MIKE AULDRIDGE, JERRY DOUGLAS & ROB ICKES, “Three Bells,” Rounder. 11 tracks.

Posted July 28, 2014 by klawrence
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It’s unusual to have an album of music featuring only one instrument — especially if the instrument is a resophonic guitar.

But when the instrument is played by three masters like Mike Audridge, Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes, it’s a little less strange.

“Mike and I originally thought Jerry was a little off his rocker to not use a backing band,” Ickes said in a news release about “Three Bells.” “But there was something special in how the three of us were interacting musically.”

Resophonic guitars, often referred to as Dobros, grew out of the Hawaiian music craze of the 1920s. Josh Graves introduced the instrument to bluegrass in the 1950s as a member of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys.

Auldridge, a founding member of the Seldom Scene, was a legendary resophonic guitar player, who had toured with people like Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris.

But he was dying from a long battle with prostate cancer when Douglas and Ickes suggested they record some music together — a follow up to their 1994 Grammy-winning, “The Great Dobro Sessions.”

It wasn’t necessarily going to be an album, they said. They just wanted to record memories while Auldridge was still able.

The sesions were recorded in May and September of 2012.

And Auldridge died on Dec. 28.

Luckily for bluegrass fans, those final recordings with Auldridge did become an album.

Rounder is scheduled to release it on Sept. 16.

Each of the men performs a solo.

Auldridge does a medley of “Till There Was You/Moon River.” Douglas performs his own, “The Perils of Private Mulvaney.” And Ickes plays his own, “The Message.”

Other songs include “Silver Threads Among The Gold,” Don Reno‘s “I’m Using My Bible For A Roadmap,” Douglas and Stuart Duncan‘s “North,” Auldridge’s “For Buddy,” Ickes’ “Dobro Heaven” and the title cut, a 1959 country hit for The Browns, but originally a French pop song called “Les Trois Cloches.”

A fine album by some of the best resphonic guitar players ever on the planet.

Available at Rounder.com on Sept. 16.

DOYLE LAWSON & QUICKSILVER, “Open Carefully, Message Inside,” Crossroads Music. 11 tracks.

Posted July 21, 2014 by klawrence
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If you count compilation albums, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver have recorded a string of more than 40 albums in the group’s 35 years.

“Open Carefully, Message Inside” is the 20th gospel album, meaning roughly half of the band’s music is bluegrass gospel.

And, as you might expect from the seven-time International Bluegrass Music Association vocal group of the year, the new album measures up to the high standards Lawson has set for himself and his band.

All six members of the band sing and they all get a chance to join in on “Get On Board,” an a capella number that’s one of the highlights of the album.

A capella fans get a two more offerings on the album — “He’s In Control” and “I Sailed Back.”

Lawson and Quicksilver are known for their quartet singing and “Lead Me To That Fountain” is a great example.

“Coming Soon” is a ballad about the return of Jesus.

“He Made The Tree” says that God made the tree on which Jesus was crucified and the man who drove the nails into His hands and feet.

“O Far Country” finds a man seeing heaven in his dreams.

“Will You Go” is a hard-driving bluegrass song about following Jesus.

Another good album by a great bluegrass band.

Can’t find it in stores? Try CrossroadsMusic.com.

FLATT LONESOME, “Too,” Mountain Home. 12 tracks.

Posted July 14, 2014 by klawrence
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Flatt Lonesome is a young band, both in the age of the musicians and age of the band, which was formed in early 2011.

But it’s roots go back several years earlier.

The Rev. Dolton Robertson and his wife, Lisa, created a family bluegrass gospel band called Sandy Creek Revival with their children Kelsi, Buddy and Charli.

As they got older, the Robertson children decided to make bluegrass a full-time occupation and formed Flatt Lonesome with friends Dominic Illingworth, Michael Stockton and Paul Harrigill.

Harrigill and Kelsi Robertson married in 2012.

The band’s debut self-titled album was released in January 2013.

“Too” is only the second album, but it shows a band on the move with both traditional and progressive bluegrass sounds, some country and some gospel.

The Robertson siblings share lead vocal duties and create a strong harmony sound.

The first track, “So Far,” is one of those songs that bluegrass is known for — sad lyrics about a woman coping with a break-up backed by uptempo happy music.

“Dangerous Dan” tells the story of a one-armed moonshiner who runs from the law and the lord until the lord catches him.

“Never Let Me Go” is a swinggrass tune about a happy relationship.

“He Still Hears” and “I’m Ready Now” harken back to Flatt Lonesome’s gospel roots.

Harrigill wrote “Make It Through The Day” and “I’m Ready Now.” Kelsi Harrigill wrote “Never Let Me Go.” And two wrote “I Thought You Were Someone I Knew” with Jerry Salley.

Good album by a good young band.

Can’t find it in stores? Try FlattLonesome.com.

JIM AND LYNNA WOOLSEY, “The Road That Brings You Home,” Broken Record Records. 12 tracks

Posted July 7, 2014 by klawrence
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Jim and Lynna Woolsey have been making music together for more than three decades, dating back to their time in the 1970s with the Indiana-based Patoka Valley Boys.

Now, they’ve recorded an album of all original music, a lot of it based on their families and friends.

“Wheel In His Hand” is about Jim’s father, who drove a truck for a living. “From the Redwoods to the Everglades, he would drive from coast to coast/But I think that he’d went further if he’d got that truck to float.”

