I would be writing about this even if Black Twig Pickers Mike Gangloff wasn’t a colleague of mine at the paper, even if Black Twig Picker Isak Howell weren’t a former colleague and occasional picking buddy (though it’s been a while since he last put up with my rancid guitar playing).
Truth is, The Black Twig Pickers play some great, original and classic old-time music. And the band now has a record label, having signed with Thrill Jockey Records. The band’s newest CD, “Ironto Special,” is due out on Sept. 21.
From the label’s notes on “Ironto Special”:
>Recorded throughout 2009 in the Shred Shed in Ironto, Virginia, Ironto Special is entirely recorded in single takes. There are no overdubs on the record in any form. Although Ironto Special is their Thrill Jockey debut, the Black Twig Pickers have recorded several releases for VHF, The Great Pop Supplement, and Klang. Mike continues to play in Pelt and the Spiral Joy Band with Nathan. Isak has also recorded and played with both bands. At some point, these three musicians realized that old-time music is a living, breathing art form, not just music that was recorded in the 1920s or 30s, and it managed to bring them all together. Old-time music is not something that needs to be re-enacted or revived – it’s doing just fine and all they did was to step in and take part. They are not pretending to have grown up in the music or in the part of Virginia they now call home, but like the many who have come before them and passed on their knowledge, they consider themselves to be a part of the music as much as anyone else, and Ironto Special is their contribution to the continuously flowing tradition that will eventually be passed on to the next generation of players.