The debut album from Rick Faris, Breaking In Lonesome, releases to radio and for fan pre-order in advance of its Nov 15, 2019 commercial release. Containing a bulk of new bluegrass originals, and backed by a cast of talent, this long-awaited project showcases Rick’s depth of musicality and solid footprint in the genre.
“Rick Faris has consistently wowed me with his powerful vocals and virtuoso mandolin and guitar playing over the last few years with Special Consensus. He was playing mandolin when I first saw him and I immediately noticed he is a great singer live–suppose it shouldn’t have surprised anyone when he switched to guitar and was just as proficient and nimble. His range makes him a natural tenor, but his lead singing is convincing and expressive. And on top of all this, he’s an outstanding luthier, having built a number of great guitars–including those played on this record. In short, I thought of the guy as the vanguard of younger musicians who are carrying Bluegrass forward.
But now his solo record shows me that he’s put it all together. Turns out he’s also a thoughtful songwriter. He wrote or co-wrote 11 of the 12 songs on Breaking in Lonesome, and they run the gamut from Jimmie Rodgers-style jazzy ditties (“Mississippi Steamboat Blues”), straigh-ahead waltzes (“Wrong Done Right”) to contemporary Bluegrass (“If the Kansas River Can”), cool instrumentals (“Stoneman’s Raid”), blazing fast ‘grass (“Breaking in Lonesome”), a spooky traditional gospel song featuring Shawn Lane’s soulful tenor (“Matthew and Mark’s Wisdom”) and a contemporary Bluegrass gospel song (“Faith in Man”). The lone cover, Aaron Bibelhouser, Thomm Jutz and Milan Miller’s “How Long,” fits right in. Most of these finely crafted songs feature the rocking core band of Rick on guitar and lead vocals, Justin Moses on banjo and tenor vocal, Eddie Faris on bass and baritone vocal, Laura Orshaw on fiddle, and Harry Clark on mandolin. “Never is a Long Time” and the swingy “Honeybabe” feature Special C and make it easy to see why this version of the band has been so decorated.
Bluegrass music might be entering its 9th decade, but Breaking in Lonesome proves it’s more vital than ever, and this project is a perfect showcase for one of its truly bright lights“. -Tim Stafford (Blue Highway)
Fans can pre-order the album at Dark Shadow Recording, iTunes, and wherever fine music is sold on the internet. Streaming services will begin when the album officially releases on Nov 15, 2019.
About the label:
Dark Shadow Recording is a record label and full-service studio run by a musician for musicians in the Bluegrass, Americana and Folk genres. The small-but-mighty roster has been awarded multiple IBMA awards and is a testament to the DSR’s focus on quality over quantity in music and business. More at www.darkshadowrecording.com.
Wood & Wire North of Despair
released April 13, 2018 on Blue Corn Music
“…they find their stride in stories not about your standard, romanticized American west, but instead about the honest labor that raises up the state on a consistent basis.”
“For Wood & Wire, part of that “Texas sound” emerges from the inspiration they get from songwriters before them, and the band’s refusal to romanticize anything about the Lone Star State’s culture or history.”
“Kamel’s songs are loquacious and gritty. Keeping things just above the haze of right and wrong but aimed straight at no frills. The stories carry the music as the music perpetuates the stories. Tastefully placated on interplay and improvisation, the meat of this record is the messages and characters”
The Texas songwriter tradition casts a long shadow today, and Austin-based Americana roots juggernauts Wood & Wire can easily rattle off a list of songwriters that inspire them, from Willie Nelson to James McMurtry and everyone in between. But ask them about what it is about Texas that brought us so many great songwriters, and they stop cold. That’s because they don’t romanticize Texas’ culture or its past; they’re too busy working their asses off making new music, writing new songs. This isn’t a land made for quiet reflection, it’s a land made for hard work. Respect for honest labor is a central theme in Wood & Wire’s new album, North of Despair (out April 13, 2018 on Blue Corn Music), with songs populated by people like songwriter Tony Kamel’s own grandfather, who built the family’s hunting lodge in Llano, Texas with his own two hands. The characters on the album live large, and aren’t afraid to share their opinions about the modern world. This kind of vivid, haunting songwriting focused on lives spent deep in the countryside is a hallmark of Texas songwriting. But it’s the melding of this hard country songwriting with high-octane bluegrass instrumentation that makes for Wood & Wire’s signature sound. Artists like John Hartford have trod this ground before, blending great songs, bluegrass virtuosity, and a strong sense of place, and Wood & Wire aim to pave the way for Austin’s roots scene, bursting out of the giant expanses of the state with a fully-fledged vision for a new Texan sound. On North of Despair, they bring the ferocity of their live shows to the studio, whipping through barn-burning anthems about hard people in hard times.
