Archive for March 2012

THE GRASCALS, “Life Finds A Way,” Mountain Home. 13 tracks.

March 26, 2012

Members of The Grascals had already honed their skills in other bands. So, when they joined to form The Grascals in 2004, they were ready to hit the ground running.

The band quickly won the International Bluegrass Music Association’s emerging artist of the year award in 2005 and then took entertainer of the year honors in both 2006 and 2007.

Their version of Harley Allen’s “Me and John and Paul,” a song about two friends reuniting for the funeral of the third, won IBMA song of the year honors in 2005.

The awards have been scarce over the past four years, but the music is still as good as it ever was.

The vocals of Jamie Johnson, Terry Smith and Terry Eldredge are as powerful as ever and the instrumental work of Danny Roberts (mandolin), Kristin Scott Benson (banjo and guitar) and Jeremy Abshire (fiddle) is still outstanding.

Band members co-wrote five of the 13 songs on the album — the title cut, “Hello Mr. Lonesome,” “Pretty Melody,” “Lay That Hammer Down” and the instrumental “Eleven Eleven.”

There are a couple of Harley Allen songs on here too — “Pass It On,” a song that says that you can either pass on your love or your sins to your children, and “Still They Call Me Love,” a song that says that despite the heartaches love causes, people still want it.

And a couple of Billy Smith songs — “Bartender,” about a man who comes into a bar regularly to buy a drink for himself and his ex-wife who isn’t with him, and “Honky Tonk Lullaby,” a classic country song about music that heals the hurting inside.

There are bluegrass covers of Junior Parker’s 1953 blues classic, “Mystery Train,” and James Taylor’s 1970 cowboy lullaby, “Sweet Baby James.”

And there’s a powerful gospel number, “Road To Surrender.”

There’s nothing quite as powerful as “Me and John and Paul,” but songs like that are rare.

“Life Finds A Way” is another in a long line to great albums by The Grascals.

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

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2012 ROMP schedule

March 19, 2012
Stage Schedule
Here’s the schedule for ROMP June 28-30 at Yellow Creek Park in Daviess County, Ky.

THURSDAY

5:00 – 5:50 Renegade String Band

6:00 – 6:50 The Some Rye Grass (Japan)

7:00 – 7:50 Snap Jackson and the Knock on Wood Players

8:15 – 9:30 Vince Gill

9:45 – 11:00 Greensky Bluegrass

11:15 After Party: Farewell Drifters

FRIDAY

10:00 – 10:50 Grandview Junction

11:00 – 11:50 Higher Ground

12:00 – 12:50 Don Stanley Band

1:00 – 1:50 TBA

2:15 – 3:15 Renegade String Band

3:30 – 4:30 Monroeville

4:45 – 5:45 Town Mountain

6:00 – 7:00 Farewell Drifters

7:15 – 8:15 Lonesome River Band

8:45 – 10:00 The Deadly Gentlemen

10:15 – 11:45 Old Crow Medicine Show

12:00 After Party: Bawn in the Mash


SATURDAY

10:00 – 10:50 County Line Bluegrass

11:00 – 11:50 Kentucky BlueGrass AllStars

12:00 – 12:50 Snap Jackson and the Knock on Wood Players

1:00 – 2:00 The Expedition Show

2:15 – 3:15 Newtown

3:30 – 4:30 NewFound Road

4:45 – 5:45 Bearfoot

6:00 – 7:00 Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three

7:15 – 8:15 23 String Band

8:30 – 9:30 Carolina Chocolate Drops

9:45 – 11:15 Punch Brothers

11:45 After Party: The Deadly Gentlemen

DAILEY & VINCENT, “The Gospel Side of Dailey & Vincent,” Cracker Barrel/Rounder. 12 tracks.

March 19, 2012

Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent took the bluegrass world by storm in 2008, when they decided to leave their roles as sidemen for other artists and create their own group.

The International Bluegrass Music Association named them entertainers of the year and vocal group of the year three years in a row. Two of their albums have taken top honors from the IBMA. They’ve won two best gospel recorded event honors and Dailey was named male vocalist of the year in 2008.

This year, the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America named them gospel group, vocal group and best bluegrass band of the year. Dailey was named entertainer of the year and Vincent, bass performer of the year.

With a pedigree like that, Dailey & Vincent have a lot riding on each album. Can it live up to expectations?

In the case of “The Gospel Side of Dailey & Vincent,” oh yeah.

Definitely.

This album will probably end up on a lot of  Top 10 lists.

But traditionalists may have a problem with the piano, electric guitar, string ensemble and brass ensemble used on the songs.

If you’re not picking at nits though, it’s a great album.

Songs include Carl Perkins’ “Daddy Sang Bass,” Dolly Parton’s “Welcome Home,” Willie Nelson’s “Family Bible,” Buck Owens’ “Eternal Vacation,” Arthur Smith’s “The Fourth Man in the Fire,”  Robert Schmetz’s “Noah Found Grace in the Eyes of the Lord,” Jimmy Fortune’s “Come Back To Me” and the traditional “Cross Over to the Other Side of Jordan.”

