American roots-music has moved to the cities. Only a few old-timers and hardy ex-urbanite pioneers are still playing the fiddle tunes, dance ditties, country blues, rags, chain-gang hollers, minstrel songs, and mournful mountain-music ballads of betrayal and murder and outlaw defiance in the decaying hills and dales whence they originated. The young folk have left the farms and small towns looking for decent jobs, or resorted to cooking crank. The living traditions are today preserved on dusty 78s and by big-city musician- curators like Pat Conte, who renders 14 old-time tunes with fiddle, banjo, and cracked, mumbled, raspy singing on this marvelous new LP-only release available from www.jalopy.biz. This is the real stuff, drawn from the legacy of such luminaries as Wade Ward and uncle Dave Macon: stark, ragged, rough-hewn, stoic, lonesome, wry, bitter, haunting, joyous. The fiddle wails and drones like a banshee; the banjos (Conte plays several) are thumpy and resonant, African- sounding. Yet there’s lots of variety: “Burned a White Man’s Barn” is spectral and tormented; “Jawbone” is laconic and grotesque; “Colored Aristocracy” catchy and droll. Detailed annotations and lyrics included. The old weird America lives on.