Reviews & Testimonials

What Folks Are Saying....

     Wow wow wow! I love the new CD beyond words.  Favorites are "California Cotillion," Bell Spur's "Home Sweet Home," and this is by far & away my favorite "cover" of Cush Holston's "Trouble Trouble."  The Fiddlin' Powers "Patty on the Turnpike" is outstanding, and we also love your takes on Lundy's "Western Country" and Norman Edmonds' "Callahan."  ....As I listen, every single tune has in turn become my favorite!

     Congratulations on a solid project — great playing, sound, and cover graphics.  This will be in constant play around here indefinitely.  I will be recommending it heartily.

Gail Gillespie (Chapel Hill, NC)

     I have been listening very carefully and frequently to ["Into Thin Hair"].  To my ear it is far and above the best Old Time album that has been released in a very long time.  The quality of the musicianship is consistently superb, all around, and you guys showed impeccably good taste in tune selection and interpretation.  There is real depth evident here in your understanding of the music and the culture, and I hope your good work makes a substantial impression on other Old Time musicians.  You guys knocked it out of the park!  Thanks so much!

— Andy Buckman (Rocky Mount, VA)

     The Sunny Mountain Serenaders ... Mark Campbell (fiddle), Mac Traynham (banjo/mouth harp/vocals), and John Schwab (guitar/vocals) ... played some of the best old-time stringband music I've heard in a long time.

— Frank Dalton (Coatesville, PA)

    You guys just make the best music together.  I could use a lot of fancy adjectives but actually all that's really needed is for folks to open their ears and listen. So I'll just use one adjective: beautiful.

— Mike Bostock (Nailsea, Somerset, UK)

    I just received my copy of Into Thin Hair, and it is a doozy.  The best old time CD I've bought this year.  Sure to become one of my all time faves of my collection.

— Brett Waller (Jacksonville, FL)

    I've been enjoying the heck out of the Serenaders' album!  Really great playing and fun tunes.

Nick Bachman (Los Angeles, CA)

    Many, many thanks to you guys for giving such pleasure at last weekend's Gainsborough (UK) Festival.  Real, pure old-time music !

William Duddy (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

     It doesn't get any better than this in singing, playing, and tune selection.  I highly recommend this new recording from a new old-time band made of some of the best musicians we have playing today.

— Steve Goldfield (Oakland, CA)

     This music is intensely danceable and enjoyable.  I encourage you to get your own copy and listen to it often.

— Steve Goldfield (Oakland, CA)

Bluegrass Unlimited

     On this lively recording [the Sunny Mountain Serenaders] provide a generous 18 excursions into the repertoire, revisiting both familiar material ("New River Train," "Richmond Blues") and the relatively more obscure ("Big Bend Gal," "California Cotillion").

     As anybody who follows OTM will tell you, the songs and tunes, done right, never wear out their welcome.  These guys, no surprise given their experience and talent, do them so capably that I found myself enjoying the good ol' good ones — notably, the inexplicably fresh-feeling renditions of "New River Train" and "Waterbound" — so fully that I rejoiced each time they came around in the rotation.  Likewise the often-covered "The Girl I Left in Sunny Tennessee," brought into the mountain stringband repertoire by Charlie Poole's 1925 recording from an older pop song, and "Stackalee," the enduring ballad, done in a range of genres since its origin in 1890 in a real-life fatal encounter in a St. Louis saloon.

     Being conscientious, the Serenaders cite their sources, an effort that only underscores their knowledge, derived from both the classic commercial recordings of the 1920s and from what they gleaned from friendships with older rural players to whom the fiddle and banjo tunes were integral to their existence.  That music could be serious, but as often as not it was joyous, a celebration not only of life but of a particular way of living it.  The miracle of oldtime music is that, even as it speaks the language of a particular time and place, it is not confined to it.  Anybody with ears to hear and a soul to be moved can be transformed by it.  The Serenaders capture everything you need to know to fall in love with a sound that, far from parochial and antique, seems strangely universal and immortal.

— Jerome Clark


     I bought a copy of "Into Thin Hair" by the Sunny Mountain Serenaders recently, and it arrived a few days ago.  It has since had a permanent place in my CD player...i.e., I haven't taken it out.  I bought it because, for my money, no one touches Mark Campbell when it comes to playing in the styles of old time fiddlers like Ed Haley or Fiddlin' Powers, and I have heard Mac Traynham play and sing on several YouTube videos, always a pleasure.  John Schwab is an amazing guitar player....  I've literally listened to this CD several times just focusing on his guitar backup.  

     This CD really is an encyclopedia of styles and how I feel old timey really should be played and passed on.  Young musicians, buy and listen to this CD!  Tunes like "California Cotillion" and "New River Train" were treats I had never heard before, and the balance of sounds is beautifully recorded.  If you want to hear tunes and songs played by people who are steeped in this tradition, this is really the album to get...for $15, cheaper than most house concerts by other artists who can't touch these guys.  BTW, I have never met or played with any of them in person...sure would like to.  Please come to the West Coast.  Great music...great album.  Please make more, SMS.

—Chris Chapin (Ventura, CA)

     Fantastic concert and great to meet you, too!  One of the best shows we've ever had!

— Gregg Kimball (Richmond, VA)

Richmond Folk Music

     Great concert!  Can't wait to see y'all again at the Chesterfield County Library's Acoustic Music Series on March 9th!!!!!

— Katie Conn (Richmond, VA)

     Looks like y’all are getting around a lot.  That’s great!  Because your band has one of the best sounds in old-time or traditional music I’ve heard in a long time.  I play your CD a lot for my own listening pleasure at home, and I’ve played many tunes from it on my radio program in the last several months.

Kriss Sands (Madison County, NC)


     I have great things to say about the trio you play in. You guys have the 'blend" which is so important. Each one of you has years of experience in this music,and it shows. Really terrific sound.

Martin Fox (Fairview, NC)

© 2016 John M. Schwab