Published in Bluegrass Unlimited, February 2005. Used with permission.

Ben Krakauer & Pete Frostic

Wide Open

No Label

There’s an audience for pretty much anything we’re willing to call music, from medieval classical music played on original period instruments to avant-garde, even atonal, pieces by modern composers like Philip Glass. Wide Open from Ben Krakauer and Pete Frostic, members of Old School Freight Train, is an example of edgy, largely improvisational instrumental duets that won’t necessarily appeal to the general bluegrass audience but provides the artists with a chance to explore their respective instruments, mandolin and banjo. Other than a traditional fiddle-tune medley, the songs recorded here lean more heavily toward counterpoint and interplay between the instruments. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, nor does it need to be. The highly-visible popularity of jamgrass bands and border-stretching players like Nickel Creek speaks to at least some segment of the audience, and one that may not necessarily be immediately visible at your local bluegrass festival.

Krakauer and Frostic are skilled players with a different idea of how to combine their musical ideas. While it doesn’t sound like the fiddle-and-banjo duets of Paul Warren and Earl Scruggs, it’s the derivative of that same heritage — two acoustic instruments, stripped down to the essentials of just two players working together to create one sound. Wide Open might be worth hearing if your interests range wider than most.

P. O. Box 338, Keswick, VA 22947

Archie Warnock, [email]

Archie's BU Review Page