Schemes for going back in time

By SAM PFEIFLE  |  August 22, 2012

That slide shows up in "Viola Lee Blues," though, one of two songs the Bones play of Gus Cannon's. A Memphis Blues man of the '20s and '30s, Cannon is probably best known for his "Big Railroad Blues," a song the Dead played and was on that Roots of the Grateful Dead compilation from the mid-'90s. Also, Wikipedia has this to say about him: He taught himself to play on "a banjo that he made from a frying pan and raccoon skin."

Hey, Doc Watson got his start with a banjo made from the skin of his family cat.

Tumbling Bones do the blues here in hiccoughing swagger, with a harmonica breakdown, a rattling tambourine, and Jake Hoffman selling his soul to the lead vocal. Cannon's "Prison Wall Blues" gets the old-time Dixie treatment, with Stowaway Steve Roy clipping his notes on the bass to ape the tuba.

Setting up residence here in Portland, Tumbling Bones join what is already a strong cadre of bands mining this space. They don't overlap overly much on anyone in particular, though, and probably emphasize their vocals most of anyone locally in the stringband subset, which I'm eager to see work live.

SCHEMES | Released by Tumbling Bones | at Mayo Street Arts, in Portland | Sept. 1 | tumblingbones.bandcamp.com

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