Wood & Wire could have returned to Nashville to record North of Despair, but the pull of home was too strong, so they headed out to Dripping Springs, just outside Austin in the Texas Hill Country. Holing up at renowned studio The Zone, they cut the tracks mostly live to tape, with minimal editing. Touring hard for the past three years helped solidify the songs, and you can feel the impromptu joy in each track. Bassist Dom Fisher lends a buoyancy to the music that mixes racing bluegrass bass lines with the backbeat of a great country bass player. A highlight of the group is the interplay between mandolinist Billy Bright and banjo player Trevor Smith, both of whom seem to delight in pugilistic bouts that romp through the songs, as much country-funk as it is Monroe & Scruggs. Though Kamel is the lead singer and songwriter, each band member contributes compositions and songwriting to the new album, a key feature of Wood & Wire’s democratic nature. Bright’s “Summertime Rolls” propels a fire-breathing mandolin line, but he takes a more philosophical stance on “As Good As It Gets.” Fisher’s co-write with Texas songwriter Robin Bernard’s “Texas” has all the balletic grace of a Western à la Townes Van Zandt. Kamel taps not only into his family’s history in Texas, but also his love for the beautiful natural environments of the state; in “Awake in the Wake” he references the sound of cypress trees breaking apart during a thousand year flood.
A life in music can be full of extremes, both high and low, but Wood & Wire have learned to take it all in stride. With the support of loved ones, they persevere along the middle path, “south of rich, north of despair,” as they sing on the title track. Never ones to shy away from hard work, Wood & Wire rely on their humble acoustic instruments and their own hands to make music meant to last. As Kamel sings “I ain’t trying to be the kingpin, I’m just trying to make a living.”
Fresh off the win of TWO International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards, Volume Five has emerged with new music being released on Mountain Fever Records.
Founded by Glen Harrell (fiddle & vocals), Volume Five includes the talents of Patton Wages (banjo & vocals), Colby Laney (guitar & vocals), Chris Williamson (bass & vocals), and Jacob Burleson (mandolin & vocals). These five musicians together blend into a band with true and proven staying power. With countless IBMA, SPBGMA, and Dove Award nominations to their credit, the band walked away with IBMA’s Emerging Artist of the Year and Song of the Year honors just last month in Raleigh, NC. Their previous album, Drifter, received rave reviews, produced several charting singles, and hit Billboard’s Top 5 Best-Selling Bluegrass Albums chart.
With their career moving with an upward trajectory, Volume Five is coming out of the gate strong with “Now That’s A Song,” the first single from their new album. “I had been looking for a good uptempo song and contacted Bob Minner to see if he had anything fresh to send me,” says Glen Harrell. “This one caught my ear right away and I thought ‘now that’s a song.’ A few moments later, after reaching the chorus, I realized that was actually the title of the song! Bob co-wrote this with Shawn Lane and we think it’s a winner!”
With an unexpected, almost subtle dobro kickoff, “Now That’s A Song” blazes into a spirited, straight-up bluegrass melody supporting a sweet lyric telling of a long-time love. Harrell’s lead vocal moves flawlessly with the words while the makeup of V5 proves exactly why they are turning a genre of music noted for its musical dexterity, on its ear.
Nashville, TN — Dark Shadow Recording delivers a singing bluegrass Valentine with today’s release of Crêpe Paper Heart, the label’s second solo album from 2016 IBMA Fiddler and Female Vocalist Of The Year, Becky Buller.
This collection features new songs from the pen of Buller (2015 IBMA Songwriter Of The Year) and her co-writers, performed by past and present members of her ridiculously talented road band, along with an award-winning line-up of guests, including Grammy and IBMA award winners Rhonda Vincent, Sam Bush, The Fairfield Four, Rob Ickes and more.
“It wasn’t supposed to take this long,” said Buller, alluding to the four years lapsed since her DSR debut recording, ‘Tween Earth And Sky.
“But so much good life got in our way!” she continued. “And I’m glad we took our time rather than rushing just to get something out. This album completely changed in character from what we originally planned it to be: we leaned more heavily on my road band; we were able to connect with The Fairfield Four and our other wishlist of special guests…. I’m so proud of it. I sincerely hope you enjoy the new tunes.”
“Becky Buller is a force of nature and her road band is built of serious musicians, all chomping at her heels,” said producer and DSR label head Stephen Mougin.
“On this project, we really wanted to showcase the sound that the audience gets to hear, while maintaining a platform for Becky to collaborate with heroes and friends. In digging through Becky’s phenomenal songwriting catalog, we paired down a substantial list into a collection that represents the flavor of her touring group and highlights her powerful fiddle and vocal prowess. Becky always strives for perfection and class, driving those around her to do the same. The new album shows that in spades! Dark Shadow Recording is proud of Becky and her accomplishments and proud to be a part of Crêpe Paper Heart.”
Crêpe Paper Heart mainly features past and present members of the Becky Buller Band (or B^3, as they affectionally shorten it for social media): Ned Luberecki (banjo); Prof. Dan Boner (mandolin/guitar/vocals); Brandon Bostic (guitar); Daniel “Hulk” Hardin (bass/vocals); and Nate Lee (fiddle).
Special guests are: Sam Bush; The Fairfield Four; Rob Ickes; Claire Lynch; Stephen and Jana Mougin; Frank Solivan; Rhonda Vincent; and Erin Youngberg (FY5).
The album is made up almost entirely of what has been dubbed “Powerful, Original Bluegrass Music,” a mix of secular and sacred songs written by Buller along with co-writers Lynda Dawson (“John D. Champion”); Eric Church band member Jeff Hyde (“Speakin’ To That Mountain”); Sarah Majors (“Heart Of The House”); Tony Rackley (“The Rebel And The Rose”); Blue Highway’s Tim Stafford (“Calamity Jane”); and Bobby Starnes (“Maybe”).
