Cindy Cashdollar’s Star-Studded ‘Waltz for Abilene’ – Acoustic Guitar

A sterling accompanist steps out of the shadows

From the November/December 2020 issue of Acoustic Guitar | By Derk Richardson

On only the second album under her own name, Cindy Cashdollar draws from her collection of steel, lap steel, tricone, resophonic, and Weissenborn guitars and melds her virtuosity with that of guitarists Albert Lee (acoustic and electric), Sonny Landreth (bottleneck slide), and Arlen Roth (acoustic and electric), among others. 

The 13 tracks on Waltz for Abilene range from acoustic country blues (Rory Block soulfully singing Rev. Robert Wilkins’ “That Ain’t No Way for Me to Get Along”) and electric Chicago blues (Omar Kent Dykes growling through Howlin’ Wolf’s “How Many More Years”) to traditional folk (a solo baritone Weissenborn reading of “Oh Susanna”), Texas swing (Bill Doggett’s jumping “Peacock Alley” with Derek O’Brien and Ray Benson on guitars), the sweet American Songbook classic “Skylark,” a Bob Dylan cover (“Ring Them Bells,” sung by Amy Helm), Cajun-swamp-rock, and more. It’s a grin-inducing collection, reminiscent of Ry Cooder’s early ’70s eclecticism. 

No stranger to playing a supporting role—in Asleep at the Wheel and Dave Alvin & the Guilty Women, and with Geoff Muldaur, Steve James, Ryan Adams, Van Morrison, Graham Parker, and Bob Dylan, to name a few—Cashdollar builds ample room in her arrangements for her compatriots to shine. Marcia Ball’s piano buoys Cashdollar’s burning lap steel on “Salvation,” Larry Campbell’s fiddle and mandolin swing the title track, and John Sebastian blows harmonica on “This Train.” But this is Cashdollar’s time in the spotlight, and on track after track her quicksilver tone, fluid phrasing, and expressive note shaping provide the emotional momentum and heft.

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