Posted tagged ‘bluegrass’

WILSON BANJO CO., “Spirits in the Hills,” Bonfire. 14 tracks

November 27, 2017

 

Steve Wilson, banjo player and banjo builder, waited until his kids were grown to hit the bluegrass circuit with his own band.

Now, he’s making up for lost time.

“Spirits in the Hills” is the band’s first album, but it won’t be the last.

The title track is a spooky tale of a man with a hook for a hand who gives the singer a drink of moonshine and owns his soul.

“Shiner’s Mountain” is also about moonshiners in the hills and how you don’t want to be mistaken for a revenue agent.

“Forty Years of Trouble” is a hard-driving tale of a man who’s spent long years in prison and is longing to meet the son he’s never seen.

There are a couple of country songs — “Catfish John,” a 1972 hit for Johnny Russell, and “Carolina in the Pines,” a song Michael Martin Murphey released in both 1975 and 1985.

“Her Sunday Best” is about a woman whose Sunday best doesn’t mean her clothes. It means the way she’s lived her life.

“Railroad Man” tells the story of a man whose love life is going through a train wreck.

And there are a couple of gospel songs — “When He Reached Down His Hand” and “Ain’t No Grave.”

Band members include Sarah Logan, the fiddle player who sings lead on five tracks; Joey Newton, who plays guitar, banjo and fiddle and sings lead on two tracks; Dylan Armour, the Dobro player who sings lead on one track; Brandon Couch, who plays mandolin and sings lead on four tracks; and Rob Walker on bass.

Can’t find it in stores? Try https://www.wilsonbanjo.com/store.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

BRAD HUDSON, “Next New Heartache,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks

November 20, 2017

 

Brad Hudson was one of those child prodigies in bluegrass, picking and singing from a young age.

He’s worked at Dollywood — Dolly Parton‘s theme park — and in the bands of Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road and Jeff & Sheri Easter.

Now, he’s the lead singer and Dobro player in the band Sideline.

And Hudson has recorded his first solo album for Pinecastle — “Next New Heartbreak.”

It kicks off with “Ramblers Song,”  a hard-driving song about a man who proclaims that he’ll never settle down and likes to move from town to town.

Dolly Parton joins Hudson on her “Appalachian Memories,” a song about Southern people going north in search of the Promised Land — but never finding it.

“I Wonder What You See In Your Dreams” has a similar theme — a man watching the woman he loves go to the city to marry someone else.

The title track finds the singer hurting and waiting to be hurt again.

“Truckers Blues” finds a truck driver missing his wife and waiting for a chance to stop to eat and call her.

“Smoky Mountain Strong” is a tribute to the area devastated by a forest fire in 2016.

“The Day My Daddy Cried” is a song about a man who never cried — until the day his wife died.

Loretta Lynn’s “World of Forgotten People” is a ballad about people who are lonely and hurting.

Jeff & Sheri Easter and Hudson’s grandmother, Betty Swinson, join him on the gospel song, “Beulah Land.”

And there are a couple of instrumentals — “Hugging The Hound” and “My One And Only (Crystal’s Song),” the latter written by Hudson for his wife.

Can’t find it in stores? Try www.bradhudsonmusic.com/store.

REMINGTON RYDE, “A Storyteller’s Memory,” Pinecastle. 11 tracks.

November 13, 2017

 

James King was known as “The Bluegrass Storyteller” and the “King of Mountain Soul.”

But his voice was silenced on May 19, 2016, when he died way too young at 57.

Remington Ryde, a 12-year-old Pennsylvania-based bluegrass band, remembers King with its first release on Pinecastle Records, “A Storyteller’s Memory.”

The album features nine songs from King’s repertoire; a tribute song, “Mr. King,” written by the band’s founder, Ryan Frankhouser; and a 1989 track of King singing, “It’s A Cold, Cold World,” a song he wrote.

“Bed By The Window,” one of King’s better known songs, is a story song about two old men in a nursing home and the difference between optimism and pessimism.

“Days of Gray  & Black” is a hard-charging song about winter coming and a man missing a woman.

