Nathan Bowles steps out with his first solo record and knocks it over the fences, wringing a breathtaking blend of rhythmic intricacy and subtle melodicism from a hand-built wonder of a banjo -- the Buckeye No. 101 of the title. An all-instrumental mix of well-crafted originals and re-shaped traditionals, "A Bottle, a Buckeye" is a break from Bowles' ensemble playing in Black Twig Pickers and Pelt, and a showcase for a wide-ranging vision and virtuoso chops. Released by Soft Abuse, "Bottle, Buckeye" features brilliant clawhammer work combined with percussive battering, finger-picking, and a long stretch of bowing to draw out a varied and hypnotic blend of textures.
Here's how Soft Abuse describes it:
"Hard to believe our planet had not yet been graced with Nathan Bowles solo recordings until now, but such is the case. After years of playing in celebrated ensembles, touring the world, and honing his skill on a host of instruments, Bowles unveils his first solo effort: A Bottle, A Buckeye. The spacious, rollicking, meditative, and above all powerful record bridges the methods and constructs of his two most notable groups – Black Twig Pickers (old-time) and Pelt (outer limits) – while inhabiting a space all its own.
Armed only with a 5-string openback banjo (built by Nathan's neighbor Greg Galbreath at the Buckeye Banjos workshop) and a bottle of Elmer T. Lee, Bowles recorded and mixed the record with Jason Meagher at Black Dirt Studio over two days in December 2011. Bowles' recent focus on the instrument's various possibilities is on full display – bowed & drummed textures, clawhammer boogie, and banjo soli sidewinding. With a mixture of traditional folk tunes, original compositions, and reinterpretations of material from players who've passed on, this is a varied ride with a serious player at the helm."