"The Middle Spunk Creek Boys" Review

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With the release of their album on the Major Records label, the locally well-known Middle Spunk Creek Boys have become, indeed. "Major" recording artists. The album, titled simply "Middle Spunk Creek Boys," was recorded live on January 23rd 1976 at the Walker Art Center Auditorium and was produced by the MSCB and George Hanson.

The songs on the album are: "Down Yonder;" "Glendale Train," "Unending Songs," "Faded Love," "Midnight Moonlight," "Sweet Georgia Brown," "Hattie Hale," "Henry," "Train Whistle Blues," "Goin' Up," "Fox on the Run" and "Weave and Way." MSCB tans will recognize "Unending Songs" and "Hattie Hale" as being fiddler Rudy Darling's own compositions.

The instrumentals "Down Yonder," "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Weave and Way" feature the ftatpicking of MSCB's guitarist A] Jesperson, the fine banjo of Al Struthers and, of course, Rudy's fiddling. Jerry Flynn, the fourth member of the group, gets his doghouse bass licks in, too, on Jimmy Rodger's "Train Whistle Blues." (Since the album waste recorded, a fifth member. John Mention, has joined the Boys on mandolin and fiddle.)

The MSCB vocal harmonies are impressive as usual. Since all of the band members can sing the high notes comfortably, they have the ability to intertwine their voices in ways most other bands can't match. (They do get carried away sometimes, however, and can resemble that not-too-well-known bluegrass group, Alvin and the Chipmunks.) My own favorite vocal on the album is "Faded Love," both because it's one of my favorite songs, and because of MSCB's arrangement. "Coin' Up" runs a close second.

"Middle Spunk Creek Boys" seems to me to suffer from many of the bad aspects of a live recording, some of which can be inferior mixing, lack of retakes, and the exclusion of favorite songs from the album because of mistakes or some guy yelling in the audience. The saving feature of most live albums is the fact that they are live, with an audience adding its own important part to the performance and with some sort of banter between songs. While "Middle Spunk Creek Boys" is a live recording, not much of the MSCB's warmth and stage presence come through. Even the applause sounds like it was done by a Sitcom machine.

The album has been receiving a considerable amount of air play, often being heard on KSJN (the Prairie Home Companion show), WCCO, KQRS, and WCCO-FM. Blueberry Bill Hood featured the album on his show on KDWB It is on sale at many area record stores, at the Middle Spunk Creek Boys own performances, or by mail.

The Middle Spunk Creek Boys are (still!) easily the best bluegrass band in the area. end their album is a great way to take their sound home with you. It's a "must have" if you're a local bluegrass Fan.

Countryside Magazine (sometime in 1977)
"Local Folk" column by Bruce Jaeger (years before he joined the MSCB)