Archive for May 2014

FELLER & HILL, “Here Come Feller & Hill…Again,” Blue Circle Records. 13 tracks.

May 27, 2014

Tom Feller is a nephew of Aubrey, Jerry, and Tom Holt, the backbone of the legendary Boys From Indiana. He’s worked with Redwing, the Larry Stephenson Band, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, 3 Fox Drive and the Wildwood Valley Boys.

Chris Hill, a competitive clogger as well as a banjo player, has worked with the Wildwood Valley Boys, Gerald Evans & Paradise, the James King Band and Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show.

The two began exploring the possibilities of creating a band in 2010 and went on the road full time with their band, the Bluegrass Buckaroos, in 2013.

They’ve have created a sound that blends the classic country of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s with bluegrass.

Feller’s “The Ballad of Buck and Don” is a tribute to the Bakersfield sound of Buck Owens and Don Rich — with a bluegrass beat.

There are a pair of Aubrey Holt songs — “Hey Baby” and “Here Comes Polly.”

And a couple of gospel songs — Joyce Rambo‘s “When Is He Coming Again” with Heather Berry-Mabe and Don Reno‘s “He’s Coming Back To Earth Again.”

Rhonda Vincent lends her vocal talents to Tom T. & Dixie Hall‘s “Tired of Losing You.” The Halls also wrote “The Government Blues” for the project.

From country music, Feller & Hill took Faron Young‘s “Forget The Past.”

From rock/soul, they borrowed Delaney & Bonnie‘s 1971 hit, “Never Ending Song of Love.”

Good album by a good new band.

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THE OSBORNE BROTHERS, “Nashville,” Pinecastle. 8 tracks

May 19, 2014

Back in 1998, Pinecastle Records began a four-part series of albums documenting the career of Bobby and Sonny Osborne from their days in their hometown of Hyden, Ky., to the fame they found in Nashville.

The brothers were inducted as members of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry on Aug. 8, 1964 — nearly 50 years ago.

The series of albums — “Hyden,” “Dayton to Knoxville” and “Detroit to Wheeling” were the first three– got sidetracked in late 2004 when Sonny Osborne was forced into retirement after rotator cuff surgery left him unable to play the banjo as well as he was accustomed to.

But Pinecastle will finally release the fourth and final installment in the series — “Nashville” — on June 10.

It features seven tracks recorded in 1975, when the brothers were in full Nashville mode with drums, pianos, electric guitars and steel guitars.

It was necessary at the time they said to get airplay on country stations and to hold their own with other country bands in package shows.

Tracks from the 1975 session include Bobby Osborne’s “Gonna Be Raining When I Die,” The Louvin Brothers’ “My Baby’s Gone” and “When I Stop Dreaming,” Jake Landers‘ “The Oak Tree,” “Going Back To The Mountains” and “The Hard Times” and Phil Rosenthal‘s “Muddy Waters.”

The eighth track — Roger Miller‘s “Half A Mind” — comes from a 1995 recording session, long after the band had returned to its acoustic roots.

It’s a great chance to hear the Osborne Brothers in their prime.

But don’t forget that Bobby, now 82, is still performing full-time with his band, Rocky Top X-Press.

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TRINITY RIVER BAND, “Better Than Blue,” Orange Blossom Records. 12 tracks.

May 12, 2014

Family bands have been part of the fabric of country and bluegrass music since the days of the Carter and Stoneman families in the 1920s.

In 2008, when Mike Harris got laid off from his job during the early months of the Great Recession, he decided to create Trinity River Band with his wife and kids.

They started out performing in churches near their Florida home.

After three years of that, Trinity River hit the road full time.

Sarah Harris, the 21-year-old daughter, plays mandolin and fronts the band today.

Mike Harris plays guitar. Lisa Harris, the mom, plays bass. Son Joshua plays resophonic guitar and banjo and daughter, Brianna, plays fiddle.

Everybody but Lisa takes a turn at singing lead.

The band describes its music as Americana, bluegrass and acoustic roots, but there’s also sort of a rock edge to the energy Trinity River Band brings to a performance.

The new album, “Better Than Blue,” features two songs — “My Heart Will Find Its Way To You” and “Pure Poison” — written by Sarah Harris and two — “Barefoot Breakdown” and “Steel and Blood” — written by her father.

There are a couple of grassed-up country hits from the past — “Jacob’s Ladder,” a 1996 hit for Mark Wills, and “Daddy’s Hands,” which took Holly Dunn to the top of the charts in 1986.

And a bluegrass version of Herman Parker Jr. — Little Junior Parker’s — blues classic “Mystery Train” from 1953.

But it’s mostly new material.

Good album by a band that’s starting to receive the attention it deserves.

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DANNY ROBERTS, “Nighthawk,” Mountain Home. 13 tracks.

May 5, 2014

It might seem strange, but the mandolin wasn’t Danny Roberts‘ first instrument.

His biography says the Leitchfield, Ky., native started playing guitar at age 13 and mandolin when he was 20.

But the mandolin is the instrument that made Roberts’ name in bluegrass as a member of New Tradition, Dolly Parton‘s band and The Grascals.

“Nighthawk,” his second solo album, hits streets on May 20.

It’s a blend of bluegrass, swing and newgrass — including 10 instrumentals written by Roberts.

His wife, Andrea, a former member of Petticoat Junction and Special Consensus, adds vocals to the gospel number, “I Went Down A Beggar (But I Came Up A Millionaire)” and his 12-year-old daughter, Jaelee Roberts, makes her debut singing, “Oh, Atlanta,” (a Bad Company song covered in bluegrass by Alison Krauss) and the gospel classic “How Great Thou Art.”

Expect to hear more from her in the future.

Also joining Roberts on the album are Kristin Scott Benson, Tim Surrett, Adam Haynes, Ronnie McCoury, Sam Bush, Jimmy Mattingly, Tony Wray, Mike Compton, Paul Harrigill and Dominic Illingworth.

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