Tangleweed | Just a Spoonful

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Country: Bluegrass Country: Americana Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Just a Spoonful

by Tangleweed

Acoustic Americana that combines hard-driving musicianship with high lonesome harmonies. Sing Out. magazine says 'Tangleweed hits on all eight cylinders'.
Genre: Country: Bluegrass
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Train 45
2:19 $0.99
2. C-Jam Blues
2:09 $0.99
3. Spoonful
3:09 $0.99
4. Banjo in the Holler
1:58 $0.99
5. Cindy
2:11 $0.99
6. Make Me a Pallet on the Floor
2:57 $0.99
7. Blackberry Blossom
2:11 $0.99
8. Columbus Stockade Blues
2:29 $0.99
9. Old Joe Clark
2:30 $0.99
10. Katy Kline
2:40 $0.99
11. Ragged But Right
1:59 $0.99
12. Orange Blossom Special
2:45 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
For generations, practitioners of that uniquely American art form known variously as old-time or string-band music - progenitor of country, precursor to bluegrass - have labored in obscurity, their talents unrecognized, their provenance maligned. The men of Tangleweed are proud to uphold that tradition.

Their personal histories, while colorful, bear witness to the manifold hardships and hard-scrabble existences so commonly borne by folk artists. Only one was educated on the Continent. Most were forced to leave college after graduation.

Like most such groups, Tangleweed typically performs at drinking establishments and other communal gathering places, where ordinary people come to wash away the trials and tribulations of their workaday lives. Such venues are far removed from the niceties of the concert hall. Yet they testify to the formative influence that context can exert on performance style. How easily does the plaintive keening of Tangleweed's vocal harmonies rise above the whine of milk frothers and espresso machines. How cleanly do their finger-picked melodies cut through the din of mobile telephones and personal computing devices.

Tangleweed's repertoire, which encompasses traditional fiddle tunes, African-American blues, rags, and stomps, was born in the rich soil of the rural agrarian South. Unlettered and without formal training, its originators gave rise to a deeply expressive musical idiom that spoke for and to a vast, poverty-stricken community of Euro- and African-Americans, for whom such music functioned first and foremost as an accompaniment to social dance. Tangleweed is proud to claim this rich cultural legacy, without in any way sharing in it.

Relieved of the burden of authenticity, unencumbered by troublesome notions of historical accuracy or, indeed, of personal accountability, the men of Tangleweed are free to pursue their own startlingly original interpretive impulses. So does a great tradition reinvent itself, often beyond all recognition.



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it's worth getting tangled
this disc is a whole lot of fun - a nice addition to my listening collection

F X Tourte

Skillet Lick'in good
These good old boys can really bring down the barn. This album adds spice and style to this great american artform.

Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now

Plenty of live exuberance and energy
Playing Time - 29:17 -- Tangleweed is a self-professed Chicago-based “foot stompin', moonshine drinkin', bluegrass group” whose new CD, “Just a Spoonful” captures their live exuberance and energy. Ryan Fisher (banjo), Paul Wargaski (upright bass), Billy Oh (fiddle), Kenneth Rainey (mandolin), and Scott Judd (guitar) appear to share a chemistry that results in some good-time music drawing inspiration from old-time, bluegrass, jug band and swing music.

Playing regularly since mid-2004, Tangleweed chose to record their debut live to two tracks in an empty second-floor Chicago apartment . There are no tricks, electronic wizardry, or overdubs here. For folks who like a few “warts” on their music (ie. not the slick studio productions from the dimple of the universe), Tangleweed does the trick. Their enthusiasm is infectious. Each track spans 3 minutes or less, and includes a few floorboards creaking, feet stomping, and perhaps even some heavy breathing. While this approach captures their live energy, vocals are bit hard to understand at times. My guess is that this 29-minute set was developed as both a demo CD and as a product to be sold. Their repertoire draws from standard fare in the hit parade of bluegrass, with warhorses like Train 45, Cindy, Make Me a Pallet on the Floor, Blackberry Blossom, Columbus Stockade Blues, Old Joe Clark, and Orange Blossom Special. Besides the title cut, other favorites were C-Jam Blues and Ragged but Right.

Tangleweed has some rough edges. However, with too much polish on their chrome, Tangleweed would lose their bluegrass spunk. They’re the kind of band that no doubt goes over better live than on a CD. I would imagine that they’d get plenty of people tapping their toes numbers like “Spoonful” despite its drug-related connotations. Their next project will be multi-tracked in a recording studio. Tangleweed is associated with TwangOff Records (www.twangoffrecords.com) which offers live recordings of Chicago showcase performances just minutes after the shows. For a mere $7, Tangleweed can also be heard on the December 2004 edition of “The Homegrown Series.”

Tangleweed plays mostly watering holes, and their primary mission seems to be for everyone to have fun in their presence. This attitude will no doubt allow them to just keep getting better and better with a few more years of experience and maturity. In the meantime, they may not be quite ready for a Grammy Award, but I appreciate their spirit and ability to get the toes tapping. As they sing at track 11, they’re a little ragged but they’re right. Pick up a copy of “Just a Spoonful” over the Internet from cdbaby.com (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)


Can't stop listening to this wonderfully preformed and up-beat CD form a great Chicago Blue Grass band. Can't wait for their next CD. Great talent; don't know why they aren't touring nationally.