The only cover song on this collection is the bonus track, “Phoenix Arise”, from the pen of Nashville songwriter Lisa Aschmann and Berkley School Of Music songwriting professor Mark Simos.
The Becky Buller Band (with guest vocalists Stephen and Jana Mougin) recorded “Phoenix Arise” and originally released it as a digital download for a donation of any amount at the MadeliaStrong.com website to help the people of Madelia, Minn., who were affected by a devastating fire in their downtown district the night of Feb. 3, 2016. The businesses are now rebuilt and reopen. Thank you to all who donated and downloaded!
Buller has received six IBMA awards thus far in her career, five of those in the past three years, including the history-making combo win of 2016 Fiddler and Female Vocalist; she is the first person ever to win in both instrumental and vocal categories. She is the first woman to ever receive the IBMA’s coveted Fiddler Of The Year award.
She also had some Grammy award excitement this past month when The Infamous Stringdusters won a 2018 Best Bluegrass Album trophy for their Laws Of Gravity release. Buller co-wrote the opening track, “Freedom”, with Duster fiddler Jeremy Garrett. Buller also participated in Special Consensus’ 2012 Best Bluegrass Grammy nominated record Scratch Gravel Road as sole writer of the title track.
My favorite term to use when I’m talking about Chris Jones & the Night Drivers is “classy-grass.” The group’s music is smooth and tasteful, featuring some of the best, most thoughtful songwriting of almost any current bluegrass group. You’re not likely to hear them mash in B, but the contemplative melodies and lyrics they do offer tend to linger in your mind long after the show or album has ended. Their newest release for Mountain Home Music Company, Made to Move, is the latest in a long string of solid albums for the band and has already spawned a number one song with lead single, I’m a Wanderer.
Like usual, the album is heavy on original music, with all but two tracks written or co-written by a member of the band. Jones and bass player Jon Weisberger are both extremely talented songwriters, and they contribute some heavy-hitters here. One of my favorites is the bluesy All the Ways I’m Gone, a jaunty warning to a woman who hasn’t been doing right by the singer. If she doesn’t change her ways, then “late each night when you toss and turn, then you can count all the ways I’m gone.” Range Road 53 is an up-tempo “going home” number, with the racing melody mimicking the singer’s drive across the prairie to the home of his youth. Gina Clowes, the most recent addition to the band, sets the track’s pace nicely with her banjo playing.
Fiddle from guest Megan Lynch Chowning adds to the lonesome vibe on Silent Goodbye, a poignant tale about a woman whose actions have always spoken louder than her words, especially once she decided on goodbye. Living Without, a solo contribution from Jones, tackles life after heartbreak; guest Jeremy Garrett’s sunny fiddle gives the number an optimistic feel. Even more positive, and also from Jones’s pen, is Raindrops Fell, a gentle, country-tinged song about falling in love. Careful listeners will enjoy the clever wordplay in the chorus.
Other highlights on the album include a pair of songs from Weisberger, Thomm Jutz, and Charley Stefl. The aforementioned I’m a Wanderer is an excellent slice of contemporary bluegrass; Mark Stoffel’s mandolin and Garrett’s fiddle intertwine to create a compelling melody, and Jones offers a strong guitar line, as well. The Old Bell is an intriguing take on the Civil War home front, sharing the story of a town’s sacrifice of their church bell: “To an army starved for weaponry, she might provide some hope.” The lyrics are vivid and crystal clear, and Jones’s reading of the song is reverential and mournful at the same time.
ans of good instrumental music will be pleased to know there are two such offerings here, Clowes’ Last Frost and Stoffel’s What the Heck?!. The former is crisp and bright, allowing Clowes and Stoffel to play off of each other for most of the song. While there are hints of more progressive bluegrass in the melody, there also seems to be a touch of old time or even Celtic music. The latter is an energetic romp, leaning more toward the traditional side of things, with some finger acrobatics from Stoffel.
Made to Move is a thoroughly enjoyable album, with a nice mixture of tempos and subjects. Though many of the songs here deal with popular bluegrass themes like lost love, rambling, and going home, they’re not clear-cut imitations of classics and standards. Chris Jones & the Night Drivers offer music that is new and fresh, and for that I’m always glad.
Released a little over a year after Chris Thile took over as host of the public radio variety show A Prairie Home Companion, Thanks for Listening collects ten Song of the Week features from his inaugural season. Each song was an original written for that week and premiered live on the show. Finding a common theme among personal, societal, and political topics in some of the songs — namely, the art of listening — Thile headed to the studio with producer Thomas Bartlett to record selections for a cohesive album. On these versions, the mandolin virtuoso covers stringed instruments except bass and viola, and sings lead, though he’s joined on some songs by guest vocalists Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan, and Gaby Moreno, all Prairie alumnae under Thile.
One of the album’s flashier mandolin performances can be found on the spare “Balboa,” whose multicultural wanderlust receives intricate and nuanced accompaniment. By and large, though, Thanks for Listening puts a premium on songs over chops, not that there’s any lack of instrumental proficiency here. An atmospheric track like “Feedback Loop,” for instance, uses a slow tempo, keyboards, and echo along with acoustic instruments. After setting an intentionally lethargic tone, lyrics get at our ability to filter unwelcome opinions on social media and elsewhere (“Feedback Loop, I play you to soothe my closed eyes/Closed mind/Open wounds/Open hate for anyone out of the Feedback Loop”). Later, the poppier “Falsetto” grapples with the constant derision, real and imagined, from a post-election Donald Trump, including what he might have to say about an activist musician. Other songs address fatherhood, family gatherings, and friendship in the context of the time’s technology and politics.
