Clyde Curley and The Oxymorons
Clyde Curley, mandolin; Joel Bernstein, banjo, harmonica; Creighton Lindsay, guitar, pump organ
© 1998 / 12 tracks / 21 tunes (12 tunes in The Portland Collections) / 42:23 total time / $15.00 / Listen to sample tracks
Old Time Mandolin Music
This recording features Clyde Curley’s mandolin in old time music, expertly augmented by Joel and Creighton. Clyde’s years of devotion to old time music and his expertise on the mandolin are in evidence here. The music is clear, melodic, and infused with both sweetness and old time drive. The mandolin has rare center-stage position on this recording, and it shines from the first to the last note. This CD was originally released on cassette under the title Tunes of the Gods: Old-Time Music for the Mandolin. (see below)
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*Since the release of this recording, we have learned that the correct title of The Billy Church Memorial Breakdown is: Cat on a Leash.
Tunes of the Gods by Clyde Curley
With one exception, these old-time dance tunes were learned from friends and acquaintances here in the Pacific Northwest, where I live. A good tune travels well–from the Southeast to the Northwest, from the 19th century to the impending dawn of the 21st, from musician to musician, and (I hope) from the fiddle to the mandolin.
Folk music arises mysteriously, it seems to me, from the collective conscious and unconscious minds of musicians everywhere in space and time. Henry David Thoreau suggested that God might be found in the combined consciousness of all humanity, and that there is therefore a divinity in every human being. The beauty, complexity, simplicity and energy of a good old-time dance tune suggests to my mind a creative force at work that defies rational analysis. It is indeed music of the gods.
The particular gods in this case are all the folks I run into in my perambulations around the Northwest in one of my life-roles: that of addict to and slave of this music. These are people whose friendship I treasure, and whose patience and forbearance I appreciate for all those times when I’ve asked them to uh, play it one more time, maybe more slowly, or when I’ve rudely stuck a tape recorder under their fiddles when they were lost in bliss the ninth time through a tune.
For me, one strength of this music is that there is no one standard version, the debt we owe to the grand old master notwithstanding. (I would be willing to bet that God honors diversity.) Therefore, the versions of these tunes are “authentic” only to the degree of my fondness for the way each of these folks played them and my gut feeling that the version each played was somehow “right.” We all know that feeling. That’s when we know the gods are smiling.
– Clyde Curley