High Wide & Handsome’s the name, diggin’
up some Tarheel root’s the game.
Wainwright III has created one of the most ambitious projects of his career
with ‘High Wide & Handsome: The
Charlie Poole Project,’ out August 25 on 2nd Story Sound Records, examining
the life, themes, and repertoire of the country music pioneer.
in the 2005 box set, ‘You Ain’t Talkin’
To Me: Charlie Poole and the Roots of Country Music,’ Poole was a
bootlegger, banjo picker, amateur baseball player, drinker, rambler, gambler,
and textile mill worker — and one of the most popular musicians of his day,
recording over 110 tracks for Columbia, Paramount, and Brunswick. Born in 1892
in North Carolina,
he lived fast and died at the age of 39.
was not, however, a writer, drawing instead on popular and traditional
repertoire for his recordings and performances. According to All Music Guide,
“Poole’s talent for making it all seem
like personal autobiography makes him very much a modernist, only a short leap
away from an artist like Hank Williams.” This same spirit of
reinterpreting popular and trdational repertoire to reflect the present as well
as the past may be seen as the heart of Wainwright’s Poole
Dick Connette (Geoff Muldaur, Last Forever) said, “The process has
involved all sorts of great musicians and arrangers, and recording the songs as
our ears, hearts, minds, and hands take us, from string quartet to swing trio,
from old timey string band, to a cappella gospel. [Poole’s
work is] like a condensed compendium of all the strains that have created and
continue to create American popular music.”
on the album include Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Nickel Creek mandolin player
Chris Thile, and many others.
[Pictured below: Wainwright with producer Connette]