Gerald Anderson & Spencer Strickland: Been All Around This World

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Gerald Anderson and Spencer Strickland play with an exuberance and joy that is infectious. Whether they are jamming in the sawdust of their instrument-making shop, at a local performance in Grayson County, Virginia, on a festival stage, or in the recording studio, Gerald and Spencer play from the heart and never hold back.

Gerald grew up in Troutdale, Virginia, a small rural town in musically rich Grayson County. He didn’t play much as a boy, but started picking more regularly as a student at Emory and Henry College. In 1976, he received the opportunity of a lifetime, apprenticing in the shop of legendary guitar builder and player Wayne Henderson. Gerald worked in Wayne’s shop for 31 years. There he was able to hone the craft of guitar and mandolin making, as well as bear witness to a lot of great jokes and some fine guitar playing by Wayne and his constant flow of hot-picking companions. Much like Wayne, Gerald became known over the years both as a fine luthier and as a gifted player. His crowning achievement was winning the prestigious Guitar Contest at the 2003 Galax Fiddler’s Convention.

Spencer grew up in Lambsburg, Virginia, near the North Carolina border in Carroll County. Born into a musical family, he began taking mandolin lessons from local player and sound engineer Wesley Easter when he was about 10 years old. Spencer’s playing developed quickly, and in 2004 he became one of the youngest contestants ever to take home the coveted title of “Best All-Around Performer” at the Galax Fiddlers Convention, later winning the mandolin contest at Merlefest. Spencer has quickly become a mandolin player of choice in Southwest Virginia, and has appeared on numerous recordings, including the Buddy Pendleton CD in the Crooked Road Series.

Spencer apprenticed with Gerald in mandolin making through the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and the two quickly formed a strong working partnership and friendship. Since the apprenticeship, “Anderson and Strickland Stringed Instruments” have become greatly coveted by musicians throughout the region and the country. “Anderson-Strickland” has also come to signify the name of the performing duo, which has gained popularity for its clean, searing instrumentation and soulful vocal harmonies.

This recording presents Gerald and Spencer at their best. They are joined here by two members of the smoking-hot bluegrass band No Speed Limit; Jacob Eller (bass) and Josh Pickett (guitar), as well as the legendary Jimmy Edmonds (fiddle) and John Saroyan (banjo). Fittingly, these recordings were made just a few miles down the road from Lambsburg in the Cana, Virginia recording studio of Wesley Easter, the man who taught the young Spencer his first licks on the mandolin. Wesley even joins in on banjo. The result is Crooked Road Music at its finest, played by two good friends, having fun and laying it down.

  1. LORRIE (R. Leigh)
    During his college days at Emory and Henry, Gerald learned this tune from Richard Leigh, who wrote many number 1 songs for country singer Crystal Gayle.
    Spencer, mandolin and harmony vocals
    Gerald,
    guitar and lead vocals 
    Jacob,
    bass
    Jimmy,
    fiddle
  2. EVERYDAY MIRACLE (P. Trianosky, Thornrose Music)
    This song was written by good friend and mandolinist Paul Trianosky, who performs regularly with the Grayson Highlands String Band.
    Spencer, mandolin, harmony, and lead vocals
    Gerald,
    guitar and lead vocals
    Jacob,
    bass
    Jimmy,
    fiddle
  3. HARRISBURG DRIVE (Spencer Strickland)
    An original song of Spencer’s that was named while he was on his way to a show in Harrisburg, PA.
    Spencer, mandolin
    Josh,
    guitar
    Jacob,
    bass
    Jimmy,
    fiddle
    Wesley,
    banjo
  4. BEEN ALL AROUND THIS WORLD (Traditional)
    Gerald learned this song many years ago from the innovative old-time band Skeeter and the Skidmarks. Good friend John Saroyan from New York City joins in on old-time banjo.
    Spencer, mandolin, and harmony vocals
    Gerald, guitar, and lead vocals
    Jacob,
    bass
    John,
    banjo
  5. DEVIL’S DREAM (Traditional)
    Gerald and Spencer decided to “swap” instruments on this popular old tune.
    Spencer, guitar
    Gerald,
    mandolin
    Jacob,
    bass
  6. IN THE GARDEN (C. Austin Miles, Hall-Mac Comp.)
    A gospel favorite Gerald and Spencer both love to play and sing.
    Spencer, mandolin, lead, and harmony vocals
    Gerald,
    guitar, and lead vocals 
    Jacob,
    bass
    Jimmy, fiddle
  7. TENNESSEE STUD (J. Driftwood, Warden Music Co.)
    Spencer and Gerald’s version of a song popularized by the great Doc Watson, who inspires both Spencer’s and Gerald’s playing.
    Spencer, lead and harmony mandolin
    Gerald,
    lead guitar
    Jacob,
    bass
    Jimmy,
    fiddle
  8. BLACKBERRY BLOSSOM (Traditional)
    A traditional song Spencer and Gerald have played all their lives, and one of Spencer’s successful contest tunes.
    Spencer, mandolin, and rhythm guitar
    Gerald, lead guitar
    Jacob,
    bass
    Jimmy,
    fiddle
  9. RIVER OF JORDAN (H. Houser)
    The fine duet singing of the Looping Brothers from Germany was the inspiration for this gospel song.
    Spencer, mandolin, and harmony vocals 
    Gerald,
    guitar, and lead vocals
    Jacob,
    bass
  10. BRILLIANCY (H. Foster)
    This is a song Spencer learned from one of his mandolin heroes, Sam Bush. Spencer used this tune frequently as a competition tune and played it when he won the 2005 Merlefest Mandolin Championship.
    Spencer, mandolin
  11. MOMMA DON’T ‘LOW (Traditional)
    This jammin’ tune was recorded live in Scotland during a 2006 Crooked Road tour.
    Spencer, mandolin, lead, and harmony vocals
    Gerald,
    guitar, and lead vocals 
    Jacob,
    bass