FRESH SOUNDS IN THE WORLD OF BLUEGRASS – June, July & August 2011

All4HymFaith & Family (Rural Rhythm Christian, www.ruralrhythm.com)
 All4Him is a  Virginia-based family band featuring Chester and Terri Kreitzer and their son, Cory Kreitzer on vocals. An all-bluegrass gospel set features songs about faith and family, penned by Jerry Salley, Dee Gaskins, Wendy Waldman, Bill Wray, Ronny Hinson, Brink Brinkman and Mary Beth Cordle.

Scott Anderson, Tales from the Swamp (Mato, www.scottandersonmusic.com)
Following his first solo project Rivers and a critically acclaimed CD with his daughter Amanda, Anderson dredges up a swampy soup of originals and favorites on this new project with his daughter. The Andersons are backed by an all-star cast of bluegrass instrumentalists. There are several originals, plus songs from Johnny Cash, Django Reinhardt, Bob Dylan, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bill Monroe, Dave Evans and more.  

The Bankesters, The Bankesters (Blue Circle Records, www.bankesters.com)
In liner notes Tom T. Hall says, “The Bankesters have been doing it right—working hard, listening to good advice, and then working harder. This recording captures the real essence of good music—great songs sung from the heart with beautiful voices.” The family band with four daughters and one son-in-law from  Illinois presents material from Billy & Terry Smith, Wil Maring, Donna Ulisse, Ralph Stanley, Larry Sparks, Dennis Duff, the Halls and more. Jamie Johnson of The Grascals guests on “My Love Will Follow You.”

Audie Blaylock and Redline, I’m Going Back to Old Kentucky (Rural Rhythm, www.ruralrhythm.com)
 Blaylock’s third album for Rural Rhythm Records is a salute to Bill Monroe. Audie called on Blue Grass Boys Del McCoury and Glen Duncan, along with Ronnie McCoury, Bobby Osborne, Russell Moore, Lou Reid and Jason Carter to record the project.  The song list includes “My Little Georgia Rose,” “On the Old Kentucky Shore” (with Del McCoury), “In Despair,” “It’s Mighty Dark for Me to Travel,” three songs with triple fiddles and more.

Suzy Bogguss, American Folk Songbook (Loyal Duchess Records, www.suzybogguss.com)
Powerhouse vocalist Suzy Bogguss presents a set of folk songs with spare, acoustic arrangements: “Shady Grove,” “Shenandoah,” “Wayfaring Stranger,” “Banks of the Ohio,” “Wildwood Flower,” “Beautiful Dreamer” and more. She’s backed by Pat Bergeson, Charlie Chadwick, Stuart Duncan, Jeff Taylor, Richard Bailey, Harry Stinson, John McCutcheon, Paul Kramer and more.

Russ Carson, Last Chance (Patuxent Music, www.pxrec.com)
Fans of Russ Carson’s banjo playing with Gold Heart will be pleased to check out his debut solo release. He’s joined by Michael Cleveland, Dominick Leslie, Jake Stargel and Marshall Wilborn, with Brandon Rickman, Jeff Parker and Gold Heart on vocals. Songs include ‘I Feel the Blues Movin’ In,” “Shenandoah Breakdown,” “One Tear,” “Redwood Hill,” “Squirrel Hunters” and more.

Dan Crary, Perfect Storm (Blue Night Records, www.dancrary.com)
The latest recording from legendary flatpick guitarist and singer Dan Crary is a collaboration with Steve Spurgin, John Reischman, Don Stiernberg and Keith Little. Included: “Sail Away Ladies/Sally Ann;” “Thunderation;” “Muley Was a Railroad Man;” “Deep River Blues; “Girl from the North Country;” “Suite 222—Shenandoah, Gold Rush, Soldier’s Joy” and more.

Cumberland River, The Life We Live (Rural Rhythm, www.ruralrhythm.com)
Fans of this Harlan, Kentucky-based band featured on the FX Network series Justified, will be happy to hear the 13 original cuts on their debut for the Rural Rhythm label. In liner notes Steve Gulley describes them as ‘real mountain men with a story to tell and a unique, special way of telling it. If you’re looking for pure, honest music full of unabashed emotion, look no further. Cumberland River is raw emotion personified.”

