Mary McCaslin - vocals, guitar; Jim Ringer - vocals, guitar
Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer performed separately as folk artists on the same circuit for years. They had known each other since 1972, and became fast friends. Eventually Ringer, who was married with children, began performing as a duo with McCaslin. The year after this show was recorded he divorced, and they were married. He and McCaslin stayed together professionally and personally until 1989; three years later, Ringer (who had been in declining health from years of fast living) died at age 56.
This recording features the duo in their prime, when they were promoting songs that appeared on the album Bramble & The Rose in 1978. Tracks such as their interpretation of the Ray Charles composition "Hit The Road, Jack" and the country classic "(Ghost) Riders In The Sky" provide new arrangements that juxtaposed McCaslin's sweet soprano against Ringer's beefy baritone. This recording was done at the Bottom Line in New York City and was part of a two-night stand when they opened for the Roches.
The two performers had seen limited success on their own and eventually hooked up while on the Philo folk label. Philo marketed the duo as best they could but ran into financial problems shortly after the Bramble & The Rose album was released. As a result, McCaslin and Ringer never received the recognition they should have found in their prime.
McCaslin came from a supportive family life, which allowed for a balance against the hard-knock artistry of Jim Ringer, a drifter who had been jailed several times for getting into trouble with police over the years. While the two performers may have a very limited celebrity, they made great music for the time they worked together.