With nary a sea in sight, The Rum Fellows still set sail. On deck with the Norman pirate septet: singer/guitarist Charley Reeves, fiddle player Kent Graber, banjo player Dan Edwards, mandolin player Randy Lewis, bassist Jeff Richardson, percussionist Doyle Dodd and concertina player Amber Vallee' all quick to abandon posts for a swim in the drink, or at least to dip their mugs in it.
"Okie Maritime Music for the Landlocked Pirate" is a ridiculous and contagious mix of originals, covers and instrumentals, presented with equal amounts of grog and precision musicianship.
The album was tracked in Norman with Chris Harris at his Hook Echo Sound studio and Trent Bell's Bell Labs Recording Studio, and has the live, communal sound one expects from a pack of pirates.
The shanties are almost always addled. Nautical classic "Drunken Sailor" is delivered atop a washboard backbeat and tacked to a mast held in place with rollicking banjos and mandolins. Deeper in the bottle, the slower "Old Keg of Rum" has the pirates staggering as they gather to find and tap the bunghole of a beckoning barrel.
One of the originals, an instrumental entitled "Dog That Bit Ya," starts slow, but speeds at the lead of a swirling fiddle, which yields to the banjo and mandolin near the end, when the song reaches full clip. The musicians commandeer "Oklahoma Hills" for a fun tribute to fellow seaman Woody Guthrie, turning in an album highlight that Woody probably would have loved.
Silly and serious fun, The Rum Fellows can sway even the soberest of sailors. "Okie Maritime Music" is worth a spin and will carry any spinnaker."Joe Wertz