Praise for Hog-eyed Man’s “old world music of the southern appalachians”

(old-time tiki parlour 2018)

There is a conscious sense of playing music that means something, of playing it in ways that honour the tradition and those from whom the tunes are handed down.  At the same time, these are musicians who bring qualities of their own, reflecting their own engagement with what they're playing and infusing the tunes with character that brings out their life and soul.…

The fiddle is at the heart of their music at all times, which is not to downplay McMaken's role, essential to the sound, whether playing in unison, in octaves or in harmony. … A convenient way of getting a handle on Jason Cade's musical approach might be in the opening bars of Wounded Hoosier, where he plays the first time through entirely solo, drawing out the noble beauty and wistfulness in the tune, without ever overdoing it - understated emotion that never even hints at descending into bathos.  McMaken's dulcimer, when it comes in, grounds the tune still more in its Appalachian locale.  The way the two complement each other is strongly apparent in Kentucky Winder: 'We could play this gem from John Salyer all day', say the booklet notes of the tune, and I can believe it, listening to how they bring out the sheer pleasure of playing, subtly tempered with poignant edges.  They work around the tune trying different harmonies - both on the dulcimer and through double-stopping on the fiddle. Woodswoman strikes me in the same way, as they move fluidly through its changes, in almost hypnotic fashion. …

'True jigs are extinct in southern old-time music these days, but all the old-timers played a few,' we're told in the note to Marcus Martin's Jig, and indeed you sit up and take notice at the surprise of the 6/8 time signature.  No doubt there's an explanation for why jigs died out in the repertoire, but by including one here - taken at a stately pace - these two remarkable musicians help to foster the vivid sense of reaching out and securely grasping a music that might otherwise be lost to us.…

Redican's Trip To Appalachia [is] based on an Irish reel, probably composed in New York by Larry Redican in the 1960s under the title The Ironing Board (aka The Galway Reel, a now familiar Irish session tune).  The reading it's given here - faithful as it is to the original's melodic structure - breathes a different kind of life into it, with a lovely, relaxed old-timey feel.  I'd never have imagined the tune's origins if I hadn't read of them in the notes, and yet as other tunes here doubtless have some Irish ancestry, however distant, it is somehow not the slightest bit out of place.…”

— Ray Templeton, Musical Traditions

“As the title would suggest, Old World Music of the Appalachians explores northern European influence in early Old-Time music but does not restrict itself to this, so there is no shortage of hardcore Appalachian reels and breakdowns, along with some terrific Native American fiddle tunes as well. The record kicks off with a fierce take of Jack Wilson from seminal Kentucky fiddler John Salyer (1882-1952). On a record of flawless and inspired fiddle tunes, a few personal favorites include Woodswoman (Indian Squaw) and Rebel Raid from the playing of West Virginia-Kentucky fiddler Ed Haley (1885-1951); another Salyer tune Kentucky Winder; and the sublime, stately Indian Nation from Kentucky fiddler Hiram Stamper (1893-1992) that closes the album. …

Jason’s fiddling is powerful and inspired with respect to both the source recordings and spirit of the older generation of fiddlers that he admires. Not surprising given his life long journey exploring some of America’s earliest fiddle tunes and styles and as fiddle champion at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop WV. Rob’s back up on mandolin, dulcimer and guitar are always spot on with an innovative mix of melody, drone and chord voicings. For those of us who survived the dulcimer craze of the 1980s, Rob’s dulcimer playing is an absolute revelation. I feel like we hear Appalachian lap dulcimer on everything from “Celtic” folk to modern pop but rarely in its original genre of Appalachian Trad. and never so deftly.”

— Pat Mac Swyney, Folkworks

“Fiddler Jason Cade's new album with Rob McMaken and friends is a tribute to the great old mountain fiddlers of the distant past including Fiddlin' Bill Hensley. And it's a creative breath of fresh air too.”

— Paul Brown, Across the Blue Ridge

“For their fourth release, they outdid themselves again. The ambience and beauty of Cade and McMaken’s duo magic is colored and accented by the playing of four guest musicians… Drawing primarily on the archaic fiddling traditions of Eastern Kentucky and Western North Carolina, the nuanced and powerful performances essentially re-envision southern old-time tunes as if radio, the folk revival, and bluegrass never happened but the music instead continued to organically develop along some alternate path.

