THE FARM HANDS, “Colors,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks

Posted July 3, 2017 by klawrence
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The Farm Hands have been traveling the bluegrass circuit for seven years now.

And they’re starting to get the kind of attention they deserve.

Tim Graves, Daryl Mosley, Keith Tew and Don Hill have all had success on their own and it’s translating into success for the group.

“Colors,” the new album on the Pinecastle label, features a good collection of traditional bluegrass and bluegrass gospel songs from a band with three lead singers.

The title track is a patriotic song about the colors of the military as well as the red, white and blue of the flag.

“Rural Route” and “His Old Fiddle” are both filled with nostalgia for the country life.

There’s a good bluegrass version of Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons‘ “Sin City,” originally recorded 41 years ago by the Flying Burrito Brothers.

And they turn “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy Anymore,” the old Loretta Lynn country classic, into a good bluegrass song.

Tew’s “The Old 109” is a ballad about a train wreck on a cold winter night.

There’s a bluegrass version of Bob Dylan‘s “Nashville Skyline Rag.”

The album also features a collection of good bluegrass gospel — “The Four of Us,” “The Bible In The Drawer,” “Crying for Crumbs,” “I’m Going Home” and “Anywhere Is Home.”

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EDDY RAVEN with CAROLINA ROAD, “All Grassed Up,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks

Posted June 26, 2017 by klawrence
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Edward Futch, better known to country music fans as Eddy Raven, cut his first record in 1962.

He went on to rack up more than 35 hits on the country charts between 1974 and 1990.

Now, at 72, Raven is trying his hand at bluegrass with “All Grassed Up,” an album with Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road.

The songs are, for the most part, classic Eddy Raven country with a bluegrass beat.

There’s “Thank God For Kids,” the song he wrote for the Oak Ridge Boys.

And there are the Raven hits of yesteryear — “Bayou Boys,” “I Should Have Called,” “I Got Mexico,” “Who Do You Know In California,” “Operator Operator,” “Island” and “Sooner or Later.”

There’s also a Raven song, “Good Morning Country Rain,” that’s been recorded by several bluegrass artists.

There’s a bluegrass chestnut, “Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms.”

The title cut is a new song written by Raven and David Stewart.

Stewart also wrote the song, “Too Wet To Plow.”

Jordan and Carolina Road give the album the bluegrass licks it needs.

If you’re an Eddy Raven fan, you’ll want this album.

If you’re not familiar with his work, check it out.

Look for it July 21 on


LONESOME RIVER BAND, “Mayhayley’s House,” Mountain Home. 13 tracks

Posted June 19, 2017 by klawrence
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The Lonesome River Band has come a long way since its formation in 1982 — and seen a lot of personnel changes.

But the banjo of Sammy Shelor has defined the band’s sound for its entire 35-year history.

And despite the occasional drums and pianos in its albums, the band’s sound is still mostly traditional.

The new album, “Mayhayley’s House,” takes its title from a song about Amanda Mayhayley Lancaster, a self-proclaimed oracle, lawyer and farmer who died in 1955.

“Old Coyote Town,” a country hit for Don Williams in 1989, tells the story of an old man who’s settled into a Texas town that’s slowly dying.

“Hickory Holler Times and County News” finds a man looking through his hometown weekly newspaper for a picture of a friend, only to discover that it’s a picture of the guy’s wedding to the singer’s high school flame.

“Blackbirds and Crows” is a murder ballad about a man who kills his wife before she can leave him.

“Wrong Road Again,” a country hit for Crystal Gayle in 1974, gets a bluegrass treatment here.

“As Lonesome As I Am” finds the singer still believing that love will someday find him.

“Diggin’ ” tells the story of a man fighting to keep his head above water financially.

“It Feels Real Good Goin’ Down” finds a man drinking wine and trying to forget a woman.

It’s another good album by a band that’s had a lot of success since Ronald Reagan was in his first term in the White House.

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RESCUE ME, “A Cause for Paws,” Blue Night Records, 12 tracks.

Posted April 10, 2017 by klawrence
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This isn’t bluegrass, but it is acoustic music.

And most bluegrass fans like dogs and cats.

“A Cause for Paws” is a national fundraiser for animal rescue organizations.

And it’s being released on  April 30 — National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day.

There are six songs about cats and six about dogs.

Mary Ann Kennedy‘s “Barn Cat” is an ode to a mouse-catching feline.

Kathy Chiavola’s “Possum and Pearl” is about two pets hoping to be rescued.

Cindy Mangsen‘s “Our Cats” is a finger-snapping a capella song about three cats.

In “Get A Dog,” Annie Lalley tells a lover that he’s not ready for a woman, he needs a dog.

Heidi Muller‘s “My Old Cat” salutes her best friend.

