Barn Raising Day by The Tarveys (2010. Cricket Wing Records)

I’ve always been a fan of Minnesota’s virtual one-man acoustic phenom, Paul Imholte, dating back to the days when he lived in the Duluth area. A versatile musician, Paul is accomplished on any instrument that boasts a set of strings: dulcimer, fiddle, cello, banjo, guitar,mandolin, and likely some I haven’t even heard of. He’s been, since leaving the Northwoods, a member of the Celtic band, Ring of Kerry based in the St. Cloud area where Imholte now resides. (More on Ring of Kerry to follow). When attending the recent Duluth Home and Builders Show at the DECC, my wife and I sat in the nearly empty old arena and were treated to some wonderful Celtic tunes and Irish step dancing courtesy of Ring of Kerry and the St. Paul Irish Dancers. Though I have two of Ring’s older CDs, this was the first time I was able to see and hear Karie Oberg, the group’s only female member; a very talented flutist and singer. At the end of the show, I bought a copy of Ring’s latest and Mr. Inholte urged a copy of Barn Raising Days, a newly pressed release from Imholte and Oberg, who bill themselves as The Tarveys, into my hands. I wasn’t disappointed.

Th instrumental playing as background music on the main page of this blog, “The Last Light of Summer”, is one of 15 original Imholte compositions on the album. 3 of the tunes are sans vocals, like “Last Light”. They’re well crafted and run the gambit of acoustical pieces. But it’s on tunes such as “In Another Life” and “Wheels Ever Rolling” where Oberg’s talents as a vocalist and Imholte’s abilities as a singer-songwriter bring the CD to its heights. There’s a depth and fullness to Oberg’s renditions of these Americana-themed tunes that gives them life and makes the songs soar. Add to this Paul Imholte’s masterful musicianship, the mixing and electric guitar of John Hammond and you can’t help but be impressed. Especially magical (as always) is the dobro play of Pat Surface sideman and Grammy Award winner, John Ely, former member of country giant Asleep at the Wheel. Dan Preston rounds out the studio guys with solid bass playing on nearly all the tracks.

If you like Americana, especially bluegrass tinged, original-scripted-homegrown-acoustic music, Barn Raising Days is a good place to start. The CD is available directly from The Tarveys at .

4 and 1/2 stars out of 5.


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