High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Jeff Tamarkin
Charlie Poole 1892-1931 was a hard-living, plain-singing, banjo-picking raconteur, amateur baseball player, mill worker, boozer, and bootlegger whose name may not be as well known as, say, Jimmie Rodgers or the Carter Family, but who nonetheless helped define what country music later became. Poole's recordings for Columbia Records, with a group he called the North Carolina Ramblers -- he was born and resided in the state -- have probably never been heard even by most who set foot in the Country Music Hall of Fame he has yet to be inducted, but for a relatively small cadre in the know, Poole is a giant. Loudon Wainwright III is one of the believers, and along with producer...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Jeff Tamarkin
Charlie Poole 1892-1931 was a hard-living, plain-singing, banjo-picking raconteur, amateur baseball player, mill worker, boozer, and bootlegger whose name may not be as well known as, say, Jimmie Rodgers or the Carter Family, but who nonetheless helped define what country music later became. Poole's recordings for Columbia Records, with a group he called the North Carolina Ramblers -- he was born and resided in the state -- have probably never been heard even by most who set foot in the Country Music Hall of Fame he has yet to be inducted, but for a relatively small cadre in the know, Poole is a giant. Loudon Wainwright III is one of the believers, and along with producer Dick Connette and a handful of collaborators including Chaim Tannenbaum, David Mansfield, and Geoff Muldaur, Wainwright built this album around both old songs associated with Poole and new ones that help move the Poole story forward for today's world. Poole was not primarily a songwriter; he took what he heard elsewhere and bent it to his will. But he had an inimitable populist style, a whole lot of attitude and charisma, and the kind of sly humor that a sly humorist like Wainwright certainly can embrace. Of the 30 tracks spread across these two discs, all but nine were found among Poole's own, relatively small catalog. Those who want to investigate should pick up the collection You Ain't Talkin' to Me: Charlie Poole and the Roots of Country Music. Without attempting to replicate the acoustic string band sound of the '20s and early '30s, Wainwright gets to the heart of songs such as "I'm the Man Who Rode the Mule Around the World," "Moving Day" with the Roches on background vocals, "The Letter That Never Came," and "Mother's Last Farewell Kiss," tunes that Poole waxed and which, in the hands of Wainwright, manage to open a window into the Depression-era life while remaining viable to contemporary ears. A sprightly "The Deal," known as "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues" in Poole's hands, features the always mind-boggling mandolin playing of Chris Thile, and seemingly the entire Wainwright clan including Rufus and Martha on "Only Old and in the Way" aids elsewhere. Loudon's new songs are intended not so much to conform to Poole's style although they do that, too as to embellish upon it. "Way Up in NYC" tells of the trip that Poole and his band took up north to the alien big city to cut records for Columbia, while "No Knees" finds him wondering -- presumably before it killed him -- what effect all the alcohol is having on him. The set's opening number and title track, "High Wide & Handsome," is another paean to living the high life that Poole probably would have endorsed. If even ten percent of those who hear Wainwright's tribute to this criminally under-recognized pioneer seek out the originals, then Wainwright will have accomplished his goal. Those who don't can just bask in some first-class Americana.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/18/2009
  • Label: Story Sound Records
  • UPC: 616892055167
  • Catalog Number: 1
  • Sales rank: 64,466

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Loudon Wainwright III Primary Artist, Banjo, Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocals
Geoff Muldaur Banjo
Michael Davis Trombone
Peter Ecklund Trumpet, Human Whistle
Erik Friedlander Cello
Dan Levine Trombone, Euphonium
David Mansfield Bass, Dobro, Mandolin, Violin, Background Vocals
Ben Perowsky Drums
Suzzy Roche Background Vocals
Marcus Rojas Tuba
Chaim Tannenbaum Banjo, Guitar, Harmonica, Mandolin, Vocals, Background Vocals
Terre Roche Background Vocals
Dave Roche Background Vocals
Paul Woodiel Violin
Martha Wainwright Background Vocals
Rufus Wainwright Background Vocals
Maggie Roche Vocals, Background Vocals
Chris Thile Mandolin, Background Vocals
Sloan Wainwright Background Vocals
Dick Connette Cymbals, Bass Drums, Background Vocals
Paul Asaro Piano
Stefan Schatz Drums
Matt Munisteri Banjo, Guitar
Tim Luntzel Bass
Dan "D Unit" Levine Trombone, Euphonium
Rayna Gellert Violin
Danielle Farina Viola
Rob Moose Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Violin, national steel guitar, Guitar (Tenor)
Wade Schuman Harmonica
C.J. Camerieri Trumpet, French Horn
Lucy Roche Vocals, Background Vocals
Dana Lyn Violin
Gabriel Kahane Piano
Dave Roche Background Vocals
Michael Davis Trombone
Technical Credits
Geoff Muldaur Arranger
Loudon Wainwright III Composer, Liner Notes, Photo Courtesy
W.C. Handy Composer
Jeff Cook Engineer
Paul Dresser Composer
Peter Ecklund Whistle
Scott Lehrer Engineer
Stewart Lerman Engineer
David Mansfield String Arrangements
Johnny Lee Schell Engineer
Andrew B. Sterling Composer
Harry Von Tilzer Composer
Terre Roche Vocal Arrangements
R.E. Winsett Composer
Greil Marcus Liner Notes
Jack Norworth Composer
Scott Hull Mastering
Dick Connette Arranger, Composer, Producer, Liner Notes, Vocal Arrangements, Song Notes
Albert Von Tilzer Composer
Will Handy Composer
Matt Munisteri Arranger
Traditional Composer
Kinney Rorrer Liner Notes, Photo Courtesy
Rob Moose Arranger
Alex Venguer Engineer
Rufus K. Stanley Composer
C.J. Camerieri Brass Arrangment
P.J. Downey Composer
Max Sturm Composer
L.T. Billings Composer
Jean C. Havez Composer
J. Fred Helf Composer
E.P. Moran Composer
Bret Harte Composer
Barney Elliot Warren Composer
R. E. Winsett Composer
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