Despite its more collaborative origins, Thanks for Listening plays like a singer/songwriter album from Thile, one with moments of humor, poignancy, dread, and playfulness. Particularly “for anyone trying to hear through the din of a boorish year,” it captures the Zeitgeist of the first half of 2017 with a very human touch.
It’s hard to imagine a better producer for Chris Hillman than Tom Petty, who pledged a proud allegiance to the Byrds with his 1976 debut. That was the same year Hillman began his solo career, putting both the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers behind him, and if that record didn’t burn up the charts, he wound up finding commercial success in the ’80s as part of the Desert Rose Band. Once that group ran its course, Hillman and fellow Desert Rose Band member Herb Pedersen settled into a groove where they’d record and tour in a variety of configurations. Pedersen produced The Other Side, the 2005 album Hillman assumed was his farewell, but Pedersen convinced Petty to produce a new record and Hillman agreed, winding up with the warm, wonderful Bidin’ My Time. Designed as an intentional stroll through Hillman‘s back pages, the album opens up with “The Bells of Rhymney,” one of several Byrds songs here. “She Don’t Care About Time,” a song written by Gene Clark, is here alongside the rarity “Here She Comes Again,” for which Hillman plays bass for the first time in decades. These are conscious evocations of the Byrds‘ signature jangle, but on the whole, Bidin’ My Time‘s heart belongs to the burnished folk and country of Hillman‘s latter-day records. It’s a cozy sound, one that feels as intimate as a front porch but is delivered with the precision of seasoned pros, and having old tunes — including sweet covers of the Everly Brothers‘ “Walk Right Back” and Tom Petty‘s “Wildflowers” — threaded in between the excellent new tunes from Hillman helps make Bidin’ My Time feel like an understated summation of everything Hillman‘s accomplished in his long, varied career.
Situated in the hills of Eastern Kentucky, there is a small town of Belcher. Listen closely and you might hear what is first thought to be the angels singing. It is the sweet, crystal clear, high tenor voice of Belcher’s own multi-talented son of Bluegrass. Add in his powerful and precise Mandolin, a few licks of his Guitar, Banjo, Bass and Dobro, you have the complete package of Kevin Prater. Kevin began his musical voyage at the age of four. Encouraged and mentored by his Uncle and biggest fan, Boone Estep. At age 10, he formed his first band “Elkhorn Grass” . Elkhorn Grass enjoyed 11 years of touring together. Now, over thirty years later, Kevin has traveled millions of miles, played in 49 States and 23 countries. Kevin has moved from being one of the best sidemen in Bluegrass to leading his own talented and unique band, from the hills of Appalachia, creating that Pure Kentucky Sound of the The Kevin Prater Band.
The Kevin Prater Band grew from a long musical association between Kevin Prater and Tom Timberlake. Beginning with the Timmy Cline Band in 1994 and continuing with Redwing in later years. Years into Kevin’s tenure with The James King Band, Tom began encouraging Kevin to do his own music, with his own band. Tom’s persistence paid off. He put the fire under Kevin to pursue his dream of fronting his own band. Soon they were forming The Kevin Prater Band. They started picking together again and working on new music with a couple of local musicians, playing their first show as “The Kevin Prater Band” in 2009. Kevin has been blessed to showcase his many talents through out his amazing career. His solid rythmn and lead is a driving force of the KPB sound. His vocals are the backbone of the group, which the music is built around. Kevin has surrounded himself with veterans of Bluegrass Music, enabling them to create their unique style of Bluegrass and Gospel Music they are quickly becoming famous for.
Danny Stiltner, is one of the most talented bass players in eastern Kentucky. Danny and Kevin have known each other since childhood, when they used to play local shows around their area. They always said they would love to play together in a band, but didn’t know so many years would go by before it would come to pass. Danny is carrying on a legacy started by his father Blake Stiltner. Danny also contributes to the band vocally.
Tom Timberlake, Is multi talented playing banjo and guitar and singing harmony and lead vocals. Tom knows how to accent the vocals and other instruments and make them truly shine. His harmonies are second to none. He goes out on a limb to make everything work perfectly in the band.
Jake Burrows, Jake, as well as his brother Adam, come to the band with a huge resume of Bluegrass knowledge and experience for their young age. Heavily influenced by Earl Scruggs style, Jake brings a firery
Banjo to the KPB as well as an emotion filled Dobro. Jake has a vast knowledge of Bluegrass music, which is evident in his ability to sing any part.
Adam Burrows, Older brother to Jake, Adam brings an energetic fiddle and the ability to dance the stage while playing and singing. His energy keeps his elder band mates on their toes and entertain crowds. Adam is a true Traditionalist when it comes to Bluegrass. Taking time to learn original styles of many legends in order to preserve the music the way it was mint to be played.
