Valerie & Walter Crockett and the Oxymorons are one of those fascinating regional wildflowers that flourish today in American music. They play the coffeehouses of New England to enthusiastic, devoted audiences that love their original songs, their harmony, their wit, their old-fashioned showmanship and their good-timey spirit.
V&W's fourth CD, the Long Live Album, celebrates the band's 10th anniversary with 17 songs, including 13 V&W originals, two by songwriter Norman Schell, one by Jerry Jeff Walker ("My Old Man"), and a rousing version of the traditional, "Long Time Travelin'."
Recorded live at Steeple Coffeehouse, in Southborough, Mass., the Long Live Album, is a mix of original Americana, with ample helpings of bluegrass, country, blues, and acoustic rock 'n' roll. Like their previous CDs, the Long Live Album is strong on melody, full of three-, four-, and five-part harmonies, and spiked with hot picking on acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, acoustic bass, and piano. Valerie handles most of the lead vocals with her cool, clear alto - check out "I Will Rise From This Valley" and "Small Town Heart for starters - while Walter's spunky tenor and feisty, probing lyrics bring to life songs like the Latin-flavored "Orlando" and the uptempo bluegrass anthem "Go West, Young Man."
The Oxymorons ("We'll drive you to a frenzy of catatonia!") are Bob Dick on acoustic bass, Fran McConville on mandolin and Mark Manuel on banjo and piano. Each delivers his share of hot licks, and rich harmonies, from the gospel original "Peaceful Waters" to the folk-pop "Falling Rain."
If you didn't already know it, Valerie & Walter Crockett and the Oxymorons will prove to you that there's a lot more great music out there than your radio knows about. Tell your CD player the news: Long Live Valerie & Walter Crockett and the Oxymorons!