About Fine Company
"In Fine Company" – a great place to be. It warms the heart and in this case, the ears as well. Fine Company’s debut album says, "We’re glad you’re here. Come stay a while." The enticements are crisp string work on guitar, banjo, and bass along with vocal harmonies that say synergy, which is a fancy word when applied to folk music. But it aptly fits Fine Company. It is clear from the songs on In Fine Company that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Bill Murlin, Jim Portillo, and Ron Dalton are talented Northwest musicians, from the Portland and Seattle areas, who love what they do – sing and play together. Folk Icon, Tom Paxton says, it shows. "Fine Company is fine company, indeed. This is what happens when three friends who love music get out the instruments and decide to enjoy themselves. We are privileged to sit and listen and if we just can’t help joining in, nobody will mind." Indeed.
Take an old Carter Family standard – Dixie Darling. Fine Company keeps that old timey feel with banjo, guitar and bass yet there’s something different – that harmony. Tom Paxton’s Last Thing On My Mind is the perfect song for that rich harmony. Synergy.
Ron’s original Backroad Country Ride, puts listeners in the car to enjoy some scenery and silliness as well. And the tightly timed guitars in Bill’s instrumental Cascade Creek transport the listener to an idyllic mountain stream. Each song creates anticipation for what’s next and Fine Company does not disappoint
One of the leading ladies of bluegrass, Laurie Lewis says, "Fine Company has a welcome air of love and dedication in their thoughtful arrangements and choice of songs. These are songs that beg to be sung, and Jim, Bill and Ron join their voices with obvious and infectious delight."
Bluegrass star, Kathy Kallick noted that "Fine Company evokes the folk trio sound of the 1960s." That’s when Bill learned his early folk music skills in a college group called The Wanderers. More recently Bill has published the Columbia River Collection, 26 songs Woody Guthrie penned in Portland in 1941.
Jim fell in love with folk music when he was seven in El Paso, Texas, long after the 1960s. He heard Doc Watson on the radio and was hooked. Later in Seattle, lessons, open mics and sitting in with various groups helped him hone his skills. He’s still stealing licks from pickers like Wayne Henderson.
Ron is the "vocal gymnast" of the trio. He is equally comfortable as a tenor, baritone, or bass, though how he does that seems magical. The soaring harmonies from the 1970s got his attention. Ron’s clever songwriting shows in three originals on the CD: Round and Round, Down, Down, Down and Backroad Country Ride. Ron also performs with the Seattle duo/trio, Burgundy Pearl.
Bringing these three together blends the love of the folk tradition with a fresh perspective on how music connects us.
Kathy Kallick added, "They have a rich and mellow blend, and a warm sweetness. While they are paying homage to this traditional sound, they bring originality with their newly composed tunes. Their vocal blend is satisfying, and the perfect combination with the twin guitars, and occasional banjo. This collection feels like sitting in front of a big cozy fire, sipping a mug of hot cider with a splash of something thrown in for a little kick!"
So come stay a while. Sit back with that mug of nectar. You’ll be In Fine Company.