Archive for November 2017

WILSON BANJO CO., “Spirits in the Hills,” Bonfire. 14 tracks

November 27, 2017

 

Steve Wilson, banjo player and banjo builder, waited until his kids were grown to hit the bluegrass circuit with his own band.

Now, he’s making up for lost time.

“Spirits in the Hills” is the band’s first album, but it won’t be the last.

The title track is a spooky tale of a man with a hook for a hand who gives the singer a drink of moonshine and owns his soul.

“Shiner’s Mountain” is also about moonshiners in the hills and how you don’t want to be mistaken for a revenue agent.

“Forty Years of Trouble” is a hard-driving tale of a man who’s spent long years in prison and is longing to meet the son he’s never seen.

There are a couple of country songs — “Catfish John,” a 1972 hit for Johnny Russell, and “Carolina in the Pines,” a song Michael Martin Murphey released in both 1975 and 1985.

“Her Sunday Best” is about a woman whose Sunday best doesn’t mean her clothes. It means the way she’s lived her life.

“Railroad Man” tells the story of a man whose love life is going through a train wreck.

And there are a couple of gospel songs — “When He Reached Down His Hand” and “Ain’t No Grave.”

Band members include Sarah Logan, the fiddle player who sings lead on five tracks; Joey Newton, who plays guitar, banjo and fiddle and sings lead on two tracks; Dylan Armour, the Dobro player who sings lead on one track; Brandon Couch, who plays mandolin and sings lead on four tracks; and Rob Walker on bass.

Can’t find it in stores? Try https://www.wilsonbanjo.com/store.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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BRAD HUDSON, “Next New Heartache,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks

November 20, 2017

 

Brad Hudson was one of those child prodigies in bluegrass, picking and singing from a young age.

He’s worked at Dollywood — Dolly Parton‘s theme park — and in the bands of Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road and Jeff & Sheri Easter.

Now, he’s the lead singer and Dobro player in the band Sideline.

And Hudson has recorded his first solo album for Pinecastle — “Next New Heartbreak.”

It kicks off with “Ramblers Song,”  a hard-driving song about a man who proclaims that he’ll never settle down and likes to move from town to town.

Dolly Parton joins Hudson on her “Appalachian Memories,” a song about Southern people going north in search of the Promised Land — but never finding it.

“I Wonder What You See In Your Dreams” has a similar theme — a man watching the woman he loves go to the city to marry someone else.

The title track finds the singer hurting and waiting to be hurt again.

“Truckers Blues” finds a truck driver missing his wife and waiting for a chance to stop to eat and call her.

“Smoky Mountain Strong” is a tribute to the area devastated by a forest fire in 2016.

“The Day My Daddy Cried” is a song about a man who never cried — until the day his wife died.

Loretta Lynn’s “World of Forgotten People” is a ballad about people who are lonely and hurting.

Jeff & Sheri Easter and Hudson’s grandmother, Betty Swinson, join him on the gospel song, “Beulah Land.”

And there are a couple of instrumentals — “Hugging The Hound” and “My One And Only (Crystal’s Song),” the latter written by Hudson for his wife.

Can’t find it in stores? Try www.bradhudsonmusic.com/store.

REMINGTON RYDE, “A Storyteller’s Memory,” Pinecastle. 11 tracks.

November 13, 2017

 

James King was known as “The Bluegrass Storyteller” and the “King of Mountain Soul.”

But his voice was silenced on May 19, 2016, when he died way too young at 57.

Remington Ryde, a 12-year-old Pennsylvania-based bluegrass band, remembers King with its first release on Pinecastle Records, “A Storyteller’s Memory.”

The album features nine songs from King’s repertoire; a tribute song, “Mr. King,” written by the band’s founder, Ryan Frankhouser; and a 1989 track of King singing, “It’s A Cold, Cold World,” a song he wrote.

“Bed By The Window,” one of King’s better known songs, is a story song about two old men in a nursing home and the difference between optimism and pessimism.

“Days of Gray  & Black” is a hard-charging song about winter coming and a man missing a woman.

“Crazy Heart” is an uptempo song about a woman changing like the weather and driving a man insane.

Chris Stapleton’s “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore” is about a man who prayed constantly — until the day he died.

“Thirty Years of Farmin'” finds a family farm being foreclosed on with an auction coming soon.

“Leavin'” is another hard-charging song about a man who’s been put down by his woman and has decided to hit the road.

Hazel Dickens‘ “A Few Old Memories” is a ballad about memories of an old love that creep into his mind from time to time.

“Old Swinging Bridge” is an uptempo song about memories of an old love and things they used to do.

If you’re a James King fan, you’ll want to hear this.

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

BALSAM RANGE, “It’s Christmas Time,” Mountain Home. Six tracks

November 6, 2017

There’s no doubt that “It’s Christmas Time” is a Christmas EP — six songs rather than a dozen.

But is it bluegrass?

That’s something the purists and the progressives can debate this holiday season.

Violins, violas, saxophones and cellos are not normally heard on bluegrass albums.

And the Nashville Recording Orchestra doesn’t usually perform on bluegrass CDs.

But if you’re broadminded about your bluegrass, this is a Christmas album you might want to consider.

It opens with Doc Watson‘s “Christmas Lullaby” and closes with an instrumental version of “Jingle Bells.”

“The First Noel,” a Christmas classic that dates back to at least 1823, features the band’s classic three-part harmony.

“Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” a 1958 megahit by Brenda Lee, features a saxophone in a nod to the late Boots Randolph.

The Stanley Brothers‘ “I’m Going Home, It’s Christmas Time” is the EP’s only song done in traditional bluegrass style.

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” which dates back to at least 1739, does include a banjo and mandolin.

The North Carolina-based band is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2017.

Can’t find the album in stores? Try https://balsamrange.com/store/