Cliff Perry and Laurel Bliss are recognized vertrans in the bluegrass and old-time music community of the Pacific Northwest, respected by their peer and beloved by their fans. Together they formed the heart and soul of Southfork, a legendary Northwest bluegrass band, who performed for almost two decades in Washington, and up and down the West Coast. They began singing as a duet in the late 1980's, making the recording "Old Pal" in 1993. This recording was awarded "Best Old-Time Recording" in 1994 by County Sales of Floyd, Virginia.
On Old Pal,Cliff and Laurel deliver a delightful collection of understated old-time country duets. Although powerfully influenced by the Carter Family, Perry and Bliss have clearly internalized this material. These titles seem much more than songs to the pair. They sing them with the compelling comfortable sincerity of classic country music. Old-time country music encompasses a myriad of styles and Perry and Bliss opt for a quiet, straightforward duet form that, like the Carters' music, suggests an earlier epoch. Their dobro and guitar instrumentation predates the Montroe Brothers inspired mandolin-guitar hegemony and the instruments participate for one basic purpose-to support the vocals.
In his Old-Time Herald Review in 1994/5, Jody Stecher stated "Old Pal is a great album. I am a bit of a hard case and it takes a special combination of sincerity and musical skill to bring both a gleam and a tear to my eye. If you like harmony singing and are more sentimental than I, and most people are, one chorus of "See That My Grave Is Kept Green" should be enough to reduce you to plasma." He goes on to say: "Cliff and Laurel have a special combination, all right. They have their own spin on the music and sound like no one else, not in vocal timbre, style of harmony or enev instrumentation. How many albums of duet singing have you heard where every guitar break was backed exclusively (and beautifully) by rhythm dobro? Their forthright and tuneful singing is decorated in the most beautiful ways imaginable. Ornaments are subtle, delicate, and free from cliche. Marmonies are unexpected and gorgeous. The most predictable thing in their music is the high quality of delivery and of their repertoire. Most of the latter, on this album, anyway, is from the Carter Family but Cliff and Laurel's musical lstyle is not much like the Carters. They each have a distinctly differnt style of singing lead but a similar approach to harmonizing which is as hard to describe as it is to sing. Neither starkly "lonesome" or overtly sweet, nor rustic, nor urbane, it is highly skillful singing. The voices tend to move independently, ornamenting and turning in a non-synchronous way. What I'm trying to say, friends, is they don't wiggle their notes at the same time. Their long resting notes are often harmonized unusually, reating thrilling suspensions, and they come off their final words beautifully. They don't "blend" like the Louvins, but somewhat more like the various Bill Monroe duets of the '50's: two vical patterns interact to make a third pattern".
John Miller describes the music in the liner notes to the album: "music of unusual clarity, both with regard to the directness with which emotions are expressed, and the sheer strength and beauty of the sound."