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Mad Meadows spirit

02-20-2023

This post is available in  French or  English.

Mad Meadows, album
 Mad Meadows, album "That Day". 

Sadly, I was about to miss this album, as these guys do not think much about promoting their work. No longer suspense: I love it.

Now, I'll tell you why.

First impression

It quickly feels like a very nice album, to be played again, beyond discovery. Why? Because these musicians and singers are good, with their instruments and with their voices. Clearly, the goal was to make beautiful renditions of these songs, sometimes amusing, refreshing, or touching, depending on the tune. Some really moving indeed.

This goal is perfectly achieved. No showiness, no tinsel, no "Listen how fast I can play" (they can), they found the right instrumental, vocal, and tempo colors for each title.

More on the band further down in Alain Kempf's description. For now, let's have a closer look at this album.

Edward (Ed) Fernbach (mandolin, octave mandolin, mandocello, vocals) & Beni Feldmann (guitar, vocals). - Jam Hall
Edward (Ed) Fernbach (mandolin, octave mandolin, mandocello, vocals) & Beni Feldmann (guitar, vocals).
Mad Meadows, the band, as a quintet. - Jam Hall
Mad Meadows, the band, as a quintet.
Steffen Thede (banjo, vocals). - Jam Hall
Steffen Thede (banjo, vocals).
 

01 - I Just Think I'll Go Away (Carter Stanley).
Lead vocals : Edward Fernbach. Harmony : Beni Feldmann, Steffen Thede.
A classic. Enter peacefully in the album. Balance, very good sound engineering and delicate mastering, the sound is clear.

02 - That Day (Edward Fernbach & Beni Feldman).
Lead vocals : Beni Feldmann. Harmony : Susanne Sivers, Edward Fernbach.
A simple composition, but perfectly in style and extremely effective. Musicians will quickly want to play it.

03 - Spanish Pipedream (John Prine).
Lead vocals : Edward Fernbach. Harmony : Beni Feldmann.
Played a little slower than John Prine, this song with particularly invigorating lyrics finds here a joyful side. A small breath of John Hartford spirit.

04 - Don't This Road Look Rough And Rocky (Flatt & Scruggs).
Duet : Edward Fernbach, Beni Feldmann.
Sung entirely in two voices verses and refrains, like Flatt & Scruggs. A quiet tempo gives the instrumental parts a nice fluidity.

05 - Paradise (John Prime).
Lead vocals : Edward Fernbach Harm: Beni Feldmann, Susanne Sievers.
Another song by John Prine. It describes a small Kentucky town destroyed by the outrageous exploitation of a coal mine.

06 - Peacock's Perch (Edward Fernbach).
An instrumental composition, harmonically rich and driving.

07 - That's How I Can Count On You (Jimmy Martin).
Duet : Edward Fernbach, Beni Feldmann.
True Jimmy Martin style, well played, never too loud nor strong, with the right amount of energy.

08 - Footsprints In The Snow (Mac Wiseman).
Lead vocals : Beni Feldmann.
Apart from Mac Wiseman, Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Don Reno & Bill Harrell (improbable banjo chorus à la... Don Reno) also sang it. This folk version has found its place.

09 - Here's A Quarter (Travis Tritt).
Lead vocals: Edward Fernbach. Harmony : Beni Feldmann.
A country song. The Travis Tritt version was heavy, Mad Meadows makes it light and cool.

10 - Rock Salt And Nails (Bruce Philips).
Lead vocals : beni Feldmann. Harmomy : Susanne Sievers, Edward Fernbach, Steffen Thede.
This track really touched me. Very moving interpretation. A delicate mandocello riff reveals its intimate and deep side. This bittersweet song was composed in 1961 by Utah Philips, but he ultimately found it too harsh for recording. Others musicians did it, such as Bob Dylan, JD Crowe & The New South, Flatt & Scruggs... Good idea, this song might never have reached us otherwise.

 

Several listenings later, looking for a defect, a small trace of bad taste, I can't find it. Perhaps "Don't This Road Look Rough And Rocky" is the one that surprised or amazed me the least. This is where I found the fewest "Mad Meadows" colors.

If you are a musician, you may feel a strong urge to play some of these well-chosen titles. Besides, I wouldn't be surprised if we hear one or two (or three) of them in the forthcoming jams.

Ti' Pierre

 - Jam Hall
 

First, MAD MEADOWS was a duet from Freiburg (Germany) with two professional musicians :

  • Beni Feldmann (guitar, vocals). He also compose and sings songs in German, folk style.

  • Edward (Ed) Fernbach (mandolin, octave mandolin, mandocello, vocals) is from California. He is passionate with Bluegrass music. He also plays Dawg music with the excellent band Armadillo (check their Youtube channel).

Two other musicians sometimes join the duet. They also play in Bunch of Grass, who played at Bluegrass in La Roche in 2022 :

  • Susanne Sievers (fiddle and vocals) from Freiburg. She first played classical music, then Irish Folk, and later bluegrass music, in which she improved quickly these last years.

  • Steffen Thede, young banjo player and singer, living in Köln, now a professional musician in Germany. He also plays in a German songs duet with Beni.

I met these musicians in jam sessions here and there. We got along and they invited me to join them on the album. The recording was in November, CD issued in the last days on 2022. I played the upright bass on six tunes

This album reflects the different configurations of the group, playing sometimes as a duo, a trio or a quintet. The lead vocals are by Ed (“I just think I’ll go away”) or Beni (“Footprints in the snow”). Steffen and Susanne do the treble parts.

I really enjoy playing with this band. It can be fun and rigorous at the same time. Also it makes me speak German and English, and I like to play with younger musicians (Steffen under 30, Beni and Ed under 40.

As Steffen lives afar and is not always available, we often play on stage with an excellent dobro player from Freiburg, Frank Benn. 

I really look forward more live performances!

Alain Kempf.

The 10 tracks in this album. - Jam Hall
The 10 tracks in this album.
Alain Kempf, upright bass. - Jam Hall
Alain Kempf, upright bass.
Beni & Susanne Sievers (fiddle and vocals) - Jam Hall
Beni & Susanne Sievers (fiddle and vocals)
 

Article rédigé par Alain Kempf & Ti' Pierre

For more info or to order the CD (17€ shipping included for France), contact Alain Kempf : alain.kempf@iaho.fr

 

 

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