The People Need Light
From his early days as a original member of the David Grisman Quintet, or as a member of Montreux or the Turtle Island String Quartet, violinist Darol Anger has been at the cutting edge of acoustic music, and with his newest ensemble, Mr. Sun on The People Need Light, his evocative fiddle playing has found new avenues in which to cast its playful yet consummate skill. Along with Anger Mr. Sun consists of mandolin player and occasional vocalist Joe Walsh from The Gibson Brothers, Grant Gordy from various David Grisman groups, and bassist Ethan Jodziewicz, and together they call their sound “American String Band Music from an intergenerational tribe” and that it is.
Starting off with one of the two vocal numbers on the record, “The Likes of You” finds the group sounding a bit like the great Aereo-Plain band of John Hartford, which is to say brilliant musicians putting their strengths together in the cause of the song, never overshadowing each other or the tune. It’s a great way to introduce the band, and the rest of the 11 tracks give each artist a chance to shine and illustrate that “String bands” or acoustic music as a whole has certainly progressed from its old-time or bluegrass origins and the creation of “Dawg Music” from the master Grisman.
Today there are a plethora of sounds, from the funked-out jazz of Bela Fleck to the indescribable Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile, and Mr. Sun sits comfortably amid them all. From their take on the chestnut “If I Were A Bell” to originals such as “Hunter’s Permit” and a re-take of Anger’s “Key Signator”, (first heard on his debut, Fiddlistics from 1979), the four piece is a testament to the virtuosity of each, from the driving flatpicking of Gordy in concert with the melodious mandolin of Walsh. And of course Darol Anger again does things with a fiddle that we haven’t heard since Grappelli, with soaring lines of equal parts whimsy and melodic force, propelling the groups sound into unexpected areas. Mr. Sun’s The People Need Light is a breathless, toe-tapping romp of a good time.