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May 16, 2010

Country Cooking


1 fiddle. 1 Manodlin, a-model. 1 Guitar, steel-string. 1 bass, electric. 2 banjos. That's right. TWO BANJOS.


Begin with tradition. Bluegrass. Kentucky. Dash liberally with new-york-city mentality. Stir in a heaped tablespoon of virtuosity on each ingredient. Begin adding spices. Eastern-European Jewish spices. Jazz Zpices. Jamaican creole spices. Original spices, in the shaker without the label. Maintain good humor throughout. Stir well, but do not over-mix! There should still be lumps in the batter. Put it in the oven, turn it up HOT. Really hot. Finger-busting hot. Remove from oven. Results should resemble bluegrass but be hotter, spicier, fresher. Call it... Newgrass.

Remember, this is 1971. This sort of thing had not been heard before. It was all new. This was perhaps the first bluegrass supergroup, possibly with the exception of Muleskinner, but they weren't really a working group. All the members went on to do other great things, each helping to define the new genre in their own way. We sit here in 2010, looking at all the beautiful branches around the tree of bluegrass. Well this was one of the first branches to split off, and if you look closely you can see that many of the others have sprouted from Country Cooking.

"Far from the southern heartland of bluegrass music, a full generation after the style took its classic form, a group of unknown urbanites from New York State made two albums which helped launch new direction in the music.

Built around the inventive harmony banjo arrangements of Tony Trischka and Pete Wernick, "Country Cooking" introduced a flood of original instrumentals and stylistic innovations at a time when recycling the classics was still standard practice.

Always aware of the subtle boundaries defining bluegrass music, the group progressed in two albums (recorded 1971 and 1972) from constantly staying just within the traditional rules, to boldly breaking them on occasion. Unexpected twists--whether in arrangements instrumentation, studio techniques, or tonaltiy--became their trademark. In 1975, a studio session yielded an underground extended play record under the name "The Extended Play Boys," represented by several cuts on the group's one re-issue CD, 26 Bluegrass Instrumentals.

All the musicians were in their early 20's at the time of the first recordings, at the thresholds of musical careers which later blossomed in many forms."

As a performing band, Country Cooking originally formed in 1970 in Ithaca, New York, playing both electrified country and bluegrass music featuring Pete Wernick and "Nondi" Leonard (later known as Joan Wernick) on lead vocals, and instrumentalists Tony Trischka (pedal steel guitar and banjo), Russ Barenberg (acoustic and electric guitar and mandolin) and John Miller (bass).

The opportunity for some of these musicians to record an all-instrumental album in 1971 for the fledgling Rounder Records resulted in the first album, Country Cooking, 14 Bluegrass Instrumentals. Assisting on the recording were Harry Gilmore (later known as Lou Martin), on mandolin, and Kenny Kosek on fiddle.

For the second album, Barrel of Fun, Gilmore was replaced by Andy Statman on mandolin and saxophone, and vocals by Wernick and Leonard were included. In 1974 the group recorded a popular play-along set of albums for Music Minus One featuring bluegrass standards played and sung in a traditional style. That same year the group re-formed with the departure of all but the Wernicks (now married) and the addition of guitarist Alan Senauke and mandolinist Howie Tarnower ("the Fiction Brothers") and bassist Peggy Haine. A final album, Country Cooking with the Fiction Brothers was released in 1975. The group disbanded in 1976 with the Wernicks' move to Colorado.

Country Cooking - 14 Bluegrass Instrumentals

Year: 1971
Label: Rounder

Russ Barenberg - guitar, mandolin
Kenny Kosek - fiddle
Lou Martin - guitar, mandolin
John Miller - fiddle, bass
Andy Statman - mandolin, saxophone
Tony Trischka - banjo
Peter Wernick - banjo

01 Big Ben
02 Shot From Guns
03 Cedar Hill
04 Armadillo Breakdown
05 Trouble Among The Yearlings
06 Pow Wow The Indian Boy
07 The Old, Old House
08 Pacific Slope
09 Orange Mountain Special
10 Jaybird/Fiddler A Dram
11 Theme Time
12 Farewell Blues
13 Hollywood Rhumba
14 Huckling The Berries

24 bluegrass strings.
vinyl, cleaned | mp3 VBR 208-236kbps | w/o cover

Country Cooking - Barrel of Fun

Year: 1972
Label: Rounder Records 0033

Russ Barenberg - Guitar
Kenny Kosek - Fiddle
Nondi Leonard - Vocals
John Miller - Bass
Andy Stateman - Mandolin
Tony Trischka - Banjo
Peter Wernick - Banjo

01 U S 40
02 Paul Revere's Ride
03 The Parson's Duck
04 Wagons Ho
05 Tequila Mockingbird
06 Lonesome Song
07 Big River
08 Barrel Of Fun
09 Morning Glory
10 November Cotillion
11 Colorado Bound
12 Six Mile Creek
13 Plumber's Nightmare
14 Kentucky Bullfight
15 Noodles

more than a bunch of monkeys.
vinyl | mp3 320kbps | w/ covers

Serving Suggestion:
Enjoy fresh or allow to mature...40 years.

1 comment:

drizzz said...

One of my all time favorite albums (ok, I say that a lot!)is Frank Wakefield with Country Cooking. Are you familiar with it? If not, it is definitely worth tracking down, I don't know if it ever made it to cd, I think it was one of the first records put out on the Rounder label.