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Album Review

MISTER BABY
Great Big Fire Show

The first thing you need to know about Mister Baby is that it is fronted by a lady named Huddleneck, Huddlenecker, Huddleston, Huddlenecker, Huddlestoner or something along those lines (like some comedians, she changes names and birth dates like babies change diapers). Megan's her first name, regardless, and she has me scratching my head and wondering what the hell they put in the water up in Charlottesville. Honest to God, C-ville has the largest contingent of musicians per capita in the whole world and probably the most diverse. And here comes ol' Huddleperson stretching that diversity even further. C-ville--- home of Skip Castro and Corey Harris and, not the home of but the home-base of Dave Matthews. Danny Schmidt and Devon Sproule and Paul Curreri and Mariana Bell came out of C-ville, and Keith Morris and The Hogwaller Ramblers and The Hackensaw Boys. And that's only a small percentage. If I really wanted to do some research, I could give you a list as long as my arm, but you wouldn't read it and this is about Mister Baby and not C-ville, so I'll let it drop. But I'm sure you get the point.

Wouldn't make a bit of difference whether Huddleston was from C-ville or Timbuktu. She has an attitude which would float to the top. Eventually. It's the attitude which sets her apart. She's crazy, but in the strangest and nicest way. In an up, humorous way. Thank God. If she was serious, we'd all be in trouble. One listen to One Eye Open should convince you. It's convinced me to never piss her off, that's for sure. And I don't even sleep in the same state!

It's only one of many winners in the Big Fire Show, and I don't know quite why. She starts off with Rabbit, about a rabbit with a gun. I know! From there, you get to go on a Shitty Limousine Ride, hear The Most Beautiful Song, experience the wonder of Bees!!, along with sleeping with One Eye Open. It is a rocking experience, backwoods-style, and by backwoods, I suspect I mean Appalachian, but I'm from Oregon and the closest I ever got to Appalachia were those documentaries they show on TV now and again.

Right now, I think my favorite track is Shitty Limousine Ride because of the slidin' electric guitar of Jesse Suhl Fiske. The guy's a freak of nature, playing a minimalist style which is, in fact, quite complicated in the way his guitar works within the songs. Fiske, probably best known for his work with The Hackensaw Boys, makes his mark in the most unobtrusive way, never stealing the stage from Huddleston but rather embellishing it. Same with Jake Hopping, who stays in the background but laying perfect groundwork with his bass and banjo. Simple, but sweet.

I've been sampling Mister Baby on and off for a couple of years now. Every time I listen, I want to see them live. Something tells me that Huddleston is an oddball who could sell you a bridge, and that's on a bad night. Put Fiske and Hopping into the mix and I'd probably have my checkbook out before I knew it. What can I say? After more than ten listens to Great Big Fire Show, I'm sold. Now, Megan, if you don't mind, about that bridge.....

Available from Country Wide.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.


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