Tom Adams, Ron Block, J.D. Crowe, Charlie Cushman, Kenny Ingram, Jim Mills, Joe Mullins, Larry Perkins, Craig Smith, Ron Stewart, David Talbot & Tony Trischka; Foggy Mountain Special: A Bluegrass Tribute to Earl Scruggs (Rounder Records, www.rounder.com )
“Producer Tim Austin assembled a dozen cutting edge banjo players and ten stellar backup musicians to record the 12 tunes in this collection,” Tom Adams reports in liner notes. Each banjo player chose the Scruggs song he wanted to play. “In tribute, Earl, for all the music you’ve given us, on behalf of all of the musicians on this recording, and the thousands of banjo players and millions of fans whose lives you have touched, we say a heartfelt ‘Thank You!’” Adams says.
The Box Cars, All In (Mountain Home Music Company, www.crossroadsmusic.com )
The sophomore release from The Box Cars, IBMA’s 2011 Emerging Artists of the Year Keith Garrett, Harold Nixon, Adam Steffey, John Bowman and Ron Stewart. This new release features a set of songs from Tim Stafford & Bobby Starnes, Earl Scruggs, William Joseph Colwell and Sonya & Becky Isaacs, along with originals from band members Garrett, Stewart and Steffey.
The Brothers Comatose, Respect the Van (www.thebrotherscomatose.com )
The original members of this quintet with brothers Alex and Ben Morrison bonded at the Morrison family acoustic music parties before taking a youthful foray into punk and rock bands before circling back to the music they learned in that living room. They credit both beginnings for the attitude of their current music. On the new album, their music is not a wavering mélange of assorted styles, but decided and strong bluegrass-influenced folk rock. With the addition of members Philip Brezina (fiddle) and Ryan Avellone (mandolin) the band aims to offer a no B.S., good time. The all-original set was tracked “live in one big room – treating the studio like a stage,” he explains.
Joe Craven Trio, All Four One (Blender Logic Arts, www.joecraven.com )
The latest from this veteran north California trio features eight instrumentals and two songs that pay tribute to the blues, New Orleans, swing, funk and bluegrass, as well as music of Brazil, Haiti, Ireland and Puerto Rico. In liner notes Craven, a favorite every year at Wintergrass in Bellevue, Wash., says, “I’ve always enjoyed creating extreme makeovers of vernacular music—part of the history of what I call ‘the ongoing tradition of the perpetual transition of folk’…. This recording is a reflection of my desire to celebrate the individual writing and collective arranging of the four colleagues and friends who have comprised The Joe Craven Trio over the years…. We hope you dig.”
Kathy Joy Daugherty, Heart of Dreams (JoySong, www.kathyjoydaugherty.com )
Nine of ten songs on Kathy Joy’s debut album are originals or co-writes. Her lead vocals are backed by Jennifer Strickland, Kim McClean, Randy Kohrs and Robert Jason. Guest instrumentalists include Kohrs, Scott Vestal, Tim Crouch, Dustin Benson, Aaron Ramsey and Josh Williams, plus more. Kathy dedicates the CD to her grandma, Anna Laura Stephens. Songs include “I Am That I Am” with Marty Raybon, “Kentucky Memories,” “Stay Outta My Kitchen,” “Jesus, If It Weren’t for You” and more.
Jimmy Gaudreau & Moondi Klein, Home from the Mills (Rebel Records, www.rebelrecords.com )
Jimmy Gaudreau and Moondi Klein have played together in several bands, but there’s something uniquely striking about their duet. Fans of the first duo album and tour will be happy to hear songs like Tim O’Brien’s “Bending Blades,” “Close the Door Lightly when You Go” by Eric Andersen, John Starling’s “C&O Canal,” “If I Needed You” by Townes Van Zandt, Gordon Lightfoot’s “Shadows” and more.
