Skip Gorman, A Greener Prairie (Rounder, 1994)

Old-time musician Skip Gorman sounds fresh off the fast shellac(i.e., old 78s) in this collection of cowboy songs and tunes.Included among others are the traditional "Yellow Rose of Texas" (the"rose of color" version with some characterisically great yodeling),"The Last Longhorn" (a plaintive piece from an 1899 poem by JohnWesley of Pease City, Texas), Harry Stephens' 1909 "Night HerdingSong" ("Move slow, dogies...") and Tex Owens' "Cattle Call." Gorman'sown "Emigrant's Lament For Oregon" (with piano) reminds me of"Jamestown Homeward Bound." Instrumental breaks are also providedamong the17 tracks.

Gorman is quite a fiddler. He's played with Ireland's JohnnyDoherty and Shetland fiddler Aly Bain and his fiddle sings with afine Celtic lilt. It's most obvious ... andintentional ... in "Buffalo Hump," an "...attempt to meld Celtic andnative flavors as they might have sounded on the trek westward." Morefrequently, Gorman plays as an American on A Greener Prairie,as is more appropriate for cowpoke music. One notable example is"Fine Times At Our House," taken from Indiana fiddler John Summers;Skip's fiddling is almost indistinguishable from Summers'. (I knowthis because I flipped back and forth to a Summers LP ... Summers issqueakier!) Gorman also plays guitar, mandolin and mandolin banjo onthis recording; there's Jeff Davis on banjo and spoons, JeremiahMcLane on accordion, and I could have done with a bit more of StacyPhillips on dobro.

[Judith Gennett]