The Kevin Prater Band sound comes from a wide range of influences and musical heroes. The Original Seldom Scene, The Country Gentlemen, Osborne Brothers, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Red Allen, The Stanley Brothers, Boone Estep & The Ramblin Grass are among the different styles of music they have all admired and studied together throughout the years. Also steeped in the tradition of Gospel music, they pride themselves on the a capella hymns and great gospel songs that people have come to enjoy. The band also includes Classic Country and Vintage Rock in their repertoire, insuring no two shows of The Kevin Prater Band are the same.
Members of the band are great friends, enjoy making great music and look forward to a long future together. The band enjoys traveling, reconnecting with old friends, making new fans and hope their music will bring attention to the “Pure Kentucky Bluegrass & Gospel Music” they have become known for. Watch for Kevin Prater and The Kevin Prater Band at a show near you. Great things are happening and they want you to be a part of it.
3x IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year and daughter of bluegrass Dale Ann Bradley celebrates her musical heritage with new original tracks, a classic rock cover and a timeless tribute to Bill Monroe.
“I grew up in a tar and paper covered shack right near Loretta Lynn’s childhood home,” reflects Dale Ann Bradley on her rustic origin in the hills of east Kentucky as a hardscrabble preacher’s daughter. ”It was very different. It was not easy,” she says. And even as a girl, she knew she wanted more. With Somewhere South of Crazy (available August 30th), this three-time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year shares what has shaped her life and music, by going deeper—deeper into bluegrass, deeper into her own musical passions, deeper into her own history as a veteran entertainer who spent years singing country music alongside her ‘grass at Kentucky’s venerable Renfro Valley.
The result is a set that ranges from first-generation bluegrass classics through long-cherished favorites to brand new songs from Bradley and her friends—but always, always with her incomparably rich voice and east Kentucky sensibilities right at the center.
The title track provided Bradley with some especially enjoyable moments. “We had the best time writing,” she says of writing—and singing—partner Pam Tillis. “I just love her. We sat down, and she had that title line and the idea, and I came up with the melody and some lines—we had worked on a few different things, but this was the one that we finished, and as soon as we did, I knew it was going to be the title track.” Bill Monroe’s “In Despair” may be more unexpected. “I didn’t plan it as a tribute,” Bradley says with a laugh. “But I hope people will think of it as one. I just wanted to showcase a more traditional side of what I do. But I’m glad it’s coming out on his 100th birthday!” The track “Come Home Good Boy” was more intentional and especially poignant, lending itself to Bradley’s first memory of a funeral, when, at age five, a neighbor boy who served with her uncle in Vietnam returned home in a casket.
A smartly selected crew of singers and players frame Bradley’s tender yet muscular singing to perfection. A couple of her regular bandmembers—harmony singer Kim Fox and banjo man Mike Sumner—make appearances, and so do supple, inventive musicians like the Infamous Stringdusters’ Andy Hall, ace studio fiddler Stuart Duncan, bass stalwart Mike Bub, producer Alison Brown (who doubles on guitar and banjo) and, perhaps most surprisingly yet appropriately, young mandolin phenomena Sierra Hull. All those elements come together in the partnership here with singer, guitarist, songwriter and friend Steve Gulley. “We grew up together,” Bradley notes. “Steve and me—we each know what the other one’s going to do.” Yet as strong as the supporting cast is, the focus is, as always, on Dale Ann and the songs she’s chosen—and as always, they’re a deliciously varied bunch.
To a listener unfamiliar with her unique ability to pull songs from the rock vaults and make them her own, Seals & Crofts’ ‘Summer Breeze,’ will undoubtedly be the biggest surprise, but Bradley sees it as a natural. “I’ve always wanted to do that song,” she says. “I don’t pick out a rock tune just for the sake of having one—it has to be one that I always grew up with, or one that I hear that strikes me as fitting into the mix. Sometimes a melody or lyric will just have that feel, just lend itself to the banjo or something like that—like this one, it almost sounds Celtic to me.”
Some songs, like “I Pressed Through The Crowd” and “Will You Visit Me On Sundays,” have been in Bradley’s repertoire for years, yet were never recorded until now. “I was so tickled when Alison gave the o.k. to ‘Sundays,’” she notes, “because it brings back the traditional country that Steve and I have been singing together for a long, long time. And of course, ‘I Pressed Through The Crowd’—I’ve been doing that one for a long time, and it just keeps getting more and more meaningful to me.” Others are more recent. ‘Leaving Kentucky’ was, ironically enough, started in Nashville, but finished after Bradley moved back to Kentucky.
She grew up in southeastern Kentucky and has lived in the Bluegrass State for most of her life; her father was a coal miner and Baptist minister. Bradley auditioned unsuccessfully for the New Coon Creek Girls in 1988 and then spent the next couple of years working as a solo artist in Renfro Valley. She finally joined New Coon Creek in 1991 and performed on the group’s 1994 Pinecastle Records debut, The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore. Bradley‘s first solo album, East Kentucky Morning, came out in 1997 and largely consisted of compositions by Dale Ann Bradley and New Coon Creek ally Vicki Simmons. The project also featured a celebrated take on U2‘s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” which helped the album go Top Ten on both the Gavin Americana and Bluegrass Unlimited charts and earn high critical praise.
