Archive for April 2012

THE BOXCARS, “All In,” Mountain Home. 12 tracks.

April 23, 2012

The Boxcars, then a new group filled with veteran artists, burst on the bluegrass scene in 2010 with a self-titled album that made many critics’ Top 10 lsit.

A year later, the International Bluegrass Music Association named the band instrumental group of the year as well as emerging artists of the year.

Now, The Boxcars are back with “All In,” another strong album of country-flavored bluegrass.

Band members penned seven of the 12 tracks.

Keith Garrett’s “Jeffrey’s Hell” is a ghost story about a man and his son who went hunting for a lost hound and were never seen again.

The new “Old Hollow Tree” and the traditional “Born And Raised In Covington” are good murder ballads.

Ron Stewart’s “Crawford County” tells the story of a man who mistakenly shoots and kills two children he thinks are poaching deer.

“Prison” is an uptempo gospel song.

And there are plenty of songs about heartache — “Alone and Wondering Why,” “Ol’ Lonesome Won’t Leave Me Alone,” “I’ve Lost You,” “I’m Over You, “Still Good At Crying Over You” and “Don’t Fall In Love With A Girl Like That.”

Adam Steffey wrote the album’s only instrumental “That’s What She Said.”

John Bowman and Harold Nixon round out the band.

The Boxcars have a avoided a sophomore slump with another strong album.

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MARTY RAYBON, “Southern Roots & Branches (Yesterday & Today),” Rural Rhythm. 12 tracks.

April 23, 2012

MARTY RAYBON, “Hand To The Plow,” Rural Rhythm. 10 tracks.

Marty Raybon began his musical journey in 1975 with his Florida-based family band, the American Bluegrass Express.

In 1984, Raybon headed for the bright lights of country music, settling into the lead singer role in the hot country group, Shenandoah, from 1987 to 1997.

In 2003, he returned to bluegrass in a big way with the critically acclaimed “Full Circle” album.

Lately though, fans have had a hard time knowing what to expect when they pick up a Raybon album.

Some albums are modern country, some are gospel and some are bluegrass.

This spring, Rural Rhythm has released two Raybon albums — one’s gospel and one’s bluegrass.

Both are good, but if you’re expecting bluegrass, you want bluegrass.

“Hand To The Plow” is the gospel album.

“You’ve Got To Move,” the first single, topped the Christian Voice & Cashback charts last fall.

On the traditional “I’m Working On A Building,” he’s joined by T. Graham Brown, Jimmy Fortune and Trace Adkins for some bluesy gospel.

Raybon wrote or co-wrote five songs — “Walking With God At A Guilty Distance,” “When He Reigns, It Pours,” “What Have I Done To Deserve This,” “He’s Still My Little Man (Matty’s Song)” and “You’ve Got To Move.”

“Southern Roots & Branches” is the bluegrass album.

It includes bluegrass versions of some Shenandoah hits — “I Want To Be Loved Like That,” “Next To You, Next To Me,” “Ghost In This House” and “Beulah Land.”

There are a couple of new songs — “Dirt Road Heartache,” a song about heartache and freedom on the road, and “Big Pain,” a song about a pain that just won’t heal.

Jimmy Martin’s “Home Run Man,” Bill Monroe’s “Rocky Road Blues” and Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs’ “Down The Road” bring familiar traditional bluegrass to the lineup and Rodney Crowell’s “Long Hard Road (The Sharecropper’s Dream)” adds some acoustic country flavor.

They’re both good albums. Just be aware of what you’re buying.

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BRAND NEW STRINGS, “Stay Tuned,” Rural Rhythm. 7 tracks.

April 16, 2012

Fans of Brand New Strings’ 2010 debut album “No Strings Attached,” which garnered a lot of attention in bluegrass circles, have waited two years for the next release.

 But it’s not an album.

It’s a seven-song EP (extended play) that just whets the appetite for more.

 The band’s founding trio — Randall Massengill, Mike Ramsey and Stuart Wyrick — wrote five of the seven tracks.