Throughout, Jason and Rob manage to let their own voices emerge as authentic interpreters of the tradition while remaining true to the wild, lyrical, and unvarnished aesthetics of the source fiddlers who they revere. The result is a captivating album of deep-vein Americana—gritty, emotionally rich, and timeless. The vivid recording quality combines with the thoughtfully interwoven strands of almost-lost musical sensibilities to give Old World Music of the Southern Appalachians a rustic-yet-refined sound like no other. This album is destined to become a classic!”

— David Bragger, Folkworks

Praise for Hog-eyed Man 3

(Yodel-Ay-Hee 2016)

Jason Cade won first place in fiddle at the prestigious Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop, W.Va., in 2016 and the two tunes he played in the finals are on this CD, "Buck Hoard" from Alva Green and "Old Hen She Cackled" from John Salyer. While those two powerful tunes feature Rob McMaken on banjo-uke on the first and Cade fiddling solo on the second, they are joined by John Grimm and Beverly Smith on many of the 16 tunes on this recording....

Great music, and particularly great fiddling, is a seamless fusion of rhythm and melody, which has the power to reach deep inside us and inspire strong emotional responses. Cade's fiddling does that to full effect, and the other players deftly enhance it. "Vance No More" has the plaintive fiddle floating over the solid base of the dulcimer. We get to hear vocals on an unusual and appealing version of "Bile Them Cabbage Down" from Byard Ray, on "Shady Grove" (note the nine beats in the A part), and on "Hog-eyed Man."... 

Even when you think you know a tune from its name, more often than not, you may be surprised at the versions here. There is gold and platinum and plenty of diamonds to mine from this recording, which has this reviewer's highest recommendation. 

It's a masterpiece.

— Steve Goldfield, Bluegrass Unlimited

Well, so here we are, present at the third coming of Hog-Eyed Man ... and the quality has yet to stumble on a single (metaphorical) stubbed toe. To the contrary, it continues to feel rather intimidating, in the way extraordinarily conceived and executed music can creep up and scare you. It's penetrating places of the heart to which mere ordinarily good music doesn't get close.

Fiddler/banjoist Jason Cade and multi-stringed instrumentalist Rob McMaken are at once immensely informed students of traditional Appalachian music and supremely able carriers of that tradition. Theirs are what some call the ancient tones.... Not even the novice listener is likely to mistake what emerges from their instruments as bluegrass or country. To the contrary, this is the mountain music of a century ago and decades more, from an electricity-free era when no phonograph records preserved the sound.

These tunes and playing styles can only be recovered from old fiddlers who learned from older fiddlers who learned ... well, melodies and interpretations carried hand to hand, voice to voice, surviving under their own power and living on because those who knew them believed they were worth keeping around. That they continue to speak to us seems, in an era when virtually everything is designed to be disposable, something akin to a miracle. There is indeed something sacred about traditional music, as if it dwells in some separate, invisible sphere untouched by time and age, allowing us to enter it if we have the wisdom to seek it out. It's hard to conceive, though it's perfectly true, that if you were born in a certain geography and in another generation, that music would have been all around you. You could even have taken it for granted.

On 3 the Hog-Eyes are joined here and there by two highly regarded oldtime masters, John Grimm and Beverly Smith.... A few titles will be known to those who follow these things: "Shady Grove," "Bile Them Cabbage Down," "Old Hen She Cackled" and -- yes -- "Hog-Eyed Man," but not in the standard versions. Not everything is solely instrumental. Some of the tunes feature singing, if not in the ballad sense; voices, rather -- even with lyrics as opposed to vocal effects -- as yet another instrument. The tunes come mostly from the Blue Ridge region (western North Carolina, north Georgia, east Tennessee) and eastern Kentucky.

The music is infused with an atmospheric and emotional richness of the sort that happens only when art and artist are in perfect alignment. There are other, entirely legitimate ways to present this music, of course. Still, something transcendent happens when Cade and McMaken get together to channel the ghosts of another age.

