Foot-Notes Recording Reviews
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From reviews of My Father Was A Fiddler...

From Dirty Linen:

   Foot-Notes is a band determined to show that the best in traditional music is often found by digging deeper rather than wider. In My Father Was a Fiddler, their second CD release, they continue to explore the Norwegian-American musical heritage of the bluff country of northeast Iowa around Decorah and Highlandville. While their earlier recording centered around music learned from one fiddler, Bill Sherburne, My Father Was a Fiddler draws on music from at least six local musicians. Foot-Notes' fiddle, bass, guitar, and mandolin are joined by pianist Ellen Blagen, daughter of fiddler Alfred Blagen, one of the main sources of tunes for the record.Waltzes are the primary fare on this recording, but a few polkas and schottisches, a Norwegian song, and a nice version of "Home Sweet Home" break up the triple meter. As with the earlier recording, the musicianship issuperb and the production values first-rate. 

-----Bruce E. Baker, music reviewer 

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From the Iowa City Press-Citizen:

    My Father Was A Fiddler . . . manages to be even more amazing than its predecessor. Beautifully packaged, lovingly annotated, vibrantly recorded, and passionately, eloquently played, the disc rides the symbiotic interaction of  [Foot-notes band] members . . .on an organic romp through collected folk dance tunes from northeast Iowa and southern Minnesota.

                    -----Jim Musser, music reviewer

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From Trapeze:  A Magazine of Arts and Ideas:

   On My Father Was A Fiddler . . . the band has dipped further into the past and recorded a  collection of tunes from some of [northeast Iowa's] early fiddlers. With the cooperation of several women, who in their youth accompanied their fiddler fathers at dances, forgotten tunes were recalled and priceless personal tunebooks were located . . . [T]he whole recording is really Foot-Notes' attempt to pay homage to this tradition of music-making by studying the old and making it new. They succeed completely at this and a visit to the Highlandville schoolhouse will find teenagers dancing to these nearly forgotten tunes in proof. 
   My Father Was A Fiddler . . . is an important ethnomusicological document and a great   example of how to honor and preserve the old ways. The stories in the accompanying booklet  are almost worth the purchase price on their own. 

-----John Goodin, performer, composer, former reviewer for the Louisville Music News
From reviews of Decorah Waltz 

From Dirty Linen:

   If you ever get to Winneshiek County, Iowa, you ought to check out the monthly dance at the old schoolhouse in Highlandville. The band is Foot-Notes and they play some really great Norwegian-American string band music.  Led by fiddler Beth Hoven Rotto, the band plays a nice mix of polkas, schottisches, waltzes, and other kinds of Scandinavian tunes on their debut cd, Decorah Waltz. The recording opens with "Erik's Polka," one of the simplest and catchiest tunes I've heard in ages. The title track, by the way, is a different version of a tune Missouri fiddler Vesta Johnson calls "Orvetta Waltz." Jim Skurdal complements the fiddle with very precise mandolin, while Jon Rotto rounds out the sound with guitar. Bill Musser provides the foundation with steady bass. Of the three songs, the two in Norwegian are the best, but "Highlandville Waltz" does grow on you. Although about half of the disc's tunes are recently composed, several others and much of the inspiration for the band itself come from Bill Sherburne, who died in 1991. 

  ----- Bruce E. Baker, music reviewer 
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The Iowa City Icon:

    ...an invigorating collection of  sprightly tunes, beautifully recorded and expertly played. The quartet . . . glides effortlessly from waltz to polka, from schottische to two-step     . . .  what singing is included is sweetly unaffected.  

From a later review in the Iowa City Press-Citizen

    [Foot-Notes] made their recording debut with the pristine Decorah Waltz in 1996; I have considered that disc a personal treasure ever since.

         -----Jim Musser, music reviewer 
        (no relation to Foot-Notes' bassist!) 
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   Decorah Waltz is an excellent recording in all respects, and an important and pleasant addition to my library. It will not collect dust. 

  -----LeRoy Larson, Norwegian-American ethnomusicologist & performer
 

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