Personnel: Kenny Baker (fiddle); Kenny Baker ; Larry Sledge (mandolin); Roy Huskey Jr. (bass instrument); Benny Williams (guitar); Allen Shelton (banjo); Buck White (mandolin); Bobby Hicks (fiddle).
Audio Mixer: Tom Behrens.
Recording information: Randy's Roost, Nashville, TN.
Photographer: Jim McGuire .
If placing two great fiddlers like Kenny Baker and Bobby Hicks together sounds like a great idea, that's because it is. Darkness on the Delta isn't just a fiddle fest, however. Hicks and Baker are joined by banjoist Allen Shelton, mandolinists Larry Sledge and Buck White, guitarist Benny Williams, and bassist Roy Husky Jr. on 11 country-bluegrass classics. The presence of a band provides a nice underpinning for the fiddles, but also gives the songs weight and substance. While there are plenty of fine solos on the title cut and "Faded Love," Hicks and Baker's specialty is playing in unison, which creates a lovely, flowing sound that harks back to Western swing. This approach works particularly well on waltzes -- "McHattie's Waltz" and "Westphalia Waltz" -- and classics like Bill Monroe's sprightly "Tallahassee" and exciting "Louisville Breakdown." Since this is a pure instrumental affair, there's plenty of time for solo work from the other players, too, but no one shows off. Instead, all of the music feels organic and falls together beautifully. Originally recorded in 1980, Darkness on the Delta is rather short at 30 minutes, but everything included works exceptionally well and fiddle fans will be happy County reissued the album in 2004. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford Jr.