Published in Bluegrass Unlimited, May 2006. Used with permission.

On The Edge Review

The Hungry Hash House Ramblers

Passing the Buck

Flyin’ Cloud Records FC-045

There is a certain bipolar character to Passing The Buck. It’s both bluegrass and old-time and sometimes the transition is so jarring that you can get whiplash changing from one to the other. One minute you’ll be hearing a killer guitar break straight out of the Doc Watson school — fast, clean, true to the melody. Next minute, you’ll be in the midst of a scratchy, shuffling old-time fiddle break with clawhammer banjo supporting in the background. Doug Rorrer’s vocals, too, are distinctly old-timey, reminiscent of the Red Clay Ramblers. The result sometimes all works together, sometimes not.

Nonetheless, the musical skills of the Ramblers are readily apparent and on balance, this is a fun, easy-listening trip through a variety of material. Doug Rorrer and son Taylor masterfully share guitar duties, although the liner notes don’t say who plays which breaks. Taylor’s fiddle playing has a bit too much old-time pitchiness for my personal taste, but it sounds like what old-time fiddle is supposed to sound like. The instrumentals are the most effective — with Billy in the Lowground, Cattle in the Fire and Leather Breeches being particular highlights. On Passing the Buck, Doug, Kathy and Taylor Rorrer, along with their cast of supporting musicians, have put out an appealing and well-crafted collection of tunes.

Flyin’ Cloud Records, 168 Glenridge Drive, Eden, NC 27288

Archie Warnock, [email]

Archie's BU Review Page