“Crazy Heart” is an uptempo song about a woman changing like the weather and driving a man insane.

Chris Stapleton’s “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore” is about a man who prayed constantly — until the day he died.

“Thirty Years of Farmin'” finds a family farm being foreclosed on with an auction coming soon.

“Leavin'” is another hard-charging song about a man who’s been put down by his woman and has decided to hit the road.

Hazel Dickens‘ “A Few Old Memories” is a ballad about memories of an old love that creep into his mind from time to time.

“Old Swinging Bridge” is an uptempo song about memories of an old love and things they used to do.

If you’re a James King fan, you’ll want to hear this.

Can’t find it in stores? Try http://www.RemingtonRyde.com

BALSAM RANGE, “It’s Christmas Time,” Mountain Home. Six tracks

November 6, 2017

There’s no doubt that “It’s Christmas Time” is a Christmas EP — six songs rather than a dozen.

But is it bluegrass?

That’s something the purists and the progressives can debate this holiday season.

Violins, violas, saxophones and cellos are not normally heard on bluegrass albums.

And the Nashville Recording Orchestra doesn’t usually perform on bluegrass CDs.

But if you’re broadminded about your bluegrass, this is a Christmas album you might want to consider.

It opens with Doc Watson‘s “Christmas Lullaby” and closes with an instrumental version of “Jingle Bells.”

“The First Noel,” a Christmas classic that dates back to at least 1823, features the band’s classic three-part harmony.

“Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” a 1958 megahit by Brenda Lee, features a saxophone in a nod to the late Boots Randolph.

The Stanley Brothers‘ “I’m Going Home, It’s Christmas Time” is the EP’s only song done in traditional bluegrass style.

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” which dates back to at least 1739, does include a banjo and mandolin.

The North Carolina-based band is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2017.

Can’t find the album in stores? Try https://balsamrange.com/store/

 

GINA CLOWES, “True Colors,” Mountain Home. 12 tracks

October 16, 2017

Gina Clowes picked up a banjo for the first time when she was 11.

A year later, she was taking lessons from acclaimed bluegrass banjo player Murphy Henry.

By her late teens, Clowes was playing professionally with such bands as Blue Light Special, New Girls Night Out, Nash Street and On The Run.

After time out to start a family, she’s been playing banjo with Chris Jones and the Night Drivers for almost two years.

“True Colors” is a collection of 11 songs she wrote plus Nina Simone‘s “Beautiful Land.”

The title track is a bouncy love song, a tribute to her husband.

“Puppet Show” is about a woman in a controlling relationship who cuts her strings and leaves.

“Saylor’s Creek” is an instrumental that was inspired by a Civil War battle.

“Looking For Sunshine,” with vocals by her sister, Malia Furtado, finds a woman looking for a friend to help her heart mend.

“For Better or Worse,” with vocals by Heather Berry Mabe, is about a woman who sticks by her abusive husband because she promised to stay with him for better or worse. Then, he dies and she finds happiness.

Scott Bannon sings lead on “Good Old Fashioned Heartbreak,” a song about, well, heartbreak.

“I’ll Stay Home” finds a woman telling her musician lover to go back on the road and she’ll wait for him at home.

“Goodbye, Lianne” is a fiddle tune; “Wayward Kite” is classical; and “La Puerta del Diablo” — “The Devil’s Door” — is a gypsy jazz style.

Good album.

Can’t find it in stores? Try http://mountainhomemusiccompany.com/project/gina-clowes-releases/

 

STEVE GULLEY & NEW PINNACLE, “Time Won’t Wait,” Rural Rhythm. 12 tracks

October 9, 2017

Steve Gulley, a second-generation bluegrass musician, has been around the block a time or two.

He spent two years with Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, moved on to Mountain Heart, then Grasstowne and finally worked with Dale Ann Bradley before launching New Pinnacle in 2015.

“Time Won’t Wait” is the group’s third album.

“Drowned in Sorrow,” the first single off the album, is a hard-driving song about lost love.

The title track says, “Time is not your friend.”

