Over at the Lonesome Road Review, Aaron has posted my review of two new Rebel Records bluegrass compilations- one is focused on banjo tunes, the other fiddle. http://lonesomeroadreview.com/2012/11/14/true-bluegrass-banjo-and-true-bluegrass-fiddle-by-various-artists-on-rebel-records/ will get you there.
Thanks for visiting. Donald
Over at Fervor Coulee Bluegrass, I’ve posted a review of the excellent new album from bluegrass vet Joe Mullins. http://www.countrystandardtime.com/blog/FervorCouleeBluegrass/entry.asp?xid=928 will get you there. The Radio Ramblers include Adam McIntosh (formerly of the Dry Branch Fire Squad), one of my favourite guitar players and singers within the genre. I wouldn’t mind seeing this band live in Alberta soon.
As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
My review of the new Rebel album from Gaudreau and Klein has been posted to the Lonesome Road Review. Apologies to all for the delay- I’ve been distracted. As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
Chris Jones & the Night Drivers Lost Souls & Free Spirits: The Rebel Collection Old & New Rebel Records
Beyond setting a new standard for the use of the ampersand, this set from Chris Jones and Co., is both a fabulous little introduction to one of bluegrass music’s most familiar personalities and a neat summation of where he has been.
With a daily six-hour block on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction, Chris Jones has become a very well-known personality within bluegrass media; that he is actually a darn talented and insightful radio host is certainly a freakin’ bonus. This is the second compilation of Rebel recordings from Jones in a decade, and this will seem a bit mystifying to some readers especially as Jones has recorded only a single bluegrass album in the ten years since A Few Words.
Nitpicking aside, I’m sure there are very good reasons for the lack of output. If I were guessing- and I am- I would suggest that the daily grind of producing the radio show may hold back a bit the ‘full-time’ aspect of Jones’ bluegrass performing career. Then there was the ‘Americana’ excursion of Too Far Down the Road, Jones’ very strong album of the mid-aughts. The fact that Jones is a dedicated family man who has chosen to follow his wife Sally to her family’s northern Alberta home would also likely factor in to his small number of recordings since around 2000.
What I do know is that I wish Chris Jones & the Night Drivers were more prolific, because the 14 songs contained on Lost Souls & Free Spirits: The Rebel Collection Old & New simply sharpens the appetite for their solid bluegrass approach. Settling somewhere between tradition and innovation, Jones and his Night Drivers have created a country-pure approach to bluegrass music.
In addition to previously released tracks, Jones has elected to include three recent recordings with the current Night Drivers line-up. “Final Farewell” was released well ahead of the album and, after spending several weeks bouncing around on the Bluegrass Today chart, settled into the #1 spot for the March chart. “Waltz of Regret” originally appeared- with slightly fewer ‘grass touches than here- on Too Far Down the Road as did “A Hero in Harlan,” one of the strongest Tom T. and Dixie Hall songs.
The remaining songs are culled from Just a Drifter (two tunes), No One But You (also two), and the currently unavailable Follow Your Heart (four songs). Including three selections from the fairly recent Cloud of Dust album is a mite perplexing; I would have preferred additional songs from the past, perhaps “Fork in the Road,” a rarity such as “Diesel Smoke on Danger Road,” or another new track.
Still, many of Jones’ most enduring songs are included, some of which he wrote, more from outside sources, among them “Bridge to Portsmouth,” “Nashville Blues,” “Uphill Climb,” and “The Man on the Side of the Road.” As Jon Weisberger mentions in the notes, most of these songs remain in the Night Drivers’ live set, making the set ideal for the festival table.
Lost Souls & Free Spirits: The Rebel Collection Old & New is hardly essential. With most of the songs available on other Jones albums, it is most likely best purchased by those who do not already own Jones’ impressive back catalogue. Realizing I’m in the minority, I would have better enjoyed a reissue of Follow Your Heart (the one Jones album I can’t locate on my shelves) fattened by the three new recordings.
