Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

SHANNON AND HEATHER SLAUGHTER, “Never Just A Song,” Elite Circuit Music. 14 tracks.

February 23, 2015

Shannon Slaughter has spent two decades in bluegrass including stints with Lost & Found, Larry Stephenson, Savannah Road, Melonie Cannon and the Lonesome River Band.

Heather Slaughter is a former member of Acoustic Rain.

Now, the husband-wife team are working together, making some very good bluegrass and traditional country music.

The title cut of their latest album, “Never Just A Song,” is a Tim Stafford-Pam Tillis tribute to the late Harley Allen, who died of lung cancer four years ago at age 55.

But the lyrics are more honest than flowery — “He gave Jim Beam a bad name before it put him in the grave.”

“Whiskey Colored Dreams” is stone country, the kind of song you might find on a jukebox that’s been in storage since the late 1950s or early 1960s. And it sounds great.

Between them, the Slaughters co-wrote eight of the tracks on the album.

“Back To Birmingham” is a song about returning to your roots.

“Company Town” is about life in a hard-scrabble mining town.

Feelin’ Better” is an old Hank Williams Jr. song about getting his life back together.

“Go Sin No More” is a gospel song about redemption.

Ridin’ The Lightin’, Ropin’ The Storm” is a western song about a man running from the law.

“The Best Thing We Ever Did” is a personal song about the Slaughters finding each other and having a baby. The baby, Rae Carroll Slaughter, makes her recording debut, cooing at the end of the song.

The Slaughters have a good sound and songs worth hearing more than once.

Can’t find it in stores? Try

THE GIBSON BROTHERS, “Brotherhood,” Rounder. 15 tracks.

February 16, 2015

Eric and Leigh Gibson, arguably the hottest brother act in bluegrass after winning the International Bluegrass Music Association’s entertainer of the year honors in both 2012 and 2013, celebrate some of the great brother acts in country, rock’n’roll and bluegrass music in their new album, “Brotherhood.”

The upstate New York natives cut their first album in 1993.

“Brotherhood” is album No. 12 and it’s one of their best.

Material ranges from “Eastbound Train,” written in the 1890s, to Tompall and the Glaser Brothers 1982 hit, “It’ll Be Her.”

The lineup includes the Monroe Brothers‘ “I Have Found The Way,” Phil and Don Everly‘s “Bye Bye Love” and “Crying In The Rain,” Charlie and Ira Louvin‘s “Seven Year Blues,” Jim and Jesse McReynolds‘ “Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes,” Carter and Ralph Stanley‘s “How Mountain Girls Can Love,” the Blue Sky Boys‘ “The Sweetest Gift,” the York Brothers‘ “Long Gone,” the Church Brothers‘ “Angel With Blue Eyes,” the Four Brothers Quartet‘s “What A Wonderful Savior Is He,” the Osborne Brothers “Each Season Changes You” and the Lilly Brothers, “I’m Troubled I’m Troubled.”

“Brotherhood” shows that the Gibsons are equal to the task of matching their harmonies with some of the best brother acts in music.

Can’t find it in stores? Try

DARIN & BROOKE ALDRIDGE, “Snapshots,” Mountain Home. 11 tracks.

February 9, 2015

“Snapshots” is husband-wife duo Darin and Brooke Aldridge‘s sixth album.

It’s also their best.

The North Carolina natives released their first album, an all-gospel collection, in 2008, a few months before they were married.

Darin worked his way up through the bluegrass ranks, including a stint with the Country Gentlemen.

Brooke’s background is primarily in gospel.

But through the years, the couple has carved out a niche as the “singing sweethearts” of bluegrass.

The 11 songs on the album mostly come from bands the couple has liked or been part of in the past.

It’s a pretty even mix of sacred and secular numbers.

Sam Bush joins the Aldridges on “Get Up John,” an uptempo gospel song written by Bill Monroe, Marty Stuart and Jerry Sullivan.

Fiddle great Bobby Hicks sits in on Monroe’s “My Rose of Old Kentucky.”

Doyle Lawson lends his talents to “Let’s,” a hard-driving love song written by Eddie Adcock.

And Ricky Skaggs adds his harmonies to the gospel song, “When He Calls.”

Other songs include the Everly Brothers‘ “Let It Be Me,” Johnny Cash‘s “Tennessee Flat Top Box,” Dave Macon‘s “Wait Til The Clouds Roll By,” Gillian Welch‘s “Annabelle” and “Will You Be Ready,” written by Darin Aldridge and Bobby Jones.

Can’t find it in stores? Try

Keith Lawrence, 691-7301,

VOLUME FIVE, “Voices,” Mountain Fever. 12 tracks

February 2, 2015

Volume Five isn’t exactly a household name yet.

But give the band time. It’s only been around seven years.

And with an album like “Voices,” it’s going to get a lot more attention this year.

“Crazy Night,” the first single off the album, is more than a little weird (especially for bluegrass), with a man waking up chained to a bed, hearing voices and fearing for his life.

There’s plenty of darkness in the album.

But darkness has always been a key element in bluegrass.

There’s “King of California” about a man who strikes it rich in the California gold fields. only to lie dying with a bullet in his chest.

There’s “Going Across The Mountain,” which finds a man who’s trapped in a hollow and shot, while trying to reach the woman he loves on the other side of the mountain.

