Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

TAMMY JONES ROBINETTE & THE DRIVE, “Tammy Jones Robinette & The Drive,” Rural Rhythm. 12 tracks

November 16, 2015

Tammy Jones Robinette started singing when she was 8 years old, at revivals and church services across Ohio and Kentucky.

And she sang with her family on her grandfather’s religious radio program.

Robinette and her three siblings performed at The Jones Family for 12 years.

Then, she made her mark in Nashville as a writer of gospel songs, scoring 26 hits.

Now, Robinette is branching out into bluegrass with a new self-titled album on Rural Rhythm Records.

She wrote four of the songs.

“Be A Kid Again,” the first single off the album, is an uptempo journey down memory lane to childhood.

“The Letter,” a ballad, is about a box filled with letters from a dead son.

“Pages of Time” tells the story of an old mountain cabin where the singer grew up and the parents who are now gone.

“The Colors That Never Ran” is a song about the flag and the men and women who defend it.

“The Man In Those Shoes” is a tribute to working men.

As you would expect from a singer with a background in gospel, there’s a lot of bluegrass gospel on the album —  “I Think I’ll Let You Drive,” “I’ve Got To Work On The Ark,” “There’s A Record Book,” “Mama’s In The Sweet By & By,” “My Rock,” “Love God” and “Oh I Want To See Him.”

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UNSPOKEN TRADITION, ” Miles Between,” Crossroads. 10 tracks

November 9, 2015

Unspoken Tradition describes itself as “five working-class guys from North Carolina” who got together in 2013 to play bluegrass.

The three founding members — Lee Shuford and Audie and Zane McGinnis — got together at  picking sessions. And within a year, they were joined by Ty Gilpin and Tim Gardner.

Band members describe their sound as “working-class bluegrass.”

“Miles Between” is the band’s second album.

And like the first, “Simple Little Town,” it’s mostly originals.

The two exceptions are the uptempo “Point of Rocks Station” and “One Mule Plow,” a song about a man working a rocky farm with a mule, hoping the plow doesn’t break and the mule doesn’t die.

“The Bullet” tells the story of violence from the standpoint of a bullet.

In “Been In Love Before,” the singer knows all that can go wrong in a relationship, but he’s still willing to try again.

The title cut, “Miles Between Them,” is about a couple that can’t seem to work out their problems.

“Rivers That I’ve Crossed” is about the 10th anniversary of the death of a woman who drowned in a wreck.

“Losers Like Me” is a ballad about a man killing pain with beer and cigarettes.

“Rattlesnake Run” is a hard-driving instrumental.

“One More Drink” finds a man unable to face his wife because he can’t stop drinking.

“Who Will Sing” sounds like a gospel quartet, but it’s about bluegrass and who will continue to sing the old songs.

Good album by a good band.

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SHOTGUN HOLLER, “Loaded,” Dry Lightning Records. 11 tracks

October 12, 2015

Publicity for Shotgun Holler’s debut album uses words like “alternative edge” and “cutting edge.”

But don’t let that throw you.

This is bluegrass.

And it’s good.

Shawn Brock and Matt Jones formed the band in February 2014 with Nathan Treadway and Rod Lunger.

The idea, Brock said, was to create a band with its own sound.

That sound is a cross between classic country and bluegrass.

Jones, formerly with Blue & Lonesome and the Wildwood Valley Boys, is a strong lead singer.

“Out in the Parkin’ Lot,” the first single, is a Guy Clark-Darrell Scott song about people having fun, hanging out in the parking lot listening to the band playing inside a club.

“I Hope Heaven Has A Holler” is a ballad that finds a man hoping that heaven has mountains, woods and a holler so his father will be happy there.

“Clovis Johnson’s Old Red GMC” finds a boy romancing a moonshiner’s daughter and fearing for his life if her father catches them.

“This Side of the Grass” is about a man sitting beside his wife’s grave, telling her about what’s happening with the kids.

“Miner’s Grave” is an uptempo song about a coal miner working his way to an early grave.

“One Lone Tree” finds a man living the fast life in Detroit, thinking about the tree that stands by his mother’s grave and remembering the things she tried to tell him.

And “I Should Have Started Yesterday” is a song about making amends.

Good debut album from a band with a lot of potential.

DONNA ULISSE, “Hard Cry Moon,” Hadley Music Group. 12 tracks

September 28, 2015

Donna Ulisse headed for the bright lights of Nashville in the 1980s, determined to be a country singer.

She quickly found work as a demo singer and was signed by Atlantic Nashville.

In 1991, the label released her first CD, “Trouble at the Door,” which produced two videos and three singles before disappearing.

But Ulisse came home to bluegrass nearly a decade ago, recast as a “bluegrass poet” who performs “bluegrass without borders.”

And she’s been making some great music ever since.

Ulisse is primarily a singer-songwriter.

Her CDs showcase songs she has written.

And “Hard Cry Moon” is no exception.

The only song Ulisse didn’t write was “Whispering Pines,” a 1959 country hit by Johnny Horton.

Two songs honor her grandfathers — “Workin’ On The C&O” is about Lloyd Porter Butler, her mother’s father’s, life on the railroad and “Papa’s Garden” is about the garden of her father’s father, Carmine Ulisse.

The first single, “It Could Have Been The Mandolin” is about falling in love sitting in the back seat of a Cadillac listening to Bill Monroe on the radio.

“The River’s Runnin’ Free” finds the singer stumbling upon a neighbor acting strange beside the river with blood on his clothes. And where’s his wife been lately?

“Black Train” is a hard-driving song about a woman who is determined to move on and leave her current life behind.

The title track is about a long, lonesome night of missing someone.

“We’re Gonna Find A Preacher” is about a girl on her way to marry a Delta boy that no one trusts.

