Joe Weed / The Vultures

The Vultures
Highland Records NCD-205

Highland Records, PO Box 554, Los Gatos, CA 95031-0554
(800) 354-5580

Joe Weed (guitars, fiddle, mandolins) Norton Buffalo (harmonica) Jim Boggio (accordion) Joe Craven (percussion) David Grisman (mandolin) Rob Ickes (dobro) Todd Phillips (bass)

With: Rich Ertelt (guitar) and Steve Pefley (drums)

Pipeline / Apache / Sleepwalk / Walk, Don't Run / Rebel Rouser / Stranger on the Shore / Green Onions / Alley Cat / Wipeout / Last Date

What this is, see, is a collection of classic surf and other cool instrumentals done up acoustic. Only a bunch of bluegrass pickers could have come up with this idea -- despite most folks's image of bluegrass musicians as stonefaced, serious gentlemen, it is my firm belief that the genre is overrun by 'toons. And only a bunch of bluegrass pickers could pull it off. Of course, this is a pretty special bunch -- Grisman! Ickes! Boggio! Phillips! Buffalo! Craven! -- and the main man, Surfin' Joe Weed.

This is much more than a joke album, though it's guaranteed to make you smile. These versions are every bit as cool as the originals, done with style and class. Icke's dobro twangs just like it should on songs like "Apache" and "Sleepwalk," with the harmonica lending those shimmery atmospherics to songs like "Stranger on the Shore." Working brilliantly with the Dobro, Grisman's mandolin captures that weird percussive "wet" sound on "Pipeline." And using an accordion on "Green Onions" is inspired. The song is funk-ay, too!

It works. It's cool. Trust me. The only time the guys drop into complete silliness is on "Wipeout." Here Joe Craven literally uses everything to hand (not to mention face) for the percussion. All that's missing is the wild laugh at the beginning. The should have put that wild laugh in there. What could they have been thinking?

Listening to these songs, images from never-made move unreels in my mind... Long shot of the usual beach movie montage -- guys riding boards, gals fruggin' & doin' the swim -- Frankie & Annette lead a happy bikini & baggy-clad party run from the surf across the beach to the club -- cut to band cameo -- close-up on the accordion... oh my stars! --Cheryl Cline

--Cheryl Cline

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