Posted tagged ‘rebel records’

CHRIS JONES & THE NIGHT DRIVERS, “Lonely Comes Easy,” Rebel. 13 tracks.

August 6, 2013

Chris Jones got his musical start as an 18-year-old with the New York band, Horse Country.

He went on to hone his bluegrass skills with Dave Evans and Special Consensus before moving to Nashville 25 years ago as a member of Weary Hearts, a band that included Ron Block, Mike Bub and the late Butch Baldassari.

In the mid-1990s, Jones formed the Night Drivers, a band that has been on the verge of moving to bluegrass’ top ranks for years.

He’s a singer, songwriter, guitarist and a host on SiriusXM’s “Bluegrass Junction.”

And “Lonely Comes Easy,” the band’s first album of new material since 2009, showcases the first three skills.

Jones wrote or co-wrote six of the 13 songs on the album.

Night Drivers banjo man Ned Luberecki and mando man Mark Stoffel each contributed an instrumental — “Don’t Blink” and “Swine Flu in Union County” respectively.

There’s an amazing version of “Wake Up, Little Maggie,” a tribute to the late Doc Watson, that’s mostly a capella with Buddy Greene’s harmonica interspersed and the other instruments joining in near the end.

And the band does an outstanding version of C.W. McCall’s 1975 spoken word classic, “Wolf Creek Pass,” about a runaway chicken truck in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains.

Claire Lynch and Sierra Hull perform as the “Wolf Creekettes,” the backing chorus on the song, which features an extended bluegrass jam.

There’s also a great version of Ralph Stanley’s “A Few More Years,” a song about the shortness of life.

A good album packed with a lot of good songs.

Look for it stores on Aug. 27 or online at places like


BIG COUNTRY BLUEGRASS, “Memories of the Past,” Rebel. 14 tracks.

June 24, 2013

“Memories of the Past” is Big Country Bluegrass’ 17th album in a career that spans 26 years. And it’s as hard-core traditional as any of the other 16.

Tommy and Teresa Sells have led the band from the beginning. Like all bands, there have been numerous personnel changes through the years. Eddie Gill is the latest male lead singer. Teresa Sells also sings lead.

Don Rigsby sits in on several songs.

There’s a lot of older material here — “Somebody’s Waiting For Me,” “The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake,” Carl Butler‘s “If Teardrops Were Pennies,” Don Reno‘s “Choking The Strings,” “99 Years Is Almost For Life,” “Won’t You Think of Me” and Curly Ray Cline’s “Baby, You’re Cheatin’.”

But there are plenty of new songs too.

Dixie & Tom T. Hall contribute “I’m Putting On My Leaving Shoes,” a blazing song about saying good-bye.

“Like The Boys on Music Row,” written by Eddie and Hermon Gill, Larry Cordle and Larry Shell, is about a man who’s been singing for 40 years and refuses to end up “like the boys on Music Row.” It’s reminiscent of Cordle and Shell’s “Murder on Music Row.”

“John Doe Made The Crossing” is about an old man who makes his way across a busy street and is later found dead beneath a bridge.

Good album by a good traditional band.

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DON RIGSBY, “Doctor’s Orders: A Tribute To Ralph Stanley,” Rebel. 14 tracks.

May 13, 2013

Don Rigsby is a lifelong fan of Ralph Stanley. Getting to meet his hero backstage at Ashland, Ky’s, Paramount Theatre as a 6-year-old in 1974, influenced Rigsby’s life and the style of music he still performs today.

So, it was only natural that Rigsby would someday do a tribute album to his hero.

The title, “Doctor’s Orders,” is a play on Stanley’s 1976 honorary doctorate of music degree from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn.

Stanley has used Dr. in front of his name ever since.

Rigsby, who made his mark on bluegrass as a member of J.D. Crowe’s New South, the Bluegrass Cardinals and the Lonesome River Band before fronting his own band, Midnight Call, brought in three of Stanley’s former band members — Larry Sparks, Ricky Skaggs and Charlie Sizemore — who went on to have solo careers of their own to help on the album.

Stanley himself helped select the 14 songs. He sings a duet with Rigsby on “The Daughter of Geronimo,” tenor on “Home In The Mountains” and plays banjo on “Traveling The Highway Home.”