In 2004, Bradley released the gospel-themed album Send the Angels via Mountain Home Records. Bradley next signed with the independent label Compass Records, which would bring out her next three albums — 2006’s Catch Tomorrow, 2009’s Don’t Turn Your Back, and 2011’s Somewhere South of Crazy. In 2007, Bradley was named Female Bluegrass Vocalist of the Year at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual awards; she would go on to win the award four more times, in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012. Bradley struck a new recording deal in 2015 with the respected bluegrass label Pinecastle Records. Pinecastle would release Pocket Full of Keys in 2015, which went on to be nominated for a Grammy Award as Best Bluegrass Album. In 2017, she returned with an album simply titled Dale Ann Bradley.
Katie Knipp is equipped with powerful vocals and plays a variety of instruments from boogie woogie piano to slide guitar, to honest harmonica laden stories in between. She has opened for Robert Cray, Joan Osborne, Jimmie Vaughan, Jon Cleary, The Doobie Brothers, Tim Reynolds, The James Hunter Six, and more. #10 on Blues Albums Billboard and 2019 SAMMIE award winner for best blues artist.
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Mary Gauthier - Rifles & Rosary Beads
Sep 08, 2019
Co-written with U.S. veterans and their families, the eleven deeply personal songs on this album reveal the untold stories, and powerful struggles that these veterans and their spouses deal with abroad and after returning home.
_"You’ll be hard-pressed to hear a more powerfully moving work than Rifles & Rosary Beads this year — or any other.”
Last year we saw the release of Jim Allchin’s Decisions album which garnered good critical review for it’s great songs and musicianship. Allchin returned to the studio this past Spring to once again collaborate with Tom Hambridge and his team. Hambridge has produced Grammy winners before and to make things even sweeter he and Allchin invited Mike Zito, Bobby Rush and The Memphis Horns to join them on this production.
The output of all that is 14 new songs, 3 penned by Allchin alone and the other 11 were collaborations between Allchin, Hambridge and a couple of other folks here and there. In addition to Allchin on vocals and guitar are Bob Britt, Kenny Greenberg and Rob McNelley on rhythm guitar, Hambridge on drums, Kevin McKendree on keys, Glenn Worf on bass, Mycle Wastman on backing vocals and the aforementioned guest musicians.
Peter Rowan has paid his dues, spending more than 50 years in and around bluegrass, sharing the stage with everyone from Bill Monroe and Jerry Garcia. Now, he’s paying tribute.
His new CD on Rebel Records is called Carter Stanley’s Eyes. But the title cut isn’t the only nod to the man many consider the best lead singer in bluegrass. Cut after cut, including two written by Carter, two written by his brother Ralph, and one by Monroe, the songs conjure up memories of the artist who left us far too soon, in 1966.
But the title cut, one of three songs on the CD written by Rowan, seals the deal. The Light in Carter Stanley’s Eyes recounts the day in 1965 when Monroe and Rowan — a member of the Blue Grass Boys who wasn’t yet old enough to vote — visited Carter near the end of his tragically shortened life.
The song includes a spoken part, in which Rowan recalls Monroe telling Stanley that he had been one of his favorite Blue Grass Boys, and his favorite lead singer. It also recounts Stanley asking Rowan if he was “going to stick with it,” which Rowan answered affirmatively. Given that more than half a century has passed between the question and this new project, Rowan clearly kept his end of the bargain.
The song, with it’s built-in oral history of an important moment in bluegrass history, will help make Carter Stanley relevant to new generations of pickers. And it should add momentum to the push to add Carter and Ralph to the Country Music Hall of Fame, an oversight that frankly should have been corrected long ago.
Buddy Guy stands as one of the last true traditional blues legends of his time; an era that predated the rock ‘n’ roll explosion of the mid-1960s. Few remain, and even fewer are still releasing albums that remind us as to why they have enjoyed such a lengthy and illustrious career. The Blues Is Alive And Well is very much one of those albums. As a follow-up to his 2015 release, Born To Play Guitar, and his eighteenth solo studio album, The Blues Is Alive And Well features collaborations with Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, and Mick Jagger, and is certainly one of the best blues records to be released this year.
Becky’s body of work is already vast and impressive, as a songwriter and as artist, and she has the awards and accolades to back it up. But, as Crepe Paper Heart demonstrates, she’s not about to rest on her laurels.
From the opening notes of Another Love Gone Wrong to the closing of Phoenix Arise, the 12 songs will take you on an emotional roller coaster of thrills, tears, longing and loss. The stories are compelling, as her songs tend to be. And the performances are top drawer. Again, that’s no surprise if you’ve followed her on stage and on record. With the collective strength of her band and an all-star lineup of guests, anything less would be shocking.
