"They have produced a finely polished old-time string band recording. … I hope to hear lots more from the Mysterious Redbirds. Meanwhile, this recording gets my strong recommendation." ~ Steve Goldfield of Bluegrass Unlimited
"This is an outstanding album, highly recommended to anyone interested in indigenous American music, the Celtic influences on it, or just plain wonderful guitar, banjo and fiddle playing." ~ Amanda Fisher of Rambles
About the album: Playing in a trio like the New Lost City Ramblers had been a dream of James' since he first heard their records, and, having the perfect partners in Tom Paley (formerly of the Ramblers) and Bill Christophersen, he wasn't going to let that dream slip by. The trio recorded essentially live, with straight-forward arrangements and minimal manipulation of recording studio dials. The result wasn't a showcase for flashy solos but a real ensemble playing that let the tunes shine. Tom was attracted to old-time music "by the feeling that the performers were mainly using themselves to present the music rather than using the music to present themselves." That's exactly what they offer with the tracks on this album.
About the artists: In 1982 James arrived at New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal, carrying two cardboard boxes and two pairs of work shoes...looking for a better life, having left behind a dead-end job in an agricultural supply store in Wisconsin. At first, in his scramble to survive, he didn't play much music. But when he did, those who heard his authentic Kentucky mountain sound encouraged him to play more. He met Bill Christopherson at a music party in 1998 and they started working as a duo. Bill had been introduced to the roots of bluegrass at Columbia University. He bought a fiddle at a pawn shop, took a few lessons with Bill Garbus (one of the few old-time fiddlers in NYC) and started jamming regularly with friends at coffee houses ultimately recording for Fretless records. Not long after meeting up with Bill, James got into a jam session with Tom Paley (unaware at first who he was) at a bluegrass festival in Brooklyn while Tom was on one of his yearly trips to the States. Tom had moved to Sweden in 1963 after leaving the New Lost City Ramblers. He moved to England in 1965, where he continues to perform traditional American and Swedish music. A little thing like the Atlantic Ocean wasn't going to stop James from recording with these two immensely talented artists and over the course of six years they were able get together to record 3 times resulting in the release of "The Mysterious Redbirds" in 2000.