Peter Stampfel and the Brooklyn & Lower Manhattan Fiddle/Mandolin Swarm
Holiday for Strings
Don Giovanni Records
Peter Stampfel is one of America’s musical treasures, and at age 78, doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. He came to our attention in the mid ’60s with the Holy Modal Rounders (that’s his distinctive yelping on their contribution to Easy Rider with “The Bird Song”) and since then, his musical stew of old-time and string band music has continued without stop.
His newest, Holiday for Strings is classic Stampfel, an album that could have been released alongside any Charlie Poole 78 around the 1920s and wouldn’t have sounded too much out of place playing on the Edison in the family room. A brace of fiddle starts it off with “New Johnnie Get Your Gun”, followed by “New Polly Wolly Doodle” (Peter has a thing about updating the classics). “Star in the Wind” finds Stampfel in a sober mood, sounding somewhat restrained over the gentle mandolin and fiddle, while “Honky Doody” is a righteous romp about a homicidal maniac with a gun. Yee haw! His take on the Don Gibson tune “I Can’t Stop Loving You” isn’t going to make anyone forget Ray Charles sublime version, but Stampfel has the ability to take the song back to its country roots, and it’s completely charming.
In these trying times the madcap – but reverent – musical anarchy of Peter Stampfel is more important than ever. Don’t miss Holiday for Strings.