The history of American roots music in the early 20th century could never fit into an encyclopedia. It’s too ramshackle, too rambunctious, too radical. Fiddlers, guitarists, banjo players, and all kinds of folks rambled those early roads, learning from each other, inspiring each other, and pushing the music in new directions. Music constantly switched back and forth across the racial divide, beholden only to the beat and the dance.
It’s this fevered period of musical exchange that inspires Northwest roots music duo Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons. The songs on their new album, Take Yo Time, tap into everything from the hokum jug bands of Gus Cannon and the Memphis Sheiks, to country blues masters Reverend Gary Davis, Robert Johnson, and Blind Willie McTell. They also touch on ancient English ballads like "House Carpenter", Appalachian murder ballads like the classic "Tom Dooley", and the early jazz compositions of Shelton Brooks and Duke Ellington. All of these traditions are tied together in the swirling musical whirlpool of pre-war American music. With a well-rosined fiddle and an old banjo, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons are tracing these backroads, bringing the songs back to life.