Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Old Man Luedecke

Old Man Luedecke is headlining the Wintergreen Concert Series January event this Saturday. The singer-songwriter-banjo player is among the finest of the young Canadian artists creating vital contemporary music with its roots in the finest traditional folk music. Here are a couple of reviews I wrote for Sing Out! Magazine of Old Man Luedecke CDs from 2006 and 2008.

Black Hen Music

The first you should know about Old Man Luedecke is that he’s not an old man. Chris Luedecke is barely 30 years, lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia and takes the bus back and forth across Canada playing folk festivals and small clubs.

While he writes lyrics like a keen-eyed observer of his own time and place, he sings and plays banjo like an old man from the Appalachian Mountains; a style he picked up from old records by Dock Boggs, Bascom Lamar Lunsford and others of that ilk.

Hinterland is Luedecke’s second album and it’s an appealing collection of modern songs sung and played in traditional styles.

Among the most interesting songs in this set are “Roustabout,” a nifty song that he uses to look at his life’s choices as his 20s come to and end, “Wrong Side of the Country,” in which he finds himself in Vancouver missing his love and his home at the other end of Canada and contemplating whether traveling is the life he wants. Then there’s “Notes from the Banjo Underground,” a weird song that kind of starts as a straight-faced spoof of a navel-gazing singer-songwriter but is actually an erudite bit of intellectual self-examination. In addition to his own songs, Luedecke includes a fine version of “Lost John,” the traditional song about the speedy fugitive from Bowling Green.

Luedecke’s banjo and voice are front and centre throughout this album. Occasionally, there’s some unobtrusive support from producer Steve Dawson on Weissenborn guitar, Benn Ross on homemade percussion, Laura Federson on fiddle and from some chorus singers. --Mike Regenstreif

Proof of Love
Black Hen

Although Proof of Love has more studio production and backing musicians than his past releases, Chris Luedecke –- who is not an old man –- continues to write songs like “Just Like a River” and “Little Bird” that combine old-time banjo traditions with his own contemporary lyrics. He also includes a couple of traditional songs to remind us of the older musicians who inspired him. His music is nice reminder of the timelessness of folk music. --Mike Regenstreif

Old Man Luedecke and Peter Katz perform Saturday, January 16, 8:00 pm, at Petit Campus, 57 Prince Arthur East, Montreal. Contact Hello Darlin’ Productions at 514-524-9225 for tickets or info.

--Mike Regenstreif

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