Erynn Marshall is a Canadian ethnomusicologist and fiddler now based in Galax, Virginia, home to the Old Fiddler’s Convention, the longest-running fiddle contest. For Tune Tramp, she tramped around various locations in Canada and the United States recording 20 different tunes with various combinations of 45 musicians – an ambitious and completely successful undertaking – after noting that old-time music is played differently in different regional locales.
Erynn is a superb fiddler and she seems to adapt easily to whatever collaborators she’s working with from tune to tune and blend beautifully with them. Her fiddle is front and centre on some tunes and plays a significant supporting role on others.
Some of my favourites among many include a couple of tunes recorded here in Canada. On “Milwaukee Blues,” she fiddles and sings harmony with Pharis Romero on guitar and lead vocals and Jason Romero on banjo and harmony vocals. Then, on the delightful “Ragged But Right,” Erynn and her partner, mandolinist Carl Jones who is also heard on many of the tracks, are joined by Toronto-based musicians Arnie Naiman on vocals and banjo, Chris Coole on guitar, Chris Whiteley on harmonica and Ken Whiteley on jug.
A few of the other highlights include an up-tempo string band version of “Rovin’ Gambler” featuring lead vocals by guitarist Mac Snow; a Cajun version of “Poor Hobo,” sung by Joel Savoy and featuring twin fiddles by Erynn and Joel and a great lap steel solo by Carl; a sad duet with Skip Gorman on the Delmore Brothers’ “Fugitive’s Lament”; and the title song, “Tune Tramp,” a beautiful song written and sung by Carl with Erynn on fiddle that captures the spirit of the album.