Dailey added  “Living in the Kingdom of God” and Vincent co-wrote “Unitl at Last I’m Home.”

There’s a reason this album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s bluegrass charts and stayed there for weeks.

It’s that good.

Look for it in Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores or online at daileyvincent.musiccitynetworks.com/.

Old Crow Medicine Show added as headliner

March 17, 2012

Old Crow Medicine Show, a 14-year-old Nashville-based string band with a rock ‘n’ roll attitude, has been signed to headline one night of this year’s ROMP: Bluegrass Roots & Branches Festival at Yellow Creek Park.

Gabrielle Gray, executive director of the International Bluegrass Music Museum, which sponsors the festival, said the band will headline either June 29 or June 30.

 Vince Gill, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, will headline the festival’s opening night on June 28.

ROMP has also signed The Deadly Gentlemen, a Boston-based band that describes itself as featuring “a lot of three-part harmony singing, group shouting, really dense rhymes and an almost rap-like phrasing.”

Gray said ROMP is the only festival Old Crow Medicine Show has scheduled so far for 2012.

“They’re mostly playing indoor, limited-seating, high-ticket venues,” she said. “That’s a trend. Most of the bigger bands are starting to do that.”

Gray said ROMP was able to sign the band “because I’ve been after them to come for years.”

Theaters can produce more revenue for bands, she said, “but the festival atmosphere is infinitely more exciting for the fans and the bands.”

Old Crow Medicine Show’s sound, which has been variously described as alt-country, old-time, Americana and folk/country, “is in the direction of progressive bluegrass,” Gray said. “They are open to trying anything new and exciting.”

After last year’s ROMP, the museum polled those who had attended on what new bands they would like to see.

Gray said Old Crow Medicine Show and The Avett Brothers topped the list.

The Deadly Gentlemen, she said, is “one of the most exciting new bands I’ve heard in awhile.”

Members include Greg Liszt, who has a Ph.D. from MIT in molecular biology, but left science to play banjo on tour with Bruce Springsteen; Mike Barnett, who toured with bluegrass legend Jesse McReynolds as a fiddle player when he was 15; and Sam Grisman, son of mandolinist David Grisman.

ROMP has been adding more bands on the fringes of bluegrass for the past few years.

Gray said that’s because the music continues to evolve.

She said Bill Monroe, who’s known as the father of bluegrass music, “went to his grave with a different type of music in his head, but he was a captive on his own success. He was afraid his fans wouldn’t like it.”

This, Gray said, “is the most exciting time ever for bluegrass.”

This year’s ROMP lineup also includes Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Greensky Bluegrass, Pokey LaFarge & the South City Three, Lonesome River Band, The 23 Sting Band, Bearfoot, Monroeville, The Farewell Drifters, Town Mountain, The Expedition Show, NewTown, NewFound Road, Renegade Stringband, Snap Jackson & The Knock On Wood Players and Grandview Junction.

Tickets are available at rompfest.com or by calling 926-7891.

Early bird specials — $28 for a single-day ticket, $80 for a three-day general pass, $60 for a museum member or college student and $30 for a high school student — are in effect until April 1, Gray said.

From April 2 through June 15, single-day tickets are $30; general three-day passes, $85; college student, $65; museum members, $60; and high school students, $35.

At the gate, single-day tickets will be $35 and three-day tickets, $90.

Children 14 and under are admitted free with a paying adult.

Gill to headline opening night

March 16, 2012

Vince Gill, a Country Music Hall of Fame member whose roots are in bluegrass, will headline the opening night of the ROMP: Bluegrass Roots & Branches Festival on June 28 at Yellow Creek Park.

“He’s a fabulous artist,” said Gabrielle Gray, executive director of the International Bluegrass Music Museum, which sponsors the festival. “He plays a lot of bluegrass in his shows.”

Gill, she said, “has a huge fan base. We’ve been polling people on who they’d like to see this year, and he’s been mentioned a lot.”

Gray said one more festival headliner remains to be announced.

The museum tried to get Gill in 2011, but he had already booked another show that weekend.

Last year, Steve Martin drew several thousand people from more than 40 states to Yellow Creek Park on the festival’s opening night, creating a 1.5-mile traffic jam that lasted for more than hour.

The museum and county parks department have been working since then to find a way to move people into the park at a faster clip.

Gray said four bands including Gill’s will perform on opening night of the three-day festival.

Gill, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007, began performing with a bluegrass band called Mountain Smoke while he was still in high school in Oklahoma.

After graduating high school in 1975, he moved to Louisville to join Bluegrass Alliance, one of the first big newgrass bands.

Gill also played in Ricky Skaggs’s Boone Creek and Byron Berline’s Sundance in the late 1970s.

In 1979, he joined Pure Prairie League as lead singer. The first of three albums he recorded with the country-pop band produced the Top 10 pop hit “Let Me Love You Tonight.”

In 1981, Gill joined Rodney Crowell’s Cherry Bombs.

