Magic Tuber Stringband - When Sorrows Encompass Me ‘Round

CS Edition of 200 Pro-Dubbed Cassettes. Bandcamp

Magic Tuber Stringband is Durham NC-based duo, made up of Evan Morgan and Courtney Werner. Their primary instruments are guitar and fiddle, but they are not married to these particular axes and follow their instincts when they feel other instruments are called for.
Playing music with its bite rooted in the Piedmont tradition, Magic Tuber mostly write their own material, while exploring and expanding dynamics of string interaction that are as old as the hills. Treading a line that begins in equal parts of blues and Anglo-Scottish lineage, they introduce different motific elements at points. “Teo’s Farewell” has a central portion with a very Middle Eastern feel. “Wood Thrush Song” is a modernist collage of field recordings and layered violin tones. But mostly, Evan’s playing (and occasional singing) mixes traditional and American Primitive approaches with casual surety, and Courtney does the same. 

As on their first album, Wayward Airs for Earthbound Vagrants (Blue Hole MC), Magic Tuber also display a somewhat Fahey-esque hand with song titles. The first three on this one are “Quarry Ate the Mountain,” “Waltz for Things with Wings,” and “Devil on a Root Monster.” But as good as those titles are, the tunes are better. The vibe reminds me of a pared-down version of Jack Rose’s work with the Black Twig Pickers, in the way it manages to keep one foot in the tradition without sounding at all hidebound.

Magic Tuber Stringband is a great (and dare I say, joyous) sophomore effort by a most wonderful band. I hope to hear more from them soon, and so will you.

–Byron Coley, 2021

Raven Sings The Blues Review