Bluegrass Europe

Blue Grass Boogiemen - Who’s afraid of the Boogiemen?
Vandiver Records CD 2005
(Richard Hawkins)

When I played this CD my wife, at the other end of the house, could only hear the bass clearly, but she recognised the band at once. Everything about the album has the band’s prints all over it. The label name (com-plete with image of Uncle Pen) is a firm assertion of the Dutch stake in bluegrass. The ample notes are full of the Boogiemen’s vivid, inventive humour, as well as their strong personal commitment, which is further shown in the many photos of them and/or their musical heroes. Their encyclopaedic and – above all – enthusiastic knowledge of the period of country music that first produced bluegrass, honky-tonk, and rockabilly, is shown in the choice of material. Four items are from the work of Jimmy Martin, Bill Monroe, and Frank Wakefield. Most, however, were written or recorded by Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, Little Jimmy Dickens, Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, Buck Owens, Johnny Paycheck, and Marty Collins. These songs, as done here, prove (for anyone who needs proof) that classic country music can make fine bluegrass. Two originals by mandolinist/ lead singer Arnold Lasseur stand firmly alongside this material. Lody van Vlodrop joined on the fiddle a couple of years ago, and the Boogiemen favour the dense, complex ensemble style of many ‘fifties bands, which at the same time is ‘raw, intense, and full of energy’ (as guitarist Robert-Jan Kanis says of Jimmy Martin’s music). For anyone who has not yet heard the Boogiemen, this strong album shows exactly what they can deliver in performance. For those who have heard them, the CD is almost as good as hearing them live – as good, if you accept the notes and the neat cover design in lieu of their onstage humour.