Archive for April 2018

ROE FAMILY SINGERS, “Songs of the Mountains, Songs of the Plains,” Pinecastle. 15 tracks.

April 30, 2018


Think all music these days sounds the same?

Wanting an album that sounds different from all the rest?

Then, try the Roe Family Singers.

“Songs of the Mountains, Songs of the Plains” doesn’t sound like anything else you’re likely to hear.

I mean, how many albums these days feature an autoharp, musical saw, washboard, jug and kazoo among the instruments played?

Not to mention Appalachian clogging.

The Roe Family Singers are Kim and Quillan Roe and seven friends who play a wide variety of instruments.

Some of these songs have been around for generations.

The liner notes says  “Pretty Fair Maid in the Garden” dates back to 1822.

“Ida Red” has been around since 1915 and “Ol’ Rattler” since 1919.

Then, there’s A.P. Carter’s “Dixie Darling” and “Sweet Fern.”

And Albert Brumley’s “Rank Strangers.”

These are old songs.

But the Roe Family Singers make them sound fresh again.

And Quillan Roe has even written songs that sound as old as the traditional numbers.

“O Young Lovers,” “John the  Messenger,” “Peter Tosh,” “I’m Falling For You” and “The Road is Rocky” all sound as old as the hills and the plains.

There’s a Bill Monroe song — “Walk Softly on This Heart of Mine” — and a Woody Guthrie song — “This Land is Your Land.”

Chances are you’ve heard all but the original numbers dozens of times.

But you’ve never heard them quite like this.

No, it’s not really bluegrass.

It’s sort of  pre-bluegrass.

But you might want to check it out at starting May 4.

It’s probably the only album this year that includes the Affordable Care Act among its “Thank Yous.”

BALSAM RANGE, “Mountain Overture,” Mountain Home. 10 tracks.

April 23, 2018

Balsam Range has joined with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra Ensemble for a greatest hits album.

It sounds great.

But you have to wonder about the target audience.

Do bluegrass fans really want an orchestra backing the band?

And do orchestra fans really want bluegrass with their pops ensemble?

With a cello, flute, French horn, trumpet, trombone and drums, it would be a stretch to call this a bluegrass album.

But whatever you call it, it’s good.

Songs include “Trains I Missed,” the 2011 International Bluegrass Music Association’s song of the year.

“Blue Mountain” is a ballad about a man who’s been searching the country, trying to find out who he really is, but discovering that he left his soul with the woman he left behind.

“Eldorado Blue” is about a woman who married and settled in her hometown rather than follow her friends to the big city.

“From A Georgia Battlefield” and “Burning Georgia Down” are songs about the Civil War.

“Any Old Road (Will Take You There)” says if you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t matter which road you take to get there.

“Jack Diamond” is about a man setting out to kill the people who murdered his family and left him for dead.

“Matthew” is a John Denver song about a man who survived life’s traumas with faith and love.

“Last Train To Kitty Hawk” is about the birth of aviation, the demise of railroads and the changes that progress brings.

And “I Hear The Mountains” is about a man who hears his home calling him back.

A good album for fans with a loose interpretation of bluegrass.

Can’t find it in stores? Try


SIDELINE, “Moves Front & Center,” Mountain Home. 12 tracks

April 2, 2018


Sideline began as a recording project for musicians who were working in other bands.

A sideline, if you will.

But in 2013, it became a full-time band –moving front and center, as the new Mountain Home album says in its title.

The lineup for this album includes Steve Dilling, Jason Moore, Skip Cherryholmes, Nathan Aldridge, Troy Boone and Bailey Coe.

The album kicks off with “Thunder Dan,” an uptempo song about a mountain man who kills a preacher, is sentenced to 40 years in prison, shoots a deputy and escapes.

“Frozen In Time” is a ballad about a man who returns to his childhood after 40 years to find it gone — but still standing in his memory.

“Old Time Way” is hoe-down music.

Gordon Lightfoot‘s “Song For A Winter’s Night” finds the singer missing a woman as he settles in for a cold winter night.

“Bluefield WV Mtn. Girl” is about a woman a man can always count on.

“I Long To See His Face” and “Satan’s Chains” are gospel songs.

“Lysander Hayes” is an uptempo song about a man who lives to party — while his mother prays for his soul.

“Memories That We Shared” is a ballad about a man who can’t seem to erase the happy memories that haunt him now.

“Something Out of Nothing” says that no matter how hard you try, you can’t make someone love you.

“All Because of Me” is an uptempo song about a man who kills a woman because she loves someone else.

And “Cotton Eyed Joe” is a blazing instrumental.

The only label you need to put on this album is bluegrass.

Pure and simple.

Look for it on April 27.