Bayou Bluegrass (Arhoolie)
Jim Smoak & The Louisiana Honeydrippers

By Bob Mitchell

Jim Smoak's latest effort is a compilation of 1961 recordings re-mastered from vinyl LP to CD format. Twenty-one generous tracks from the Louisiana Honeydrippers provides a wide array of enjoyable selections. The Drippers are Smoak (banjo and vocals), Bucky Wood and Dewey Edwards (fiddle), V.J. Meyer (guitar and vocals), J.C. Meyers (mandolin and vocals) and Lum York (bass). These gentlemen play old-time music with an infusion of folk, Cajun and bluegrass.

Bayou Bluegrass is a glimpse into the past and features a man who played with Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs, Hylo Brown and "Little Jimmie" Dickens. Extensive liner notes provide information about a bevy of tunes that will be new to most listeners. "Calinda" is a feisty tune from Santo Domingo that dates from 1843. "Run Boy Run" and "Raisin' a Ruckus Tonight" are pre-civil war songs that harken back to the sounds of Gid Tanner.

"Rabbit Where's Your Mammy" and "Woodchuck in the Deadnin'" were in fact learned from a Skillet Licker recording. In addition to the old songs, Smoak provides "new" material such as "Old Dan Tucker," "The Fisher's Hornpipe," "Whoah, Mule, Whoah," "Bill Cheathum" and "Underneath The Weeping Willow."

The music is not as flashy and smooth as many current recordings, but Smoak the Honeydrippers play with as much heat and soul as anyone.