Saturday will be a good opportunity for cable viewers to catch one of Washington's better kept secrets, the award-winning old-time music champions, the Double Decker String Band. They'll be featured on David Holt's "Fire on the Mountain" program, aired on the Nashville Network.
"We taped last fall at the Stomping Ground in Maggie Valley, which has been an establishment of old-time music and clog-dancing since the days of FDR," says Bruce Hutton.
He also reports that the band just came back from a five-week European tour and, "I can understand why so many musicians have become expatriates when they play traditional American music" overseas.
Double Decker, which has revived the rollicking string band sound that was so popular in the '20s and '30s, played at Europe's biggest bluegrass festival (in Toulouse, France) with the Bluegrass Cardinals, Chris Hillman "and umpteen European bluegrass acts." They were also featured at an old-time festival in Milan where, Hutton points out, "it was almost like being at Brandywine the premier American old-time music festival . And we played a festival in Bavaria in which we were the headliners because we were the only American band."
Double Decker also did a string of club dates at places like the Nashville Bar and Mahagony Hall in Switzerland ("they had legendary banjo player Bill Keith's name painted all over the wall"). There was the Bull Runner in Vienna ("it looked just like 'Urban Cowboy' -- had everything except the riding bull").
And in Bavaria, it was the Rattlesnake Saloon, "where everyone in the audience was wearing cowboy hats. Some of them even had spurs and chaps. It was the kind of place that in the states we would have had to play country and western; but we were able to play country and southern and the audience just ate it up."
The European tour may have delayed Double Decker's third album. "We blew our wad on this trip, but this looked like more fun," says Hutton. "And it was."
Locally, Double Decker can be heard live on July 10 at Mary Warden Park in Centerville and July 25 at the Anne Arundel Arts Council in Glen Burnie.