And Mark Weems “My Best Friend” tells about the relationship from the dog’s point of view.

“Kitty Kitty” by Ashley Jo Farmer is about a cat that doesn’t have time for a human.

Friction Farm’s “Why, Why, Why” is about people and their dogs.

“Cattitude” by Effron White is about hanging out with a cat who knows where it’s at.

Jamie Anderson‘s “I Miss The Dog” is about the aftermath of a relationship where she finds that she misses the dog more than the man.

“The Best Dog” by Amy White finds the singer walking with her dog on a fall day.

And “The Kitty Ditty” by Joel Mabus is a jazzy tune about two cats.

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FRONT COUNTRY, “Other Love Songs,” Organic Records. 12 tracks.

Posted April 3, 2017 by klawrence
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Front Country’s roots date back a few years to progressive bluegrass jam sessions in San Francisco’s Mission District.

But the quintet’s musical journey has stretched well beyond bluegrass today.

In fact, the band calls “Other Love Songs,” its sophomore album, its “roots pop opus.”

The closest thing to bluegrass on the album is David Olney‘s “Millionaire,” with its banjo lead.

The Carter Family‘s “Storms Are On The Ocean” becomes a “swampy blues-rock” number in Front Country’s reimagining.

And it works.

It’s a good album.

It’s just not bluegrass.

Melody Walker, the lead singer, wrote eight of the songs.

Adam Roszkiewicz, the banjo and mandolin player, wrote both instrumentals — “Sometimes It Does” and “The Humpback and The Sloth.”

Walker is a good lycirist.

On “If Something Breaks,” she sings, “We can love like a well-oiled machine/we can love like something your mama never seen/even in her dreams.”

On “Lonesome Town,” she sings about a place without even a liquor store and “gas pumps hanging by a busted screen door.”

“I Don’t Wanna Be Angry” finds her worrying that their fights will end their relationships.

“It hurts that I can’t control my words,” Walker sings. “And I can’t unhear all that I heard.”

“Other Love Songs” is a good album.

But if you like your bluegrass straight, it’s probably not for you.

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LAWSON & WILLIAMS, “Chapter 3,” Mountain Home. 12 tracks.

Posted March 27, 2017 by klawrence
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In 2010, Doyle Lawson, Paul Williams and J.D. Crowe got together to pay tribute to their old boss, Jimmy Martin, with an album of gospel songs from Martin’s repertorie.

They called it, “Old Friends Get Together.”

It was so successful that they returned in 2014 with “Standing Tall and Tough.”

Since then, Crowe has retired, but Lawson and Williams have created “Chapter 3” — their third musical outing together.

It’s a collection of traditional country, bluegrass and bluegrass gospel songs.

There’s the Delmore Brothers’ “I’m Sorry I Caused You To Cry,” the Bailes Brothers‘ “I Want To Be Loved, But Only By You” and the Louvin Brothers‘ “I Feel Better Now.”

Williams wrote “Abigail,” “I’m Getting Over You” and “What Am I  Gonna Do With This Broken Heart.”

From the country side, there’s Dolly Parton‘s “Til Death Do Us Part,” Justin Tubb‘s “Big Fool of the Year” and Buddy Starcher‘s “I’ll Still Write Your Name in the Sand.”

And from the gospel side, there’s “I’ll Make It Through,” “There’s Absolutely Nothing  My God Can’t Do” and “I Feel Better Now.”

These days, it’s sometimes hard to decide if what you’re listening to is really bluegrass.

You won’t have any problem with this album.

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FLASHBACK, “Foxhounds and Fiddles,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks.

Posted March 20, 2017 by klawrence
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In 1995, J.D. Crowe & the New South was nominated for a Grammy for their album, “Flashback.”

Twenty years later, the four members of the New South — Richard Bennett, Curt Chapman, Don Rigsby and Phil Leadbetter — got back together for a reunion show.

And now, taking the name of that album as the name for the band, the four — along with Stuart Wyrick taking Crowe’s banjo post — have released their first album.

This is actually the second band made up of Crowe alumni.

Wildfire was the first in 2002.

Flashback has a traditional sound, as you would expect.

Bennett and Rigsby wrote the title track, an uptempo song about a man returning to the mountains after his wife dies.

And Bennett co-wrote four other tracks — “Two Rivers,” “Camp Forest,” “Georgia Backroads” and “The Hag Song.”

The latter — a tribute to the late Merle Haggard — is one that Haggard fans will want to hear.

In a nod to the roots of bluegrass, the album includes Carter Stanley‘s “You’re Still To Blame” and Charlie and Ira Louvin‘s “Let Us Travel, Travel On.”

Great album by a band that sounds as good as or maybe better than it did 20 years ago.

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