Dehlia Low, Ravens & Crows (Rebel Records, www.rebelrecords.com)
This Boston-based group features traditional textured lead vocals from Anya Hinkle that draw the listener in, backed by spare, artistically produced bluegrass instrumentation. The songs are all originals from Bryan Clendenins, Greg Stiglets, Stacy Claude and Hinkle—except for one Willie Nelson/Hank Cockran song with a third verse written by Claude.

Susie Glaze & the Hilonesome Band, Live at the Freight & Salvage (www.susieglaze.com)
Recorded live on July 15, 2010 at The Freight & Salvage Coffee house in Berkeley, California, the latest from Susie Glaze 10 tracks with five originals from guitarist Rob Carlson and traditional songs from the Jean Ritchie repertoire. Banjo player Bill Evans guests on “Old Dirt Road” and “Maggie Bailey.”

Buddy Greene, Harmonica Anthology (Rufus Music, www.buddygreene.com)
In liner notes Greene says, “I’ve always wanted to make an album like this, one that would showcase the diatonic harmonica in various acoustic settings, with a good variety of musical styles—bluegrass, Celtic, folk, old time, ballads, etc.---and a bunch of talented friends to help me realize a satisfying and cohesive result.” Titles include “Texas Gales,” “The Train that Carried My Girl fromTown,” “Minor Miner,” “Old Joe Clark,” “The Wabash Cannonball” and more.

Russell Johnson, Anytime Anyplace But Only You (New Time Records, www.newtimerecords.com)
Russell Johnson’s signature high tenor-range lead vocals, mandolin playing and songwriting talents are center stage on his 15th album as a featured performer and his second solo release. Johnson wrote or co-write half of the 14 cuts. He’s joined by Jon Stickley, John Wade, Nicky Sanders, Rick Lafleur, Rick Keen, Julie Elkins, Kandis Johnson, New Vintage and The Grass Cats plus more.

Jim Lauderdale, Reason and Rhyme (Sugar Hill, www.sugarhillrecords.com)
The new bluegrass collaboration from singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter is their first venture on the Sugar Hill label, and a follow up to their previous album, Patchwork River (2010).”We started on this one last August,” Lauderdale notes, “right after I finished touring with Elvis Costello. Robert and I have worked just about every way you can think of—writing in the same room, adding lyrics to music and music to lyrics—but whichever way we go, he’s the lyrics guy and I’m the music guy…. I started sending him melodies, and ten days later we had 18 songs to choose from.”

Jean-Luc Leroux, Country Lagoon Plage et Musique (jlleroux@lagoon.nc)
Subtitled “Country and Bluegrass Music,” Leroux presents some of both—with lyrics in French. His sidemen for the project include Bob Moore, J.D. Blair, Paul Franklin, Chris Scruggs, Guthrie Trapp, Mike Bub, Bob Harris, Rob Ickes, Jim Van Cleeve, Kurt Storey, Richard Bailey and Laura Vida.

Milkdrive, Road from Home (Classic horse Label, www.classichorselabel.com)
The debut studio album from Austin’s alt-folk acoustic string band captures the quartet’s soulful, multi-layered mix of rhythms, tempos, flavors, instrumental improvisation and vocal harmonies. Principal songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Noah Jeffries grew up playing bluegrass and gospel in Idaho. He joined up with fiddling champ/mandolin player Dennis Ludiker, fiddler Brian Beken and swing jazz bassist Matt Mefford in Austin. Titles include “Dry Creek Inn,” “Smokeblowers,” “Soho,” “Changa Chang,” “Figi,” “The Ventures of Smiley Bob (Part 1 & 2)” and more.

Moody Bluegrass, TWO…Much Love, A Nashville Celebration of The Moody Blues (Bunny Rae Records, www.bunnyraerecords.com, www.moodybluegrass.com)
In liner notes from Dan Keen for the follow up to 2004’s critically acclaimed bluegrass tribute to the Moody Blues, he says, “Welcome to a wrinkle in space. Welcome to an improbable confluence of world-class artists from different genres and eras. Welcome to a place in your own musical soul that didn’t exist until you encountered the Moody Bluegrass projects.” Lead vocalists include Vince Gill, Tim O’Brien, Harley Allen, Peter Rowan, Justin Hayward, Ricky Skaggs, Jan Harvey, John Lodge, Ronnie Bowman, Sam Bush, Emma Harvey, Larry Cordle, Graeme Edge, John Cowan and Jon Randall Stewart.

