There’s a lot to be said for simple pleasures, and in the realm of American roots music, few are more elementally satisfying than an easily hummable, instantly memorable fiddle tune. Fiddler and mandolinist Andy Leftwich isn’t afraid of complex musical challenges — his stature as a first-call session player attests to that — and he’s more than capable of virtuosity and pyrotechnics on either instrument, as his previous single, “Pikes Peak Breakdown” demonstrated on its way to the highest reaches of the bluegrass chart. Still, Leftwich knows how to capture a down-home flavor as well as anyone, and he serves up the proof on “Kimper County,” his new single for Mountain Home Music Company.
Leftwich’s introduction of the tune evokes an Appalachian front porch right out of the gate, as Mark Schatz’s clawhammer banjo sets the rhythm behind the winding melody, before bringing in the rest of the rhythm section (Schatz on bass and legendary guitarist Bryan Sutton) and bearing down on the deft variation that constitutes “Kimper County”’s second part. Yet even as the tune’s air of familiarity takes hold, he surprises the listener by introducing an unexpected element with the entry of Jeff Taylor’s slinky accordion playing. From there, the tune gets handed off to mandolin — that’s Leftwich again — then guitar and banjo before the fiddle reclaims its leading role as the mesmerizing track heads towards its final sequence of fiddle and banjo, fiddle and accordion, and mandolin and accordion unisons that lope to the neatly syncopated ending. And while there are flashes of inspired improvisation, Leftwich and his cohort are careful never to stray too far from the tune’s spare elegance.
“‘Kimper County’ is a simple melody I wrote a while ago and thought it would always make for a good fiddle tune,” says Leftwich. “It reminds me of something you might hear in the Appalachian Mountains. My friend, Jeff Taylor, adds the accordion on the melody lines and it almost takes on a Cajun feel which I love! I was honored to have Bryan Sutton and Mark Schatz picking with me on this one as well! It’s a fun tune to play — I feel like it brings out a joy that good fiddle music should have.”
Listen to "Kimper County" HERE.
About Andy Leftwich
Four-time GRAMMY®-winning instrumentalist Andy Leftwich began playing the fiddle at the age of six, entering his first contest at seven and winning the National Championship for Beginners at the age of twelve. By the time he was a teenager, he had appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and “Music City Tonight” with Crook and Chase, and had established a reputation as a winning contest fiddler throughout the Southeast. At 15, he capped off his contest career by winning Winfield, Kansas’s Walnut Valley Old Time Fiddle Championship, one of the most prestigious contests in the country. At the same time, with mandolin and guitar added to his arsenal, Andy began playing professionally, and before he finished his teens, he had joined Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder in 2001. wIn addition to 2005’s solo album, Ride, Andy has recorded two critically acclaimed albums as a member of Three Ring Circle (with dobro player Rob Ickes and bassist Dave Pomeroy), and built an impressive list of studio credits as one of Nashville’s top session players.