Alicia Jo Rabins / Sugar Shack

Album cover: Very lovely cropped picture of the fiddler on a bench, holding her instrument Alicia Jo Rabins
Sugar Shack
, 2003


Given its popularity, I am often surprised by how few albums of traditional American fiddle catch my ear. This album, comprised primarily of old-timey American fiddle tunes (or new tunes in the same style), is one of them. Drawing primarily on American fiddle traditions and including several new pieces written in traditional styles, it is sheer delight. I suspect that it will stay alongside Anne Lederman's CDs among my frequently-played, never-put-away fiddle albums.

Rabins has a lovely sense of rhythm and melody, and an excellent voice for singing the few songs that get vocal accompaniment. The album is redolent with a sense of rural rhythm and a slower rural time, without losing the forcefulness and intentionality that come with, as well. Listen to the transition into the title track and the exuberance in the double-tracked singing. Of special note is the one piece from Yiddish theatre, "Die Greene Cousine" which sounds absolutely fantastic as a bluegrass fiddle piece.

This is just one of the most delicious, wonderful to listen to recordings of southern and old-timey American fiddle traditions I have heard in many years. I can't stop saying that.

Although Rabins was living in Western Massachusetts when this album was recorded, she has recently moved to NYC (also home to one of her fiddle teachers, Alicia Svigals) and joined "Golem". What that means to the sound of either I cannot say, but I do very much look forward to hearing whatever comes out of that collaboration or others. In the meantime, I'm not complaining. This album is quite wonderful. Don't forget to stay tuned for the bonus track.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 4/25/04

Personnel this recording:
Alicia Jo Rabins: fiddle, uke, guitar, triangle, vocals
Michael Daves: guitar, mandolin
Paul Kochanski: bass
Corey DiMario: bass
Peter Siegel: banjo, bodhran, feet
Larry Unger: guitar
Oona Coy: vocals


  1. Fort Washington Two-Step (Rabins) 3:07
  2. Sail Away Ladies/Sugar Shack (trad/Rabins) 4:19
  3. Neil Gow's Lament for the death of his second wife (Neil Gow) 3:38
  4. My sister Sally/Martha Campbell/Nine mountain road (Rabins/trad/Rabins) 4:42
  5. Die greene cousine (Abe Schwartz) 4:06
  6. Bakers waltz (Rabins) 2:41
  7. Little red strawberry/Angeline the baker (Rabins/trad w/some new words) 4:03
  8. Blackberry spring (Rabins) 3:44
  9. Doney/Liza Jane/Breakin up Christmas (trad) 4:53
  10. Wagoner's Lad (trad) 4:31

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