Corn Potato String Band
Corn Potato String Band
Country rags, “ho-downs,” Mexican polkas, a sentimental ballad, twin fiddling and double banjo tunes, this record has it all. Three multi-instrumentalists let loose with a flurry of their favorite old tunes, both well-known and obscure, only the best!
“Power-packed performance!” -Hindustan Times
“A concert with the Corn Potato String Band is sure to entertain, while building bridges between cultures and embracing with melodies the rich, cultural diversity in the United States.” – India Blooms
“A unique slice of American culture” -The Times of India
“Impressive fiddle work… authentically raw and homespun” -The Scotsman
“I’ve heard quite a lot of old-time fiddle and banjo playing, trust me, but I’ve never heard it like this… played at break-neck speeds, Aaron’s fiddle whipping around tight corners like a high-end sports car. It was like watching Bach hopped up on speed, composing kickass barn dance tunes in Appalachia. Kind of.” -No Depression
“They blew the audience away. A half-hour of standards, obscurities and charming banter later, the decidedly hip multi-instrumentalists received one of the most thunderous ovations of any opening act I’ve witnessed in quite some time.” -PopMatters
From Sing Out! Magazine, April 1, 2014:
Led by ace old-time fiddler Aaron Jonah Lewis, Corn Potato String Band can tear it up with the absolute best young old-time bands out there, but the real draw on their debut full-length is the wide-ranging curiosity they show sourcing new tunes. They tap into a lot of early American sounds and traditions, from novelty twin banjo tricks mixed with 3-finger bluegrass licks (“Route 77,” a tune Lewis wrote) to old Mexican stringband music (“Peor es Nada”). Some of the tunes like “Golden Slippers” and “Cumberland Gap” are favorites in square dances they play, and others come from nearly lost, rare sources like North Carolina’s Jack Reedy and his Walker Mountain String Band (“Chinese Breakdown”), or Texas swingsters W. Lee O’Daniel and his Hillbilly Boys (“Coquette”).
Fiddler Aaron Jonah Lewis actually has a lot of bands and a lot of albums up on Bandcamp, so search him out for more of his eclectic and high-spirited fiddling. Technically, he’s a brilliant fiddler, able to blend genres at will, and he’s got the kind of high-wire aggression that makes for compelling listening. Check out his fiddling on “Black & White Rag” and you’ll see what I mean. Rags are tricky beasts for most old-time fiddlers, and it sounds here like he was born to play these. As Aaron says, “I’ve been playing this one for years, ever since I bought a copy of the Fiddler’s Fakebook and discovered that I loved every tune with the word ‘Rag’ in the title.” Aaron and banjo player Ben Belcher have a great connection together, and like Aaron, Ben came up with the young stringband movement via the much-loved band The Hot Seats. Ben switches easily between old-time clawhammer banjo, 3-finger bluegrass, and even hot early 1900s picking. Rounding out the Corn Potato String Band, guitarist Lindsay McCaw is a well-known old-time player, as adept on the melody line as the accompaniment.
These clearly aren’t the usual spate of old-time Appalachian tunes, but rather speak to a larger view of American “old-time” music, to a time when rags and hoedowns spread throughout the US, picking up influences from everything from the music hall to Mexican stringbands.
– Devon Leger
The Corn Potato String Band are a trio of multi-instrumentalists dedicated to continuing the traditional fiddle and banjo music and dance of the Central Southern US. In addition to being champion fiddlers, they play banjo and guitar and cover many different antiquated styles including ballads, “ho-downs,” country “rags” and southern gospel, specializing in twin fiddling and double banjo tunes.
Aaron Jonah Lewis is a multi-instrumentalist, performer and educator. He has won awards at the Clifftop Appalachian String Band Festival, including First Place Neotraditional Band in 2008, and at the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention, including First Place Bluegrass Fiddle in 2007, and he has performed at major festivals from the US to the UK and from Italy to Finland. Lewis has appeared on dozens of recordings from bluegrass and old time to swing jazz, modern experimental and Turkish classical music projects. He has taught workshops at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow and at the English Folk Dance and Song Society in London. He also plays and teaches banjo, mandolin, guitar, and bass and is currently based in Nashville, Tennessee.
Lindsay McCaw has been playing American old time music for over 15 years. She performs music and calls dances around the country. McCaw plays fiddle, banjo, guitar, accordion and piano. She is also part of several theater and puppet companies, including her own, called The Dolly Wagglers. She has won several musical distinctions such as two-time winner of the Minneapolis Jug Band Contest and four-time first-place winner of the Sheffield Field Days Fiddle contest.
Ben Belcher is an accomplished banjo player and a talented artist. He has distinguished himself with such awards as the Independent Music World Series, which he won with The Hot Seats in Nashville, TN, in 2006, First Place Neotraditional Band at the Appalachian String Band Festival in 2008 and a Herald Angel award at the 2009 Edinburgh Fringe. Belcher has toured extensively in the US and in Europe and the UK since 2001. He has been a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe with The Hot Seats and recently appeared at the Shetland Folk Festival. He also plays guitar and fiddle.
Aaron Jonah Lewis – fiddle, banjo, guitar, baritone fiddle
Ben Belcher – banjo, guitar
Lindsay McCaw – fiddle, guitar, banjo, Hawaiian steel guitar, baritone fiddle
All songs public domain except “Bell & Anchor Rag” and “Route 77” by Aaron Jonah Lewis (ASCAP), all songs arranged by Corn Potato String Band