Carrie Hassler, The Distance (Rural Rhythm, www.ruralrhythm.com )
The latest from Carrie Hassler features her memorable lead vocals backed by Tim Stafford, Ron Stewart, Justin Moses, Alan Bibey, Mark Fain, Dale Ann Bradley, producer Steve Gulley and more. Included are a number of songs written especially for Carrie's voice, from writers like Carl Jackson, Stafford, Gulley, Mark Wheeler and Jennifer Strickland, among others. Standouts include “Luxury Liner,” “All I Have to Do Is Breathe,” “Eugene & Diane” and “Give Me Warm.”
Lilly of the West, Swings & Heartaches (Musicautor, www.lillydrumeva.net )
Bulgaria’s premier bluegrass band, fronted by lead singer Lilly Drumeva, swings a set of music on their latest CD. There are two Patsy Cline songs, one from Hank Williams, a couple of Western swing standards, plus material from June Carter & Johnny Cash, The Everly Brothers, Juice Holland & Sam Brown and two Bulgarian folk melodies. Included: “Gotta Lotta Rhythm in My Soul,” “Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring,” “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,” “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “My Window Faces the South,” “If I Were a Carpenter” and more.
Bobby Osborne & the Rocky Top X-Press, New Bluegrass & Old Heartaches (Rural Rhythm, www.ruralrhythm.com )
After 62 years in the music business this Bluegrass Hall of Famer continues to nail the high notes, straight from the heart. In liner notes producer/fiddler Glen Duncan says, “As you think about all of the history that Bobby represents, also know that he continues to work at his craft, with that same love of the music that first inspired him to start his musical journey back in 1949. Millions of miles, thousands of shows, untold hours playing and singing; you can hear all of that accumulated musical wisdom in every note that Bobby sings on this recording.” The set list includes Paul Craft’s “Heartache Looking for a Home,” two Jake Landers compositions, Fred Rose’s “Low and Lonely,” “Phil Rosenthal’s “Muddy Waters” and more. Bobby, Glen Duncan and Boj (Bobby Osborne, Jr.) sing the trio parts.
Marty Raybon, Hand to the Plow (Rural Rhythm, www.ruralrhythm.com )
Fans of Marty Raybon’s trademark soulful lead voice will enjoy this new album of bluegrass/blues/gospel influenced country music. Titles include “I’m Working on a Building,” “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” “You Get Me,” “He’s Still My Little Man (Matty’s Song),” “You’ve Got to Move,” “When He Reigns It Pours” and more.
Marty Raybon, Southern Roots & Branches – Yesterday & Today (Rural Rhythm, www.ruralrhythm.com )
Raybon presents driving, blues-tinged bluegrass on his new album backed by a Who’s Who of great instrumentalists. His brother, Tim Raybon, plus Paul Brewster, Glen Harrell and Edgar Loudermilk, sing harmonies. In addition to his own songs, the material comes from Rodney Crowell, Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin, Hugh Prestwood, Flatt & Scruggs and more. Justin Moses, Bryan Sutton, Ashby Frank, Kenny Smith, Tim Stafford, Terry Smith, Mark Fain, Shad Cobb, Justin Moses, Rob Ickes and Dave Talbot guest, among others.
Red June, Beauty Will Come (www.redjunemusic.com )
Red June starts out their liner notes with a big “thank you” to everyone who contributed to their album via kickstarter.com. many of the songs are originals from band members Will Straughan, John Cloyd Miller, Natalya Weinstein and Jeff Hersk: “These Old Chains,” “Every Hard Mile,” “Piney Branch Breakdown,” “All That the Fall Leaves,” “Soul’s Repair” and more.
Lou Reid & Carolina, Callin’ Me Back Home (Rural Rhythm, www.ruralrhythm.com )
Lou Reid and his band present a set of Carolina driving bluegrass and high lonesome vocals on a new set of music from Dennis Duff, Dave Lindsey, Ray Edwards, Michael Bentley and Daniel Salyer. “Big Old Red Guitar” will take ever picker back to that first good instrument that landed in your hands as a kid learning to play. Carolina also features vocals from Christy Reid, Shannon Slaughter and Trevor Watson. Ron Stewart, Tony Rice, Rob Ickes and Mike Auldridge guest.
