Mad Tea Party
True Americana by a quirky crew from North Carolina delve into old blues, hokum and folk tunes, with a touch of coutry pop music form the 20s and such. Ami Worthen (vocals, ukulele), Jason Krekel (vocals, guitar, fiddle, and kazoo) and Lora Pendleton (vocals, bass) recorded this little gem of American roots in their home in North Carolina and the energy and spontaneity overflow in every tune, from the clever novelty of "Flying Suacers" to the warmth of the old country standard, "Walking on the Kings Highway." I was priveleged to have these folks on my radio show in CT in 2005 and fell in love with their personable and witty approach to all kinds of American roots music. Highly recommended.
Guests on the recording: Sean Foley (accordion), Reese Gray (piano) and Jake Hollifield (piano)
Tracks (highlighted are MP3 samples):
1. Who Built the Ark? 3:38 (trad.)
2. Pagan Love Song 2:53 (trad.)
3. Down Home Rag/4 or 5 Times 5:42 (Sweatman/Gay, Hellman)
4. I’m An Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande) 4:16 (Mercer)
5. (When You See Those) Flying Saucers 3:03 (Coben, Grean)
6. Beaver Creek 3:23 (trad.)
7. Buttons and Bows 2:37 (Livingston, Evans)
8. Adam and Eve 3:45 (trad.)
9. Walking in the King’s Highway 3:24 (Horton)
10. Indian War Whoop 4:37 (trad.)
Peggy Seeger has to say about the Mad Tea Party:
"The Mad Tea Party is a serious, silly, cheerful, colourful, funny, hoppity-hippity, bouncy, Alice-in-Wonderland kind of "mad". They play old favorites and create new ones. Jason Krekel's one-man instrument set-up is hilarious. Ami Worthen's ukulele playing makes you want to dance and her butterfly/wallpaper couture are... well, MAD. Drop whatever you're doing when they're in your neighborhood and join in the fun."
|"Asheville-based trio Mad Tea Party is the next generation of whacky, retro-steeped Carolina bands, following in the footsteps of Squirrel Nut Zippers and Southern Culture on the Skids. With old-time, ragtime and vaudeville at their heart, they evoke historical images of '20s flappers, plodding cowboys, a campfire hoedown, the dust bowl, WWI, and a backwoods speakeasy, taking their cue from the pre-rock 'n' roll era. "Flying Saucers" is part tradition, part modern humor. The title track sounds like the Carter Family in an alternate universe, singing of an alien landing signaling Armageddon. Many tracks are familiar yet reworked standards such as the elementary school music class staple "Who Built the Ark?" which they turn into a ukulele stomp. Others such as the instrumental "Indian War Whoop" remain lively, yet intact." - Charlotte Observer|
What the band has to say for themselves:
Mad Tea Party has a distinctive retro sound that mixes vintage music with modern sensibilities and a hint of rock and roll. The band is Ami Worthen (vocals, ukulele), Jason Krekel (vocals, guitar, fiddle, and kazoo) and Lora Pendleton (vocals, bass). These charismatic performers will charm you with their toe-tapping tunes and yummy three-part harmonies. Then they’ll disarm you with their irresistible sass and humor. "The jazz, ragtime and folk-influenced songs are enchanting in their light-heartedness, even when the whimsical notes are delivering a cutting social satire. And that’s part of the joy of Mad Tea Party; no matter what they do or say, they make you happy" (Al Haroldson, Kyndmusic.com). "This is the kind of band that can bring together somewhat disparate people. From the tattooed punk rock guy, to the hipster grandmother, to the hillbilly next door neighbor, everyone can enjoy and absorb something from this music” (Carolina Drake, Amps Eleven Magazine). The Laurel summed up Mad Tea Party this way, "Nutty. Naughty. Nostlagic."
"Ami Worthen is a clever tunesmith with a social conscious, a devilish sense of humor… [and a] particularly inspired brand of ukulele playing” (Radio Memeworks). Devin Grant of the Charleston Post & Courier described a performance this way, "Worthen sang with a voice that seemed to exude sunshine. Clad in an orange dress and cowboy boots, she easily won the crowd with her delightful smile."
The dynamic and talented Jason Krekel sings and plays fiddle, guitar, and kazoo, among other things. In the same Post & Courier article, Grant said, "As Worthen strummed her ukulele, Krekel, dressed in a red blazer and a porkpie hat, performed an amazing ballet of musicianship nearby.” The Charlotte Observer described his singing this way, "when Jason Krekel takes the lead, he lets it fly with loud abandon.”
Lora Pendleton comes from a background in both old-time music and jazz. She brings solid bass playing, strong vocals and original songs to the Tea Party. As Amps Eleven Magazine put it, "Lora Pendelton’s springy voice contributes to the sound and fury of their circus-carnival style.” "The trio of tricksters (Ami Worthen, Jason Krekel, Lora Pendleton) that make up Mad Tea Party flow with musical individuality, making the word ‘original’ seem stale in comparison." (Hunter Pope, Mountain Xpress)
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