The 1980s saw him beginning to record as a solo act in Nashville and touring with Emmylou Harris.

In 1988, he performed at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Fan Fest at English Park as a member of Harris’ Angel Band.

In September 1990, Gill and John McEuen hosted the IBMA’s first awards show in the Showroom Lounge of the Executive Inn Rivermont.

He performed at the Big E several times in the 1990s.

In 1992, Gill performed for the WaxWorks/VideoWorks trade show at the RiverPark Center.

The following year, he was named to the bluegrass museum’s advisory board along with such people as Skaggs, Dwight Yoakam and U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

In 1996, days after the death of Bill Monroe, “the father of bluegrass music,” Gill and Skaggs opened the IBMA awards show at the RiverPark Center singing, “What Would You Give in Exchange for Your Soul?” — the first song recorded by the Monroe Brothers (Bill and Charlie Monroe).

Gill has sold more than 26 million albums and received 18 Country Music Association awards, including entertainer of the year in 1993 and 1994.

He is tied with George Strait for having won the most CMA male vocalist awards at five.

Gill has also won 19 Grammy Awards, the most of any male country artist.

This year’s ROMP lineup includes Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Greensky Bluegrass, Pokey LaFarge & the South City Three, Lonesome River Band, The 23 Sting Band, Bearfoot, Monroeville, The Farewell Drifters, Town Mountain, The Expedition Show, NewTown, NewFound Road, Renegade Stringband, Snap Jackson & The Knock On Wood Players and Grandview Junction.

Tickets are available at rompfest.com or by calling 926-7891.

Early bird specials — $28 for a single-day ticket, $80 for a three-day general pass, $60 for a museum member or college student and $30 for a high school student — are in effect until April 1, Gray said.

From April 2 through June 15, single-day tickets are $30; general three-day passes, $85; college student, $65; museum members, $60; and high school students, $35.

At the gate, single-day tickets will be $35 and three-day tickets, $90.

Children 14 and under are admitted free with a paying adult.

THE VESPERS, “The Fourth Wall,” 12 tracks. Black Suit Records

March 12, 2012

The Vespers isn’t really a bluegrass band. The members describe themselves as “folk pop.”

They, after all, use drums, ukulele, violins and cellos on “The Fourth Wall.”

But even Doyle Lawson is using drums these days.

And The Vespers do feature a banjo prominently.

So, you’ll probably find them at some bluegrass festivals that lean toward the progressive side of the music.

The 2-year-old group features a pair of sisters — Callie and Phoebe Cryar, 21 and 19 — who sing lead and a pair of brothers — Bruno and Taylor Jones, 20 and 22 — who fill out the sound.

All four write. In fact, the only song on “The Fourth Wall” that they didn’t write is Son House’s “Grinnin’ In Your Face,” which says that “a true friend is hard to find.”

There’s a lot of gospel influence in the music.

“Better Now” is about the blind man that Jesus healed.

“Lawdy” has a bluesy mountain gospel sound.

“Got No Friends” is about as close to bluegrass as The Vespers get.

The song was inspired by the May 2010 flood that devastated parts of Nashville and even hit the Grand Ole Opry House.

It’s a good album  with some pretty vocals.

You can find it in stores April 3 or you can order it online at TheVespersBand.com.

SPECIAL CONSENUS, “Scratch Gravel Road,” Compass Records. 12 tracks

March 5, 2012

It’s been 39 years and well over 40 musicians since Greg Cahill, a Chicago social worker, founded the Cook County Doo Dah Boys — the band that became The Special Consensus in 1975.

The idea was to showcase his “urban traditionalist take on bluegrass which encompasses elements of Chicago blues, swing, newgrass and country music,” according to Compass Records, the band’s current home.

It took the band four years to get its first record deal and start touring.

But nearly 40 years after its start and dozens of personnel changes, Special Consensus is still going strong.

“Scratch Gravel Road,” the band’s latest album, goes on sale March 27.

It’s a good collection of bluegrass the way Special Consensus has always done it, with a little country, swing and blues flavors on the side.

“Monroe,” an uptempo tribute to Bill Monroe, “the father of bluegrass music,” features guest vocals from two former members of the band — Josh Williams and Chris Jones. The lyrics include a lot of Monroe’s song titles.

Harley Allen’s “A Good Problem to Have” is a take on the old proverb, “I wept because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”

The band — Cahill, Rick Faris, David Thomas and Dustin Benson — turn the Golden Gate Quartet’s “On My Way To The Kingdom Land” into some great a capella bluegrass gospel.

Don Gibson’s 1961 classic, “Sea of Heartbreak” also gets a bluegrass makeover.

“My Memories  Of You” is a good sing-along ballad.

On the bluesy side of bluegrass, there’s “Shoulda Took A Train” and “Trouble Let Me Be.”

Moonshine plays a role in the title cut, about a moonshiner’s son turning 21 and leaving town, and “Old New Straitsville Moonshine Run,” a blazing tune about eastern Ohio moonshine runners.

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