Walks the Strings and Even Sings

Walks the Strings and Even Sings

by Eddie Pennington



Kentucky's Eddie Pennington has been rightly recognized as a national treasure on the guitar. His thumb-picking style, which he developed in the native region of his home state, is purely American, and perhaps best exemplified by the late, great Merle Travis. But Pennington himself is very much in the same class, a fluid, inventive player who can pick with the very best of them. Just how well he shows on the thrilling opener, "Walking the Strings," where he makes the impossible seem perfectly natural. Whether on blues ("Mose's Blues") or country (the influence on fully half the tracks here) or jazz ("Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Over the Rainbow"), he's completely at home, letting his fingers do the talking. He's no great shakes as a singer, but there's a self-deprecating pleasantness to his voice that's somehow charming. What keeps you listening, however, is the playing, which is equally powerful with both hands; any guitarist listening to "Stealing Time" will be hard pressed to even begin to replicate it -- the man is simply that good. These performances, recorded more than a decade ago, are simply stunning.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/27/2004
Label: Smithsonian Folkways
UPC: 0093074014622
catalogNumber: 40146

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Eddie Pennington   Primary Artist,Guitar

Technical Credits

Merle Travis   Arranger,Composer
Harold Arlen   Composer
Cliffie Stone   Composer
David Bennett   Composer
Ben Bernie   Composer
Geoff Clarkson   Composer
E.Y. "Yip" Harburg   Composer
Nick Spitzer   Cover Photo
Joe Wilson   Audio Production
Chauncey Gray   Composer
Harold Hensley   Composer
Bert Lown   Composer
Red Murrell   Composer
Pete Reiniger   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Maceo Pinkard   Composer
Kenneth Casey   Composer
Edward Madden   Composer
Harry Clarkson   Composer
Joe "Flip" Wilson   Producer,Liner Notes,Tray Photo
Frederick Hamm   Composer
Theodore Morse   Composer
Mose Rager   Composer
Hezekiah Jenkins   Composer

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Walks the Strings and Even Sings 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the early days of country music, improvisers who didn’t read or write music were able to take their instruments and be flexible enough to adapt to most any style of music, other players, and vocalists. Chet Atkins’ group produced distinctive instrumentation with a relaxed, tensionless feeling and loose, easygoing beat. The commercial sound emphasized the guitar, and his basic style was patterned after that of Jim Mason, a black guitarist from Kentucky who played a “choke” style. Mason taught it to a white coal miner, Mose Rager, who taught it to Ike Everly (father of the Everly Brothers). Reger also taught Kentuckian Merle Travis who influenced Atkins’ playing. Another skillful proponent of the Kentucky thumbpicking style (aka Travis-style picking) is Eddie Pennington who also hails from the Bluegrass State. As a teenager in 1974, Pennington began visiting Mose Rager at his Drakesboro, KY. home. These 20 tracks were recorded in 1994-96. He’s a man who clearly knows how to make his Git-box sing! Pennington plays a few from Mose Rager – “Walking the Strings” and “Mose’s Blues” and “The Pig Got Up.” He also picks a few from Travis (“Information, Please” and “So Round, So Firm”). Other tunes on the project credit William Kent, John Travis, Billy Grammer, Joe Maphis, Uncle Collie Barnes, Hezekiah Jenkins, Hal Riley, his father Norman, and his brother Larry. Perhaps his most impressive technical skill on guitar is demonstrated on “John’s Smoke Turns Blue” and “Over the Rainbow” and “Stealing Time.” The former has a genesis that takes it to an uptempo dazzler that exudes contagious energy. Besides being a astonishing picker, Pennington’s baritone voice is well suited to humorous offerings like “Fertile Liza,” “The Pig Got Up,” “Information Please” and “The Panic is On.” Pennington has toured nationally as a member of the “Masters of the Steel String Guitar," showcased at the Kennedy Center and the Barns of Wolf Trap, and he received the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship in 2001 in recognition of his artistry and excellence in performing Kentucky thumbpicking-style guitar. Eddie also holds an Honorary Doctorate degree from Western Kentucky University. The National Thumbpicking Champion in 1986 and 1987, Pennington was inducted into the Thumbpickers Hall of Fame in 2003. Eddie Pennington sure knows how to tickle the strings … and he even sings. This album on the Smithsonian Folkways label is a real treat to hear in that it documents and will help spread the sound of one of American’s living national treasures. Pennington has six other projects available that were released between 1993-2000. It’s uncertain if any of the cuts on those projects duplicate those on this release. A 24-page CD booklet provides excellent notes from Joe Wilson (Director of the National Council for the Traditional Arts) and Dr. Erika Brady (Professor of Folk Studies and Anthropology at Western Kentucky University). Check out this amazing guitar picker who performs with distinctive aplomb. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)