Still, there is nothing wrong with the set, and plenty right with it. In fact, these forty minutes of Chris Jones & the Night Drivers are mighty satisfying, much like their live performance.
As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
My thoughts on three terrific new bluegrass gospel albums have been posted over at Fervor Coulee Bluegrass on the Country Standard Time site: http://www.countrystandardtime.com/blog/FervorCouleeBluegrass/entry.asp?xid=829
Thanks, as always, for visiting Fervor Coulee- I hope you are finding thoughts of interest and music to explore. Donald
My review of Junior Sisk’s outstanding new album has (finally<g>) been posted to the Lonesome Road Review site: http://lonesomeroadreview.com/2011/10/23/the-heart-of-a-song-by-junior-sisk-ramblers-choice/ will get you there. Additionally, I’ve decided to start posting reviews of older albums whenever something is relevant to a new release. In this case, a reviews written several years ago that involved Junior Sisk; for whatever digital file misplacement, I can’t my more recent reviews of Junior Sisk albums.
BlueRidge Side By Side Sugar Hill
Last year, by rough estimate, I was fortunate to catch about 50 bluegrass bands in
concert, ranging from regional heroes to living legends. No band collectively impressed me more than BlueRidge. BlueRidge is a band that does its best to combine the traditions established by Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers with the contemporary approach taken by bands such as IIIrd Tyme Out and Blue Highway.
With Alan Bibey’s mandolin providing the melodic heart of their sound, on this new
release the band successfully embraces the finest elements of bluegrass precision instrumentation, gracefully constructed harmonies, and awe inspiring devotion to the creation of a identifiable banjo-fueled sound. A predominant component of this sound is the voice of Junior Sisk.
It has been said, most recently by Dave Robicheaux, that all real artists seem to disappear into that which they create; therefore, Junior Sisk is an artist of the highest order, as he becomes the words he sings, creating a reality as true as his voice is distinct. Few bluegrass singers capture the country music roots of the genre as effectively as Sisk;
the resulting effortless sound is one that softens some of the music’s harsh edges. Equally impressive is the quality of his songwriting including the ultimate ‘kiss-off’ song, What If (Then I’ll Come Back To You.)
BlueRidge has recaptured the bluegrass power they established on their previous album, Come Along With Me, and Side By Side should be as favourably received.
Sporting a classic looking cover, With Body and Soul is one of two new compilation albums offered up this month by Rebel Records in celebration of the Bill Monroe Centennial this coming Tuesday, September 13. I’ve posted five additional album selections at Fervor Coulee Bluegrass, albums I feel would make good listening this weekend as we come a bit closer to September 13. Click on the link http://www.countrystandardtime.com/blog/FervorCouleeBluegrass/entry.asp?xid=811 to get to Country Standard Time and FCB. Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
My review of the latest Rebel Larry Sparks gospel compilation is up at http://lonesomeroadreview.com/2011/09/04/let-him-lead-you-by-larry-sparks/. I’m really impressed with all of the recent Rebel releases; if bluegrass gospel is your thing, you might want to check this one out. Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
After much listening, I wrote a review of Yesteryears earlier this summer and it has been posted at The Lonesome Road Review site: this link should get your there http://lonesomeroadreview.com/2011/08/27/yesteryears-the-best-of-the-mcpeak-brothers-by-the-mcpeak-brothers/
I’m really enjoying the Rebel reissue campaign, but it is nice to see some things-like this set- available in disc form.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
Rebel Records has recently released a trio of compilations highlighting the catalogs of The McPeak Brothers, Larry Sparks’ gospel side, and the important lead vocal contributions of John Duffey. My review of the John Duffey package has been posted at Country Standard Time http://www.countrystandardtime.com/d/cdreview.asp?xid=4745. There is some excellent music on this set and would serve as a terrific introduction to not only Duffey but to the Country Gents and the Seldom Scene. Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald