Craig Bakay | Feb 06, 2019
As The Crow Flies, Teilhard Frost’s first solo offering, is, if nothing else, an excellent history lesson.
A 14-song CD, it’s a consistent mix of banjo, fiddle and harmonica tunes, with some vocals and even a couple of a cappella tunes mixed in.
Like he did with Sheesham, Lotus and ’Son, Frost draws deep into yesteryear for inspiration and material, displaying both reverence and modern virtuosity for these pieces that might otherwise fade into history.
“It’s getting where I want it,” he says. “This album is similar to Sheesham and Lotus but a little higher up the mountain I think.”
Frost was raised on Manitoulin Island where he spent a lot of time with older fiddlers. He now calls Wolfe Island home.
But it’s clear those early roots took deep and now his love of Appalachian folk music is shining through.
His No. 1 instrument is probably the fiddle, and there are three offerings of minor key jiggy-reely music that maritimers will appreciate.
There’s even an old Henry Whitter blues tune, Raincrow Bill, that Frost claims was the first blues harmonica recording in 1923.
But what you may find surprising is Frost’s approach to the banjo. When Earl Scruggs made the banjo a mainstay of bluegrass country, many people tended to forget just how far back the drum-faced strings go.
Frost not only reminisces musically, but also adds a modern touch in his approach. Often, he adds five and six-note transitions and fills where most banjo players would use no more than three.
Indeed, arguably the best tune on the album, Walk in the Parlour is an excellent artist’s interpretation that is very much aided by whatever recording techniques were used (live off the floor, most likely, as there is very little overdubbing on this CD).
Sonically, the banjo strings ring out with incredible bell-like tones (at least they did on the reviewers Bose bluetooth system). The only beef about this one was it was too short.
Again, the whole album is consistent in both approach and sound quality that aficionados of the Appalachian sound, and those who look for something different, will appreciate.
By the way, in case you missed it (spoiler alert), there’s a little in-joke on a couple of tunes where Frost credits Sheesham Crow as a second musician.
Sheesham Crow is Frost’s alter ego with Sheesham, Lotus and ’Son. Gee, do you suppose that’s where the “Crow” in As The Crow Flies comes from?