Though Andy Leftwich is best known for his years-long stint as the fiddle player in Ricky Skaggs’ award-winning Kentucky Thunder, insiders have known him as a ferociously talented mandolin player, too — and with the release of his second single for Mountain Home, the word is sure to spread among bluegrass and acoustic music fans of every stripe.
“Over Cincinnati” puts Leftwich’s mandolin front and center from the first chords of its vigorous, syncopated opening section. With the mellow tone he coaxes from the instrument and the smooth cascades of notes that articulate the tune’s elegant central melody, Leftwich shows that he belongs in the front ranks of today’s pickers, alongside peers such as Sierra Hull and Chris Thile. Not surprisingly, brief solo passages from guitarist Cody Kilby, resonator guitarist Rob Ickes and banjo player Scott Vestal — all, along with bassist Byron House, frequent collaborators — serve not only to illuminate each one’s take on the tune, but also provide contrasting textures that underline Leftwich’s virtuosity on both the mandolin and fiddle.
“This is a song that I wrote a few years back while playing with Ricky Skaggs and the Cincinnati Orchestra,” recalls Leftwich. “The hotel I stayed in that night overlooked the beautiful skyline of Cincinnati, Ohio, so I decided to name the song after it. A lot of the songs I write usually get named after towns or cities that I have visited, and this one seemed to capture the exciting feeling you get when you come to the city.”
“I couldn’t imagine recording this song,” he adds, “without the wonderful creativity of the musicians that picked on it with me!”
With its distinctive blend of modern, progressive sounds built on a classic fiddle tune framework, “Over Cincinnati” is a powerful illustration of the 21st century relevance of instrumental roots music — or, at least, its relevance in the hands of a master like Andy Leftwich.
Listen to "Over Cincinnati" HERE