— Jerome Clark, Rambles

Rob’s mandolin (often cross-tuned) and lap dulcimer blend uncannily with Jason’s fiddle producing a remarkably rich blend.... The haunting magic of the previous recordings has not been compromised. The tightness and richness of Jason and Rob’s playing still shines through and the addition of John and Beverly adds a level of intimacy and gregariousness, especially in the songs where the voices of all the players blend beautifully.... The tunes and songs are always interesting and the apparently familiar titles always turn out to have a new angle, which might be a variation in structure or melody, or something as subtle as a different lilt or tempo. The expression in the playing keeps everything sounding fresh and new. The playing feels very personal, as if you are constantly being told a story, hanging on every note and every nuance. My own personal preference with fiddle music tends to lean heavily towards old scratchy field recordings and often, when I hear modern recordings, though I may be greatly impressed with the playing, I feel some raw quality of urgency or intensity can be lacking in comparison. The first thing that struck me when I heard this band was that their music and sound manages to be sublime and stark, profoundly technical and seemingly effortless, tight and relaxed, extremely well produced and timeless. An essential recording for old-time fans.

— Steve Blake, Old-Time News

The music here is full of strong playing and great taste, not only in the tunes selected but in how they are performed. Jason Cade and Rob McMaken, with help from friends John Grimm and Beverly Smith, treat us to 16 traditional tunes. They play a Manco Sneed tune, "Wiley Laws," with a third part gleaned from a field recording of J. Laurel Johnson, Sneed's son-in-law. There are even familiar tunes in unusual versions. They tap into the repertoire of the late [Byard] Ray, who processed tunes so much between hearing them and playing them, they can be strikingly different.... As with their previous recordings, we are treated to fine versions of a wide range of great old tunes from the South.

— Bob Buckingham, Fiddler Magazine

Praise for Hog-eyed Man 2

(Yodel-Ay-Hee 2015)

Cade has a taste for the arcane, pulling up tunes that are strange, eerie, and crooked. McMaken is a great old-time mandolin player and hacks out the melody at the same breakneck pace as the fiddle. Aside from the great old tunes -- some of which sound otherworldly -- what’s wonderful about Hog-Eyed Man 2 is that it’s moving to the traditional minimalism that’s become so important in Irish traditions.... When you strip the music away to the bone, you realize how much is at the core of the tradition.

— Devon Leger, “5 Artists Shaking Up Old-time Music,” The Bluegrass Situation

 

The new disc ... dazzles and moves once again. While profoundly traditional, it is also remarkably distinctive. Even those with only a nodding familiarity with mountain music would recognize as much immediately.... What strikes me is the sort of crystalline beauty of the performances, utterly unlike any you'd hear in the more modern sounds of bluegrass or country fiddle. This is vintage folk music in which the antique tones abound, the Scots/Irish roots of some clearly discernible, played with such arch dignity that it feels almost classical, or as if traveled through the ages to appear suddenly and mysteriously in our own... Each performance on this album transports the listener to a magical place from which we return only reluctantly.

— Jerome Clark, Rambles

 

Extremely well-played, ... this album is just pure fiddle joy as these two come up with refreshing settings for each tune.

— Bob Buckingham, Fiddler Magazine

 

"Fiddler Jason Cade and mandolin and dulcimer player Rob McMaken perform authentic old-time instrumental music from North Carolina, Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia with tremendous skill, an obvious passion and the utmost integrity. Tunes for listening, learning and teaching."

fRoots

 

“Very beautiful, and brilliant!”

— Jimmy Triplett, West Virginia-style old-time fiddler (Email)

 

“The results display all the benefits of the deceptive simplicity of their approach, in the straightforward beauty of this music.... The fiddle is almost always the lead instrument, [with] Rob McMaken deftly complementing the fiddle melodically and harmonically.... The music never loses its ability to involve and move the receptive listener.... As long as traditional music can be played with this degree of faithfulness to its origins, combined with a real sense of the modern musicians who are playing it, its future seems in very good hands.

— Ray Templeton, Musical Traditions

 

“Wow! What a gorgeous, artful CD.”

