Tom Banjo, Tom Banjo With Tim Azarian & Rich Sicely | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Tom Banjo, Tom Banjo With Tim Azarian & Rich Sicely 

Album Review

(Self-released, CD)

Tom Azarian, a.k.a. Tom Banjo, has been kicking around Burlington's musical community for decades. Affably gruff and indubitably experienced, he's among the few local pickers who stuck with old-time music well past the 1960s folk revival. In addition to being a seasoned player, he's a living piece of rock 'n' roll trivia. According to Azarian -- and, as the legend has it, mandolin maestro David Grisman -- he's the same "Tom Banjo" immortalized in "Mountains of the Moon," a cut from the Grateful Dead's 1968 classic Aoxomoxoa.

Azarian fires up the time tunnel on his latest 14-song release, depositing the listener in a land of pre-latte coffeehouses and Sunday afternoon hootenannies. The disc's old-fashioned, lo-fi character is enhanced by the presence of an authentic string band. Tom's progeny Tim Azarian and sidekick Rich Sicely accompany him throughout the recording, resulting in some powerful, if well-worn, country music. Ace Chittenden county fiddler Joe Cleary even pops by to lend a hand.

The disc sounds like an ancient field recording of an anonymous urban string band performing in some West Village folk club. Azarian's high lonesome vocals are constantly at the edge of a yodel, and his idiosyncratic Pete Seeger/Bob Gibson-style banjo playing suits the material's vintage vibe. Hank Williams classics, Appalachian murder ballads and Stephen Foster tunes run alongside originals that sound suitably antique.

In addition to being a fine banjo player and singer, Azarian is also a talented artist, as evidenced by the "folk drawings" that accompany the disc's liner notes. Perhaps some of these drawings will be on display when Tom Banjo performs at at one of his favorite haunts, Burlington's Radio Bean, on Friday, January 20. Ryan Power and Joe Cleary join him for the celebration. Pass that jug.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

About The Author

Robert Resnik

Comments


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Album Review

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2020 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation