Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

STEVE GULLEY & NEW PINNACLE, “Aim High,” Rural Rhythm. 12 tracks.

July 18, 2016


Steve Gulley has been around the bluegrass block a few times.

He spent 16 years at historic Renfro Valley as a performer, music director, studio manager and producer.

From there, Gulley spent a couple of years with Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.

Then, he became a founding member of Mountain Heart, went on to Grasstowne and spent a couple of years working with Dale Ann Bradley.

Last year, he formed New Pinnacle and went on his own.

The band’s first album, which was self-titled, was well received.

And the new album, “Aim High,” should be as well.

Some bluegrass albums these days are more country or Americana than bluegrass.

But “Aim High” is unmistakenly — and unapologetically — bluegrass.

The title track, a hard-charging song about not being afraid to break the mold and take chances, has already topped the Bluegrass Today charts.

Gulley co-wrote three songs — “Deceitful Kind,” “Love Brings You Home” and “Short Life Full of Trouble.”

The first is an untempo murder ballad.

The second is a ballad about a man who’s been everywhere, but now love is calling him home.

The third is a ballad about a man who’s going in style — until he’s murdered.

“Not Now” is the story of a man who doesn’t have time for his wife and son — and then he’s shot and pleads for more time.

“Closer to the Shore” is pure mountain gospel.

“Common Man’s Train of Thought” is a song about politics and who’s going to represent the common people.

Another good album by a man who’s known for good albums.

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Keith Lawrence (270) 691-7301

DOYLE LAWSON & QUICKSILVER, “Burden Bearer,” Mountain Home. 20 tracks.

July 11, 2016


Doyle Lawson has been playing bluegrass professionally for 53 years, since he joined Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys as the banjo player in February 1963.

In 1966, he joined J.D. Crowe’s Kentucky Mountain Boys, playing guitar and mandolin.

Lawson was with the Country Gentlemen through most of the 1970s and then created his own band — now called Quicksilver — in 1979.

Today with upwards of 40 albums to their credit, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver have been named the International Bluegrass Music Association’s vocal group of the year seven times and were inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame in 2012.

They’ve also won numerous awards as gospel artists.

The new album, “Burden Bearer,” highlights the band’s gospel roots.

It’s a mixture of bluegrass and a capella gospel, evenly divided with 10 songs in each style.

There’s old material — “How Great Thou Art,” “God Gave Noah The Rainbow Sign,” “The Touch of His Gentle Hand.”

And new stuff — the title track and “Best Friends” among them.

But what it mostly is is good bluegrass gospel.

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 NEWTOWN, “Harlan Road,” Mountain Home. 11 tracks

July 5, 2016

Kati Penn-Williams started playing the fiddle when she was 10.

By the time she was 12, she was playing and singing with the Young Acoustic All-Stars, a band of teen-aged musicians.

Later, she became a member of the New Coon Creek Girls and continued through its transformation into the Dale Ann Bradley Band.

Since 2009, she’s headed NewTown, a Lexington, Ky.-based band, with her husband, Junior Williams, who honed his skills with NewFound Road.

They’re both good singers, giving the band more strength.

“Harlan Road,” the new album, is bluegrass infused with Americana, jazz, funk and a bit of rock.,

The title track, sung by Junior Williams, finds a lonely man waiting for his woman to come to him on a coal train.

His “Drifter Blues” tells the tale of a man who’s down on his luck and sinking lower every day.

And Williams’ “Hard Times” finds a man who’s desperate for a job turning to crime because “hell’s probably better than trying to get by.”

Kati Penn-Williams’ “All That I Can Take” finds a woman who’s given all she can and is hitting the road for a Mexican beach.

Her version of Lucinda Williams‘ “Can’t Let Go” rocks with as much country as bluegrass.

And “The Crows and the Jakes” finds her about to meet the hangman.

“Come Back To Me” is a duet that finds both singers wanting to reunite.

“Feast of the Gryphon,” written by Hayes Griffin, the band’s guitar player, is the album’s only instrumental.

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Keith Lawrence (270) 691-7301

EDGAR LOUDERMILK, “Georgia Maple,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks

June 27, 2016


Edgar Loudermilk has paid his dues — and then some.

He started playing bass in his family’s bluegrass band when he was 9 years old.

Eleven years later, Loudermilk joined Carolina Crossfire, a band with a large following in Georgia.

In 2001, he was hired by Rhonda Vincent for her band, The Rage.

A year later, Loudermilk joined Marty Raybon’s Full Circle, playing bass and singing tenor.

In 2007, he moved over to IIIrd Tyme Out, where he stayed until 2013, before deciding to work on a solo career.

“Georgia Maple,” Loudermilk’s latest Pinecastle release, finds him growing stronger as a solo artist.

He wrote or co-wrote eight of the 12 tracks, including the title song about a tree that has always been there on the family farm.

There’s a lot of nostalgia and longing on the album.

