CD Review - Marc Silber & Friends, "Live at Strings 2005", by Norman L. Beberman, staff wrtier

Marc Silber is a direct descendant of American music as practiced by the likes of Woody Guthrie & Bob Dylan, as well as one of the very few remaining living links to bluesmen such as Son House, Bukka White & Rev. Gary Davis. Marc first came to the fore in Greenwich Village in the folk movement of the 1960's, &, in one way or another, has traveled the world as an informal music ambassador.

While a complete history of Marc & his music are beyond the scope of this review, it was with great pleasure that I received a copy of "Live at Strings", featuring Marc & friends Jody Stecher, Suzy Thompson & Hot Tuna alum Will Scarlett on harmonica.

Marc's newest CD has 3 of my favorite things: 1) Strings in Emeryville, CA; 2) his musical & personal friends; &, 3) Marc himself. Strings is the brainchild of Bay-area guitarist Joey Lent & is a Private Club of, by & for musicians. For more info, go to

Two-time Grammy nominated string wizard Jody Stecher & fiddle goddess Suzy Thompson's tasteful playing are the perfect complement to Marc's singing & guitar-playing. To hear any one of these musicians in such an intimate environment as Strings would be a night to remember. Thankfully, for the rest of us who weren't there, we can experience & enjoy this once in a lifetime musical collaboration.

Marc really nails blues standards "99 Year Blues" & "Hesitation Blues" before launching into the social commentary that is "Bourgeois Blues". Picking (pun intended) & choosing their moments, Marc, Jody, Suzy & Will move effortlessly through solo & group playing, showcasing musical skills that have been finely honed over the years. This 13-song CD concludes with Marc's original instrumental "The Imbecile Daughter of King John the Simp", which highlights Marc's pure guitar playing.

Between "99 Year Blues" & "The Imbecile Daughter ...", we are treated to some original compositions like "Coffee Blues" which was written in Morocco if my memory serves me correctly, a few tunes that Marc has interpreted to incorporate his musical experiences such as "Louisiana Jambalaya". His soulful versions of "The Dying Hobo", "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes", "Pearlee Blues" & "In the Jailhouse Now" are played with such emotion that nothing is left on the table.

I am such a huge fan of Marc's, that it is downright difficult, if not impossible, to pick a favorite track. Having said that "Dark Road Blues" is a highlight of "Live at Strings 2005" because Marc, Jody, Suzy & Will play it so fluidly, giving everyone a chance to stretch out musically while at the same time conjuring up images of Mance Lipscomb playing it; a superb example of how Marc can take an old classic song & breathe new life into it with his highly original musical perspective.

"Live at Strings 2005" is Marc at his musical best; playing with life-long friends in a familiar, intimate environment. Simultaneously thought provoking & fun from beginning to end. Marc & his friends have given us an authentic, meaningful & historic celebration of music that can only come from the hearts & souls of musicians who play for the love of playing & for the love of music. Listen to it & you will see what I mean.

True to his generous nature, Marc has graciously given me permission to upload an mp3 of Dark Road Blues; so here it is! Enjoy!!!

About this CD:

This CD is currently available directly from Marc Silber Music, 2547--8th Str. (# 18-B), Berkeley, CA 94710. Buyers may also use PayPal. E-mail Marc at or visit his website,