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Music : Shady Mix - Made in the Shade

Shady Mix: Made in the Shade 1991, Roan Pony Records | RPCD 1308

Made in the Shade

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1. Out of Sight, Out of Mind

2. I Still Miss Someone
3. Long Gone
4. Crying Times
5. Slipping on the Ice
6. Daddy Said
7. Don't Get Above Your Raising
8. Grey Eagle
9. Love and Wealth
10. New Camptown Races
11. October Rose
12. Ifs
13. Bonus Track: I'm Going Back to Old Kentucky
14. Bonus Track: Millworker


"Made in the Shade" is Shady Mix's first CD, and with respect to bluegrass, it's the most traditional sounding. It was recorded in Carbondale, Illinois, with the original Shady Mix bluegrass lineup: Mark Stoffel on mandolin, fiddle, and harmonies; Wil Maring on rhythm and fingerstyle guitar and lead vocals; Kelley Sims on lead acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Doug Knecht on banjo, and Geoff Maring on standup bass. Mila Maring guests on harmony vocals on two cuts. The following review from Bluegrass Unlimited describes the music the best.....

Stephen A.Ide in Bluegrass Unlimited, August 1992 :

"It's good to hear a band willing to play traditional or older Bluegrass music and make it their own. It demonstrates not only how they can stack up to the masters of the craft, but also how enduring the older bluegrass music is in new hands. The six members of Illinois-based Shady Mix show a unique respect for older music in songs by Reno and Smiley, Lester Flatt or the Louvin Brothers. But they also add their own touches, in a contemporary song by Nancy Griffith, "Daddy said", or in original numbers like Lillian "Wil" Maring's lead-off pop-bluegrass song "Out of Sight, out of Mind". This is Shady Mix's debut album in the United States. Known as Main Spring before moving to the U.S. three years ago from Munich, Germany, the band had previous releases in 1987 and 1989.

Shady Mix excels in styles from pulse-racing bluegrass to country and folk. Led by the powerful lead and harmony vocals of rhythm guitarist Lillian Maring through many of the tracks, the band also adds fine harmonies in various combinations by Maring's husband, Mark Stoffel, her sister, Mila and Kelley Sims. The harmonies are carefully woven. I particularly liked the way they joined in on Lillian's mid-tempo song about fading love, "October Rose", Johnny Cash's "I Still Miss Someone" and in the Louvin's "Love and Wealth".

Instrumentally, there are solid performances by Stoffel on mandolin and fiddle, Sims on lead guitar and mandolin, Geoff Maring (a brother) on bass and Doug Knecht on Banjo. But even in showcase melodies like the fast-moving Frank Wakefield tune "New Camptown Races", where each shines, you get the sense that this is a band effort. The compositions are well-executed, melodic and thoroughly enjoyable. In Reno and Smiley's rapid-fire "Long Gone" I enjoyed the speed and fluent banjo picking by Doug Knecht. There's also tight duelling mandolin by Stoffel and Sims in Butch Robin's tune "Slipping on the Ice".

Breaking up the pace of much of the album is Wil's slower country melody "Crying Times" and her folky "Ifs", which is a pleasant song with which to end the album. Sadly, their debut as Shady Mix will be their last because Stoffel says he and Wil plan to return to Germany soon." (a prediction that fortunately turned out to be untrue!)


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