Michael Martin Murphey, Tall Grass & Cool Water (Rural Rhythm, www.ruralrhythm.com)
 Murphey combines his love for cowboy and bluegrass music for this project with a set of cowboy music played in the bluegrass style. He’s joined by Pat Flynn, Ryan Murphey, Sam Bush, Ronnie McCoury, Charlie Cushman, Troy Engle, Andy Leftwich, Andy Hall, Mike Bub and more on songs like “Cool Water,” “The Ballad of Jesse James,” “Springtime in the Rockies” and more.  

Nu-Blu, The Blu-Disc (Pinecastle, www.pinecastlemusic.com)
The debut release from Nu-Blu for the Pinecastle label is a collection of songs written by Jon Weisberger, Tony Rackley, Larry Shell, Marc Rossi, Mark Brinkman, Tim Stafford and more. The band includes Daniel Routh on guitar, Carolyn Routh on bass and lead vocals, Levi Austin on lead guitar, Kendall Gales on mandolin, and Rob Ickes guesting on Dobro.

Dalton Roberts, Heroes & Engrams (Happy Doghouse downhmep@aol.com)
The new collection of songs from Chattanooga-based Dalton Roberts is a tribute to his musical heroes: The Carter Family, Van Roberts, Redbird Clingan, Martha Carson, Pete Cassell, Carl Story, Floyd Tillman, Hank Williams, Rex Griffin, Billy Joe Moore, Gamble Rogers, Cousin Joe and Noble Watts.

Ricky Skaggs, Country Hits Bluegrass Style (Skaggs Family Records, www.skaggsfamilyrecords.com)
 Bluegrassers who loved Ricky Skaggs’ country music in the 1980s and early ‘90s will be pleased to hear the 14-song album that mixes Ricky’s country and bluegrass roots—something he has been sharing with fans around the country on his Treasure Chest Tour. “A lot of fans still shout out ‘Honey (Open that Door)’ and I felt like we needed to do those songs for them, too,” says Skaggs. “For years now I’ve had fans come up and ask me to do a CD that would have my old country hits on it. So here it is, done in more of a bluegrass style. Folks have loved it when we play them on the road. Sure hope you love them too.”  

Shady Grove, Old Porch Swing (moxley@underwoodmoldco.com)
Shady Grove is Tim Maxley and Gerry Hall on vocals, backed on this recording by Joel Key, Mark Fain, Rob Ickes, Aubrey Haynie and Scott Williamson. Sentimental favorites and gospel music are the focus, with titles like “Golden Bells,” “Coat of Many Colors,” “The Longer I Serve Him,” “Happy Tracks,” “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ole Days)” and more.

Steve Spurgin, Past Perfect (Blue Night Records, www.stevespurginmusic.com)
Steve Spurgin is the singer/songwriter from Texas who has performed with bands like California, The Limeliters, Sawmill Road, Sundance and more. In liner notes for his new set of original music he says, “The songs in this compilation all have something to do with the past—my past, your past, the made up past. It’s a given that folks who have been around a while prefer to romanticize things gone before, maybe soften the edges a bit. So, while I may tend to ‘see’ things as I choose, the trick is taking someone else along for the ride.”  

Niall Toner Band, There’s a Better Way (Avalon Records, www.nialltonerband.ie)
The latest album from well-known Irish songwriter Niall Toner features a collection of originals and co-written songs: “Ocean of Teardrops,” “Chainsaw Country Blues,” “The Cheatin’  Side of Town,” “Tears Along the Tracks,” “My Baby’s Gone and Said Goodbye,” “Drunken Daisy” with “You Gotta Have a Banjo in the Band,” “The Master’s Resting Place,” “The Straight and Narrow,” “I Would Die,” “Sweet Memories of You” and a tribute to the father of bluegrass called “Bill Monroe’s Mandolin.”

