Joe Herrmann will celebrate the release of Gather 'round, his new CD, with a concert at the Star Theatre at 2 p.m. this Saturday, November 14.
Gather 'round is the first solo album for Herrmann, who is known for his long career with Critton Hollow Stringband and more recently with The Percolators, a "super group" of old-timey musicians.
Backing Herrmann on the CD's 16 tracks are an array of area musicians, playing all manner of instruments from banjo to trumpet.
About a dozen of Herrmann's musical cohorts will be joining him for the Saturday afternoon concert, He promises "quite a palette of sound from this line-up."
Contributing to the sound will be Sam Herrmann, his wife and the hammer dulcimer virtuoso with Critton Hollow, as well as the band's bass player Joe Fallon and former bandmate Pete Gordon. Mary Hott will add some vocals and Joe Devine will guest on guitar.
Other musicians will include the trumpeter of the Blue Rhythm Boys and members of the Hula Monsters and the Speakeasy Boys.
Herrmann said he cherry-picked the musicians just as he did the songs for the new CD.
"I've been collecting music and working on ideas and arrangements for more years than I like to admit. I wanted to preserve them altogether the same way that a writer or a painter does with their ideas," Herrmann said.
The title Gather 'round may suggest a back-porch musical gathering, but it actually comes from the first line of the opening song, "Pretty Boy Floyd" by Woody Guthrie, and calls for folks to gather around to hear the tale of the Depression outlaw.
Herrmann has an affinity with tunes associated with Guthrie, having recorded several with Critton Hollow. This time he also sings "Hobo's Lullaby."
One of his standout vocals is the old "Riddle Song," on which Herrmann accompanies himself in a clawhammer banjo style.
Throughout the set of American folk songs are surprises, like the horns and drums bursting in on "Milwaukee Blues," a 1920s train song.
Those horns return on "Great Dreams From Heaven," one of the instrumental pieces that crop up along the way.
One such number is a medley of three tunes that feature Herrmann's mountain fiddle sound, then swing into what many will recognize as "the Critton Hollow lilt" with Sam Herrmann playing dulcimer.
Joe Herrmann's fiddle is spotlighted through the CD, including on "Tunnel Music," a memorable medley of two traditional tunes that were recorded on a December day in the Paw Paw Tunnel, near his home.
The disc comes with a booklet giving Herrmann's personalized account of each song, where he learned it and, often, his feelings about the tune and the people connected with it.
Gather 'round is an enjoyable new chapter in the musical legacy that Joe (and Sam) Herrmann have been creating since the 1970s.
The CD will be available at Saturday's concert. Tickets for the concert are available at several locations in Berkeley Springs, including the Ice House and the Star Theatre, as well as at the door.