Tony Furtado American Gypsy

Trained on the banjo from a young age and much revered in bluegrass circles (long before the arrival of George Clooney), Tony Furtado is well known for his eclecticism. Furtado loves music and has grown up listening to Fred McDowell and Blind Willie Johnson, as he has the Bothy Band and Christy Moore. As a result, his slide playing is as likely to celebrate the blues as it is Celtic music, bluegrass and everything in between. This disc is, as a result, all over the map stylistically, but is a welcome surprise to fans of adventurous roots music that focuses on master finger-picking. From the killer original "Rising Fog,” Furtado applies his Cooder-like serpentine slide to a funky back-beat to wondrous effect, and his version of "Staggerlee” takes on a distinctive bayou feel that conjures up Sonny Landreth’s sound, both vocally and instrumentally. Another about face, "The Angry Monk” is a disturbingly good instrumental that showcases Furtado’s acoustic slide and banjo prowess simultaneously. While "Hartford” takes a page from his bluegrass-meets-Celtic school, plying banjo against button accordion and pennywhistle and "Kentucky Stripmine” is down and dirty slide guitar to make even Cooder very nervous. This is a treat, and despite the many reference points, Furtado is forging a style uniquely unto himself. (True North)