We haven’t featured any string band music here for some time so news that The Locust Honey String Band are attending our shores over the next few weeks was a good enough excuse to revisit their debut album and give it a good listen. Locust Honey are an all girl trio from Swannanoa, North Carolina and only got together in 2012 recording He Ain’t No Good shortly afterwards. The album was recorded in one session with all three grouped around one microphone and apart from one original song is a treasure trove of old time nuggets.
The trio (Chloe Edmonstone (fiddle/guitar/vocals), Ariel Dixon (banjo/guitar/vocals) and Meredith Watson (guitar/percussion/vocals) are young in chronological years but they sound as if they’ve lived these songs and they play them with an authority that belies their jejunity while their youth offers an opportunity for these old songs and tunes to gain a sparkle and fresh vitality.
With a songbook that includes numbers by The carter Family, The Mississippi Sheiks, Uncle Dave Macon, The Skillet Lickers and Kitty Wells Locust Honey can whip up a storm with banjos flailing and fiddles flying and there are thumpingly good versions of Benton Flippen’s Sally In The Turnip Patch and Clyde Davenport’s Lost Girl with the latter in particular standing out for their hair raising picking. Aside from the barnstorming hoedowns they offer a fine and sassy Walking After Midnight and a delicate and considered Kitty Wells song, All The Time. The one original, Chloe Edmonstone’s Her Ways, could have been lost amongst it’s elder siblings but it’s to her (and the band’s) credit that it more than holds its own as Edmonstone sings of a wayward rootless soul on a song that could have been written and sung half a century ago. For an album recorded by a young and new sprung band this is astonishingly good.
Locust Honey are playing the Sligo Live Festival this weekend before swinging through England and then playing four Scottish dates in Biggar, Aberdeen, Kilbarchan, Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy. Full dates here