“I’ll Sleep In Peace At Night” is about having a chance every day to make things right so you can sleep peacefully at night.

Good album by a good singer-songwriter.

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THE COX FAMILY, “Gone Like The Cotton,” Rounder/Warner Nashville/Asylum, 12 tracks

September 14, 2015

The Cox Family from Cotton Valley, Louisiana, burst on the national scene in the early 1990s and quickly became one of the top bluegrass acts in the country.

Their sibling harmonies caught music lovers ears.

Of course, it helped that Alison Krauss, the reigning queen of bluegrass at the time, introduced them to the national scene.

The Cox Family won a Grammy, were soon touring with the rock band Counting Crows and headlining festivals across the country.

They signed with Asylum Records, a Nashville-based Americana label.

And it seemed like they were on their way.

But as quickly as they appeared, the Cox Family seemed to disappear.

In 1998, the family band was recording the album that became “Gone Like The Cotton.”

But changes in management at their label found the Cox Family without a contract.

In 2000, they did record on the soundtrack of “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?,” a mega hit.

But on July 4 that year, Willard and Marie Cox — the parents in the family band — were driving near their home when their car was struck in the rear by a logging truck.

Willard was paralyzed from the waist down and could no longer perform.

Marie recovered but was soon diagnosed with breast cancer, which took her life in 2009.

The siblings — Sidney, Suzanne and Evelyn — “went back to civilian-type life,” although there were occasional performances and some touring.

But people in the record industry never forgot the album that lay unfinished in Nashville.

And finally, in April, the Cox Family returned to the studio to finish it — after 17 years.

It was definitely worth waiting for.

Willard Cox’s vocals from 1998 are featured on “I’ll Get Over You,” a previous hit by Crystal Gayle; the Louvin Brothers‘ “Cash on the Barrelhead” and the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers‘ “Honky Tonk Blues.”

There’s a lot of heartache — “Good Imitation of the Blues,” “Lost Without Your Love,” “Desire,” and “Too Far Gone,” which was written by Sidney and Suzanne Cox.

The title track, also written by Sidney and Suzanne, is a tribute to their parents and grandparents.

Another great album by a great band that’s been out of the spotlight for far too long.

Look for it Oct. 23.

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FLATT LONESOME, “Runaway Train,” Mountain Home. 12 tracks.

September 8, 2015

Flatt Lonesome is a band on the move.

It won’t celebrate its fifth anniversary until early 2016.

But the band was named emerging artist of the year for 2014 by the International Bluegrass Music Association.

And on Oct. 2, Flatt Lonesome’s third studio album, “Runaway Train,” hits stores and websites.

The band’s roots go back several years to the day the Rev. Dolton Robertson and his wife, Lisa, created a family bluegrass gospel band called Sandy Creek Revival with their children Kelsi, Buddy and Charli.

As they got older, the Robertson children decided to make bluegrass a full-time occupation and formed Flatt Lonesome with friends Dominic Illingworth, Michael Stockton and Paul Harrigill.

Harrigill and Kelsi Robertson married in 2012.

Today, the Robertson siblings share lead vocal duties and create a strong harmony sound.

“Runaway Train” is a mixture of gospel, traditional and progressive bluegrass.

Songs come from the likes of Gram Parsons (“Still Feeling Blue”), Dwight Yoakam (“You’re The One”), David and Don Parmley (“Don’t Come Running”) and Tommy Collins and Merle Haggard (“Mixed Up Mess of A Heart”).

But there’s a lot of original material on here too.

The Harrigills wrote or co-wrote six of the tracks — “You’ll Pay,” “In The Heat of the Fire,” “In The Morning,” “Road to Nottingham,” “Casting All Your Care on Him” and “Letting Go.”

Dolton Robertson contributed “New Lease On Life.”

Like the title track implies, Flatt Lonesome is on a fast track in bluegrass these days.

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THE TENNESSEE MAFIA JUG BAND, “Lester’s Lofain’ Lounge,” no label. 15 tracks

August 10, 2015

It’s been almost a dozen years since The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band released “Barnyard Frolic,” an album that garnered a lot of attention from people who like their music a tad on the raw side.

“Lester’s Loafin’ Lounge,” the band’s fifth album, is dedicated to the memory of the Jug Band’s founder, “Lonesome” Lester Armistead, who died of cancer last year at age 71.

His Loafin’ Lounge is a former general store in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, where country and bluegrass legends and just regular folks have been jamming for decades.

Be advised though that there are no jugs listed among the instruments on the album.

There’s knee slapping, maracas, a washboard, eefin’, a ukulele, drums, piano, steel guitar, guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, Dobro and bass.

But no jugs.

Band members are Mike Armistead, Leroy Troy, Dan Kelly, Mike Webb and Ernie Sykes.

Webb wrote three songs for the album — the title track, “Hillbilly Logic” and “Wood and Strings,” a song about a guitar.

Most of the material dates back to the heyday of traditional country music — “I’m My Own Grandpa” was a 1947 hit by Lonzo & Oscar; “Bridge Washed Out” was a 1965 hit by Warner Mack; “Count Me Out” was a 1966 hit by Marty Robbins; and “Mansion On A Hill” was a 1948 hit by Hank Williams.

“Grey Eagle” and “Trombone Rag” are traditional numbers.

Until the 1950s, country, folk, western, bluegrass and any number subgenres of the music were all lumped under the “hillbilly” label.

But people like Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe and Ernest Tubb considered the label demeaning and fought for more politically correct names for their sounds.

Today, though, a new generation is returning to its roots with pride in the word “hillbilly.”

And that’s what this is — roots music with no borders.

It’s a little bit of everything.

And it’s good.

You can tell these guys are having fun.

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