There’s “Satan’s Ridge,” about a man who’s searching a forest for the woman he loves but finding only blood on the ground.

And then there’s “Faithfully,” about a preacher who kills a man for stealing his wife.

But it’s not all darkness.

“Dream Softly” finds a man driving through the night with the woman he loves.

“Strangest Dream” is about a man who finds heaven in his dreams.

“Colder and Colder” is about a man who’s been on the road for 11 years. But he would stop if he could find the woman who left because he was never there.

And then there’s a great version of “Daddy Was An Ole Time Preacher Man” with Rhonda Vincent.

A good album that’s sure to get a lot of attention.

Can’t find it in stores? Try

BLUE MAFIA, “Pray For Rain,” Pinecastle. 13 tracks

January 26, 2015

Blue Mafia is a fairly new band, formed in 2011 in Muncie, Indiana, by Tony and Dara Wray.

But its members have spent years in other bands before becoming part of the Mafia.

“Pray For Rain,” their second album, goes on sale Feb. 10.

Dara Wray wrote three of the songs — “One Bad Day,” about a man who is one bad day away from prison; “Consider It Goodbye,” about a man who is leaving and a woman who just doesn’t care anymore; and the title track.

There’s a Tom T. and Dixie Hall song, “I Didn’t See It Coming,” about a woman who didn’t expect to lose the man she loves.

There’s a Peter Rowan song, “Moonshiner.”

And there are a couple of Ralph Stanley songs — “East Virginia Blues” and “I’m Lonesome Without You.”

There are a couple of gospel songs — “Had To Be Crippled” and “He’s In Control.”

There’s an instrumental — “Backtrail” — written by Cody Looper, the band’s banjo player.

And there’s a bluegrass version of an old pop song — “Born to Be With You” — that went to No. 5 on the pop charts for The Chordettes in 1956 and became a No. 1 country hit for Sonny James in 1968.

Good album.

Can’t find it in stores? Try

THE FARM HANDS, “Better Than I Deserve,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks

January 19, 2015

These days, it seems like more and more bluegrass bands are calling themselves “acoustic music” groups and moving away from the traditional sounds of bluegrass.

But the Nashville-based Farm Hands quartet still leans heavily toward nostalgic songs with a rural flavor.

“Better Than I Deserve,” the band’s latest album, features a lot of nostalgia for a simpler time with plenty of patriotic and gospel music.

The title track is a (mostly) a capella gospel song, written by Daryl Mosley, the band’s bass player.

He also wrote “The Way That I Was Raised,” an uptempo song about having manners, patriotism and doing what’s right.

Keith Tew, the guitar player, wrote “Mama Prayed and Daddy Plowed,” an uptempo song about religion and hard work.

Bennie Boling, the banjo player, wrote “Farm Country,” an uptempo instrumental, and co-wrote “He’s Got An Answer For Everything,” a gospel ballad.

“The Way it Was in ’51,” one of Merle Haggard‘s lesser known songs, is about the early ’50s, when Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams topped the country charts and the war in Korea was beginning.

“This Old Gravel Road” is about a man who has traveled the world but finds that the gravel road that leads to his boyhood home is the best place in the world.

Jerry Reed‘s “Talk About the Good Times” is another uptempo nostalgia number.

“From Your Knees” is about a man who has destroyed his home with drinking and cheating.

“Blood on the Moon” is an end-times gospel number.

“Over in the Gloryland” and “Streets of Gold” are traditional gospel songs.

Three of the four band members — Tim Graves, Tew and Mosley — are vocalists, giving the band three lead singers.

Can’t find it in stores? Try

Keith Lawrence, 691-7301,

RALPH STANLEY & FRIENDS, “Man of Constant Sorrow,” Cracker Barrel. 13 tracks.

January 12, 2015

There are few accolades left to bestow on bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley as he approaches his 88th birthday in February.

After a stint in the U.S. Army, Stanley joined his older brother, Carter, to form the Clinch Mountain Boys in 1946.

That means he’s approaching his 69th anniversary in music.

He’s won three Grammy awards, been inducted into the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame and received the National Heritage Award, the Living Legend Award from the Library of Congress and the National Medal of Arts.

But Cracker Barrel records has found a new way to honor Stanley with a new duets album feature Stanley performing with other artists who are long-time fans.

The list includes Robert Plant joining Stanley on the gospel classic, “Two Coats,” and Elvis Costello singing “Red Wicked Wine” with Stanley.

The other artists are from the country and bluegrass side of the music spectrum.

Josh Turner joins Stanley on an outstanding version of “We Shall Rise,” Dirks Bentley lends his vocals to “I Only Exist” and Lee Ann Womack is featured on “White Dove.”

Other artists include Ricky Skaggs on “We’ll Be Sweethearts in Heaven,” Nathan Stanley (Ralph’s grandson) on “Rank Stranger,” Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale on “I Am The Man, Thomas,” Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings on “Pig in a Pen,” Del McCoury on “Brand New Tennessee Waltz” and Old Crow Medicine Show on “Short Life of Trouble.”

Stanley solos on “Hills of Home,” a recitation he wrote about his brother, Carter, who died in 1966 at age 41, and the classic, “Man of Constant Sorrow.”

A great album — one that Stanley fans will definitely want.

Keith Lawrence, 691-7301,


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.