Loudon Wainwright III revisits the life, times, and recorded legacy of legendary singer and banjo picker Charlie Poole (1892-1931).
Loudon Wainwright III's new GRAMMY winner (Best Traditional Folk Album) CD set, High Wide & Handsome, released in a lavish 72 page book style format, was named by Ken Tucker, NPRs Fresh Air rock critic & editor-at-large at Entertainment Weekly, the #1 Best Recording of 2009.
Banjo player and singer Charlie Poole was one of Loudon's first models when he began singing and playing over 40 years ago. Now, together with producer / songwriter Dick Connette, he has put together a double album dedicated to the music and life of his early inspiration. Most of the songs recast the original recordings from the 20's and 30's, but Wainwright and Connette have also written 9 new songs around and about Poole's life and times.
The album features over 20 singers and musicians, including Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Sloan Wainwright, Lucy Wainwright Roche, David Roche, the Roches (Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy), and such luminaries of the jazz and folk worlds as Paul Asaro, Erik Friedlander, Tim Luntzel, Matt Munisteri, Ben Perowsky, Wade Schuman, Marcus Rojas, C. J. Camerieri, Gabriel Kahane, David Mansfield, Chaim Tannenbaum, Rayna Gellert, Rob Moose, and a special guest appearance by mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile.
From string quartet to swing trio, from old timey string band to a cappella gospel, what they've found in the Poole repertoire, besides the expected nascent country and bluegrass, has been astounding in its range - sentimental songs, vaudeville songs, minstrel songs, early jazz songs, British Ballad variants, Dixie melodies, comedy routines - it's like a condensed compendium of all the strains that have created and continue to create American popular music.
Loudon Wainwright III wrote "Dead Skunk" in 15 minutes in 1972 and hit #12 on the Billboard chart (the #1 single in Little Rock, Arkansas, for six weeks). He has recorded twenty albums and has had three Grammy nominations including his 2010 Grammy Nomination. His songs have been covered by Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Earl Scruggs, Mose Allison, Big Star, Freakwater, Norma Waterson, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Rufus Wainwright.