"Denizens of the Bay Area music underground, Brian Godchaux and Sandy Rothman treat us again to their inimitable ol’ fiddle & banjo style with a new CD, The Red Fiddle & the Silver Banjo. You’ll feel the mycelium on genuine roots wrap around you, hear the unequivocal strains of a deep American musical tradition, and be reminded of the joys of community and dance.This offering is a rare treasure from these two fine musicians. Sandy, an early compadre of Jerry Garcia, toured alongside Bill Monroe back in the 1960s and in the 1980s with the Jerry Garcia Acoustic band (JGAB), releasing two acclaimed CDs. Brian has played and toured with many bands—notably Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks, and The Heart of Gold Band with Donna Godchaux MacKay and her and Keith’s son Zion Godchaux."
Ice Nine Publishing, 1970-2014
"A fiddle and banjo duet was part of every performance by Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys (1948-69), the most popular bluegrass band of all time. Lester Flatt, their lead singer and eloquent emcee, would introduce each show’s instrumental duet by fiddler Paul Warren and banjoist Earl Scruggs by explaining: 'Down in our part of the country, it hasn't been too many years ago since just a five-string banjo and the fiddle was kindly called a band.'
These duet 'bands' played for square dances. Their old time tunes were not played four or five times through, as one often hears them done today. They lasted long enough for four couples to dance through a complicated series of steps and moves. The band’s rhythm and tempo were essential for dance coordination. Each tune had its own structures and rhythms that lifted and moved the dancers in special ways. In The Red Fiddle & The Silver Banjo Brian and Sandy show how such music is itself a dance between the two instruments—supporting, mirroring, diverging, and meeting in an engaging aural tapestry."
-Neil V. Rosenberg
Department of Folklore
St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
"Four hands, two instruments (fiddle and banjo), one mind - that’s what I hear in The Red Fiddle and the Silver Banjo. Brian and Sandy have been making music together for a couple of decades, and that depth of experience is audible. Real old-timey music, the genuine article. And I like that they go long - the tunes are worth exploring deeply."
Music Historian, Author of A Long Strange Trip and On Highway 61
"At first glance, the track lengths of Brian Godchaux and Sandy Rothman’s The Red Fiddle & the Silver Banjo might seem to contradict the album’s subtitle, The Long Form. Nothing on the 66-minute album stretches past the six-and-a-half-minute mark. And yet, playing in the vernacular of conversational, instrumental, old-time music, the duo’s 13 tracks contain multitudes. Without vocals, the veteran musicians breeze through songs’ heads and spread out, fiddler Godchaux widening melodies, and Rothman digging in to find pastoral new spaces within traditional changes, his banjo juggling notes into bright new spots deep in 'Texas Gallop' and well-worn fare like 'Sail Away Ladies.' The duo’s shared history with the Grateful Dead—Rothman as a bluegrass jam partner with Jerry Garcia stretching back into the early ’60s, Godchaux as brother to and collaborator with Dead keyboardist Keith—would seem to set them up for the job, but so do their subsequent careers. Whatever its pedigree, The Red Fiddle & the Silver Banjo is a lush and excellent listen, in the foreground as a pair of excellent players conversing, or in the background as the wordless beautiful texture of American string-band music in one of its most casual and elegant manifestations."
"From time to time, we’re treated to a recording of banjo/fiddle duets. For folks who play these instruments, these recordings hold a special interest. The interplay of this format goes all the way back to the mountains. For most bluegrass fans of a certain age or experience level, the standard for this format are with those fine duets between Earl Scruggs and Paul Warren. Here, two long-time friends, Godchaux on fiddle and Rothman, who plays his solid brand of Scruggs banjo, explore a baker’s dozen of tunes at a level of inventiveness that has not been heard since John Hartford and Bob Carlin explored the riches of this format in The Fun of Open Discussion.
Not content to just play the tunes, this duo often explores the tunes for more than five minutes, dismantling and reassembling them harmonically and melodically drawing new ideas and sounds from each piece. The name for this project is taken, interestingly, from Rothman’s banjo, a sliver-plated prototype Gold Star. The Red Fiddle is not really red, but that’s the name it’s been given. These two instruments sound great together as they explore the nuances of some real fun tunes such as 'Turkey Buzzard,' 'Leather Britches', 'Sail Away Ladies', and a splendid 'Daley's Reel'. The two musicians exchange musical ideas with great empathy and skill. This is another fine example of what fun a banjo and fiddle can have without all of those other instruments and singers."
-Robert C. Buckingham