Tom, Brad & Alice consists of three leading figures of the string-band music revival that began during the late 1960s and early 1970. On this disc, their third album together, Tom, Brad & Alice emphasize their instrumental abilities, most often as a banjo, fiddle and guitar ensemble. The great strength of these middle-aged players lies in their experience–wide-ranging playing, learning and listening, especially to elderly master musicians and old recordings from the days of 78s and cylinders. After having each devoted more than three decades to learning the genre, the trio possesses a matchless breadth of old-time music knowledge and exhibits exquisite taste and a wonderful faculty for making music together.Born in California but now residing in Durham, Alice Gerrard edits the lovely quarterly journal, The Old-Time Herald. This fall the International Bluegrass Music Association honored Gerrard as a pioneer for women in bluegrass music, especially her collaborations with Hazel Dickens. With roots in the Ozarks, Brad Leftwich moved to Carrboro several years ago with his spouse, the equally respected musician Linda Higginbotham. Tom Sauber, a California resident, seems comfortable with almost any rural American banjo style imaginable.
On this album, the three render tunes from across the East Coast, as well as three titles from 1920s commercial recordings, 14 learned directly from old masters or field recordings and one “assembled” by Tom, Brad and Alice. While each track remains respectful, Tom, Brad & Alice are by no means merely replicating their sources any more than Arthur Rubenstein played piano scores by rote. We’ll Die In The Pig Pen Fighting provides a bridge between the string-band tradition and younger players today who were inspired by these musicians.