Reviews of Joe's Recordings

Swanee - The Music of Stephen Foster
NCD 206

"For those interested in American music, this is required listening." - The New York Post

"...these performances are some of the best recorded versions of Stephen Foster’s eternal melodies. For that reason alone, ‘Swanee’ richly deserves to be included in any serious collection of American music."
- Bluegrass Unlimited

"This is not only the best tribute to Foster’s music that I have ever heard, it is a strong and engaging piece of Americana in its own right."- Charles Wolfe

“Producer and guitarist Joe Weed ...  has released a stirring new collection of Foster songs, recorded with the help of folk’s finest, including Tim O’Brien, Laurie Lewis, Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, Joe Craven and Jay Ungar.  ... Weed and his collaborators handle these songs with the reverence they deserve.  The disc’s crystalline production and moving performances should make this the definitive Stephen Foster collection.” - Wallace Baine, Santa Cruz Sentinel May 31, 2001

“This is the first all-Foster CD in 10 years, and the first with this type of performance since the start of bluegrass, country, folk, and the other styles represented by the fine contemporary musicians assembled for this collection. For the thousands of times I’ve heard these songs, some of Joe Weed's arrangements are already vying as my favorites." - Deane L. Root, Director, Center for American Music, Stephen Foster Memorial, University of Pittsburgh

“Simply put, ‘Swanee’ is the rarest of gems. Producer Joe Weed has created a collage of some of the planet’s greatest traditional players and Foster’s finest, most lasting works. This thoughtful and tastefully done project deserves a space in everyone’s home music library.” - Ray Edlund, Host/Producer, “Pig in a Pen”, KPFA-FM, Berkeley, CA

“This album can easily stand beside other traditional music classics like the “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack. This is not only the best tribute to Foster’s music that I have ever heard, it is a strong and engaging piece of Americana in its own right.” - Charles Wolfe, Professor of English, Middle Tennessee State University, renowned author and writer on traditional folk and American music

“Assembled by producer Joe Weed and performed by an all-star ensemble of old-time acoustic players ... the arrangements presented on this album are simplicity personified: voice and guitar, lonesome harmonica solos, sad fiddles and fast-break mandolins. For those interested in American music, this is required listening.” - Dan Aquilante, “All-American and All Right”, The New York Post, July 3, 2001

“The performances are highly accomplished, nuanced, and uniformly sensitive to historical performance practices all the while being deliciously attractive to contemporary ears. Joe Weed’s production is a marvel of great music and great music-making.” - Dale Cockrell, Professor of Musicology, Vanderbilt University

“Joe Weed’s "Swanee" is valuable and welcome because the full range of Stephen Foster’s compositions, from minstrel show tunes to parlor ballads, has not previously been available on a single, in-print CD." - Ken Emerson, Author, "Doo-dah! Stephen Foster and The Rise of American Popular Culture"

The Vultures

"For several years, Joe Weed has been recording some of the most intelligent, masterful acoustic music to come out of the South Bay, from his Highland Studio nestled deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

This time around, Weed, a masterful performer on guitar, mandolin and fiddle, has mined another source of unique Americana: '60s instrumentals. Weed's inventive, witty arrangements work so well that you can hardly believe most of these tunes were really written with electric guitar in mind. Booker T and the MGs' "Green Onions" gets a fine reworking...Weed's version of Santo and Johnny's "Sleepwalk" captures the dreamy feel of the original. Percussionist Craven...really gets to show his chops on the Surfari's classic, "Wipeout."

Weed's previous releases "Waltz of the Whippoorwill," "American Portrait," and "Prairie Lullaby," were graceful interpretations of music's Western tradition that included a measure of bluegrass and old-timey music, as well." - San Jose Mercury News

Prairie Lullabye

"What the cover proclaims: "All the bedtime hits lovingly played on guitar, harmonica, fiddle and dobro"- just about says it. Having triumphed in many actual field tests, this charming instrumental collection is a simple and melodic enough to do that essential nighty-night job.