Larry Stephenson, What Really Matters (Compass Records, www.compassrecords.com )
On his debut release for Compass Records Larry Stephenson showcases his high sailing, tenor range lead vocals backed by a road-tested band including Kenny Ingram, Kevin Richardson and Danny Stewart. The set list features Jimmy Martin & J.D. Crowe’s “Bear Tracks,” the title track penned by Harley Allen & John Wiggins, Ronnie Reno’s “Big Train,” a reworking of Woody Guthrie’s “Philadelphia Lawyer” with Sam Bush on fiddle and harmony vocals and more. Also memorable: Larry’s original “God Will” and Ed Snodderly’s “I See Love.”
Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives; Nashville, Volume 1: Tear the Woodpiile Down (Sugar Hill, www.sugarhillrecords.com )
Marty Stuart’s second release for the Sugar Hill label is a 10-song collection, almost entirely written by Marty and featuring his touring band of musical missionaries The Fabulous Superlatives. Buck Trent, Kenny Lovelace and Robbie Turner are joined by country music royalty Hank Williams III and Lorrie Carter Bennett (The Carter Family) on harmony vocals. Stuart says when he came to Nashville in 1972 “the most outlaw thing you could possibly do around here was to take country music and blow it up into rock & roll. Mission accomplished! Today, the most outlaw thing you can possibly do in Nashville, Tennessee is play country music.”
Wayne Taylor, It’s About Time (Wayne Taylor Records, email@example.com )
In liner notes Taylor says, “After nearly two decades working with some of the most talented musicians on the planet, those being my brothers in Blue Highway, I finally decided to step out on my own for this solo project. Upon telling folks I was doing this, the overwhelming response was, ‘It’s about time’—thus the name of this collection of songs.” Sharon & Cheryl White and Darrin & Brooke Aldridge sing harmony on several cuts. Wayne wrote nine of the twelve songs on the CD himself. Included: “Who Do You Think You’re Foolin’,” “Cedar Creek,” “You’re Gone,” “Bluest Eyes in Tennessee,” “All My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers,” “Little Maggie” and more.
Alan Tompkins, No Part of Nothin’ (Bluegrass Heritage Music, www.alantompkins.com )
WAMU’s Katy Daley says, “Who doesn’t dream of working with bluegrass greats like Sam Bush, Stephen Mougin, Ron Stewart, Randy Kohrs, Ned Luberecki and Kenny & Amanda Smith? Very few people change dreams into reality, but I’m not surprised that Alan did. His baritone is up to the task of fronting the Dream Team Bluegrass Band on the old gospel standard, ‘This World Is Not My Home.’ Good job, Alan.” Titles also include “I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome,” “Blue Kentucky Waltz,” “More Pretty Girls Than One,” “Shenandoah Waltz,“ “I’ve Been Redeemed," and more.
Various Artists, Pa’s Fiddle (Pa’s Fiddle Recordings LLC, firstname.lastname@example.org , www.laura-ingalls-wilder.com )
Charles Ingalls was a central figure in the autobiographical stories told by Laura Ingalls Wilder in her Little House on the Prairie books. He was an old-time fiddler whose music is captured by the 127 songs referenced in his daughter’s books. Produced by Joe Week, Matt Combs and Dale Cockrell, the tunes are performed by Bryan Sutton, Matt Flinner, Matt combs, David Grier, Jeff Taylor, Dennis Crouch and others. Included: Buffalo Gals,” “Jesus Holds My Hand,” “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” “Mary of the Wild Moore,” “Yellow Heifer,” “Boatmen’s Dance” and more.
NEW COMPILATIONS & RE-ISSUES:
Various Artists, Putumayo Presents Bluegrass (Putumayo World Music www.putumayo.com )
The first bluegrass album by World Music label Putumayo includes singles from Alison Krauss & Union Station, Railroad Earth, David Grisman & Jerry Garcia, Andrea Zonn & Alison Brown, Frank Solivan, Peter Rowan, James Alan Shelton, Crooked Still, The Seldom Scene, Uncle Earl, Town Mountain, Sam Bush and more.