“Rude Jenne” is about his great-grandfather, who stole food to feed a friend’s family during the Great Depression and spent time in prison with John Dillinger.

“She’s Gonna Fly” is about Lynna’s battle with breast cancer that “took her hair and a year of her life/Things look different now on the other side/She doesn’t question the how or why/She can feel it in her soul/And you can see it in her eyes.”

“Letter From The City” is about a country boy who fell on hard times in the city.

“Back To Tennessee” is about a musician who had his heart ripped out in Nashville. But after 10 years, he’s thinking of chasing his dreams again.

The title track says, “There’s a million winding roads to get lost on/But there is only one to bring you home.”

“Will You Be Ready” is a gospel song about the end times.

Musicians include Randy Kohrs and Mike Sumner, who co-produced the album, and Clay Hess, Mark Fain and Tim Crouch.

Can’t find it in stores? Try http://www.JimAndLynnaWoolsey.com.

RANDY LANHAM & FRIENDS, “A Fiddler’s Prayer,” no label. 14 tracks

Posted June 30, 2014 by klawrence
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Randy Lanham is the music director at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Ky.

He leads the museum’s “Bluegrass in the Schools” program at 23 elementary schools, teaches the museum’s group lessons, has about 40 private students a year and works with five to six beginning bluegrass bands.

He and his brother, Barry, operate the Lanham Brothers Jamboree at Diamond Lake Resort a few miles out of town.

Lanham won the 1991 Kentucky state fiddle championship, moved to Nashville at age 20 and went on to perform with such country singers as Clay Walker, Wade Hayes, Tracy Lawrence and Tanya Tucker and to tour with George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson and Faith Hill before he decided to get off the road and come back home.

This summer, he’s releasing his first bluegrass gospel album, “A Fiddler’s Prayer,” which features Lanham’s fiddle along with a group of friends and family, picking and singing.

Two tracks — “How Great Thou Art” with Jenny Beth Willis and Wade Hayes and “I Surrender All” with Blackberry Jam – were recorded live at the Jamboree.

And “Give Me Jesus” with Joe Christian was recorded for a radio show a few years ago.

The rest were done in a recording studio this year.

Lanham performs fiddle solos on “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” “I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say” and the title track, which he wrote.

His daughters — Skylar, Emma and Addie – sing “Jesus Loves Me.”

And four generations of Lanhams — John, Bill, Randy and Skylar — perform “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.”

Wade Haynes sings “The Old Rugged Cross.”

The CD is available for free download at http://highhopesmusic.com/cd-a-fiddlers-prayer/.

People who want an actual copy of the CD can purchase one for $12 on the site.

All proceeds go to charity and Lanham said people who download the CD free can make a donation “if you feel led.”

I DRAW SLOW, “White Wave Chapel,” Pinecastle. 13 tracks.

Posted June 23, 2014 by klawrence
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Siblings Dave and Louise Holden form the heart of this five-piece band from Dublin, Ireland.

They wrote all 13 tracks on the album.

She sings lead and he plays guitar.

The band, which includes Adrian Hart on fiddle, Colin Derham on clawhammer banjo and Konrad Liddy on double bass, was formed in 2008.

Its first American album, “Redhills,” was a big hit with bluegrass fans in 2012.

“White Wave Chapel,” which debuts July 8, should continue the streak.

It’s described as Appalachian roots music with an Irish edge –a blend of alt-country, folk, old-time, bluegrass and Americana.

The lyrics are poetry set to music.

They don’t really tell a story as much as create a mystery — and a beautiful sound.

I Draw Slow is currently touring the United States as part of a world tour that’s taken them to Germany, Denmark and Belgium.

Can’t find it in stores? Try http://www.pinecastlemusic.com.

THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN, movie 111 minutes, soundtrack 15 songs

Posted June 16, 2014 by klawrence
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Quick, name a movie with an all bluegrass soundtrack?

No, not “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou.”

It featured a little bluegrass, but it was mostly a variety of American roots music.

How about “The Broken Circle Breakdown”?

The 2012 Belgian movie, now beginning to become available in this country, features 15 bluegrass tunes performed by a European band in perfect English.

It’s one of the best soundtracks a bluegrass fan could hope for.

The movie is about a banjo player who falls in love with a tattoo artist, who becomes the lead singer in his band.

A very good lead singer at that.

The picker — Didier (writer Johan Heldenbergh) — is obsessed with America and especially American bluegrass.

The movie follows seven years in the couple’s lives, including their daughter Maybelle’s — named for Mother Maybelle Carter — losing battle with cancer and the resulting damage to both Didier and Elise, who renames herself Alabama.

The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign language film and won several smaller competitions in the United States and Europe.

It’s in Flemish, with English subtitles.

But the songs are in English — and so, for some reason, is the cussing.

Songs include “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn,” “Dusty Mixed Feelings,” “Wayfaring Stranger,” “Rueben’s Train,” “Country In My Genes,” “Further On Up The Road, “Where Are You Heading, Tumbleweed?,” “Over In The Gloryland,” “Cowboy Man,” “If I Needed You,” “Carved Tree Inn,” “Sandmountain,” “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us” and “Blackberry Blossom.”

The movie is a little dark — but then, so is a lot of bluegrass.

Both the movie and the soundtrack are available at Amazon.com and other outlets.


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