Archive for August 2018

CLAY HESS BAND, “Just Another Story,” Pinecastle. 10 tracks

August 28, 2018

Clay Hess, an Athens, Ohio, native, rose to prominence in bluegrass as the lead guitarist in Ricky Skaggs’ Kentucky Thunder.

From there, Hess toured with The Mark Newton Band, Mountain Heart and Sierra Hull & Highway 111, before starting his own band in 2012.

“Just Another Story” features Carl Perkins‘ “Restless” from 1968; Waylon Jennings‘ “Anita, You’re Dreaming” from 1965; and Jimmie Rodgers’ “Blue Yodel #2” from 1928.

But it’s mostly an album of newer songs.

“Cold and Lonely” finds a man reminded by the cold wind that he’s alone now.

And “Heat of the Morning” also finds him alone, sad and ready to die.

So the weather means nothing when you’re lonely.

“Somewhere in France” is about a World War II veteran who still misses the twin brother he lost in a battle.

“Next Train To Anywhere” finds the singer ready to leave town and not caring where he goes.

“Tougher Than The Nails” is uptempo gospel.

“The Field Behind The Plow” tells the story of a farmer working to survive.

Look for it at

WILLIAMSON BRANCH, “Free,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks

August 13, 2018

Williamson Branch is a family band that’s a natural progression for Kevin and Debbie Williamson.

Kevin Williamson followed in the footsteps of his father, Jerry, and began performing in bands with Glenn Duncan and then Dave Evans while he was still in high school.

Then, he and his father formed Redwing and toured for 10 years.

In 1991, he and Debbie married and formed Shadow Ridge.

Their daughter, Melody, was born in 1998. And by the time, she was 2, she was singing with her parents.

Kadence Williamson, now 16, plays the ukelele bass with the family band.

Caroline, who started singing harmony when she was 3, is 9 now.

These days, they work together as Williamson Branch.

The new album, “Free,” features eight songs written by band members.

Two of the others are classics — Bill Monroe’s “Jerusalem Ridge” and Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin.”

Each member gets a turn at singing lead.

The title track is about a woman longing to be on the road, traveling somewhere.

“Old Man Hoback’s Farm” tells the story of a farm that’s been sold for a subdivision.

“Goodnight Angeline” is a remembered lullaby from childhood.

“I’m Gonna Move” is uptempo gospel.

“This Song’s For You” finds a woman apologizing in song to a man whose heart she broke.

“My Heart Is Set on Tennessee” finds a woman longing to go home.

“More Than Ever” is a love song duet by Kevin and Debbie.

The final track asks, “If God Doesn’t Bless America,” then who will.

A good album — but bluegrass purists will have to overlook the drums, piano and electric bass.

Look for it at




NEWTOWN, “Old World,” Mountain Home. 10 tracks

August 6, 2018

Lexington, Kentucky-based NewTown will be celebrating its 10th anniversary next year.

It was born in 2009 when banjoman Junior Williams left NewFound Road to team with his wife, fiddler Kati Penn, to create NewTown, a band that describes itself as “playing traditional bluegrass with a newgrass attitude.”

Aaron Ramsey on guitar, Mitchell Cannon on mandolin and Travis Anderson on bass round out the band today.

The new album, “Old World,” continues to push boundaries.

“Naomi Wise,” a modern murder ballad duet with Williams and Penn, and “Heart of Stone,” a song about a woman who’ll give her body but not her heart to a man, have already been released as successful singles.

“Evangeline” finds a man broken by the death of the woman he loves.

“Laura Lee,” a song about a man leaving Liverpool, England, to sail around the world and hoping the woman he loves will wait for him, sounds like an old English folk song. But it’s new.

“The Harvest” finds a man who’s turned to crime explaining that it was because his crops failed and his baby needed food.

In “Never Miss The Sun,” Penn sings about being so miserable that she wouldn’t even miss the sun if it failed to shine.

Look for it Aug. 17 or pre-order now at