Maria Muldaur – Garden of Joy / Barnyard Dance (CD review)

Maria Muldaur’s Garden of Joy (Stony Plain) CD review

What? Jug band music in this day and age?  You betcha.  For Maria Muldaur it’s sort of coming full-circle; she first rose to prominence in the early Sixties with the Even Dozen Jug Band before going solo with the surprise 1974 smash “Midnight at the Oasis.”  Muldaur has always been a lover of classic American folk music, so it makes sense for her to return to her roots.

With Garden of Joy, she’s enlisted the help of some old friends, including John Sebastian of the Lovin’ Spoonful, Dave Grisman, who’s worked with a lot of people including Jerry Garcia, and bluesman Taj Mahal.  Also joining Muldaur is Dan Hicks, who duets on the hilarious medley “Life’s Too Short / When Elephants Roost in Bamboo Trees” (I’m really not sure how she keeps a straight face!). She’s also discovered a young jug band enthusiast Kit Stovepipe who plays some stunning ragtime guitar.

In listening to this disc, the first thing you notice is how much fun it is.  It’s downright infectious, sure to put a smile on your face.  Even the more gloomy stuff isn’t really that down.  The other amazing thing is how relevant some of these old songs are.  Take for example “Bank Failure Blues,” originally written in 1929, the sentiment is still pertinent today.  The production is clean and earthy (it was done in her living room).  In lesser hands, this type of an album would be an absolute mess.  But, with Garden of Joy, Maria Muldaur proves once again that she has a keen ear for making the old sound new again. –Tony Peters

Maria Muldaur – Barnyard Dance: Jug Band Music For Kids (Music For Little People) CD Review

My wife and I have two young boys still in elementary school, so we’ve had our share of children’s music blasting in the house.  My main complaint with the majority of this genre is that it lacks something musically. If you dig deeper, it makes plain sense: most kids’ performers first failed as adult entertainers (just do a search for the history of the Wiggles to see those guys with mullets!). That’s what makes Barnyard Dance – Jug Band Music For Kids such a triumph: finally a children’s record the whole family can enjoy.

First off, this album is a no-brainer; a logical followup to her first jug band collection in over forty years, Maria Muldaur’s Garden of Joy, which garnered a Grammy nomination and was a whole lot of fun   But don’t be fooled – this music may sound simple, but it’s incredibly intricate and well-played by the same guys that helped serve up her last one.  Guitars, banjo, mandolin, kazoo all add to the wonderful flavors of the record.  If this music doesn’t get you skipping around the room, you are most likely tone-deaf or brain dead.  –Tony Peters