Archive for July 2010

VARIOUS ARTISTS, “Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Get Low,” Rounder. 16 tracks.

July 26, 2010

There was a time long ago when radio stations played an electric mix of music — country, pop, jazz, classical — all one station.

These days, you won’t find many radio stations like that — or many albums either.

The soundtrack for Sony Pictures Classics’ new movie, “Get Low,” is about as eclectic as you can hope for.

Where else can you hear the music of Alison Krauss, The SteelDrivers, The Ink Spots, Gene Austin and Bix Beiderbecke in the same place along with music written by Academy Award-winning composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek and Grammy-winner Jerry Douglas?

The movie, which opens in limited release on July 30, stars Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek and Lucas Black.

It’s based on the story of Felix “Bush” Breazeale, a Tennessee hermit who wanted to have his funeral while he was alive and sold lottery tickets offering his property as a prize to those who attended the 1938 event.

More than 12,000 people from 14 states are said to have attended.

Krauss performs a lovely version of “Lay My Burden Down,” a song about death. Rounder says this is the first new track she’s recorded in three years.

The SteelDrivers, a Nashville band that mixes blues with grass to create a unique sound, appear in the movie and perform four cuts on the soundtrack — “Jesus Come For Me,” “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” “East Virginia Fast” and “Angelina Baker.”

Douglas wrote or co-wrote four tunes for the sound track and performs on a fifth. He’s joined on various tunes by Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Russ Barenberg.

If you like a variety of music from pop to bluegrass to jazz to gospel, you’ll like “Get Low.”

But if you’re just looking for traditional bluegrass, you might keep looking.

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Free bluegrass festival in Henderson (Ky)

July 21, 2010

 The 25th annual Henderson (Ky) Bluegrass in the Park Folklife Festival is scheduled for Aug. 12-14 in downtown Henderson.

Admission is free. But tickets for the 7:30 p.m. Patty Loveless concert on Aug. 12 at the Henderson Fine Arts Center are $18 and $28.

Here’s the lineup for the rest of the festival in Audubon Mill Park:

August 13

3 p.m.  Up-N-Gone

4 p.m. River City Bluegrass

5 p.m. Country Saloon

6 p.m.  The Fitzmaurice Band

6 p.m.  Servin’ & Slammin’ Tennis Tournament

7  p.m. Packway Handle Band

8 p.m. Country Saloon

9 p.m.  The Fitzmaurice Band

10 p.m. Packway Handle Band

August 14

7  a.m.  Keith Vincent

7  a.m. Breakfast in the Park

8  a.m. Pickin’ & Pedalin’ Bicycle Tour with Kentuckiana Grass, Southern Flavor and Up-N-Gone

8 a.m. Flippin’ & Flyin’ Atkinson Park Disc Golf Course

9 a.m. The Shade Tree Players

10 a.m. Jammin’ & Jumpin’, Water Street on Riverfront

10 a.m. River City Bluegrass

10 a.m. Folklife Festival

11 a.m. The Art Gomperz Band

noon Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen

1 p.m. Red Molly

2 p.m. Lou Reid & Carolina

3 p.m. Claire Lynch

4 p.m.  The Art Gomperz Band

5  p.m.  The Boxcars

6 p.m. King’s Highway

7 p.m. Red Molly

8 p.m. Lou Reid & Carolina

9 p.m. Claire Lynch

10 p.m. Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen

11 p.m. The Boxcars

U.S. SEN. ROBERT BYRD, “Mountain Fiddler,” County Records. 14 tracks.

July 19, 2010

When U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia died on June 28 at age 92, America lost the longest-serving senator in U.S. history (51 years). And bluegrass and old-time music lost their most powerful friend in the nation’s capitol.

Most Americans knew Byrd as one of the most powerful politicians in Washington. A man who brought home the pork every year to his native West Virginia.

But bluegrass and old-time music fans knew that Byrd was one of them. He had played fiddle for dances back home in West Virginia as a teenager and continued to play even at the peak of his political power.

Byrd also served on the advisory board for the International Bluegrass Music Museum in 1991.

In 1977, when he was 60 and majority leader of the U.S. Senate, Byrd was persuaded to make his first — and only — commercial recording.

