Sam and Kirk McGee, McGee Brothers and Arthur Smith: Old Timers of the Grand Old Opry

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
If these guys don’t make you kick up your heels, nothing will.

The McGee Brothers, who both played guitar and banjo, had a luminous, jumpy sound, simultaneously polished and funky. They never sounded better than when joined by Fiddling Arthur Smith, with whom they worked in the ’30s as the Dixieliners. Yet they never recorded together until Mike Seeger reunited them, recording each man solo and all three together as a group, at Kirk's house some three decades later. Sam is a black-influenced hot guitarist whose willfully wayward sense of timing sparks “Railroad Blues,” while Kirk has a lighter touch (“Rock House”). Smith proves the missing link between mountain and swing fiddle. If they don't make you kick up your heels, nothing will.