Three Ring Circle, Brothership (ResoRevolution, www.resorevolution.com)
“The TRC boys [Andy Leftwich, Dave Pomeroy and Rob Ickes] are back, doing what they do best: raising the bar to dizzying heights in their bluegrass-meets-rock-meets-jazz world,” says Jon Weisberger in the Nashville Scene. “They do it with tone, taste and absolutely unbelievable chops….Early releases ‘Just a Rumor’ and ‘Wildflowers’ (Tom Petty) perfectly delivered here by guest Jon Randall Stewart show off all the s group’s strengths, but the entire album is a kaleidoscopic delight, so full of fire and virtuosity that it’s hard to believe there’s just three guys doing all the work."

Town Mountain, Steady Operator (Pinecastle Records, www.pinecastlemusic.com)
the Asheville-based Town Mountain band brings a unique energy with their combination of original bluegrass material mixed with slow country crooning and a honky tonk edge. Born out of all night jam sessions and the fertile picking scene of western North Carolina, Town Mountain is attracting a lot of attention with their third album, Steady Operator. The band includes Phil Barker, Bobby Britt, Robert Greer, Jesse Langlais and Barrett Smith, and the CD was produced by Mike Bub.

The Tuttles with A.J. Lee, Introducing The Tuttles with A.J. Lee (Back Studio Records, www.TheTuttlesWithAJLee.com)
In liner notes Kathy Kallick describes the picking on this new recording as “HOT! The singing is complex and gorgeous! Molly (Tuttle) has a voice that is unique and very traditional at the same time, rich and sweet and incredibly moving. And when she blends that voice with A.J.’s, well, chills up and down my spine! …Michael and Sullivan played virtuoso solos that had the audience up, and on their feet and I myself burst into laughter, as I do when music delights and amazes me.” Songs include “Where the Wild River Rolls,” “El Cumbanchero,” “White Freightliner Blues” and more.

Donna Ulisse, An Easy Climb (Hadley Music, www.donnaulisse.com)
The fourth bluegrass albums from Donna Ulisse, one of the genre’s most prolific songwriters, includes titles like “Let It Rain,” “Crawlin’ Back,” “Black Snake” (about a winding mountain road in Virginia), “Her Heart is a Stone Hard Ground,” “Flat Broke in Arkansas” (about her little brother), “Banks of Roane River” and more. She’s joined by producer Keith Sewell, Scott Vestal, Andy Leftwich, Viktor Krauss and Rick Stanley.

The Wilders, The Wilders (Free Dirt, http://thewilders.us/) 
After 15 years as one of the most well-known honky tonk/ alt-country bands on the U.S. and European roots scene today, their new recording presents a deeply personal side of Kansas City-based band members Ike Sheldon, Phil Wade, Betse Ellis and Nate Gawron. Titles include “Ordinary People,” “Mid  November,” “Riding on Your High Horse,” “Things They Say About Home” and more.

Paul Williams & the Victory Trio, Satisfied (Rebel Records, www.rebelrecords.com)
In liner notes legendary tenor-range singer/mandolinist Paul Williams says, “The response to our music, everywhere we are blessed to perform, continues to overwhelm me. This group and I truly appreciate all the kind words, the encouragement and the testimonies by many fans who attend our concerts. Our sincere effort is to lift up the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through song, both on recordings and live concerts.” The song list includes “I’ll Keep on Holding On,” “We’ll Go Home Together (on the Cloud),” “Paul’s Ministry,” “A Dying Mother’s Prayer,” “He Means the World to Me” and more.

The Wronglers with Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Heirloom Music (Neanderthal Records, colleen@thewronglers.com)
Distinctive Americana vocalist Jimmie Dale Gilmore appears on this new album with the California-based Wronglers: Warren Hellman on banjo, Krista Martin on fiddle, Bill Martin on mandolin, Nate Levine on guitar, Colleen Browne on bass and vocals, and Heidi Clare on fiddle and vocals. Favorites include “Time Changes Everything,” “Deep Elum Blues,” “I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes,” “Uncle Pen,” “Footprints in the Snow,” “Columbus Stockade Blues” and more.