“My Kentucky Home” finds the singer visiting his childhood home, where only the barn remains.

“Homesick Blues” finds him on the road feeling bad and heading home.

“My Home In Caroline” finds the singer growing tired of rambling and heading back to the woman he loves.

And “This Letter” finds him writing the woman he loves to tell her he knows he treated her badly and wants to apologize.

“Harvest of My Heart” is about a farmer, giving thanks for his life as he plows his fields.

And Loudermilk turns Don Williams’ 1979 No. 1 country hit, “It Must Be Love,” into a bluegrass tune.

Good album.

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Keith Lawrence (270) 691-7301

THE FARM HANDS, “Dig In The Dirt,” Pinecastle, 12 tracks

June 20, 2016


The Farm Hands, a Nashville-based bluegrass band, first hit the road in 2010.

And the band has racked up a number of awards from the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America in the past six years.

They were named gospel group of the year and vocal group of the year by SPBGMA earlier this year and members also took home individual honors.

Last year, the Farm Hands was named entertainer of the year by the organization.

Band members wrote five of the 12 tracks on their new album, “Dig In The Dirt.”

Keith Tew, the guitar player, wrote the title cut about learning the value of work as a kid on a farm. “Praying’s not the only thing you do on your knees,” the song says.

He also wrote “It’s The Love,” an uptempo song about people who forget that love is what they need.

Daryl Mosley, the bass player, wrote “All The Way Home,” a song about overcoming fear, and “I Would,” a ballad about overcoming temptation.

And Tim Graves, the resophonic guitar player, wrote “Rezo Ride,” the album’s lone instrumental.

“Homefolks” is about a musician who left home seeking fame and fortune, but finds that he misses the folks back home.

“Mansion On Main” is a song about a street preacher.

And there are a couple of songs that have been around awhile — “Medals for Mothers” and Hank Williams‘ “I Saw The Light.”

Although she isn’t a member of the band, Kimberly Bibb adds some nice fiddle work to the mix.

Another good album by The Farm Hands.

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SISTER SADIE, “Sister Sadie,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks

June 13, 2016


Female supergroups have been rare in bluegrass music.

But Sister  Sadie is definitely a supergroup and it’s definitely female.

Dale Ann Bradley, Tina Adair, Deanie Richardson, Gena Britt and Beth Lawrence are all well known to bluegrass fans.

And Bradley is a five-time International Bluegrass Music Association female vocalist of the year.

Back in 2013, the women got together for a one-time performance at Nashville’s Station Inn.

It was so successful that they were invited to showcase at the IBMA convention in 2014 and they’ve been doing limited touring since then.

The name, by the way, comes from Tony Rice‘s “Little Sadie,” not the jazz song, “Sister Sadie.”

Now, Pinecastle has released Sister Sadie’s debut album.

The first single, “Unholy Water,” co-written by Richardson, is an uptempo song about moonshine, which “quenchs the thirst of the damned.”

There are two country classics — Carl & Pearl Butler‘s “Don’t Let Me Cross Over” from 1962 and Tanya Tucker‘s “Blood Red and Going Down” from 1973 — and a pop tune, The Carpenters “All I Can Do” from 1969.

Richardson wrote “Ava’s Fury,” the album’s only instrumental.

Adair wrote and sings, “Not This Time,” a song that says she won’t take him back again, and “Now Forever’s Gone,” another good-bye song.

Bradley makes the gospel “Look What I’m Trading For A Mansion” her own in a strong performance.

Adair gives another strong performance on Harley Allen‘s “Mama’s Room,” which is a “place of safety for a child.”

A strong album by five very talented women.

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ILYA TOSHINSKIY, “Red Grass,” Hadley Music Group, 10 tracks

June 6, 2016


In the late 1980s, a number of young Russian musicians began turning to bluegrass music as a form of rebellion during the upheaval that would eventually cause the Soviet Union to collapse.

Ilya Toshinskiy was studying classical music at the State College of Music and Stage Arts near Moscow when he formed the bluegrass band Bering Strait with some like-minded musicians and came to America to develop their talents.

He had discovered the banjo while studying classical guitar as a preteen.

But American banjos weren’t available.

And Toshinskiy had to make picks from plastic rulers and tin cans.

But he persisted

Toshinskiy was 14 when he first visited Nashville in 1992 during an event sponsored by the Tennessee Banjo Institute.

And today, he is one of the top session players in Music City, performing on albums by Blake Shelton, Marie Osmond, Toby Keith and Tim McGraw among others.

Although Toshinskiy is best known for his guitar work these days, the banjo is his first love.

And “Red Grass,” his latest album, features 10 of his original compositions for the banjo.

Toshinskiy is joined some of Nashville’s top musicians — Bryan Sutton, Andy Leftwich, Jerry Douglas, Byron House, Luke Bulla, Jake Stargel and Aubrey Haynie — on the album.

But “Swan Song,” the final number on the album, is just Toshinskiy and his banjo.

The way it began.

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