No Fish Today
Washington, D.C. is the confluence of governmental power, but thanks to a lucky accident of geography and history, beneath that veneer is a veritable gold mine where a number of musical forms-blues, gospel, bluegrass, old-time, jazz, and folk music-converge. For those of us who lived in D.C. in the late 1970's, one group in particular embodied that diversity-Hickory Wind. My recollections of Hickory Wind stretch back to their debut album, At the Wednesday Night Waltz, on Adelphi. I was developing a passion for Irish and British folk music, and the revelation that a local group could successfully interpret those idioms left me awestruck. It wasn't long before I met Sam Morgan, Bob Shank, and Mark Walbridge. After 30+ years, I'm proud that these fine gentlemen are yet my good friends. In 1976, hot on the heels of their 1st European tour, Hickory Wind had just signed with Chicago's Flying Fish label and true stardom seemed within their grasp. But two years later, in a tale all too common in the music business, the group broke up literally within days of the release of their last album, Crossing Devil's Bridge. No Fish Today is Hickory Wind at their peak-delectable outtakes from Devil's Bridge interspersed with electrifying selections from their final performance-a combined portrait of a group whose musicianship, diversity, and talent knew no bounds. Some of these tracks-Orange Blossom Special, The Cuckoo, Little Beggarman-will be familiar to you, but put all preconceived notions aside-you've never heard versions as fresh or audacious as these. Alongside these traditional favorites are compositions by Sam Morgan and Mark Walbridge that fit seamlessly within the oral tradition that spawned these older selections. Doubtless, you'll hear a host of influences-Flatt & Scruggs, Hank Williams, Fairport Convention, The Dubliners--all happily co-existing in the wondrous mélange of Hickory Wind's unique sound. I've nothing but fond memories of Hickory Wind. Thanks to this CD, I can relive those memories as if no time had passed at all. Myron Bretholz Baltimore, Maryland October, 2009.