Who Knew New Orleans Was in Appalachia?

One Horse Town (Independent)

Jeff & Vida

By Paul Moffett

One Tuesday in November night at the Lighthouse, this trio got on stage and began to play. It became apparent immediately that these were not the usual run of open stage players or even the usual run of pro players from around town. The mandolin/banjo player could pick, the girl singer and guitarist could sing, had a distinctive voice and laid down a rock-solid rhythm on guitar and the double bass player whanged away with enthusiastic precision.

In short, working professional musicians from somewhere who had stumbled into this little Frankfort Avenue bar for a bite and wound up on stage. Listening closely, they were reminiscent of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings or maybe a tight Freakwater. Then again, there was some clearly Bob Wills-like swing in their songs and an occasional mountain whine just like Jean Ritchie. Where were they from?

New Orleans, it turned out, on their way to Chicago. Stopped in to eat and maybe look for a gig later on. Left this CD, One Horse Town, recorded back in 2000, with twelve tunes that Jeff and Vida, as they billed themselves, had written.

Lucky me. Of course, I'm a Freakwater-Welch-Ritchie fan, so this was right up my alley and, with a batch of very well-written tunes, it appeased by songwriter-snob side. The opening track, "Take These Memories," almost misleads, beginning very slowly, almost dragging, before revving up into a gallop as the singer asks a departing lover "to take these memories so I won't know we're apart." "The Land That You Love" is a lament about the '31 dustbowl era in the Great Plains. "The Road To Abilene" harbors a surprise in the West Texas sound, while "Jack & Lily" is a tale of a woman summoning her dead lover back for one last night; this one could have come straight off a Fairport Convention album when Sandy Denny was still alive.

"Love is An Empty Word" is a classic title and the song lives up to it exactly. "One Horse Town" is a story of a father sending his son out into the world to get away from the "nothing left in a one-horse town."

Of course, describing songs and their stories is a poor shadow for the real thing; I really like Vida's voice, which is as distinctive as Gillian Welch' Unfortunately, you'll have to go online to find a copy of this CD; this is the difficulty of the new musical condition. You can find it at

www.jeffandvida.com

. If you like any of those previously mentioned performers, this one will suit you.