records & reviews
- Country Ramblers - Live with Byron Berline 1981, Racoon
- Ben Brouwers - Enginedriver 1983, Munich
- Freewheelin' - Freewheelin' 1985, MC
- Detour - Honky tonkin' till it hurts 1989, Tanit
- 4 Wheel Drive - No doubt about it 1999, CRS
- Ruud Hermans - Little tear big smile 2001, MW
- Blue Dew - Life's other side 2001, EB
- Major Dundee - Home Skies 2001, Telstar
- Normaal - Effe zitten 2001, Mercury
- Major Dundee - Silver 2002, Telstar
- Dick van Altena - Lonely hours 2002, Telstar
- Dick van Altena - Moan boven de Betuwe 2003, Telstar
- Skyland - Moon over the water 2003, SCR
- Ruud Hermans - Stills 2003, CRS
- Dick van Altena - Snêw ien mien hart 2005, Telstar
- George McAnthony - Bridge to El Dorado 2008, GM
- Egbert Meyers - Hondsrug Sessies 2009, Promuze
- Erik van der Endt - Out on the road 2010, Big Oak Records
- 3 JS - 4 elementen 2012, Volendam Music BV
- Stringlers - One more round 2017, EB
- Sons of Navarone - Nobody's business 2017, EB
- Red Herring - Here to distract you 2017, EB
Red Herring - Here to distract you
This solid band from The Netherlands has a personal connection with bluegrass, but their repertoire is actually very eclectic with influences of singer/songwriter, folk, roots, world, gypsy jazz and Americana. It’s a unique and appealing sound, and the band should be a big hit among those with varied interests. With every track being distinctive, one wonders what surprise will next cue up on Red Herring’s third album. It might be some bluegrass with an original “Rather Die Alone” or a cover of Chris Jones’ “Uphill Climb.” Or it might be a poignant rendition of Dougie MacLean’s “Garden Valley.” Scandinavian and Gypsy jazz elements are heard in “Pigs Upon a Ninja.” The album features some special guests on Dobro, Uilleann pipes and banjo. It's interesting to hear the pipes within the context of a bluegrass original, "Rather Die Alone." You can tell that this talented quartet works well together, likes to share the spotlight, has fun and enjoys making music that moves and inspires.
This is a 12-track release that features sultry blues, sparsely accompanied ballads, introspective singer-songwriter material, gypsy swing with eastern European infusions (or vice versa), sly novelty songs, and driving bluegrass. It could pass comfortably as an anthology of diverse styles and players.
However, as a cohesive statement from a single quartet, which is what the group Red Herring from The Netherlands ends up being, it suffers from being so widely scattered over the musical map. The singers are all very different stylistically: Bassist Loes van Schaijk on her sinuous opening song “No Hearts Won” and the lively versions of Reno & Smiley’s “Barefoot Nellie” and the traditional “Wedding Dress”; Joram Peeters on his wink-wink/nudge-nudge originals “A Loved Man’s Lonely Blues” and “I’d Rather Die Alone,” as well as a rollicking rewrite of the Child Ballad “The Two Sisters”; and Arthur Deighton on his softly introspective originals “The Longest Day” and “The Beaten Track.” They’re all excellent in their own way, with van Schaijk’s expressiveness and versatility in different settings proving more effective overall than Deighton’s soft delivery and Peeters’ slippery phrasing.
The instrumental work is great throughout, with banjo, fiddle, resonator guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, guitar, and bass used in a variety of settings that keep things fresh for the listener from song to song. Unexpected touches, such as the foot percussion that supports the otherwise a cappella “Wedding Dress” and the novel, to say the least, pairing of uilleann pipes and banjo on “Rather Die Alone,” show Red Herring to be an ensemble unafraid to take risks.
The liner notes and press material reveal that the group lost its banjoist, Floris de Vries, in the midst of their making this CD, which may be the primary reason there’s a slight disjointedness about the album as a whole. With Paul van Vlodrop now holding down the banjo chair, the combination of steady personnel, and the obvious vocal and instrumental talents of the bandmembers should bring a clearer musical focus to future projects. For now, Here To Distract You is an intriguing representation of a band trying to develop its collective voice from a variety of individual ones. (www.redherringband.com)HK
Bluegrass Unlimited, december 2017