Heartbreak is never any fun, but it sure seems to be good fuel for the creative process. Nicki Bluhm first found an audience for her rich, smoky voice while making music with her husband Tim Bluhm, who produced her early albums and co-founded their band, the Gramblers. But in November 2015, the Bluhms revealed they were getting a divorce, and their creative partnership ended along with their marriage. Splitting up was clearly not a pleasant experience for Nicki, and she lays out all her hurt and disappointment on her 2018 album, To Rise You Gotta Fall. This is a breakup album if there ever were such a thing, but Bluhm doesn't sound like the experience has weakened her. There are bittersweet moments in "Staring at the Sun" and "Last to Know" where Bluhm reveals her emotional wounds, but more often she sounds clear-eyed in her postmortem of her relationship ("Something Really Mean") or defiant as she moves past the wreckage ("Can't Fool the Fool" and "Things I've Done"). Musically, To Rise You Gotta Fall is steeped in vintage R&B and soul with a dash of country for seasoning, and the bluesy angles of the music are a perfect match for Bluhm's ruminations on a love that used to be. The album was cut in Memphis at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording Studio, and producer Matt Ross-Spang has put together a band that can evoke the sounds of R&B past without sounding dated or falsely nostalgic. And To Rise You Gotta Fall features some of Bluhm's finest vocal work, filled with passion and nuance at the same time, and for all the powerful emotions in play here, she doesn't overplay, and the focus and restraint only make this music more intense. Hopefully Nicki Bluhm won't have to get dumped again for her to make an album this good, but at least she found a way to put her broken heart to good use, and To Rise You Gotta Fall ranks with her best music to date.
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Kinky Friedman - Circus of Life
Sep 08, 2019
Before he was a novelist, and before he ran for governor of the state of Texas, Kinky Friedman was known as a musician. Proof of that can be found in his first new album in close to four decades, Circus of Life, being released on his own Echo Hill label.
As the lead singer of Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys he was responsible for such country classics as “Asshole from El Paso” and “They Don’t Make Jews Like Jesus Anymore”. The band also hold the distinction of being one of the few who were filmed for the famed TV show Austin City Limits but whose segment was never aired. (It is available on DVD if you look hard enough).
While Kinky has mellowed somewhat since those halcyon days, only “Little Jewford” Shelby (piano) still rides with him, and his songs aren’t as in your face as they used to be, none of that impacts on the quality of the material you’ll find on this album. For while the twelve songs on the disc only add up to just over 35 minutes of music, their substance can’t be measured by how much time they take up.
A new album from John Prine is always reason to celebrate, but an album in which he wrote or co-wrote all the songs is an even bigger reason to rejoice. The Tree of Forgiveness is the first album since 2005’s Fair & Square where Prine has written the songs. He has issued albums since then, but like Bob Dylan, they have been albums of cover versions, but this album is Prine and, I would argue, Prine at his best.
Prine co-writes with old friends and longtime collaborators on this album. He even wrote a song with Phil Spector — he started writing the song, “God Only Knows”, decades ago. Pat McLaughlin, Roger Cook, and Keith Sykes have worked with Prine in the past. He has made some new friends too in Dan Auerbach, who co-wrote the brilliant “Caravan of Fools”, and Brandi Carlile, who duets with Prine on the beautiful “I Have Met My Love Today”.
When Nashville-based singer/songwriter/producer Tom Hambridge decided to pay tribute to the city of New Orleans with this CD, he had no trouble recruiting several of the biggest names in Big Easy music – including Ivan Neville, Sonny Landreth and the late Allen Toussaint — to help him. But that should come as no surprise to anyone who’s aware of the rich legacy he’s already created in the worlds of blues, country and rock.
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., who graduated from Berklee College Of Music and spent three years on the road as the percussionist for guitar legend Roy Buchanan, Hambridge has earned Grammys as a producer of Buddy Guy’s Living Proof and Born To Play Guitar albums as well as more nominations for his collaboration with a who’s who of entertainers, including Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Van Morrison, Johnny Winter, Gregg Allman, Kid Rock, George Thorogood, Susan Tedeschi and many others.
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Mark Knopfler - Down the Road Wherever
Sep 08, 2019
Mark Knopfler’s ninth solo studio album ‘Down The Road Wherever’ features unhurriedly elegant new songs inspired by a wide range of subjects, including his early days in Deptford with Dire Straits, a stray football fan lost in a strange town, and the compulsion of a musician hitching home through the snow. Mark has a poet’s eye for telling details that infuse his songs with his unique psychogeography – ‘where the Delta meets the Tyne’ as he describes it – and his warm Geordie vocal tone and his deft, richly melodic guitar playing are as breathtaking and thrilling as ever.
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JP Harris - Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing
Sep 08, 2019
JP Harris doesn’t fancy himself a musician as much as a carpenter who writes country songs. With his forthcoming album, Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing (out October 5 on Free Dirt Records), Harris is back after a four-year hiatus to remind us what it's like to actually live the stories we hear so often in country music. Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Harris left home at 14 and traveled the country hopping freight trains, working the odd job, and living without electricity or running water for over a decade. For this record, his third full-length, he tapped a handful of his favorite players and called on the production prowess of Morgan Jahnig (Old Crow Medicine Show) to capture the stories of his stranger-than-fiction life. Dripping with pedal steel and telecaster twang, the record has the rugged edges of outlaw, the danceability of honky tonk, and classic country's beloved emotional candor. After more than a decade in the trenches, Harris is more in love with country music than ever. If he hasn't already, his latest effort will make you a believer.
Steve Forbert’s new album ‘Magic Tree,’ recorded in Meridian (his birthplace in Mississippi), Nashville, New York, New Jersey and Virginia, is a collection of his own songs and the music loses nothing in its quality of production despite the country wide recording venues. Throughout the album his folk roots shine clear, as does his song writing ability honed over his forty years in the music industry.
