Archive for June 2013

BIG COUNTRY BLUEGRASS, “Memories of the Past,” Rebel. 14 tracks.

June 24, 2013

“Memories of the Past” is Big Country Bluegrass’ 17th album in a career that spans 26 years. And it’s as hard-core traditional as any of the other 16.

Tommy and Teresa Sells have led the band from the beginning. Like all bands, there have been numerous personnel changes through the years. Eddie Gill is the latest male lead singer. Teresa Sells also sings lead.

Don Rigsby sits in on several songs.

There’s a lot of older material here — “Somebody’s Waiting For Me,” “The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake,” Carl Butler‘s “If Teardrops Were Pennies,” Don Reno‘s “Choking The Strings,” “99 Years Is Almost For Life,” “Won’t You Think of Me” and Curly Ray Cline’s “Baby, You’re Cheatin’.”

But there are plenty of new songs too.

Dixie & Tom T. Hall contribute “I’m Putting On My Leaving Shoes,” a blazing song about saying good-bye.

“Like The Boys on Music Row,” written by Eddie and Hermon Gill, Larry Cordle and Larry Shell, is about a man who’s been singing for 40 years and refuses to end up “like the boys on Music Row.” It’s reminiscent of Cordle and Shell’s “Murder on Music Row.”

“John Doe Made The Crossing” is about an old man who makes his way across a busy street and is later found dead beneath a bridge.

Good album by a good traditional band.

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SHANNON & HEATHER SLAUGHTER & COUNTY CLARE, “One More Road,” Elite Circuit Music. 14 tracks.

June 17, 2013

You might be expecting an Irish band with a name like “County Clare,” but Shannon and Heather Slaughter are from Florida and Alabama respectively.

And their sound is strictly American bluegrass.

Shannon Slaughter has spent two decades in bluegrass including stints with Lost & Found, Larry Stephenson, Savannah Road, Melonie Cannon and the Lonesome River Band.
Heather Slaughter is a former member of Acoustic Rain.

Shannon wrote or co-wrote eight of the 14 songs on the new band’s debut album including one — “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” — with Heather.

The song says that you can’t move forward “till you leave the past behind.”

So far, the album which was released in March, has produced two singles — “The Lives of the Innocent,” a Civil War song written and sung by Shannon, and Tim Hardin‘s “If I Were A Carpenter,” probably best known for the Johnny Cash-June Carter Cash duet in 1970.

There are a couple of country covers — Rodney Crowell’s “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues” and “Pass Me By,” a 1972 hit for Johnny Rodriguez.

Original songs include “They Never Got The Chance,” an anti-abortion song; “The Ballad of Johnse Hatfield,” a song about the Hatfield-McCoy feud; “When Scruggs Made Me A Star,” a song about Earl Scruggs’ three-finger banjo roll; and “Daddy Killed The Calf,” a song about having to kill a calf to survive the Dust Bowl years.

Shannon and Heather Slaughter are both strong lead singers.

Expect good things from this band.

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MIKE SCOTT & FRIENDS, “Home Sweet Home: Civil War Era Songs,” Rural Rhythm. 14 tracks.

June 10, 2013

Mike Scott traces his banjo-playing heritage to his great-grandmother, Verdie, who was born during the 1860s.

So, what better way to celebrate that heritage — especially during the 150th anniversary of the Civil War — than an album of Civil War-era songs?

Especially ones that prominently feature Scott’s banjo.

An all-star cast of musicians — Adam Steffey, Bryan Sutton, Tim Stafford, Rob Ickes, Aubrey Haynie, Mike Compton, Ben Isaacs, Scott Miller and Jeff Taylor — lends its talents to the project.

Only one of the 14 tunes on the album wasn’t being played during the Civil War years.

“Ashokan Farewell” was written in 1982 by Jay Ungar.

But the music was featured prominently in Ken Burns’ 1990 PBS series, “The Civil War.”

It was played 25 times during the 11-hour series.

So, it has an association with the Civil War, at least in many people’s minds.

Other tunes include “The Girl I Left Behind Me,” “Soldier’s Joy,” “Bill Cheatham,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “Home Sweet Home,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Turkey in the Straw,” “Banks of the Ohio,” “Camptown Races,” “Bonaparte’s Retreat,” “Buffalo Gals,” “Angeline The Baker” and “The Battlefield.”

Many of those songs have made their way into the bluegrass repertoire through the years.

But for some reason, one of the songs most associated with the Civil War, “Dixie,” wasn’t included.

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UNDERHILL ROSE, “Something Real,” no label. 13 tracks.

June 3, 2013

Underhill Rose, an Asheville, N.C.-based band, was formed in 2009 by Eleanor Underhill and Molly Rose Reed. Salley Williamson, the bass player, joined later, making the duo a trio.

The group is part of a growing movement of bands that have one foot in bluegrass, but other parts of their bodies in a variety of genres.

Publicity material refers to Underhill Rose’s sound as “Americana, rhythm-and-blues, country and bluegrass.” It also refers to “heartfelt country soul.”

There’s a banjo, an acoustic guitar, bass, fiddle and Dobro — traditional bluegrass instruments — on “Something Real.” But you’ll also find a trumpet, accordion, electric guitar, organ, piano, drums, pedal steel, whistle and tap dancing on there too.

All the songs are original. Underhill wrote seven; Rose Reed, three; Williamson, two; and all three collaborated on “Never Gonna Work Out.”

Nothing on the album is strictly bluegrass, although “Bare Little Rooms” comes close. But you can feel the bluegrass influence in many of the tracks.

“The End of 27,” a song about turning 28, is a ragtime tune that’s really fun to listen to.

Good album. Good band.

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Keith Lawrence, (270) 691-7301,