Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer
Drum Hat Buddha
Signature Sounds CD 1266, 2001
Blue collar folk
Dan Macintosh, 17 November 2002
A song called "Ordinary Town" kicks off Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer's second album Drum Hat Buddha. But this is one extraordinary album of passionately topical songs, which are anything but your parent's ordinary folk music. "He was a proud young fool in a kick-ass Walmart tie" is the crude lyrical couplet that introduces this tale of small town blues. Carter & Grammer write songs as relevant as the evening news, laid over mostly acoustic music.
When Carter takes the vocal lead, their music adopts a blue collar Springsteen attitude. But when Grammer goes all melancholy on "Disappearing Man," she is the long lost American cousin to Linda Thompson. With its cello and violin accompaniment, "Disappearing Man" is cut from the same cloth as The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby." Carter can also be heard turning to his softer side on the spiritually tinged "Gentle Arms Of Eden."
"236-6132" may be the best phone number song since "867-5309" (admittedly, that one's not really a great song at all). Carter & Grammer kick up a little bluegrass-like dust on this mandolin-powered love song. "I Go Like The Raven" skips along like a cross between a barn dance and a skiffle jam, and "Highway 80" has Carter playing the auctioneer in the same rapid paced delivery found on "Rock Island Line."
Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer sing well, write well and never sound tied to the sometimes antiquated genre of folk music. Nope, this album ain't about ex-hippies crying in their beers while slumped over acoustic guitars. Rather it's a special place on the map where surprise guest musical styles cross paths with folk for an album filled with surprises.
After this review was written, we learned that Dave Carter died in July 2002 of a heart attack, at the much-too-soon age of 49. RIP, Dave.
performers Dave Carter, vocals, guitar, banjo, harmonium, mandolin, organ; Tracy Grammer, vocals, violin, mandolin, guitar, percussion.; Claire Bard, backing vocals on "Disappearing Man"; Tim Darby, slide resonator guitar; Lorne Entress, drums and percussion; Nancy Ives, cello; Billy Oskay, violin, harmonium; Eric Park, accordion; Donny Wright, electric and acoustic bass
production Produced by Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, with assistance from Billy Oskay.
songs Ordinary Town · Tillman Co. · Disappering Man · The Power and Glory · 236-6132 · 41 Thunderer · Gentle Arms of Eden · I Go Like the Raven · Highway 80 (She's a Mighty Good Road) · Love, the Magician · Merlin's Lament · Gentle Soldier of My Soul