Archive for May 2015

LAURA ORSHAW, “Songs of Lost Yesterdays,” no label. 11 tracks.

May 26, 2015

Laura Orshaw‘s grandmother, Betty Orshaw, a musician in northeastern Pennsylvania, taught her to sing and play fiddle when Laura was 10 years old.

As a teenager, she toured the Northeast with her father’s bluegrass band, The Lonesome Road Ramblers.

Today, Orshaw, coordinator for the Expressive Therapies Graduate Program at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is still performing and teaching private lessons..

Her latest album, “Songs of Lost Yesterdays,” features a mix of traditional and original songs and some that hold special memories for Orshaw.

Traditional songs include “Going To The West,” a song believed to date back to the 19th century; “Row Number 2, Seat Number 3,” a 1956 hit for Wilma Lee Cooper; and “Sailor on the Deep Blue Sea,” an old song popularized by the Carter Family.

Original songs include “Guitar Man,” about a woman enchanted by a guitar player in a depot, and “New Deal Train,” a song about a train bringing food to a town during the Great Depression.

Other songs include Charlie Moore’s “The Cotton Farmer,” Norman Blake‘s “Uncle,” Peter Rowan’s “Wild Geese Cry Again,” Bill Bryson‘s “Love Me or Leave Me Alone” and Hazel Dickens “Coal Miner’s Grave.”

Can’t find it in stores? Try and iTunes.


STEVE HARRIS, “Sundown,” Orange Blossom Records. 11 tracks.

May 18, 2015

Steve Harris grew up in a family band that specialized in bluegrass gospel.

But as a young man, he put the music aside to concentrate on his career.

Then, in 2007, at a bluegrass festival, Harris rediscovered his love for bluegrass music.

After three years of re-establishing himself as a musician, he founded the band Circa Blue, which has released two albums to date.

Now, Harris has released his first solo album — “Sundown.”

It’s all bluegrass gospel.

Many of the songs are familiar hymns from his — and many other people’s — childhoods.

That list includes “In The Garden,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “Where Could I Go,” “Drifting Too Far From The Shore” and “Softly And Tenderly.”

Also featured are Louis Marshall “Grandpa” Jones “Falling Leaves” and the title cut, originally recorded by the Chuck Wagon Gang.

All of the songs are ones Harris grew up singing or listening to.

Mary Paula Wilson sings lead on “Someday My Ship Will Sail” and Sarah Harris of Trinity River Band sings lead on “Falling Leaves.”

Steve Harris, who sings lead on the rest, has a pleasant voice and the picking is first class.

THE STEELDRIVERS, “The Muscle Shoals Recordings,” 11 tracks. Rounder.

May 11, 2015

The SteelDrivers created a lot of excitement in 2008, when they roared out of Nashville with a sound best described as having Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys backing Bob Seger.

Lead singer Chris Stapleton’s mountain growl — infusing bluegrass with soul — was unlike anything on the radio.

Some called it “outlaw grass.” Some called in “bluesgrass.” Some called it “mountain soul.”

Whatever you called it, people took notice.

But two years later, Stapleton decided that he didn’t want to spend his life on the road and left the band.

Gary Nichols, a Muscle Shoals, Alabama, native, took over the lead singer post with his Southern soul sound.

And the band never missed more than a beat or two.

Now, Nichols and his bandmates have gone to his hometown to record an album that blends soul, blues, bluegrass, rhythm & blues, county, rock’n’roll and maybe a hint of gospel into what The SteelDrivers do best — create great music.

Nichols and fiddle player Tammy Rogers wrote most of the songs on the album.

“Brother John” tells the tale of a man who killed a lawman’s son because he wanted the man’s wife.

“River Runs Red” is about the Civil War’s Battle of Stones River on Dec. 31, 1862, in Tennessee, when nearly 3,000 men were killed. But there were “no winners or losers when you count the dead,” Nichols growls.

“Long Way Down” finds a man condemning his woman for messing around and telling her that it”s “a long way to hell for a fallen angel.”

Drinkin’ Alone” is about a man going wild after his woman walks out on him.

“Day Before Temptation” finds a man playing with fire and riding shotgun with a driver called Temptation, knowing that he’ll wind up drunk and broke.

“Here She Goes” is about a man who knows his woman is about to leave him because she hasn’t been happy in a long time.

“Six Feet Away” warns people to make the most of every day because on any given day “we’re only six feet away from the bottom of a grave.”

Good album by a band that’s still going strong after seven years.

It hits record stores on June 16.

But if you can’t find it then, try