TIM O’BRIEN BAND, “Tim O’Brien Band,” Howdy Skies, 13 tracks

Posted February 4, 2019 by klawrence
Categories: Uncategorized

West Virginia native Tim O’Brien began his musical journey 41 years ago with the Colorado-based Hot Rize bluegrass band.

Through the years, he’s journeyed down a lot of musical highways and backroads.

But with his latest album, “Tim O’Brien Band,” set for release on March 15, O’Brien is back firmly in bluegrass — with a little folk and old-time music on the side.

Band members include Mike Bub (bass), Shad Cobb (fiddle), Jan Fabricius (vocals/mandolin) and Patrick Sauber (banjo/guitar).

Bryan Sutton, O’Brien’s Hot Rize bandmate, adds his guitar to two songs on the album.

O’Brien wrote “The Other Woman” with Fabricius, his partner, who sings lead on the track.

He wrote “Beyond,” a song about what’s beyond this life, with Shawn Camp and “Amazing Love” with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.

And O’Brien wrote  “Crooked Road,” on his own as well as “La Gringa Renee,” an instrumental ode to Fabricius, whose middle name is Renee.

Other songs include Woody Guthrie‘s “Pastures of Plenty,” a song about the travails of migrant workers; “Diggin’ My Potatoes,” once a blues number by Big Bill BroonzyJ. D. Hutchison‘s “Drunkard’s Walk”; Norman Blake‘s “Last Train From Poor Valley”; Dirk Powell’s “My Love Lies In the Ground”; Hal Cannon‘s “Wind”; the cowboy ballad “Doney Gal”; and “Hop Down Reel/Johnny Doherty’s Reel,” from Irish fiddlers Kevin Burke and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh.

To pre-order, go to https://timobrien.net


DEANIE RICHARDSON, “Love Hard, Work Hard, Play Hard,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks.

Posted January 28, 2019 by klawrence
Categories: Uncategorized

Deanie Richardson, who grew up outside Nashville, made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry at age 13.

She and her fiddle have been making country, bluegrass and several other genres of music ever since.

Richardson has been a member of the New Coon Creek Girls and Sister Sadie.

And she’s had her own band.

She’s performed with Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Bob Seger, Emmylou Harris, Hank Williams Jr., Del McCoury and a lot more.

And Richardson has toured with the Chieftains.

“Love Hard, Work Hard, Play Hard” includes “Murchadh Tobha churraig dhuibh” (“Murdo Tobha’s Black Cap”), a song from those years, with Alyth McCormack, a Scottish singer, supplying the vocals.

There’s the swing of “Black and White Rag” and the stone country of “Tears Will Be The Chaser for Your Wine,” an old Wanda Jackson song, with Dale Ann Bradley‘s great vocals this time.

Richardson wrote three tunes — “Meadow Dancing,” inspired by her granddaughter, Meadow; “Stoney Mae,” a song about a moonshiner’s daughter, with Ronnie Bowman on vocals; and “Chickens in the House.”

Patty Loveless joins Richardson on the traditional “Jack of Diamonds” and Amanda McKenny and Brandon Bostic lend their vocals to “East Virginia Blues.”

Richardson’s brother, Clyde, clogs to “Lost Indian.”

There’s also a great version of Bill Monroe’s “Kentucky Waltz.”

The album is available at http://www.DeanieRichardson.com.

CAROLINA BLUE, “I Hear Bluegrass Calling Me,” Pinecastle. 13 tracks

Posted January 21, 2019 by klawrence
Categories: Uncategorized

Carolina Blue, a North Carolina-based bluegrass band, leaves no doubt that it’s a traditional bluegrass band.

They dress like the pioneers of bluegrass and their sound is something that Bill Monroe would definitely recognize as bluegrass.

The band has been together since 2007 and keeps getting better with age.

Band members Bobby Powell and Tim Jones wrote nine of the 13 tracks on the album.

The title track, written by Roy Chapman, is a hard-driving number that says they’re not knocking country music, but bluegrass is what they love.

“Cold, Lonely and Blue” is about a man still scarred by a bad relationship.

“Longing For Home” tells the story of a man who couldn’t wait to leave home and now, living in the city, he’s longing to be back home.

“Rusty Rails” finds a man riding in a box car to take him and his heartache away.

“Mary Do You Wonder” is about a man remembering the happy early days of his failed marriage — and hoping his ex does too.

“Glory Bound Train” is a lightning fast gospel song.

“Dark Mountainside” is a story of murder and vengeance.

“Mountain Flower” is a love song.

“Bluegrass Melodies,” an Osborne Brothers song from 1974, is nostalgia for home.

“Breaking Up Rocks” is about a man who killed his wife and her lover and now is breaking rocks in a Texas prison

“I’ll Meet Her In Heaven” is about a dead lover.

“Fried Taters and Onions” is a blazing instrumental.

And “Sometimes Good Girls Go Bad” tells the story of a woman who deserts her husband to join her lover on the bad side of town.

Classic bluegrass all the way.

If you can’t find it in stores, try http://www.CarolinaBlueBand.com.


JOHN McCUTCHEON, “To Everyone In All The World: A Celebration of Pete Seeger,” Appalseed Records. 15 tracks

Posted January 14, 2019 by klawrence
Categories: Uncategorized

Pete Seeger wasn’t a bluegrass musician.

He was a folk singer.

But in 2006, the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Owensboro, Ky., acquired one of his banjos.

“He’s not a bluegrass musician,” Kitsy Kuykendall, who was then secretary of the Hall of Fame’s board of trustees, said after the presentation. “But that’s what sets us apart from other museums. We celebrate not only bluegrass, but its roots and branches as well.”

