November 10, 2009

Old-Time in BoingBoing

When I was at Pickathon 2009, I stumbled across Frank Fairfield. He was interesting. I saw him playing informally outside of one of the venues and he drew me in because he looked strangely like a photo of an idealized old-time player from the 1920s. He seemed to have borrowed his wardrobe and even his haircut from a young Jimmy Stewart. I was kind of surprised he wasn't somehow walking around in black and white.

The tunes he was playing were familiar, like Barbara Allen, but his cadence and phrasing was such that only he could follow himself, if that makes sense.

Nonetheless, he seems to have created somewhat of a name for himself in the up-and-coming old-time scene of the West Coast. Proof in the pudding is a mention on BoingBoing, and a link to this video.

I learned from the BoingBoing article that he's even been in Rolling Stone:

"He's like 26 years old and he sounds like Mississippi John Hurt," says Robin. Fairfield plays fiddle and banjo player and strums back-porch bluegrass, complete with shaky jug-band vocals reminiscent of The Foggy Mountain Boys from way back in the '40s (think O Brother, Where Art Thou?).

"He's kinda crazy," says Robin. "He has his own radio show where he just plays these old gramophones. He just puts a mic up and plays all these field recordings from the 1900s; it's insane. He dresses like it's the early 1900s. He's born out of time, and his voice is amazing."

Buy his music: His self-titled album Frank Fairfield, and the EP I've Always Been a Rambler (Amazon MP3s).

He's playing a bunch of West Coast US tour dates from now through January: San Francisco, Eugene, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle and other ports of call.

So check him out if you like what you see there. From what I can tell, he certainly has an extensive old old-time repertoire and sound.

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