Bob Shank's latest an exceptional CD
"Don't Worry About the Moon"
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rich in textures and steeped in the traditions of West Virginia music (yet venturing far afield), multi-instrumentalist Bob Shank is another of West Virginia's fine musicians to utilize new tools to present music with an age-old tradition. Shank, a longtime veteran never afraid to mix and match styles, plays a variety of instruments, from his mainstay banjo to hammered dulcimer, guitar, cello banjo, piano and percussion.
The record is delicately understated, with the soft, muted tones of his banjo drawing you deep into worlds that, in many ways, no longer exist. As the sprawl of subdivisions and shopping centers surreptitiously inch toward West Virginians' back porches, Shanks' music is a welcome respite and a chance to sniff the flavor of a West Virginia that is being swallowed by the outside. A bit heavy perhaps, but true.
Mostly instrumental, the songs range from the old-timey "Roller Snake" to my favorite, "Tunisian Radio," which is rich with Middle Eastern scales and flavors. His sing-along, "Song With an Eye in the Middle," is both intricate and sly, while Mike Furbee's "The Glue Won't Dry" showcases Shank's fleet banjo frailing. Shank takes a turn on a pair of fiddler Jenny Allinder tunes, "Shank's Favorite" and "Three Wheel Hannah," doubling the melody on hammered dulcimer on the latter with exceptional results.
He saves the title track for almost last. It's a gorgeous piece (named after an 800-year-old poem by Persian poet Hafiz) with the harmonics of the hammered dulcimer mixing and ringing.