The Foghorn Stringband- Devil In The Seat review   Leave a comment

untitledI love this band. Unfortunately, I’ve never encountered them live, but am confident they would be a blast: I am most likely now too old to keep up with them anyway.

Another great album of invigorating old-time from The Foghorn Stringband. The review is posted over at the Lonesome Road Review.

Thanks for keeping up with Fervor Coulee. On Twitter @FervorCoulee

Donald

Posted 2015 April 14 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

Kelsey Waldon- The Goldmine review   Leave a comment

imagesStill a few reviews in the pipeline, but this one was published this week over at the Lonesome Road Review. I very much enjoyed this album- one of the best I’ve heard this year- and am pleased with the way the review turned out.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Posted 2015 April 10 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

Rosanne Cash- Edmonton March 23, 2015   Leave a comment

Living a ninety minute drive away from Edmonton’s Winspear Centre, it is rare for my spouse and I to take in a concert in the city, rarer still for us to do so on a Monday night.

Rosanne Cash, a long-time mutual favourite—we’ve been listening for thirty years and first saw her and John Leventhal at the Calgary Folk Music Festival nineteen years ago—held court at Edmonton’s finest music hall, a show rescheduled from some six weeks previous due to Leventhal’s spinal surgery.

Without question, this was an amazing live experience.

Unexpectedly—and more the bad to me for not following things more closely—she and her very fine (if occasionally too loud- personal preference only- others seemed to love; I am more flat top than Strat) five piece band performed The River and The Thread in its entirety. While many artists have taken to this concept, normally it is an archival or anniversary experience (the ‘jump the shark’ moment perhaps being Bryan Adams’ 30th Anniversary Reckless tour!) and I don’t believe I have experienced something similar in-person.

The hour-long first set, featuring the album’s eleven base songs, was impeccable. From the first notes, the band sounded great, were definitely feeling it on this night. The sound was big and bold, but not overpowering (except on the extended guitar pieces which I didn’t appreciate.) Cash herself was in great voice, and engaged the audience from the get-go, binding the songs together with her personal narrative. A very strong album was elevated in this presentation.

Her deep appreciation for the southern United States, the good and the bad, the enlightened and the dark, is apparent throughout the album, but is so vividly tangible within the live setting. The southern soul vibe certainly came through. Her stories provided touchstones that most recognized whether in personal experience or from vicarious observation. That at one point she referenced the richness of the south that universally implied “makes us Americans,” or some such was entirely forgivable.

The second set was even better for entirely different reasons. Playing mostly familiar songs from her vast catalogue (“Seven Year Ache,” “Tennessee Flat Top Box” (one of the noisy songs, going from Elvis to The Beatles) and “Blue Moon With Heartache.” Four songs from The List, my least favourite Cash album, did nothing to diminish my enthusiasm for the concert. Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On” was ballsy and bluesy, and “Long Black Veil” sounded fresh. Perhaps I judged the album too harshly a few years back and need to give it a fresh listen.

After referencing the Tallahatchie Bridge in her introduction to “Money Road” at the close of the first set,  I was intrigued when she prefaced the fourth song of this set with “We’re going to visit that bridge I mentioned earlier.” The band had left the stage at this point, and as Leventhal started some noodling, I was thinking that I must have missed a conversational aside about ‘another’ bridge during the first set, because there was absolutely no chance she would perform ‘that’ song.

But, the longer he played with the notes, I started to get shadows of Bobbie Gentry and Carroll County, and by the time Leventhal hit the initial, immediately recognisable note of “Ode to Billie Joe” it was all I could do to exhale a soft, thrilled, “No!”

It was magic. The entire hall was silent for the entire five minute reading of the classic song, and Cash sang her ass off—as she did the entire show. Had Bobbie Gentry walked on from stage right I couldn’t have been more pleased. I have never heard of Cash performing the song (again, bad on me for not paying attention) but it was the evening’s highlight for this listener. Stunning.

Makes me think a Bobbie Gentry tribute album should be put together by someone.

The second set seemed brief, but wasn’t, coming in at almost an hour. Nothing from Rules of Travel, Interiors, 10 Song Demo, Rhythm and Romance, The Wheel, Somewhere In the Stars, or Right or Wrong, and not all of that is unexpected when devoting such a large portion of the show to the latest album. Not complaining, just noting. A couple more country covers as the encore (a spirited “Heartaches By The Numbers” and beautifully restrained “500 Miles”) and the night came to a close.

An invigorating and dynamic performance from a veteran performer.

Posted 2015 March 23 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

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Blue Mafia- Pray For Rain review   Leave a comment

untitledBlue Mafia Pray For Rain Pinecastle Records

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

An Indiana-based bluegrass outfit, Blue Mafia returns with their sophomore album. Their stealthy, self-produced debut My Cold Heart was a bluegrass highlight of 2013, notable for its creative songwriting, strong vocal execution, clear production values, and fine instrumental balance.

Those elements remain within Pray For Rain, and this album meets the rising expectations that come with a second release. Admittedly, the album didn’t hit me upside the head as My Cold Heart did; that could have at least as much to do with me as it does Blue Mafia.