The other two are “I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water,” a 1965 country hit for Stonewall Jackson, and “Mustang Minnie,” a rocking tune about a woman who works at the five-and-dime, saving her money for a 1965 Mustang.

The five songs written by band members are “Other Side Of Lonesome,” a song about a man who has finally worked his way through loneliness; “Behold The Lamb,” an uptempo gospel number; “The Guitar,” a song about a man who leaves home hoping to be a big star in Nashville and finally makes it after years of struggle; and “That’s You” and “Silver Dollar Moon,” a pair of love songs.

It’s just enough new music to remind fans that the band is still out there, but not enough to satisfy them.

Here’s hoping the next full album isn’t two more years down the road.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS, “Life Goes On,” Rural Rhythm. 39 tracks.

April 9, 2012

VARIOUS ARTISTS, “Life Goes On,” Rural Rhythm. 39 tracks.

Not only is this one of the best bluegrass albums you’ll hear in 2012, it’s the best bargain you’ll find.

Thirty-nine songs performed by a total of 139 artists in a two-CD set.

And it’s for a good cause.

Musicians Against Childhood Cancer stages a summer festival each year outside Columbus, Ohio, to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

Darrel and Phyllis Adkins founded the program after their daughter, Amanda Lynn “Mandy” Adkins was diagnosed with an inoperable brain stem tumor and died on Nov. 25, 2000.

Performances at the festival are recorded, edited and released as CDs to help raise even more money. In 2006, the International Bluegrass Music Association named one of those albums, “Celebration of  Life,” as its album of the year.

“Life Goes On” is just as good.

Highlights include “Beyond The Sunset For Me”, an a capella gospel quartet with Doyle Lawson, Russell Moore, Jamie Dailey and Josh Swift; Pine Mountain Railroad’s “I Got A Woman,” a great blend of rock’n’roll and bluegrass; Shawn Camp’s “In The Time That You Gave Me”; Bradley Walker’s “Revelation”; Josh Williams’ “Across The Great Divide”; Rhonda Vincent’s “The Water is Wide”; Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey”; Sally Connell’s “Give My Love To Rose”;  JoshWilliams and Don Rigsby’s “Where The Soul Never Dies”; Junior Sisk’s “He Died A Rounder At 21”; James King’s “Memories of Mother”; Larry Cordle’s “Old Violin” and the title cut with Carl Jackson, Ronnie Bowman, Cordle, Jerry Salley and Rickey Wasson.

Great album.

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DOYLE LAWSON & QUICKSILVER, “Sing Me A Song About Jesus,” Mountain Home. 11 tracks.

April 2, 2012

Doyle Lawson began his 50th year in bluegrass on Feb.3.

“Sing Me A Song About Jesus” is his 35th studio album. They’re divided almost equally between secular and sacred. Lawson is a master of both styles.

And he has the trophies from the International Bluegrass Music Association to prove it.

Lawson & Quicksilver were named IBMA vocal group of the year from 2001 through 2007. They also won gospel performance of the year honors in 1996, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 as well as song of the year in 1990 and 2003.

And last year Lawson, J.D. Crowe and Paul Williams won both gospel recorded performance and recorded event honors for “Prayer Bells of Heaven,” from their “Old Friends Get Together” album.

Lawson honed his skills in three legendary bluegrass bands.

He joined Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys as an 18-year-old banjo player.

Then came stints with  Crowe’s Kentucky Mountain Boys (later the New South) and the Country Gentlemen.

In April 1979, Lawson created his own band, first known as Foxfire, and then Quicksilver, when he learned that another band was using the Foxfire name.

He’s been a top name in both bluegrass and gospel for more than 30 years.

 The new album is everything fans of Lawson & Quicksilver hoped it would be.

There’s hard driving bluegrass on songs like “The Rich Man; powerful ballads on “I Saw Him Walk Out of the Sky; an uptempo gospel quartet on “Never Shall Run Dry”; and a couple of great a capella numbers — “The Greatest Creator” and “Going on Home.”

There’s also a new Christmas song, “Little Star.”

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