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Ex-ballplayer explores family roots through music

Pieces of the Past
Pieces of the Past
By Tim Flannery

Whale Bone Records: 1999

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This review first appeared in the March 31, 2000 edition of the American Reporter.

Tim Flannery's days as a hard-charging, always-hustling super sub for the Padres made him a permanent part of Southern California's landscape (especially given his love of surfing on his off days). Before Tony Gwynn blossomed into the future Hall of Famer hes became, it was Flannery who was Mr. Padre.

Since his retirement as a player (he remains a popular coach for the Padres), Flannery has been delving ever more deeply into his passion for folk music. His third album, "Pieces of the Past," ought to help change his public identity from that of ex-player to solid musician.

For Flannery is a gifted songwriter whose latest album is a musical exploration of his family's Appalachian and Gaelic roots. His own songs are every bit as good as his covers of songs by John Prine, Guy Clark and Julie Miller (all of whom are stars on the folk or alternative country scenes).

With his warm, narrative style of singing, Flannery reminds of Woody Guthrie or John McCutcheon. The instruments are all acoustic (guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle), and the arrangements stick close to tradition.

The result of all this is an album that is far more than a history lesson set to music – the lyrics will move those who listen, but the music stands on its own and shows Flannery is ready to take his place in the big leagues of folk music.