Dara Wray, who wrote the majority of the material on the previous album, has only three songs on this set. Of these, the title cut (sung by Kent Todd) may be the most complete: the harmonies, a band strength, are especially appealing here, while the song’s loping, change-of-pace gait is appreciated. “One Bad Day” is appealingly dark with “Consider It Goodbye,” a kiss-off song, having a challenging rhythm and lively arrangement.

The quintet’s lineup remains consistent. Cody Looper continues to make a positive impression on the 5, and Todd’s fiddling enlivens many a performance while Michael Gregory’s bass playing is simultaneously solid and unobtrusive. Meanwhile, Dara and Tony Wray share the lead vocal work with Todd while also handling the mandolin and lead guitar.

Mainstays from the  Stanley Brothers (“I’m Lonesome Without You” and “East Virginia Blues”), Peter Rowan (“Moonshiner”), and Pete Goble and Leroy Drumm (“I’d Like To Be A Train”) are skilfully presented; these familiar songs may draw some listeners to a still-relatively under-known band, but those already committed to the group may initially be disappointed with this reliance on outside material.

However, it is with these songs that Blue Mafia prove themselves most adaptable. “Moonshiner” explodes out of the gate, “East Virginia Blues” is afforded an arrangement that is fresh and unusual, at least to these ears, and I don’t believe I’ve previously heard “I’d Like To Be A Train” given a female perspective.

Blue Mafia gained considerable momentum with the success of their first release. Pray For Rain should find them appealing to an even wider audience.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

 

Snyder Family Band- Wherever I Wander review   Leave a comment

untitledSnyder Family Band Wherever I Wander Mountain Home

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

Bluegrass and its associated branches and brambles certainly have an affinity toward family groups.

Beyond the requisite brother acts, there is a long tradition of embracing outfits comprised of the most closely knit. From the Stonemans, Lewises and Marshalls, through to the Vincent, Isaacs, and Cherryholmes clans, on to the Bankesters, Robertsons, and 347 regional Missouri bands alone, there has never been a shortage of families performing on stage together.

The Snyder Family Band has been recording together as a trio since 2010 while the entire family frequently appears together—augmented by mom and little brother—on stage; Wherever I Wander is their fourth recording. With father Bud handling the bass, much like Messrs. Thile  and Cherryholmes back in the day, the stars of this show are siblings Samantha and Zeb Snyder.

Both offer up isolated bits of mandolin, but their primary instruments are fiddle (Samantha) and guitar (Zeb.) Samantha proves herself a versatile player throughout the album; “New River Rapids” showcases her range as the fiddling elements combine long, mournful bow strokes and jumpy, frantic strikes. Zeb’s mandolin is given a great workout on this same number. There is no doubting their instrumental capabilities.

Elements of bluegrass, folk, and rock come together in the Snyder Family Band’s southern, new age- Americana mix. This mostly acoustic album is evenly split between instrumental and vocal tracks with Samantha taking the majority of the leads. She possesses a pleasing, unpretentious voice, one that affords promise; one recalls thinking similarly about Sara Watkins a long time ago.

Zeb seems to favour the blues a bit and the associated trappings are found throughout the album, and he even pulls out his electric guitar in a couple places. Most successful is his closing acoustic  take of Dickie Betts’ “Highway Call.” He is a confident player and isn’t shy to take a song on a journey of his choosing.

Most of the instrumentals are of the flighty, expansive type favored a generation before by the Watkins siblings and Chris Thile in Nickel Creek: lots of notes, plenty of interesting progressions and quite listenable in the moment but ultimately not terribly persuasive or memorable.

Encountered singularly, each song on this album is quite enjoyable. Taken as an album in its entirety, things tend to blur together a bit, and even get a little sleepy. Therefore, Wherever I Wander is a great set for those so inclined to include on digital shuffle devices.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver- In Session review   Leave a comment

MH-1573_001__93601_zoomMy review of the recent DLQ album In Session has been posted at Lonesome Road Review. Released on Mountain Home, it is a return to the quality of music I once expected from DLQ; after a handful of disappointing releases, this one can be highly recommended. Questionable album cover.

As always, I thank you for searching out Fervor Coulee. Donald

The Gibson Brothers- Brotherhood review   Leave a comment

2740746I appreciate each and every PR and label rep, band member, manager, and spouse who is willing to take the time to send me a real, live compact disc to review. In these days of shrinking budgets and miniscule margins, I truly am thankful that some folks still see the value of servicing independent writers with discs. I can’t do what I do without that support.

This weekend I wrote a review for the new album from The Gibson Brothers. It is a wonderful tribute to the music that influenced Eric and Leigh as they were developing their musical sensibilities.

Comparing my musical development to the Gibsons’ seems apt: if I ever released such an album, I’d have to cover Three Dog Night, Clarence Carter, Mark Dinning, The Monkees, David Dundas, Sammy Davis, Jr., the themes from Gilligan’s Island and My Mother the Car, The Angels, Mouth and MacNeal, Suzi Quatro, and Brian Hyland…which, if we are honest, has a  chance to be the greatest bluegrass album ever created!

But, I have digressed myself.

The Gibson Brothers, Brotherhood, reviewed at the Lonesome Road Review.

I am kinda ticked they didn’t take my suggestion to include “Cuba” as a bonus track.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

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