Seeger’s 100th birthday would have been on May 3 this year.

And folk singer John McCutcheon is celebrating that event with his latest album, a 15-song tribute to Seeger.

It includes such Seeger classics as “If I Had A Hammer, this time as a Cajun dance tune; “Waist Deep In The Big Muddy” and  “Turn, Turn, Turn”

But there are a lot of lesser known songs as well — “Talking Union,” which McCutcheon transforms from a talking blues to a funky rap, and “Well May The World Go,” which becomes a bluegrass tune with help from Hot Rize.

There’s “Die Gedanken Sind Frei,” a German freedom song from World War II; “Sailing Down The Golden River,” a song about the Hudson River; “Mrs. Clara Sullivan’s Letter,” a song about a coal miners’ strike; “The Spider’s Web,” a love song for his wife; and the title track, which wishes everyone in the world could get along.

If you’re a fan of Pete Seeger or John McCutcheon, you’ll want this album.

You can find it at https://www.folkmusic.com/store.html.


BALSAM RANGE, “Aeonic,” Mountain Home. 11 tracks

Posted December 10, 2018 by klawrence
Categories: Uncategorized

North Carolina-based Balsam Range has been one of the top bands in bluegrass since its inception in 2007.

Tim Surrett, Buddy Melton, Caleb Smith, Marc Pruett and Darren Nicholson have won a host of awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association over the years, including entertainer of the year in both 2014 and 2018

The new album, “Aeonic,” a Greek word for a long period of time, is bookended by “The Girl Who Invented The Wheel.” a song about a woman who will leave town quickly if you disappoint her, and a hard-driving bluegrass version of  The Beatles‘ “If I Needed Someone.”

There are lot of songs about traveling, sorrow and things lost.

“Tumbleweed Town” finds a drifter, who’s crossed the line too many times, searching for the man he hopes to be.

“The Rambler” is about a man who’s both free and trapped by his lifestyle — “The Lord made the rambler. The devil taught him to ride.”

“Get Me Gone” finds a man waiting for dawn so he can leave town and the woman he loves.

“Hobo Blues” is about a man who’s lived a hard life and finds that it’s not getting better.

“Help Me To Hold On” is about people who have almost reached the end of their rope.

With all that despair, the uptempo gospel of “Let My Life Be A Light” comes as a ray of hope.

And then, it’s back to hard times.

“My Cross To Bear” is about a man with blood on his hands that can’t be washed away, trying to escape the crime he committed.

“Graveyard Blues” finds a man at the grave of his wife and child.

“Angel Too Soon” is about a girl who has died — ” a pretty flower that never bloomed.”

A good, but a little dark, album by a great band.

It goes on sale Jan. 4.

You can find it at BalsamRange.com.

RAY EDWARDS, “A Golden Anniversary Celebration,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks.

Posted December 3, 2018 by klawrence
Categories: Uncategorized

Ray Edwards has spent 51 years in bluegrass and country music,  starting as a 13-year-old banjo player.

His career has included stints with the High Country Boys, Southbound, Jeanie C. Riley’s Red River Symphony, Tom T Hall’s Storytellers and Ed Bruce’s Tennessee Cowboy Band. He’s also worked with Randy Travis, Sammy Kershaw, Lynn Anderson and Cliff Waldron & the New Shades of Grass.

Among the hits Edwards has written are “Hard Rock Mountain Prison” and “Carolina Moonshine Man.”

His latest album, “A Golden Anniversary Celebration,” includes material from several stops along his life’s journey.

Edwards is joined on the album by a number of musicians and vocalists.

Singers lending their talents to the album include Junior Sisk, Will Jones, Tim Terry, Ronnie McCranie, Danny Paisley, Bradley Walker, Steven Dowdy and Daniel Salyer.

Edwards sings lead on four tracks.

He wrote or co-wrote six of the songs, including, “The Life of a Mountain Man,” “Wanda Lou,” “West Virginia Songbird,” “The Cold Hard Facts of Love,” “The Matewan Train” and “Out of the Blue.”

You can find the album at rayedwards.bandcamp.com/album/a-golden-anniversary-celebration, Amazon.com and a lot of other sites.


THE KING JAMES BOYS, “Time To Go Home,” Pinecastle. 11 tracks

Posted November 26, 2018 by klawrence
Categories: Uncategorized

Bluegrass gospel is almost as old as bluegrass itself.

Music historians say bluegrass was born in 1946 when Bill Monroe went into the recording studio with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.

Although gospel music has always been part of bluegrass, it evolved into a subgenre of its own in the late 1940s with the work of Carl Story, who’s known as “the father of bluegrass gospel.”

Most bands these days do a combination of secular and gospel bluegrass.

But the King James Boys, founded in 1994, are an “all gospel bluegrass band that blends southern gospel harmonies with modern bluegrass sounds,” according to their website.

Their first album with Pinecastle — “Time To Go Home — is true to that description.

It covers the range of music from hard-driving bluegrass to gospel ballads.

Band members Randy Spencer, Cole Spencer, Milom Williams II, Curtis Lewis and Jeff Dover are joined on the album by Glenn Crain on Dobro and Ben Rochester on fiddle.

The blazing “The Master Standing By” kicks off the album.

Ron Block‘s “He’s Holding Onto Me” says the singer isn’t holding onto Jesus. Jesus is holding onto him.

“Was Nots” says God is coming to take His children home.

“Sign of the Times” says the end days are upon us.

The title track says Jesus is coming soon,

“That’s Love,” a ballad, says that love means sacrifice.

You can find the album at TheKingJamesBoys.com