Archive for April 2009

April 27, 2009

DOYLE LAWSON & QUICKSILVER, “Lonely Street,” Rounder. 12 tracks.

Doyle Lawson turned 65 last month. He’s been playing bluegrass for 46 years now — joining Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys in 1963. And he’s been leading his own band — Quicksilver — for 30 years.

So, you’d think Lawson would be on autopilot by now — just playing the old stuff.

But you’d be wrong.

Lawson & Quicksilver have been named vocal group of the year by the International Bluegrass Music Association for an unprecedented seven years — because they are that good.

Quicksilver, however, has been a finishing school for bluegrass musicians, who move on to other groups. Darren Beachley, lead singer on six tracks on this album, has already left to form his own band — Darren Beachley & Legends Of The Potomac.

There are several covers of older country songs — Carl Belew’s 1959 “Lonely Street,” Porter Wagoner’s 1968 “Big Wind” and Marty Robbins’ 1954 “Call Me Up And I’ll Come Callin’ On You.”

But it’s the lesser known songs that make the album shine.

“Monroe’s Mandolin,” the album’s first track, is an uptempo salute to the late Bill Monroe, “the father of bluegrass music.”

The harmonies on “Yesterday’s Songs” are as good as ever. “When The Last of Our Days Shall Come” is hard-driving, gospel-quartet singing at its best.

Another strong album from a master of bluegrass.

Can’t find it in stores? Try www.rounder.com.

Keith Lawrence, 691-7301,klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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Newfound Road on right patch with ‘Same Old Place’

April 13, 2009

NEWFOUND ROAD, “Same Old Place,” Rounder. 12 tracks.

Newfound Road, an Ohio-based bluegrass band, made its debut in 2001 as a gospel group. But five years ago, band members began moving into mainstream bluegrass.

And mainstream bluegrass is better for it.

“Same Old Place,” Newfound Road’s second secular album for Rounder, has it all — great vocals and great picking. In other words, it’s a very strong album.

Tim Shelton, the band’s lead singer, can hold his own with anyone in bluegrass. And he wrote, “Love Stay Away From Me” for the album.

Gospel fans haven’t been forgotten here.

Randy Barnes, Joe Booher, Shelton and Junior Williams give a fine a capella quartet performance on “Give Me Jesus.” And there’s a strong version of Ralph Stanley and Larry Sparks’, “I Am The Man Thomas.”

“Try To Be” is sort of a gospel/secular mix about a man who’s trying to be the best he can be.

The title cut is about a man who can’t settle down, but always finds his way back home. “On The Back Row” is country music the way it ought to sound — a song about a man sitting in church, thinking about the tavern where they used to meet as he watches her marry someone else.

All in all, this is a strong, muscular album, blending gospel, country, traditional and contemporary bluegrass.

Can’t find it in stores? Try www.rounder.com after April 28.

Keith Lawrence, 691-7301,klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

Garrett A Rising Star

April 6, 2009

JEREMY GARRETT, “I Am A Stranger,” Sugar Hill. 11 tracks.

The Infamous Stringdusters burst on the bluegrass scene in 2007 with “Fork in the Road,” a CD that took album of the year honors from the International Bluegrass Music Association.
Its title cut was named song of the year and the band was named emerging artist of the year.
But the Stringdusters don’t necessarily consider themselves a bluegrass band.
Their Web site talks about bluegrass, rock, country, blues, folk and jazz. The band, it says, is “American acoustic music.”
But there’s still a lot of bluegrass in the sound.

Now, Jeremy Garrett, the band’s fiddle player, has released his first solo effort in a digital-only release through Sugar Hill Records.

He wrote or co-wrote five tracks and sings lead on every tune except “Peace King” and “Y2K,” the two instrumentals on the album.

It’s a strong debut album and Garrett is a good vocalist.

Covers include Hank Thompson’s “Today,” with pedal steel and piano; Flatt & Scruggs’ “What’s Good For You,” a duet with Abigail Washburn; and U2’s “North and South of the River.”

The Fields of My Mind,” a song he learned in Idaho years ago, is played on an old fiddle with French Canadian tuning.

“I Am A Stranger” is a good introduction to a rising star in bluegrass and Americana music.

Check it out at www.SugarHillRecords.com.

Keith Lawrence, 691-7301,klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com