Stanley introduced a capella singing to bluegrass. And Rigsby honors that tradition with an a capella “Sinner Man.”

Thirteen of the songs are songs associated with Stanley. The 14th is a new song — “The Mountain Doctor” — written by Rigsby and Larry Cordle that tells how Stanley’s music will take away your pain.

Songs include “Brand New Tennessee Waltz,” “Wild Geese Cry Again,” “Little Maggie,” “I Only Exist,” “Six More Miles,” “Walking Up This Hill On Decoration Day,” “Medicine Springs,” “Tennessee Truck Driving Man” and “The Water Lily.”

It’s a strong album for Stanley fans and lovers of traditional bluegrass music with some great harmony singing.

Can’t find it in stores? Try or other Internet outlets.

JUNIOR SISK & RAMBLERS CHOICE, “The Story Of The Day That I Died,” Rebel. 12 tracks.

March 4, 2013

Harry Sisk Jr. — Junior Sisk to his fans — is finally getting the attention he has deserved for years.

Last fall, his “Heart of A Song” was named album of the year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. And his chart-topping single, “A Far Cry From Lester & Earl,” was named song of the year.

Sisk, who made his mark in bluegrass as a songwriter in the early 1990s, ranks with Ralph Stanley and James King among the best mountain soul singers today.

He can wring the lonesome out of any lyric.

Sisk stepped onto the national stage in 1996 as a singer/guitar player with Wyatt Rice & Santa Cruz.

Two years later, he formed the first version of Ramblers Choice and then left after one album to play with Lost & Found for a short period until he joined Alan Bibey in BlueRidge.

In 2008, Sisk brought back Ramblers Choice with the critically acclaimed album “Blue Side of the Blue Ridge.” And his career has been in overdrive ever since.

“The Story Of The Day That I Died” is another outstanding album of hard-core traditional bluegrass with mostly new songs.

The title track is about a man who maxes out his credit cards, sinks his wife’s car and fakes his suicide after she falls in love with another man.

“If The Bottle Was A Bible” tells the story of a man who can’t stop drinking since his wife died.

“High In The Mountains” is a blazing tune about a man whose wife left him with the low-down blues while he was busy making moonshine.

Bass man Jason Tomlin sings lead on “Another Lonely Day,” a song about a man whose life is upside down since his lover left, and Chris Davis, the mandolin player, handles lead duties on “Prayers Go Up,” a song about trying to live an uncomplicated life.

“Jesse James” is a barn-burner of an instrumental.

But other than those three songs, fans get Sisk’s vocals on the rest of the album.

“Lover’s Quarrel” is a song about wasting lives. Two lovers quarrel, split up and never marry anyone. Then, he dies and she puts flowers on his grave every day.

“Good To See The Home Place Again” finds a man going home to Kentucky, remembering his childhood.

“A House Where A Home Used to Be” is about a man still mourning the day his wife left him 21 years earlier.

“Walking In Good Company” is a gospel song written by Sisk and his father, Harry Sisk Sr.

“Drinking At The Water Hole” is a blazing tune about a bar.

“Old Bicycle Chain,” though, is a song the album could have done without.

It’s a hard-driving, good bluegrass tune. But the lyrics say that if the woman ever comes back, he’ll whip her with an old bicycle chain.

Not the best image for bluegrass.

Otherwise, a great album by a man and a band that are quickly become among the best in the business.

It hits stores on March 12.

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FRONT PORCH STRING BAND, “Hills of Alabam,” Rebel Records. 13 tracks.

October 15, 2012

If angels don’t sound like Claire Lynch, they should.

Lynch, a two-time International Bluegrass Music Association female vocalist of the year, has one of the most beautiful voices in country or bluegrass.

But the problem for Lynch’s legion of fans is the long wait between albums. Her last new album was released three years ago.

And that’s a long time to wait.

But Rebel Records has just released “Hills of Alabam,” a compilation of tracks from The Front Porch String Band’s albums from 1981 and 1991.

Her name might not have been out front in those years, but there was no doubt that Lynch was the star of the show.

There’s also a track — “The Day That Lester Died” — from Lynch’s performance on Mark Newton’s “Follow Me Back To The Fold” album from 2000.