Barry Poss, who would later founded Sugar Hill Records, produced the album, which was recorded in Byrd’s office with Doyle Lawson on guitar, James Bailey on banjo and Spider Gilliam on bass.

Now, County Records has re-released the album in CD format as a tribute to Byrd.

The album is a combination of bluegrass and old-time tunes.

Most are traditional tunes, but “Come Sundown She’ll Be Gone” was a 1970 country music hit written by Kris Kristofferson and sung by Bobby Bare.

Byrd sings on 11 tracks and talks about how he learned several of the songs.

He first heard “Old Joe Clark” at a molasses making in the 1920s.

He learned “Cumberland Gap” from men in the boarding house his foster mother ran.

He learned “Forked Deer” from the 78 rpm recordings of Clark Kessinger.

“Mountain Fiddler” is a nice slice of Americana for fans of bluegrass and old-time music as well as fans of the late senator.

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NORA JANE STRUTHERS, “Nora Jane Struthers,” Blue Pig Music. 12 tracks.

July 12, 2010

Nora Jane Struthers calls her music “Classic Americana,” not bluegrass. But her new self-titled album features a cast of top bluegrass musicians.

The lineup includes Stuart Duncan, Bryan Sutton, Dennis Crouch, Shawn Lane, Tim O’Brien, Scott Vestal and Rob Ickes.

 “It’s not really bluegrass, it’s not really old time, it’s not folk — it’s all of these things,” the 26-year-old former high school English teacher says on her website.

You’ll find fair maids and other touches of folk ballads here, but Struthers wrote all the songs except the traditional ballad “Say Darlin’ Say.”

It’s a literary album with a lot of short stories.

There’s “Willie,” a murder ballad told by the victim; “Thistle,” a ballad that finds a woman begging her father not to force her to marry a man she doesn’t love; and “Look Out On The Mountain,” where a mother is trying to convince her daughter and herself that her husband isn’t drinking again while she’s dying of a fever.

“Greenbriar County” is about men who work in limestone quarries and coal mines; “The Blight” is about dying chestnut trees; “Evelyn” finds a man realizing the toll his work and all the towns they’ve lived in is taking on his wife; and “Build You A House” is a poor man’s promise of what he’ll do if the woman he loves will marry him.

“One Notch Tighter” is about tightening belts during hard times and a promise that “hard times can’t last forever” and “we’ll get by”; and “He’s A Free Man” tells the story of a sharecropper’s son who lies about his age to join the Army for money to send home to his mother and his siblings.

The one non-story original song is “Cowgirl Yodel #3,” a bouncy fun song that gives Struthers a chance to yodel — a skill that’s becoming increasingly rare these days.

According to her biography, Struthers grew up singing with her father Alan, a veteran of a Minneapolis bluegrass band. But she trained classically and performed in New York as a folk-rock musician.

This isn’t really a bluegrass album, but it’s an album most bluegrass fans will enjoy.

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PAUL WILLIAMS & THE VICTORY TRIO, “ Just A Little Closer Home,” Rebel. 12 tracks.

July 6, 2010

Paul Williams is a legend in bluegrass music.

The man who was born Paul Humphrey began his career in 1951 as a member of the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers, a group that was recently inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Fame.

In 1957, Williams joined Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys and his distinctive tenor is heard on some of Martin’s best-known recordings.

Then, in 1963, after a conversion experience, he left the bluegrass circuit and went to work for the U.S. Postal Service.

But in 1996, after his retirement, Williams put together the Victory Trio and began making his mark in bluegrass gospel as well as Southern gospel.

“Just A Little Closer Home” is his 10th gospel album for the Rebel label.

Somewhat surprisingly for a songwriter whose songs have been covered by Ray Charles, Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams Jr. among others, the album features only one of Williams’ creations — “He Answered My Plea.”

Dan Moneyhun, the band’s guitarist, sings lead on half the songs and wrote one — “I’ve Been Set Free.”

Susie Keys, the bass player, wrote “There’s Still Time.”

Tom T. & Dixie Hall, two of bluegrass’ busiest songwriters, contributed “Someone Made The Sandals Jesus Wore.”

“Just A Little Closer Home” continues Williams’ string of primarily mid- to uptempo happy sounds of salvation.

It’s another strong effort by a strong group and a legend who will soon celebrate his 60th year in bluegrass.

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