Billy Strings and Don Julin 'Fiddle Tune X' - Self Release

I hadn’t heard of this guitar and mandolin duo, but this is 17 virtuoso tracks jammed into an above average and well designed album. The title track is their own, but they tip the hat to the Carters and Stanleys with Tillis, Travis, Monroe and Rogers  added to a list of traditional favourites.

Billy Strings plays guitar, banjo and sings, with Don Julin on mandolin, banjo and vocals. They put this little beauty together in 2013 and 2014 in pubs, clubs, churches and farmhouses. It was all recorded on one mic, straight to tape, in front of live audiences, which gives it that vibe that, should you feel it’s too cold to go to the local gig, then slip this in the player, sit back and enjoy the real deal.

The young shaver Strings on guitar and older statesman Julin on mandolin are a strange visual combination, but do they ever know how to push a tune to the edges. Michigan based, but sounding as though they grew up dangling their toes in an Appalachian mountain stream, this duo play with a verve and passion that has their audiences hooting with pleasure throughout the recording.

There are way too many tracks to start appraising them all,  but suffice to say the first few bars of the opener Beaumont Rag left me in no doubt that they will feature regularly on my Lonesome Highway radio shows. I’ll be looking forward to more from these boys.