photo by Amy Annelle
Ralph White’s solo music quickly reveals his passion for old folk, proto-blues and country music, the roots of American music. At the same time, the music, a layering of banjo, kalimba, button accordian, fiddle and vocals, shows a complete lack of interest in rehashing the past. Ralph is a rare type of player who has fully internalized the traditional music, but chooses to toss the purist blinders aside as he extracts the soul of the old music and allows it to evolve. As a multi-instrumentalist he molds his many talents into a borderless, nostalgic sound that seems to actually grow out of the past.
On his latest record, Mongrel’s Hoard, Ralph expertly weaves his arrangements through originals and covers, layering over-dubbed sounds so naturally that it’s hard to believe these tracks aren’t live jams. Ralph’s drone-like banjo, reminiscent of Dock Bogg’s, his Balfa fiddle, button accordion and African kalimba create a meditative, almost psychedelic texture over which his high-lonesome drawl rounds his unique take on Pink Floyd’s “Fat Old Sun,” Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave is Kept Clean,” and four other amazing recordings.