The latest Tim O'Brien album is a gem. It came out under the name O'Brien Party of 7, a family group that includes Mollie, her husband, and several members of the next generation. The album is called Reincarnation: The Songs of Roger Miller, and it offers a dozen songs by the "King of the Road" master who slid off from novelty into a gloriously weird kind of country improvisatory freedom. Each one gets a joyous group arrangement of its own. Tim O'Brien has as many different concert lineups as he does musical arrows in his quiver. I don't know how much of the Roger Miller material will be on the bill at his December 1 show at the Ark, but go and request "Hand for the Hog" for me.
Throw in O'Brien's ability to play almost anything with strings, and you truly have something special. He's a bluegrass treasure, one of those musicians who so often put forth great labors for little material reward. Not to be missed.
[Originally published in December, 2012.]