Pharis & Jason Romero
“A Wanderer I’ll Stay” has that feeling of a record made with great intention. Running the J. Romero Banjo Company by day, serving custom banjo clients around world including Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, and Martin Simpson , the album was recorded in the Romero’s home workshop in Horsefly, BC by David Travers Smith (The Wailin’ Jennys, Ruth Moody, Oh Susanna). This is the first of their recordings to bring in other musicians: Josh Rabie, John Hurd and Brent Morton traveled to this remote part of BC to record fiddle, bass and drums, and Marc Jenkins’ pedal steel was layered on from a studio in Victoria, BC.
Surrounded by old friends they arranged songs, ate food, and played music for joy’s sake when it wasn’t being recorded. Listening to the album strikes a similar feeling to looking at an old photograph. It is as though their music taps into something larger than us, and reminds us of where we came from. Some cuts on “A Wanderer I’ll Stay” have their origins deeply rooted in the past. “The Dying Soldier” is a civil war era ballad from banjoist Buell Kazee , “It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie” is from a 78 rpm of old time crooner Riley Puckett , “Cocaine Blues” was the first cocaine related song recorded, and “Goodbye Old Paint” came from a 1942 Alan Lomax recording of Texas cowboy Jess Milton.
But the real focus of the album is the original songs. The past year has seen Pharis writing some of her best and most varied songs, including the title track “A Wanderer I’ll Stay” . Pharis & Jason also write striking songs together on this record, with “New Lonesome Blues” presenting as a vintage revival feeling banjo tune with an impassioned pleading refrain, and they sing in duet to tell the life story of a local man who was eaten by a bear in “Ballad of Old William”.