SHADY MIX LIVE - (2005) A spunky, colorful snapshot of
the current Shady Mix formation featuring Wil Maring (guitar, vocals), Robert
Bowlin(guitar, fiddle), Mark Stoffel (mandolin), and Geoff Maring(upright
bass). This live recording represents the wide spectrum of Shady Mix music,
from Wil's originals, both old and new, to cowboy music such as Lonestar
Swing and Palomino Pal, to Bill Monroe's bluegrass favorites like Kentucky
Waltz and Goodbye Old Pal, to a blazing original instrumental from Robert
where both Robert and Mark shine. A highly recommended souvenir for any
Shady Mix fan. Also contains one of the best versions of Bottomlands we've
been able to pull off, and a long awaited, much-requested version of John
Review from Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine, April 2006
While I had not previously heard of the band Shady Mix,
I was familiar with a few of the bandmembers by reputation. Lead singer
Wil Maring has been making a name for herself as a songwriter in the Americana/folk
circles, while Robert Bowlin is a highlyrespected and versatile fiddler,
flatpicking guitarist, and former Blue Grass Boy.
Joined on this live concert recording by mandolinist Mark
Stoffel and bassist Geoff Maring, the quartet presents a nice mix of bluegrass,
cowboy songs, and traditional and contemporary folk. The presence of a pair
of warhorses like John Prine's "Paradise" and "I'm An Old
Cowhand" are a bit deceptive, as the bulk of their set consists of
originals and less overdone covers. Even on a wellworn standard like "Kentucky
Waltz," Wil Maring's sweetly expressive voice and Bowlin's gorgeous
fiddle break make it clear that the Shady Mix crew knows their way around
a bluegrass tune.
The inclusion of four of Maring's originals displays a
songwriting voice that takes classic themes of wandering, longing for home,
and rural values, and presents them with an appealing straightforwardness.
The harmonies are consistently tight and smooth, especially for a live recording,
and Bowlin and Stoffel swap some great leads that never overwhelm either
the songs or the soft acoustic texture of the band's overall sound.
There's even the bonus of the old Bill Monroe song, "Goodbye
Old Pal," as part of their cowboy miniset. Those looking for new material
to cover, fine bowing and picking, and an appealing and nonderivative female
vocalist will find a lot to enjoy on this midwestern band's concert CD.