Geoff Muldaur has had a long, and at times, rocky career. He began as a principal member of the influential Jim Kweskin jug band and was instrumental in creating a funky ensemble sound that became a seminal part of the original early-’60s folk music revolution. He went on to have a critically acclaimed (but less than commercially overwhelming) solo career. By the ’80s he had abandoned professional music for more personally rewarding paths. But in ’98 Muldaur resurfaced with the CD Secret Handshake. Password is the second release of his revitalized career.
It’s not all that surprising that Mulduar’s music is still very much like it was in the ’60s. He never was a very good mimic of traditional musical styles. Instead his versions of folk and blues standards have always had a unique personal twist. Password amply displays Muldaurs’ individual and idiosyncratic interpretations of classics like “Drop Down Mama” by “Sleepy” John Estes and “K.C. Moan” by Tewee Blackman. “Light Rain” by Muldaur’s contemporary Eric Von Schmidt is also recast in a singular and refreshing way.
As if his own voice and fine finger-picking guitar technique were not enough, Muldaur has assembled a sterling group of musicians to accompany him on Password. David Lindley, Dave Alvin, Stephen Bruton, and Billy Watts on guitars, Richard Green and Margaret Wooten on fiddles, Tim Emmons and Bill Rich on bass, Wally Ingram and Don Heffington on drums, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Bob Neuwirth, Bill Lynch, and Fritz Richmond on harmony vocals, combine to give this album a rich and musically complex harmonic texture.
Even though six different studios were used, Password has a consistent sonic signature. Ramon Breton (Ocean View Mastering) did a fine job preserving all the subtle musical nuances of the original performances. Even if you never caught Muldaur during the first 20 years of his musical career, it’s never too late to treat yourself to his newest offering. See www.hightone.com.’
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Jan. ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.