Yet, by once again engaging an all star cast including Norton Buffalo, Todd Phillips, Bryan Bowers and Rob Ickes, whose adroit playing within the inventive, subtle arrangements truly shines, Weed keeps serious listeners and players-- even dedicated non-kid types-- beguiled by the chestnuts to the last track." -Paul Hostetter

"Prairie Lullaby is a wonderful collection of relaxing but decidedly not soporific instrumental versions of old familiar songs. The surprising use of harmonica played by the redoubtable Norton Buffalo blends with the ever tasteful guitar and mandolin of Joe Weed to make for 45 minutes of aural delight. Rob Ickes' dobro playing smoothly fills out the sonic palette. I like Prairie Lullaby quite a bit. I was really happy to see the notes with all the composers' credits and dates."
-Leigh Hill, KUSP FM, Santa Cruz, CA, host of The Pataphysical Farm

American Portrait

"From his guitar joyride down "Highway One" to the eccentric and beguiling "Sliding Down Mt. Rushmore" to a serene "Prairie Waltz," Joe Weed's new CD, American Portrait, showcases his canny musical travelog through a vast personal landscape of images and imagination. Covering eleven musical locales (even Hawaii gets a "Pineapple Rag,") each piece is a tapestry in its own right.

This musician's musician--known to cognescenti for years as a fiddle wizard--fronts his new collection of elegant, brainy originals as much on guitar as on is more customary instruments, the fiddle and mandolin. It's a rare bird that can even think of tunes like these, much less play them and produce and arrange the album as well.

Though a master of all string instruments and therefore quite capable of multitracking them all himself, he's again enlisted David Grisman's eminently capable mandolin and Todd Phillips' superb bass playing, both gentlemen having also graced his landmark 1987 release, Waltz of the Whippoorwill. Combining the languid dobro of Nashville studio ace Rob Ickes, a remarkably ... melodious Norton Buffalo on harmonica, augmented at times by cello, recorder, flute, accordion, dulcimer and some very graceful touches of percussion, each tune's chromatic and compositional appeal stands fresh and distinct. Under his own adroit arrangements, Weed's clever and fanciful compositions become at times almost orchestral. Though the tunes always beam through, this suite is no superpicker's jam session--it's certainly lively, but a little more, shall we say, civilized than that.

Acknowledging obvious inspiration from his longtime pals Grisman and especially Tiny Moore (in whose band he played for many years)--not to mention '30's Cuban rhumba bands, vivid mariachi, Southern old time fiddle, touches of Aaron Copland, Tex-czech polka, cowboy campfire songs and, once again, the simple sounds of the natural environment, Joe Weed's album couldn't be more varied or lush. It sounds like an old familiar friend, yet no one ever put things together quite like this to make such a sound."
- Paul Hostetter, for Acoustic Guitar magazine

Waltz of the Whippoorwill

"Some sweet, sweet acoustic dream. If this music came through your kitchen window it'd make rainbows." - Darol Anger, fiddler with David Grisman, Mike Marshall, Montreux, Turtle Island, and leading educator

"A marvelous concept, wonderful music and superb musicianship. One of the most listenable records I've heard in years!" - Jim Hatlo, Frets Magazine

"A beautiful album! A masterpiece!" - Tiny Moore, mandolinist with Merle Haggard and Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys

"...Weed pulls it off with flair...all acoustic pieces, featuring Weed's rich fiddle tone and sprightly mandolin. Especially high flying is his uptempo duet with Grisman on "Western Kingbird." Excellent production and recording, and some adventurous harmonies and good humor ("Chickadee Polka" and "Carolina Wren Rag"), help make this an enjoyable record." - Mark Hanson, Frets Magazine

"The music is a great bridge between the world of nature and the world of music."
- Mark Silberstein, Elkhorn Slough Foundation, Moss Landing, CA