Posted tagged ‘gospel’

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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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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STEVE HARRIS, “Sundown,” Orange Blossom Records. 11 tracks.

May 18, 2015

Steve Harris grew up in a family band that specialized in bluegrass gospel.

But as a young man, he put the music aside to concentrate on his career.

Then, in 2007, at a bluegrass festival, Harris rediscovered his love for bluegrass music.

After three years of re-establishing himself as a musician, he founded the band Circa Blue, which has released two albums to date.

Now, Harris has released his first solo album — “Sundown.”

It’s all bluegrass gospel.

Many of the songs are familiar hymns from his — and many other people’s — childhoods.

That list includes “In The Garden,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “Where Could I Go,” “Drifting Too Far From The Shore” and “Softly And Tenderly.”

Also featured are Louis Marshall “Grandpa” Jones “Falling Leaves” and the title cut, originally recorded by the Chuck Wagon Gang.

All of the songs are ones Harris grew up singing or listening to.

Mary Paula Wilson sings lead on “Someday My Ship Will Sail” and Sarah Harris of Trinity River Band sings lead on “Falling Leaves.”

Steve Harris, who sings lead on the rest, has a pleasant voice and the picking is first class.

FLATT LONESOME, “Too,” Mountain Home. 12 tracks.

July 14, 2014

Flatt Lonesome is a young band, both in the age of the musicians and age of the band, which was formed in early 2011.

But it’s roots go back several years earlier.

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.

The band’s debut self-titled album was released in January 2013.

“Too” is only the second album, but it shows a band on the move with both traditional and progressive bluegrass sounds, some country and some gospel.

The Robertson siblings share lead vocal duties and create a strong harmony sound.

The first track, “So Far,” is one of those songs that bluegrass is known for — sad lyrics about a woman coping with a break-up backed by uptempo happy music.

“Dangerous Dan” tells the story of a one-armed moonshiner who runs from the law and the lord until the lord catches him.

“Never Let Me Go” is a swinggrass tune about a happy relationship.

“He Still Hears” and “I’m Ready Now” harken back to Flatt Lonesome’s gospel roots.

Harrigill wrote “Make It Through The Day” and “I’m Ready Now.” Kelsi Harrigill wrote “Never Let Me Go.” And two wrote “I Thought You Were Someone I Knew” with Jerry Salley.

Good album by a good young band.

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RANDY LANHAM & FRIENDS, “A Fiddler’s Prayer,” no label. 14 tracks

June 30, 2014

Randy Lanham is the music director at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Ky.

He leads the museum’s “Bluegrass in the Schools” program at 23 elementary schools, teaches the museum’s group lessons, has about 40 private students a year and works with five to six beginning bluegrass bands.

He and his brother, Barry, operate the Lanham Brothers Jamboree at Diamond Lake Resort a few miles out of town.

Lanham won the 1991 Kentucky state fiddle championship, moved to Nashville at age 20 and went on to perform with such country singers as Clay Walker, Wade Hayes, Tracy Lawrence and Tanya Tucker and to tour with George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson and Faith Hill before he decided to get off the road and come back home.

This summer, he’s releasing his first bluegrass gospel album, “A Fiddler’s Prayer,” which features Lanham’s fiddle along with a group of friends and family, picking and singing.

Two tracks — “How Great Thou Art” with Jenny Beth Willis and Wade Hayes and “I Surrender All” with Blackberry Jam — were recorded live at the Jamboree.

And “Give Me Jesus” with Joe Christian was recorded for a radio show a few years ago.

The rest were done in a recording studio this year.

Lanham performs fiddle solos on “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” “I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say” and the title track, which he wrote.

His daughters — Skylar, Emma and Addie — sing “Jesus Loves Me.”

And four generations of Lanhams — John, Bill, Randy and Skylar — perform “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.”

Wade Haynes sings “The Old Rugged Cross.”

The CD is available for free download at

People who want an actual copy of the CD can purchase one for $12 on the site.

All proceeds go to charity and Lanham said people who download the CD free can make a donation “if you feel led.”

THE HARPER FAMILY BAND, “Through It All,” Pisgah Ridge. 10 tracks.

March 10, 2014

The Harper Family Band, a bluegrass gospel group from the Missouri Ozarks, is blessed with four strong lead singers.

But it’s been going through some hard times and changes since its fifth album, “Through It All,” was recorded.

The band’s website says that Dalton Harper, the 20-year-old guitarist and vocalist, is battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

And 19-year-old Dillon Harper, the mandolin player and vocalist, will be enrolling in seminary in April. That takes him and his wife, Makeena, another good vocalist, out of the band’s traveling lineup.

But they’re all together on the new album.

Hannah Harper, the band’s 14-year-old fiddle player, sings lead on the title track, an Andre Crouch song, “The Judgment” and “A Portion of His Love.”

You’d never believe she’s that young from her voice.

There are two original songs on the album — Dalton Harper’s “Child of the King” and Katrina (the mother and bass player) Harper’s “Don’t You Want To Meet Him.” Each sings lead on their song.

Dalton Harper’s lead singing on “In A Moment Just Like This” sounds a bit eerie when you realize his medical problems. The song finds a doctor telling a patient that the news isn’t good, but the patient has practiced faith all his life for “a moment just like this.”

A strong bluegrass album that doesn’t stint on either the bluegrass or the gospel.

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THE EASTER BROTHERS, “I’d Do It All Over Again,” Pisgah Ridge. 10 tracks.

February 11, 2014

When Russell, James and Ed Easter began playing bluegrass gospel music around Danville, Va., in the the early 1950s — some sources say 1951, some say 1953 — the high lonesome sound popularized by Bill Monroe hadn’t even been labeled “bluegrass.”

Elvis was still in high school, Americans were fighting in Korea and 45 rpm records were beginning to replace the old 78s on turntables.

More than six decades later, the Easter Brothers, now creeping into their 80s, are still performing the sound that made them legends in bluegrass gospel.

And the title of the latest of their many albums, “I’d Do It All Over Again,” says it all.

Gerald Crabb, a family friend, wrote three of the tracks including the title cut. But all the rest were written by Easters.

There’s a lot of uptempo material like “Let The Hallelujahs Roll,” “I Didn’t Leave The Way I Came” and the title track.

“You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover” says we shouldn’t throw stones at others just because they don’t live the way we do. It’s a message that’s too often lacking these days.

Ballads include “The Crossing,” “The Lost Sheep” and “Old-Fashioned Talk With The Lord.”

There’s one sort of secular song on the album — “The Good Old Days,” which is filled with nostalgia for both the old-time religion and life on the farm.

After more than 60 years together, the Easter Brothers’ harmonies are still strong and remind fans why they’ve been so popular for so long.

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