Naturally, I was a tad dubious when Banjo To Beatbox arrived in the mailbox. I mean, a MC and a washboard? A rapper and a fiddle? Really?
23 Skidoo has already blended, rather seamlessly, a touch of Asheville, NC bluegrass with true-blue hip hop and done so with stellar results. It should be no surprise that it took less than 60 seconds for my hesitation to dissipate. By the 6 minute mark my girls and I where spitting out atrocious human beat machine sounds, interspersing a cough here and there just like Mr. Christylez Bacon on “It’s the Beatbox”.
Banjo to Beatbox is a load of fun and, thanks largely to it’s structure, works better than you might imagine. The 8 songs on Banjo to Beatbox don’t throw divergent styles into a musical blender leaving the results to chance. Instead the tracks alternate between being Banjo-centric with an assist from hip hop, and Beatbox-focused with an Americana underpining.
Banjo to Beatbox is no novelty project. It’s a musical effort that recognizes a human’s ability to produce beats as just another form of roots music. It’s roots are on the African continent as opposed to the American one, but roots music nonetheless. Thus the combination of a banjo, the quintessential American roots instrument, with vocalized beats isn’t that crazy a concoction after all. And the results here are wonderful.
With Banjo to Beatbox, Cathy and Marcy, two-time Grammy winners, are heard pushing their craft forward. With luck this EP will lengthen their musical reach into communities where the word bluegrass is more likely to invoke a cartoonish backyard then a musical style. And vice-versa, to carry the positive possibilities of hip hop into finger pickin’ homes.
This 8 song EP (enhanced with 3 videos, out physically on 6/9/09 but available digitally now) should be the start of a fantastic collaboration between the queens of family folk music and an exciting young Hip-Folk star in the making.
I’m excited to hear more, a lot more from this trio.
Catch Christylez Bacon in and around our nation’s capital all summer long and Cathy & Marcy all over the country…including a few Banjo to Beatbox performances together at the Theatre-in-the-Woods (Vienna, VA) in late July.