It might be naive to think you can detect authentic music without being familiar with the particular genre. Paul Thorn’s Don’t Let the Devil Ride, is an incredible gospel and gospel-influenced album that sounds like the real deal: From its production, which sounds like it was recorded inside an old hot wooden church stuffed full of sinning parishioners, to the songs, which make the listener feel like they’ve stumbled into perhaps the South’s most exciting church service. It’s all the more amazing given that Thorn isn’t a gospel artist.
The album kills because it’s intense without being noodle-y. Every song sounds like great musicians trying–somewhat unsuccessfully–to hide just how talented they are. As is often the case with gospel, much of this comes from the organ, which propels many of the songs here. The album kicks off with “Come On Let’s Go,” which is propelled by that organ, as mentioned earlier. An infectious hand-clap keeps the beat, with horns popping in and out of gospel-tinged background vocals. The song builds to a manic climax before collapsing into a swirl of organ. Truthfully, if Thorn had ended the album on that first song, everyone would have felt like they got their money’s worth.
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Sugarcane Jane - Southern State of Mind
Sep 08, 2019
Sugarcane Jane, the Alabama Gulf Coast-based husband and wife duo of Anthony Crawford and Savana Lee have recorded Southern State Of Mind with producer Buzz Cason. The recording starts off with a rousing "Cabin On The Hill", already a favorite with Sugarcane Jane fans. It is followed by "Campfire", the first single. The thought-provoking, fresh and exciting "Man Of Fewest Words" precedes the title track, "Southern State Of Mind", the tale of the joys of Southern living. "Destiny", a raw rocker, is foreshadowed by the inspirational "Rainbow". "Red Flags Warning", a true gem from the pen of Anthony Crawford is cut #7. Savana Lee is featured beautifully on "The One Before Me". "How Do You Know" and "We Can Dream" wrap up this eclectic collection of songs from the duo.
Brooklyn based but with a somewhat nomadic background, Ana Egge is one of those songwriters who seem to hover around the edge of the mainstream. She gets great reviews but she’s certainly not a household name even in the most dedicated of Americana infested households. Her album with The Stray Birds, ‘Bright Shadow’, did cause a bit of a buzz, perhaps down to that trio’s reputation but we can safely say here that ‘White Tiger’ is a much more multi faceted affair than the folky infused ‘Bright Shadow’, bursting as it is with imaginative arrangements adorned with horns and synths.
Tas Cru’s bio begins like this, “Raucous, rowdy, gentle, sweet, eccentric, quirky, and outright irreverent are all words that fittingly describe Tas Cru’s songs and testify to his reputation as a one of the most unique of bluesmen plying his trade today. ”
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Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore - Downey To Lubbock
Sep 08, 2019
DOWNEY TO LUBBOCK was born by immaculate inspiration from live shows Grammy winner Dave Alvin and Grammy nominee Jimmie Dale Gilmore performed together in 2017. Just the two of them were swapping songs and cutting up, each with a guitar and a heart full of soul, musicians who’ve been on the road their entire adult lives. The result is an album of blues, rock and folk inspired tunes that both of their fans will enjoy.
The album contains 12 songs - 10 covers and two originals - and is destined to be a classic Americana album from two Americana legends.
Joyann Parker brings a full range of talent to her performances as an accomplished singer, pianist, songwriter must-hear lead guitarist, currently endorsed by Heritage Guitars in Kalamazoo, MI. She has performed for thousands at major venues and festivals across the country.
For one so young (he was born in 1988), Travis Bowlin has already achieved a hell of a lot. Not only can he play the guitar, he can make them too! At first he made cigar box guitars for his own use but people seeing him use them, created a demand that he now meets through his separate business, Bowlin Box Instruments. Travis was born near Cincinnati and raised in a household full of many genres of music…so he soaked up blues, rock ‘n’ roll, gospel and country. He got his first guitar aged 15 and very soon started to perform around his home and surrounding states. To take his devotion a step further, he moved to Nashville and released his first album in 2014, called See You Again. His influences have a wide range as he cites Led Zeppelin, BB King, Robert Johnson, Prince, Steppenwolf, 3 Dog Night and Albert King amongst others.
He has now released his follow up album called, rather neatly, Secundus, as it means second but can also, apparently, be used to mean ‘lucky’. It contains 12 all original tracks and shows a development from that first outing with its more developed, blues-oriented feeling and manages to cover virtually every emotion a human being can experience. There are many more flavours to be discerned and I can hear jazz and soul in the mix and I even picked up a hint of progginess in a Yes kind of way.
In the past several years, Sideline has jumped from being a literal side project for some bluegrass A-listers to a fully-fledged band working its way to the top of the bluegrass world. With a few of those original “sidemen” on board, as well as the addition of several younger faces, Sideline has continued to up their game with the release of their new Mountain Home album, Front and Center.
Opening track Thunder Dan has captivated radio audiences with its catchy chorus and bluesy, mash-style grass. Penned by Josh Manning, it’s a take on the familiar “mountain man” story, featuring a title character with an itchy trigger finger and strong vocals from Troy Boone. The song hit number one last month and was back at the top spot on the Bluegrass Today chart this past week. Lysander Hayes is another rough character, keeping his mama up worrying and praying while he picks and drinks and runs around. Skip Cherryholmes pulls out the clawhammer banjo for this song, which along with Nathan Aldridge’s fiddle, makes for a nice old-time-with-drive vibe.
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