12. When the Roses Bloom
2:36 album only
13. Picture on the Wall
2:12 album only
14. Right Way to Say Goodbye
2:23 album only


Album Notes
The Middle Spunk Creek Boys have been entertaining upper Midwest audiences with their special form of Bluegrass music since 1968.*

*(1968: Lyndon Johnson president, North Korea captures the USS Pueblo, Tet Offensive in Vietnam, Martin Lu-ther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy killed, Soviets invade Czechoslovakia, Middle Spunk Creek Boys form, Jacqueline Kennedy marries Aristotle Onassis, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In top TV show.)

"Table for One" is the Middle Spunk Creek Boys' fourth album. Here's what a couple of fine pickers have to say about it:

Adam Granger (of Granger Music Publications) says in "Inside Bluegrass" magazine:

In the early Seventies, when I lived in Arkansas and Nashville, I used to read in Bluegrass Unlimited about this joint called Dulono's and a band that played there called The Middle Spunk Creek Boys. When I moved to Minneapolis in 1974, they were the first band I found (I went to hear them play at Hamline University). In short, The Middle Spunk Creek Boys have been around since Demosthenes was gargling rocks. Well, okay, not all of them, but I defy you to guess which ones are the originals.

Bands as venerable as the Spunks carry a huge potential for crustiness. I mean, these guys could just as easily be doing "Fox on the Run" on the Old Goat circuit; believe me, it's a constant temptation for all of us older musicians. It's particularly gratifying, then, to find that they've created an album as fine as "Table for One."

Guitarist Alan Jesperson, mandolinist Bruce Jaeger, and bassist Jerry Flynn have been Spunks forever. The addition a couple of years ago of Madison transplant Mark Kreitzer gave these three stalwarts a shot in the collective arm. Kreitzer gives The Middle Spunk Boys a new sound and feel and heralds their fourth or fifth major incarnation. That his entry into Spunkdom would shake the clubhouse rafters is inevitable, since he's a prolific songwriter and plays about three thousand instruments. As for the other three, it's as though they said, "Oh, you're gonna be that good, eh? Well, four can play this game." The result is that I've never heard any of these guys play or sing better.

The fourteen cuts on "Table for One" reflect the current Spunk's depth and breadth. Nine of the songs are Kreitzer compositions (told you he was prolific), and run the range from "He Died Alone," about his dad, to "Little Willie's Return": imagine a Child Ballad about Columbine. Be not misled, however: This album is not The Mark Kreitzer Story.
Jesperson's vocals are topnotch and his rhythm guitar playing, always great, is super this time out; Jaeger contributes a spiffy instrumental, "Spirit Island," which is the dynamic highlight of the album, and does yeoman duty on his tenor, low tenor and baritone vocal work; and Jerry Flynn surprises and inspires with his rendition of "Roll On John," which tips its hat to The Greenbriar Boys' arrangement of forty years ago before cruising gamely into Spunkland. The Spunks' vocal abilities shine and dominate throughout, in combinations from solo to four-part; standouts are He Died Alone and Over in the Glory Land.

"Table for One" has its fair share of little surprises, like the bodhran on "The Erlking," played by engineer Leo Whitebird's wife Robin, and the swell 45-second fade at the end of Kreitzer's "Luther and Angie" (Oops. Now they're not surprises anymore .... )

Finally, let's talk about "Table for One's" cover: the image of the four Spunks sitting, each alone, at tables in a restaurant seems at first parodic and invites a response of laughter, but as the irony in the image emerges, more challenging emotions are ordered up. And, the fact that the restaurant is Dulono's is just plain fun.

Congratulations, Middle Spunk Creek Boys. Your bullet-dodging and rock-gargling have paid off. You've done some serious hard work, and it shows. Great album, boys.


Alan Munde says:

The Middle Spunk Creek Boys is a band with a history of more than thirty years of sturdy Mid-America bluegrass music-making. One reward for this longevity is that it allowed them to develop and become comfortable with their musical personality. This maturity gives the band the freedom to forego worries about "licks," hurrying through the music, or great first impressions. It frees them to concentrate on meaning and content, a great place to be to make music.

The Middle Spunk Creek Boys have taken full advantage of their position, putting together a package of songs and musical arrangements that offer a mature musical perspective, a rare occurrence in bluegrass music. The band comfortably and naturally offers songs with traditional themes of love and love lost, as well as contemporary issues often ignored in bluegrass music. The majority of these songs come from the fertile minds of the band members, another indicator of the their stong sense of themselves.

The music of the Middle Spunk Creek Boys comes from a world-wise place that can only be gotten to over time.



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