Twice as Nice

Darkness on the Delta (County Records)
Kenny Baker & Bobby Hicks

By Bob Mitchell

The only thing better than one great fiddle player is two great fiddle players. And this project is a showcase for two of the best fiddlers in Bluegrass. Not surprisingly, it sounds as fresh today as it did when originally released as an LP in 1980. Baker and Hicks are consummate musicians with perfect control, impeccable timing, and tasteful phrasing.

The sound of twin fiddles is always thrilling but no more so than on an incredibly sensitive arrangement of Bob Will's timeless classic, "Faded Love." Baker, who has always known how to get the most out of a waltz, contributes "McHattie's Waltz" as well as the bright and playful "Chuck-A-Luck." Baker and Hicks also provide excellent covers of Bill Monroe's "Roanoke," "Louisville Breakdown," "Tallahassee" and "Panhandle Country."

Throughout this recording the band provides steady and unobtrusive support, allowing the spotlight to shine on the fiddles, but Roy Husky Jr.'s bass is especially noteworthy. In addition, Buck White lends his formidable mandolin to five tracks. Husky and White's work on "Farewell Blues" and "Darkness on the Delta" is literally cracklings with energy. In summary, this CD is smooth, sometimes sassy, occasionally swinging and thoroughly enjoyable. On a five-point scale of excellence, this release is a five.