Banjos and fiddles, boards and bones in hand, The Black Twig Pickers dove into a living tradition of old-time music that surrounds their homes in Southwest Virginia and never looked back. Both scholars of the regional sounds and advocates of an ecstatic and highly personal approach to the music, the Twigs hold down local dance and bar gigs, play all manner of celebrations and every so often, hit the road. Along the way, Isak Howell, Nathan Bowles and Mike Gangloff kept company with some of underground Americaâ TMs heavyweights and haunted the doorsteps of Appalachian fiddle and banjo masters. Theyâ TMve played for the National Council for the Traditional Arts and for audiences overseas. And theyâ TMve put out a string of acclaimed albums, including 2008â TMs Hobo Handshake and last yearâ TMs Jack Rose & the Black Twig Pickers.
Ironto Special is an album of traditional Appalachian old-time tunes (and two originals) that theyâ TMve learned through study of both local old-time musicians and old-time records and field recordings. The instrumentation is all-acoustic and features some of the old-time usuals fiddle, banjo, guitar and some less-routinely-heard-in-todayâ TMs-old-time-scene implements like washboard, bones, fiddlesticks, mouth harp and jaw harp. Plus (on one song) a one-of-a-kind baritone resonator 12-string guitar. Old-time music served, and continues to serve, a variety of functions in Appalachian life from dance music to somber solo performance to raggier blues and everything in between. Ironto Special is an attempt to celebrate this variety in the old-time tradition through the bandâ TMs process of learning and growth as they explore the musicâ TMs many facets.