Mary Kettering is currently the fiddler with Northwest Territory, a longstanding bluegrass band from Ohio. Here she plays with some former bandmates and favorite musicians. The project opens with a version of “Amazing Grace” complete with vocals and closes with an instrumental version of the same song. In between, we have a program of songs and tunes that range from pretty amazing to not quite ready for prime time.
Her fiddling shines on many of the breaks and on the fiddle tunes “Bill Cheatam” [sic] and “Star Of The County Down.” She tears into “Orange Blossom Special” and drives it like crazy. Her improvisations sound more like exercises in arpeggios reflecting her classical background. It takes a lot of funk to wash off all of that classical book learning. “Psychobilly Cadillac” is fun in a progressive bluegrass vein. Her fiddling shines on “I Don’t Care (Just As Long As You Love Me).”
As a singer, Kettering shows promise, but her reading of “Red Clay Halo” does not compare well with the other versions out there. Her harmony singing on “I’ll Travel On” holds up much better. Her band provides first-rate support and includes, Danny Bryant on mandolin, Jerry Pollack on bass, Steve Baxter on guitar, and either Gary Fossaceca or Mike Ball on banjo. Mary Kettering is a promising talent. (Mary Kettering, 1019 Twp Rd. 553, Ashland, OH 44805, www.marykettering.com.)RCB