Near and Far
Released: April 2013
Dick Weissman is an accomplished performer, instrumental composer, songwriter, recording artist, author and educator. Active in the Portland, OR music scene for ten years, he recorded this CD there but relocated to Denver during the summer. His new CD, Near and Far, showcases his latest collection of original music written primarily for banjo and guitar, plus a few songs with vocals. These 16 tracks are produced mostly on the simple side with a number of solos and innovative duets with oboe, English horn, oboe d’amore (all played by Mitch Imori) or soprano sax (played by Noah Peterson). Weissman contributes his own versatile talent on banjo, banjola, 6- and 12-string guitars, electric guitar, piano, and tiple. Mollie O’Brien makes several guest appearances as a lead and harmony vocalist. She shows up partway through Brazilian Banjo Rag doing a wonderful, whimsical scat, and takes the lead on Oklahoma (Carry All My Tears Away), the only song that is fully produced with 12-string guitar, drums, bass (Ron Bland) and harmonica (Dan McCrimmon). Weissman sings lead on A Cup of the Blues and shares vocals with Harry Tuft and O’Brien on the sweet waltz-time song, Take This Letter.
Weissman’s music evokes gentle moods with the quietness of his solo playing, from the intricate banjo picking on Trail Ridge Variations interwoven with English horn, to his arpeggiated fingerstyle guitar on Angeology, a beautiful romantic piece written in memory of friend and Journeymen bandmate, Scott McKenzie. Recapturing Trail Ridge starts out with thoughtful, soft, melodic passages on solo banjo and then picks up the energy with frailing before closing with melody again. Stuart and the Blue Goose has a toe-tapping, old-time Appalachian feeling, written for the fine banjo player Stuart Jamieson, who died in 2008. Banjo Duende is a unique and impressive solo banjo piece with a strong flamenco theme. One of my favorite tunes is Sami & Dave, written with two different themes for his two blue heelers who had vastly different personalities. It changes mood from the prim, proper and reflective melody accompanied by oboe d’amore, to releasing all that pent-up energy into rollicking strums and rolls just like a bouncing, happy puppy.
At the end of the CD is a final track, About the Music, where Weissman gives a brief background for each song. This is a nice touch, and it gives us a sense of knowing the artist better through hearing his friendly voice speaking straight to the listener.