Unfortunate Rake: Yellow Mercury, Vol. 2

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All Music Guide - James Christopher Monger
Traditional bluegrass and country have undergone a renaissance of late. With more and more young musicians being turned on to the collected works of Alan Lomax and Harry Smith, the urge to sepia tone their own muse has resulted in some remarkable recordings. Like fellow Californians Gillian Welch and Creedence Clearwater Revival, San Francisco's Crooked Jades discovered that their roots lie in the hills and swamplands of the Southeast, and have convinced the masses of their questionable lineage with an authenticity that rivals their Smithsonian Folkways heroes. Unfortunate Rake, Vol. 2: Yellow Mercury is a reverent set of traditional and original dances, ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Christopher Monger
Traditional bluegrass and country have undergone a renaissance of late. With more and more young musicians being turned on to the collected works of Alan Lomax and Harry Smith, the urge to sepia tone their own muse has resulted in some remarkable recordings. Like fellow Californians Gillian Welch and Creedence Clearwater Revival, San Francisco's Crooked Jades discovered that their roots lie in the hills and swamplands of the Southeast, and have convinced the masses of their questionable lineage with an authenticity that rivals their Smithsonian Folkways heroes. Unfortunate Rake, Vol. 2: Yellow Mercury is a reverent set of traditional and original dances, ballads, children's songs, and dirges played by 12 very talented musicians on period instruments and co-produced by Richard Buckner, who contributes a haunting lead vocal to Hank Williams' "Heaven Holds All My Treasures." You can almost hear the crackle of the needle on string band standards like "Knoxville Rag" and "Shady Grove," and the warm drone of "Yerba Buena Lament" shows a flair for experimentation that suits the collective's ambitious nature. There's an underlying darkness to Yellow Mercury that reveals itself on the melancholy closer "So Many People So Far from Their Hearts." Band leader and archivist Jeff Kazor's lament for California's greedy past, with its refrain of "One more in the name of success," causes the listener to backtrack through the reels and waltzes of Unfortunate Rake, Vol. 2 with a cautious ear and a heavier heart and marvel at the many guises of human nature.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/19/2003
  • Label: Copper Creek
  • UPC: 722321200524
  • Catalog Number: 2005

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Crooked Jades Primary Artist
Mayne Smith Pedal Steel Guitar, Guest Appearance
Adam Tanner Fiddle, Mandolin, Guitar (Tenor), Guest Appearance
Richard Buckner Guitar, Piano, Vocals, tiple, Vocal Harmony, Guest Appearance, Baritone Ukulele
Lynn Daniel Bass, Guest Appearance
Lisa Berman Banjo, Dobro, Vocals, Slide Guitar, Guitar (Resonator), Vocal Harmony, Baritone Ukulele, Group Member
Tom Lucas Banjo, Ukulele, Vocals, Background Vocals, Quills, Group Member
David Bamberger Bass, Group Member
Michael Ismerio Fiddle, Guest Appearance
Kevin Sandri Bass, Guest Appearance
Jeff Kazor Guitar, Hammond Organ, Vocals, Group Member
Stephen "Sammy" Lind Banjo, Guest Appearance
Stephanie Prausnitz Fiddle, Vocals, Background Vocals, Group Member
Technical Credits
Uncle Dave Macon Composer
John Fahey Composer
Larry Crane Engineer
Bruce Kaphan Mastering
Adam Tanner Composer
Hank Williams Composer
Richard Buckner Producer
John Croslin Engineer
Lisa Berman Graphic Design
Tom Lucas Composer
Traditional Composer
Scott Solter Engineer
Jeff Kazor Composer, Sound Effects, Producer, Liner Notes
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    High-geared musicians that really feel their old-timey oats

    Total Playing Time - 66:58 -- An old-timey band from the San Francisco Bay area, The Crooked Jades have a motto that "Old Time is Not a Crime." Guitarist Jeff Kazor formed the band in 1994. Besides Kazor, this album features four other Jades (Lisa Berman, Tom Lucas, Stephanie Prausnitz, Dave Bamberger), along with seven other special guests. On 23 tracks, the various instruments played include 6-string guitar, tenor guitar, high-strung guitar, fiddle, Hawaiian slide, banjo ukelele, baritone ukelele, organ, banjo, resophonic guitar, mountain dulcimer, pedal steel, tiple, single quill, mortar & pestle, and bass. The album's subtitle, Yellow Mercury, and the inspiration for the two Kazor instrumentals, "Yellow Mercury No. 1" and "Yellow Mercury No. 2" refer to the slang term for gold. Kazor uses it as an analogy for the greed, corruption, deception and environmental damage that resulted from the gold rush and its byproducts. Their material draws heavily from the traditional, and liner notes acknowledge the sources for all pieces from Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and elsewhere. The band is at its best with lively twin fiddled favorites like "Indian Ate A Woodchuck," and "Tell Her To Come Back Home," snappy numbers with plenty of pep. Seven Jeff Kazor originals are also included, and he tends to write slower ballads and laments. His most interesting offering, co-penned with Tom Lucas, is "New Lost Mission Blues," a lament about San Francisco's Mission District where restoration by the middle class is displacing low-income folks. The song includes minstrel banjo, a grinding stone's rhythm and a fife-like instrument called the single quill. Fiddler Adam Tanner also composed "The Bull and The Bear" and "A Broken Time," two bouncy instrumentals. The Crooked Jades have recorded three albums for Copper Creek, but this is their first after a three year hiatus. The sheer number of tracks, and the variety of instruments, make this an interesting and worthy old-time project. The Crooked Jades are a band of high-geared musicians that really feel their old-timey oats. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)

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