Curt Bouterse
Banjer on My Knee: reviews
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Review from Sing Out! vol. 54, No. 3

Bouterse was born into a Kentucky musical family. He grew up as part of a Navy family and lived all over the US. While in high school he began to play the hammered dulcimer, and in 1961 he met his mentors Sam Hinton and Stu Jamieson. Since then he has had a long and varied musical "career" alongside his day job as an anthropologist, historian and musicologist. Probably his most "high profile" musical credit was his involvement with Ry Cooder on the classic movie soundtrack for The Long Riders.  
Curt's new recording Banjer On My Knee! features him performing on a variety of instruments including both mountain and hammered dulcimer, banjo, autoharp, fife, drum and the kubing, a Philippine Bamboo jaws harp. The CD is dedicated to his two mentors and is chock full of wondrous American traditional music.
The recording opens with "Gold Watch and Chain" from the Carter Family. Curt has rearranged it as a waltz and the song takes on a wholly different character. He is joined by L. Lee Davis on vocals, Ray Bierl on fiddle and Larry Hanks on guitar and vocals. "Rocky Hill" follows from the playing of Stu Jamieson. Curt accompanies his vocal on a banjo tuned to low A tuning. It's an especially rich sound with lots of slides. The popular "Jennie Jenkins" is up next, from the playing of E.C. and Orna Ball. The call and answer vocals with L. Lee and the mountain dulcimer accompaniment are especially lovely. Curt comments that "Early in the Morning" was the first tune he heard on the hammered dulcimer. It was played by an unknown West Virginia musician and collected by the Library of Congress.
This is just a taste of the eighteen tracks of wonderful American traditional music to be found on Banjer On My Knee! Don't pass this one by.

Tom Druckenmiller

Review from

“Gold Watch and Chain Waltz” ist einer jener Songs, die mir aus dem Herzen sprechen. Für mich gemacht. Sentimental bis zum geht nicht mehr, ehrlich, verletzt, direkt. Manche Musiker verstehen es, den ganzen Weltschmerz in ein Stück zu legen. Wie Curt Bouterse mittels Dulcimer, Autoharp, Löffeln, Schlagzeug, Banjos und noch viel primitiveren Instrumenten bzw. Perkussionsmitteln.
Erstaunlicherweise kommt diese Old-Time CD aus Kalifornien. Ich hätte gewettet, sie kommt aus den Appalachen, so ursprünglich klingt sie (Anspieltipp: “Oh, Death”). Gesanglich bewegt sich der Tonträger im Mittelfeld. Dabei muss man aber die gewählten Stücke in Betracht ziehen, die allemal sehr viel vom Sänger verlangen. Einen Höhepunkt macht Patsy’s “Life's Railway to Heaven” (ich kenne das Stück nun mal vor allem von ihr). Wunderschön und sehr, sehr religiös (für mich ist DAS Religion nicht das Tragen von Hemden mit Kreuzen und dem zeigen darauf, wenn man fotografiert wird. Für mich muss man den Glauben leben).
Hier scheint alles ehrlich und aufrichtig zu sein. Und gleichsam wichtig. Eine angenehme Arbeit, vor der man sich verbeugen muss.

My Translation (compilation of not-very-sensical translations). I welcome corrections.

"Gold Watch and Chain Waltz" is one of those songs that speaks to me from the heart. Made for me. It doesn't get any more sentimental: honest, vulnerable, direct. Some musicians know how to put the pain of the world into one piece. Like Curt Bouterse with dulcimer, autoharp, spoons, drums, and many more primitive instruments and percussion. Surprisingly, this Old-Time CD comes from California. I would have bet it was from the Appalachian Mountains, it sounds so natural [or original, or primordial?] (e.g., "Oh Death"). Vocally, it moves in the middle ranges.[?] However, here one must take into consideration the selected pieces, which always require a lot from singers.  A high point is Patsy [Cline's] "Life's Railway to Heaven" (I know the piece above all from her). Beautiful and very, very religious (for me [true] religion isn't wearing shirts with crosses and pointing to it, if you are photographed; for me, one must live the faith). Here everything seems to be honest and sincere. And, as it were, important. A pleasant work, before which one must bow.

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