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Published: 2002/09/24
by Jesse Jarnow

The Rodeo Eroded – Tin Hat Trio

Ropeadope Records 7567-93134-2

Here's been my experience with the Tin Hat Trio's The Rodeo Eroded
thus far: When I get excited to put it on, it doesn't usually floor me. But
when I put it on, forget about it, and go about my business of hanging out
with whoever's around, I tend to think it's an amazing album. The
California-based trio pushes acoustic music in a new direction only hinted
at by the (still) Appalachia-rooted eclecticisms of newgrass.

Much like the Deadly Nightshade Family Singers, the Tin Hat Trio almost
always sound as if they could be scoring a Tim Burton film. They chase some
elusive quality through styles of folk music — world melodies to American
country and western to noirish sound attacks and on into the ether. Much of
the time, though, they pull back before following the music into the deeply
weird zone where it seems it wants to lead them. Tracks like "Nickel
Mountain" and "O.N.E.O." get there just fine, though. Mostly, though, it
might just be necessary to provide one's own atmosphere.

The Rodeo Eroded is probably the only record that can feature both
Willie Nelson and Zeena Parkins (electric harpist for Bj on the same
tune ("Willow Weep For Me") and have it make perfect sense. And that's not
to mention other guest appearances by Billy Martin, Jon Fishman, and Bryan
Smith. It is exactly the kind of focused mish-mash that gives eclecticism a
good name. The band has a strong aesthetic and a sharp sense of center that
allows them to pull their own voice out of myriad genres. The music
(especially tracks like the wild "Holiday Joel") is fun, but also completely

As such, it has a bit of a Sunday morning coffee/National Public Radio kinda
vibe to it. From time to time, this is a shortcoming, and one wonders
exactly what kind of erosion he's watching. The title of the disc is in the
past tense, but how far back? Is it something that just happened moments
ago? Or are we talking historical erosion here? The music doesn't seem to
answer these questions. The music's mysterious quality itself has a
mysterious quality.

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