Allison de Groot

REVIEW: Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves “Hurricane Clarice”


Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves – Hurricane Clarice

This duo has expertise with string band music & determined to explore vintage music by shaping it into something “different.” Their effort proved interesting.

So, Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves with folk wisdom created a project with themes extracted from rare field recordings, old hymns, dusty attic LPs, original compositions & wisest of all – literary sources.

Allison de Groot

The ladies don’t linger much on love – instead craft intense songs (“The Banks of the Miramichi”) with lyrics that dare to sing about seasonal depression, community, family & the absurdities of the road. Showcased in an old tradition — kept authentic yet using their own technique, musical abilities to produce something fluid. At times their performance gels to sound like a deep sitar.

The de Groot & Hargreaves’ 9-cut Hurricane Clarice comes on March 25 (Free Dirt). A fine example of their strategy at work (though not new) to capture the energy & intimacy of their live show as a studio performance.

Rock singer Lee Michaels’s self-titled 1969 LP was captured “live” in the studio. Bob Dylan’s done this for decades. But the idea is sound for 2 young instrumentalists who liked the challenge. They weren’t aiming for polish either but allowed some studio hocus pocus. Nothing heavy.

“Nancy Blevins,” & “Each Season Changes You,” are fiery fiddle tunes — mindful of the dual fiddling of the award-winning Burning Bridget Cleary & their 2 exciting young ladies who sawed away interchangeably. Some de Groot & Hargreaves’ vocals reach back to an Iris DeMent soulful raw mountain tradition. Excellent.

The duo’s concern was alternate tunings — part of a string band’s intricate fiddle performance. However, this was an issue with Joni Mitchell’s guitar also. Her varied songs were in alternate/open tunings. She managed to solve, not only in the studio but live on stage when she used multiple guitars. All tuned differently. But, Ms. Mitchell seldom used standard tuning, so she came up with a numerical system that served her.

For Joni in 1995 — Fred Walecki came up with an electric guitar that was set in standard tuning with its pick-ups made to alter the signal & create alternate tunings within the guitar. There’s more to it & it may be difficult for acoustic instruments. Worth investigating.

The hardware: Alison: 5-string Romero Baritone Guitar, 5 & 6 string Seeders Banjos & a borrowed Kyle Creed Banjo. Tatiana: 5-string John Sullivan fiddle & a 4-string Jonathon Cooper fiddle.

Color image by Tasha Miller. Recorded in Oregon & produced by Phil Cook. Available @ + +

Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves – Hurricane Clarice

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