— Gail Gillespie, musician, former editor of The Old-Time Herald (Email)

 

A cracking selection of wonderful tunes. The disc showcases the remarkably wide emotional range of pre-stringband old-time music. Jason and Rob show considerable ingenuity and resourcefulness in the revival (and sometimes reconstruction) of these tunes and the intuitive improvisation around their melodies, taking their cues from the spirit of those innovative original fiddlers whom they revere.... That sense of fun (enjoyment and natural abandon) remains a constant in the two musicians’ playing throughout this record. Like its predecessor, Hog-Eyed Man 2 is highly addictive – trust me!”

— David Kidman, The Living Tradition

 

“Excellent choice of tunes.… Very nice album!”

— Dave Freeman, County Records

 

Praise for Hog-eyed Man 1

(Yodel-Ay-hee 2014)

An absolutely cracking CD. Played with vim, fervour and fire, it’s pound for pound one of the best albums of the year.”

— Stuart Hamilton, Blues Matters

 

One of the joys of reviewing is when you play a CD from someone you’ve never heard of before and it’s simply wonderful.… The droning rhythmic backup by McMaken combines with Cade’s powerful fiddling to make an almost mesmerizing sound. Anyone who loves old-time American fiddling will enjoy listening to this CD, and I will not be surprised if some of these tunes start being played soon in old-time jams around the country soon.”

— Steve Goldfield, Bluegrass Unlimited

 

“As honest and direct a representation of music sourced from past generations of North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia fiddlers as one could wish for. Cade has great tone and everything’s played with just the right amount of pace and attack, with nothing wasted or superfluous. It is a tremendous resource for fiddle players and a rewarding listen for the rest of us.”

— Steve Hunt, fRoots

 

“It’s quite remarkable, the depth and fullness of sound the two of them achieve. The duet seemingly expands to a trio or even a quartet sound.… Cade gets a thick resonant sound and solid drive from his fiddle. On the other hand is McMaken’s dulcimer, which reminds me of the playing of Irish guitarist John Doyle. From it we get a propulsive ringing attack [combined with] a drone that makes it an album highlight.”

— Bill Wagner, The Old Time Herald

 

“Hog-Eyed Man resurrect the fiddle sounds of the pre-recording era, taking the listener into a lost world of tunes deeply rooted in soil and history. Cade and McMaken conjure up an almost unsettlingly prodigious tone out of their instruments. Every cut is a gem.

— Jerome Clark, Rambles

 

This is a terrific album of North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia fiddle music, as relevant today as it was a century or more ago. Very few will attain this kind of virtuosity.… These two men have an incredible depth of feeling for this music. Beautifully played and an excellent historical document.”

— Mike Morrison, American Roots UK

 

“What you get here is pure unadulterated old-time music ... played with verve and commitment aplenty. Virtually every tune here is a discovery, and the impact is considerable when the musicians play as expressively as they do here. It’s glorious. The two musicians play spiritedly and give a sense of total involvement and feel-good abandon within the tradition they clearly treat with respect while making the style work for them as their own. Thoroughly recommended.”

— David Kidman, The Living Tradition

 

This CD jumped immediately to the top of my short-list of favorites both for repertoire and technique. From the exuberant kick-off tune, “Apple Blossom” to the rousing “Hog-eyed Man” at the end, this CD will make you want to get up and dance, or get out your fiddle and start learning. I’m already looking forward to Hog-eyed Man 2.”

— Mary Larsen, Fiddler Magazine

 

“Cade is a wonderful player, producing a tone that is rich and pure and powerful rhythms. The two instruments meld beautifully. Such a joy to listen to.

— Ray Templeton, Musical Traditions

 

“Jason Cade is my kind of old-time fiddler, with a powerful rough tone, double stops everywhere, a love for the lower register, and a strong rhythmic pulse whether the tune is sprightly (“Far in the Mountain”) or more leisurely, as in his excellent solo take on “Highlander’s Farewell.” The mandolin is put to best possible use, sometimes doubling the fiddle work, sometimes adding a bed of chimes, sometimes dropping out altogether—making for One Big Instrument you’ve never heard before but will want to hear again.”

— Rick Saenz, Lonesome Road Review

 

“An impressive collection of old time fiddle tunes. Obscure but excellent.”

— Dave Freeman, County Records

 

“Cade and McMaken's delivery of an archaic style and repertory is both emotional and expressive, transcending any particular age.”

— Walkin’ Tom, Folk World