Review: Maria Muldaur – Maria Muldaur and Her Garden of Joy

Posted on: Thursday, Jan 28, 2010


“Maria Muldaur & Her Garden Of Joy”

(Stony Plain Records: SPCD 1332)

Maria Muldaur has been in music now for some 47 years, during which he has dipped into most forms of American roots music – best known for her 1974 hit “Midnight At The Oasis”, but in her teen years in the early 1960s she was part of the folk revival, and involved with blues, bluegrass, jug band and more. In the 35 years since her major hit she has recorded 35 solo albums of blues, gospel, big band and jazz – concentrating mainly on blues since the 1990s.

Her latest release, “Maria Muldaur & Her Garden Of Joy”, her fourth for Stony Plain, sees her revisiting her jug band era, when she was a member of both The Even Dozen and The Jim Kweskin Jug Band, with the help of many musicians she was associated with way back and some younger talent.

It is a good-time, uplifting and humorous album, fittingly subtitled “Good Time Music For Hard Times!” The tunes include many traditional ones from as far back as the 30s, with a brace of newly written songs by the great Dan Hicks – the album produced by Muldaur herself, with Stony Plain boss Holger Petersen as executive producer.

Veterans from the past on board include John Sebastian, David Grisman and Fritz Richmond and the legendary Taj Mahal contributing some banjo and guitar, with the afore-mentioned Dan Hicks dueting on the hilarious medley of “Life’s Too Short / When Elephants Roost In Bamboo Trees”, with his “The Diplomat” opening the album in fine style, with lovely guitar and mandolins and Maria Muldaur’s fine vocal.

“Shake Hands And Tell Me Goodbye” has a nice old-timey feel to it, with the fiddle of Suzy Thompson highlighted and John Sebastian’s harmonica. The traditional “Shout You Cats” sees newcomer Kit Stovepipe on jug, with the glorious “The Ghost Of The St. Louis Blues” firmly in Dixieland territory with the brass of Bob Schwartz, Kevin Porter and Jim Rothermel – all playing quite beautifully!

Dan Hicks’ second tune, “Let It Simmer” sees Muldaur turning to her jazzy era, with a sultry vocal; Clifford Hayes title track “Garden Of Joy” is another easy on the ear delight, lots more swinging fiddle, jug, banjos and guitars! The Jim Kweskin Jug Band song “I Ain’t Gonna Marry” is again lovely, nice and steady rolling. The ensemble get low down on the traditional “Bank Failure Blues”, with this great album ending with “The Panic Is On” – again in blues mode – but with an uplifting feel for these hard times!


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