The songs may be 10, 20 or 30 years old, but they sound as fresh as they did back then.

Songs include “Kennesaw Line,” a story song about a Civil War battle told by a dying soldier; the title cut about traveling and dreaming of home; “Natchez Trace,” a dreamy song about a Mississippi highway; “The Singer,” a song about a man who was a dreamer;  Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times”; A.P. Carter’s “Wabash Cannonball”; and Gordon Lightfoot’s “Go My Way.”

It’s a good album that should help tide fans over until the next new Lynch album.

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PAUL WILLIAMS & THE VICTORY TRIO, “Going To Stay in the Old-Time Way,” Rebel. 12 tracks.

August 6, 2012

Paul Williams is 13 years into his second career in bluegrass now.

And, at 77, he shows no signs of slowing down.

The man who was born Paul Humphrey made his mark initially in the influential Lonesome Pine Fiddlers around 1950 and went on to become a member of Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys from 1957 to 1963.

Then, in 1963, he left the road and went to work for the post office, performing only at church functions.

But once he retired from the post office in 1996, Williams hit the bluegrass gospel trail with a vengeance.

His 1999 “Old Ways and Old Paths” was nominated for a Grammy.

“Going To Stay in the Old-Time Way” is his 12th album for Rebel Records since then.

Williams, one of the best tenor singers in bluegrass, is also a major songwriter.

His songs have been recorded by Martin, Ray Charles, Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams Jr. among others.

He wrote three of the songs on “Old-Time Way” — “He’ll Calm The Troubled Waters,” “Kept And Protected” and “The Vision.”

Dan Moneyhun, the band’s guitar player, sings lead on two tracks — “I’ve Never Been This Homesick Before” and “It’s All Up To You.”

Some bluegrass gospel albums lean more toward gospel. But William & The Victory Trio don’t neglect the bluegrass. The album definitely fits both categories.

And listeners come away thinking death might not be such a bad thing after all, with lines like “Oh how can I wait till He calls me to join them on that beautiful shore” and “Everybody shoutin’ glory Hallelujah as we leave this sinful ground/What a time in heaven, when I put on a robe and crown.”

Good album by a bluegrass gospel legend.

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JIMMY GAUDREAU & MOONDI KLEIN, “Home From The Mills,” Rebel. 14 tracks.

May 21, 2012

Jimmy Gaudreau and LawrenceMoondi” Klein both have impressive bluegrass resumes.

Gaudreau burst on the national bluegrass scene in 1969, when he replaced John Duffey in  the legendary Country Gentlemen.

Duffey went on to found the Seldom Scene. And in the early 1990s, Klein replaced John Starling as the lead singer and guitarist for the Scene.

Then, Gaudreau and Klein joined forces in 1996 to create the short-lived supergroup Chesapeake with Mike Auldridge and T. Michael Coleman, two other former members of the Seldom Scene.

Chesapeake, which was only together a couple of years, played a blend of bluegrass, country, folk, blues and jazz.

Then, in 2007, Gaudreau and Klein got back together for a tour of England and Scotland.

That was followed by “2:10 Train,” a 2008 album that was well received.

And now, they’re back with “Home From The Mills.”

The title cut is a ballad about a man who leaves the New England mills to play his guitar in the city because “factory work can make a boy lose his mind.”

The album is not bluegrass and it’s not really folk.

But it’s a good sound that fans of both should enjoy.

There are a couple of Tim O’Brien songs — “Bending Blades,” a ballad that finds a man longing for the days when he was still loved, and “Rod McNeil,” a ballad about a music promoter who died some years back.

There are a couple of traditional instrumentals — “Whiskey Before Breakfast/Red Haired Boy” and “Fisher’s Hornpipe.”

There’s a Fats Waller jazz tune from the 1930s (“It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie”), a French opera number from the 1880s  (“Enferment Les Yeux”) and an old Albert E. Brumley gospel song (“I’d Rather Live By The Side Of The Road”).

Other songs include Gordon Lightfoot’s “Shadows,”  Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You,” John Starling’s “C&O Canal” and Eric Andersen’s “Close The Door Lightly When You Go.”

Again, it’s not exactly bluegrass. But it’s probably close enough for most fans.

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