During a recording career that now spans 46 years, Maria Muldaur has applied her gritty contralto pipes with aplomb to blues, pop, early jazz, and even contemporary Christian music, yet she made her initial mark in jug bands, first with the Even Dozen, then Jim Kweskin's. Much like ex-husband and former Kweskin bandmate Geoff Muldaur has with his Texas Sheiks, she now returns to the jug-band realm with Good Time Music for Hard Times using a cast of players that includes David Grisman and John Sebastian (both Even Dozen alumni), Suzy Thompson (also a member of the Texas Sheiks), Taj Mahal, and Danny Caron.
The disc's upbeat spirit is especially well reflected in a couple original songs by Dan Hicks, but Maria reaches way back for most of the program, which includes numbers by the Mississippi Sheiks, Clifford Hayes and the Louisville Stompers, Hezekiah Jenkins, Martha Copeland, and Emmett Miller. Although most of the material is antique, Maria manages to make it relevant to the present, particularly in her adaptation of Jenkins' 1931 ragtime blues "The Panic Is On," in which she sings, Them greedy politicians ruined everything, but now I'm here to sing/Obama is in the White House, saying, "Yes we can"/I know we're gonna come up with a real good plan, and then them doggone hard times will be gone. (Stony Plain)