Gulley wrote or co-wrote five of the songs, including those two, and “You’ll Cry For Me,” a song that says she doesn’t want him now but she will when he’s gone; “You Can’t Help Who You Love,” a song about life’s choices; and “Leaving Sounds Pretty Good To Me,” a song that finds her begging him to stay, but him thinking that leaving sounds better every day.

Like most bluegrass albums these days, “Time Won’t Wait” features a traditional country song — Ronnie Milsap‘s 1976 country classic, “I Can Almost See Houston From Here.”

“The Road Back To You” finds a man at life’s crossroads, deciding to turn around and go home.

“I’m All Right” is about a trucker hitting the road and missing his family and home.

Jim & Jesse McReynolds’ “Congratulations Anyway” is about a man meeting his ex’s new love.

“G-Force,” written by Gary Robinson Jr., the band’s mandolin player, is an uptempo instrumental.

“Safe In His Arms” is bluegrass gospel.

And “Hold Your Horses” is an uptempo song about a man who’s not ready for marriage.

Another good album by Gulley and the band.

Look for it in stores on Oct. 20 or order it now at www.stevegulley.com.

FELLER & HILL, “Brothers And Heros,” Rural Rhythm. 13 tracks

October 2, 2017

If you like classic country music and bluegrass, you need to discover Tom Feller and Chris Hill.

Their sound is blend of both.

Tom Feller is a nephew of Aubrey, Jerry, and Tom Holt, the backbone of the legendary Boys From Indiana.

He’s worked with Redwing, the Larry Stephenson Band, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, 3 Fox Drive and the Wildwood Valley Boys.

Chris Hill, a competitive clogger as well as a banjo player, has worked with the Wildwood Valley Boys, Gerald Evans & Paradise, the James King Band and Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show.

The two began exploring the possibilities of creating a band in 2010 and went on the road full time with their band, the Bluegrass Buckaroos, in 2013.

“Brothers and Heroes,” their latest album, is a blend of classics and new songs.

The first single, “The Bugler,” is one of three Civil War songs on the album.

It tells the tale of a boy who becomes a bugler for the Army in an effort to find his missing father — and the mother who goes looking for both.

“Atlanta Is Burning” is the story of a dying soldier who misses his family.

And “Rebecca of New Orleans” tells the story of a Southern woman who falls in love with a wounded Union soldier.

“Hammer Down” is a hard-driving song about a band flying down the interstate on its way to a bluegrass festival.

Covers of country songs include the Louvin Brothers’ “Childish Love,” Patsy Cline‘s “Back in Baby’s Arms”  and Jerry Reed‘s instrumental, “Jerry’s Breakdown.”

There’s also a cover of the Everly Brothers‘ “Wake Up Little Susie,” which always sounds funny when grown men are singing it.

Bobby Osborne joins the guys for a cover of the Osborne Brothers‘ “Tennessee Hound Dog.”

There’s a good cheatin’ song — “Lord, Help Me Decide” — which asks help to decide which woman to keep and which to dump.

And there’s a traditional murder ballad — “Duncan and Brady,” based on the shooting of policeman James Brady in the Charles Starkes Saloon in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1890. Bartender Harry Duncan was convicted of the murder and later executed.

Guests on the album include Tony Holt, Aubrey Holt, Jerry Holt, Bobby Osborne, Larry Stephenson, Junior Sisk, Lizzy Long, Heather Berry-Mabe, Michael Cleveland, Glen Duncan and Steve Thomas.

Can’t find it in stores? Try http://www.fellerandhill.com

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

FLATT LONESOME, “Silence In These Walls,” Mountain Home. 12 tracks

September 25, 2017

Flatt Lonesome has only been together as a band for six years and recording for four.

But they’re already a rising force in bluegrass music.

Last year, the band took home honors from the International Bluegrass Music Association for vocal group of the year, song of the year (“You’re The One”) and album of the year (“Runaway Train”).

This week, their fourth album, “Silence In These Walls,” hit stores.

There are two gospel songs, reflecting the Robertson siblings’ gospel roots — “Draw Me Near” and “Happy Til He Comes.”

