“A Collection of Instrumentals” by Section House

Section House
A Collection of Instrumentals
Mountain Fever Records
4 stars (out of 5)

By Larry Stephens

If you put a group of talented musicians together you expect some very good music as a result. Welcome to Section House.

This is a group of excellent bluegrass pickers but the music isn’t necessarily bluegrass. All fans of bluegrass know “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” when they hear it, right? You’ve never heard it played like this in G minor. Most fans would ask, “Is that – no, is it?” That doesn’t mean it isn’t good listening, it’s just not what you expect. Several cuts are old public domain numbers and their versions are not terribly dissimilar to what you may have heard over the years. “Paddy On the Turnpike” has been around forever and they rip the strings off playing it. “Shakin’ Down the Acorns” is an old fiddle tune that they turn into an interesting arrangement with some sparse interludes tying together the banjo and guitar leads. “Dance All Night” lets the fiddle lead. “Snowflake Reel” is another old fiddle tune with all the instruments taking a turn. It’s a simple D and A number with a Bb drop for two measures that adds a twist to the song.

Isn’t that bluegrass? Bluegrass pickers reach back for those old P.D. tunes all the time. But this is where they venture off into more of a jazz world.

“Veil of Questions” is a contemplative number, slow paced and thoughtful. It was composed by Aaron Ramsey and he leads off with his mandolin. He’s joined by Mountain Heart bandmate Jeff Partin with an interesting bass lead break. Partin also does an excellent job plaing Dobro on the project. Banjoist Cory Walker composed “Rat King” and it moves at a medium tempo with the instruments taking turns at major movements joined by sparse interludes. You’ll hear some good fiddle work by Bryan McDowell in this number. The fifth member is Jake Stargel and he composed “Pouches,” a quiet number that calls out for a glass of wine by the fireplace. The strangest cut is “Koopa’s Road” from Super Mario 64 by Nintendo. Strange choice but they make it work in the context of the other jazzy numbers.

This collection by Section House is excellent music—old–time, bluegrass, jazz— that lovers of acoustic music who are not genre–bound will thoroughly enjoy.

Section House