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.

And they’re the principal songwriters on the album, writing or co-writing seven of the 12 songs.

“All My Life” finds the singer wishing she’d never met the man she loves, deciding that she’d rather live in a lie than die in the truth.

“It’s Just Sad,” which contains the album’s title, is another missing someone song.

“Build Me A Bridge” is about someone needing a bridge to get over a lost love.

“I’m Not Afraid To Be Alone” finds a woman deciding that she doesn’t really need a man in her life.

“Cry Oh Cry” finds the singer crying all day over the man who went away.

“You’re The Reason,” a Glenn Campbell song from 1970, blames a former love for the singer’s problems.

Good album by a band that continues to improve with each album.

Can’t find it in stores?

Try http://www.FlattLonesome.com

 

DONNA ULISSE, “Breakin’ Easy,” Mountain Home. 12 tracks

September 5, 2017

Back in the 1980s, Donna Ulisse, a Hampton, Virginia., native headed for Music City, 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.

A decade ago, Ulisse came home to bluegrass, recast as a “bluegrass poet” who performed “bluegrass without borders.”

And bluegrass welcomed her back with open arms.

Last year, Ulisse was named songwriter of the year by the International Bluegrass Music Association.

And on Sept. 22, her first album on the Mountain Home label, “Breakin’ Easy,” will be released.

Ulisse wrote or co-wrote 10 of the 12 tracks.

The other two are Dottie West’s “Here Comes My Baby Back Again,” a country classic from 1964, and Kimberly Fox and Brandon Rickman‘s “I’m In A Hurry To Go Nowhere.”

The album blends bluegrass — both traditional and contemporary — with country and gospel.

There’s loneliness and despair coupled with hope and joy.

“Without Trouble Please” is a plea for a good day and a chance to catch her breath.

“Back Home Feelin’ Again” is nostalgia for childhood.

“Drive This Cold Out of Me” finds a woman feeling old as she mourns a lover who is gone.

“A Little Past Lonely” and “Til I Finally Let Go” are about relationships that have grown cold.

“Made For Each Other,” “We Are Strong” and “We’ve Got This Love Thing Figured Out” are all about couples that have made their relationship work.

“Whatever Winter Brings” is about growing old.

And “Where My Mind Can Find Some Rest” is about hope and second chances.

Good album by a good singer-songwriter.

You can pre-order now at http://www.donnaulisse.com/index.php/posts/presale-breakin-easy.

 

DOYLE LAWSON & QUICKSILVER, “Life Is A Story,” Mountain Home. 12 tracks

August 14, 2017

Doyle Lawson has been a professional bluegrass musician for 54 years, since he joined Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys in February 1963.

He’s fronted his own band, Quicksilver, for 38 years.

And he’s closing in on 40 albums to date.

The new album, “Life Is A Story, like much of Lawson and Quicksilver’s work, rides the range between traditional country and traditional bluegrass — back to the days before the labels became so rigid.

There’s “Love Lives Again,” a 1973 hit for George Jones, and “Little Girl,” a hit for John Michael Montgomery in 2000.

And to broaden the mix even more, there”s “What Am I Living For,” a 1958 R&B hit for Chuck “King of the Stroll” Willis.

“Kids These Days” is filled with nostalgia for more innocent times.

But the things it describes as 20 years ago were really more like 50 years ago.

Time, however, does fly.

“Guitar Case” is a good ballad about a man who packs his guitar case with clothes and sneaks away from the woman he no longer loves. But he finds a note inside it that says she understands.

And he starts his journey back home.

“Cry Across Kansas” find a man regretting the way he treated a woman after she kicks him out.

Lawson co-wrote “I See A Heartbreak Comin’ ” and bandmates Joe Dean, Eli Johnson and Dustin Pyrtle wrote, “Life of a Hard Workin’ Man.”

Another strong album by an act that’s been making them for nearly four decades.

Can’t find it in stores?

Try http://doylelawson.com/buy-doyle-lawson/ starting Aug. 25.