Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Murder Murder- Wicked Lines & Veins review   Leave a comment

Murder Murder

Murder Murder Wicked Lines & Veins

Much of a lifetime ago, folks including The Bad Livers, The Meat Purveyors, and Split Lip Rayfield created rock ‘n’ roll inspired bluegrass for a small community of followers who came of age musically with an appreciation for both Tupelo Honey and Uncle Tupelo. For the most part, these groups remained on the fringes of the wider (narrower?) bluegrass community, never substantially breaking through at the bluegrass festival or industry level.

A couple decades later, and on their third album, Murder Murder throw its hat into the ring from Sudbury, Ontario. This is not anything near traditional or contemporary bluegrass, but don’t let that stop you from looking behind those crates and amps stacked in the dark recesses of the music’s ‘big tent.’ If they hailed from Appalachia, Murder Murder would be renowned for their dark, honest, and vivid portrayals of mountain tales of tragedy. They aren’t playing for us grey hairs, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention.

Setting the majority of their original numbers at the edges of society and deep in rural backwaters, with Wicked Lines & Veins Murder Murder unleash an abundance of misery upon their audience. At turns deliberately profane (“Reesor County Fugitive” ), violently absurd (“I’ve Always Been A Gambler”), and emotionally cutting (“The Last Daughter”), Murder Murder’s narrative tales of desperation and malevolence place them at the fore of whatever alt-grass circuit currently exists. Their characters are ones who would find Fred Eaglesmith’s urbane and uppity, Little Willie and his historical brethren visionary-thinking, fair-minded and considered rapscallions.

To be fair, the tables are turned in “Goodnight, Irene,” (not the Huddie Ledbetter song) and justified comeuppance dispensed in “The Death of Waylon Green” and “Shaking Off The Dust.” Few are the songs that do not find someone ending up on the wrong side of a gun, knife, or bottle of bleach. Playing the traditional bluegrass instruments, along with organ and drums, Murder Murder isn’t like anyone else I’ve heard: if you enjoy The Earl Brothers and The D.Rangers, you should find this group of Canadian independents of interest. Their songwriting is stellar, and the lead vocals are especially appealing, if not smooth and pretty.

With homage paid to the tradition (in “I’ve Always Been a Gambler,” the cuckoo remains a pretty bird that warbles as she flies, elsewhere there’s a hemlock grove, gallows, and betrayal) in ways both apparent and subtle, Murder Murder have crafted an intentionally abrasive interpretation of bluegrass, one where love songs culminate at the end of a rope and a burned-out barroom (“Abilene”) and a child’s revenge in a rich man’s pasture (“Sharecropper’s Son.”)

In no way do Murder Murder sound like the Clinch Mountain Boys, the Steep Canyon Rangers, or Balsam Range. What they do possess is the spirit of originality willing to break through long-established norms and mores to uncover creative freshness within a genre that, without question, benefits from periodic injections of unbridled energy and influence.

Advertisements

Lynn Jackson Follow That Fire review   Leave a comment

Lynn Jackson

Lynn Jackson Follow That Fire Busted Flat Records

Every province, state, city, and area has them—the singer or guitar player that everyone loves and respects, but who strikes a collective shoulder-shrug outside their home range. Pay attention, then.

I had never heard of Lynn Jackson before encountering the previous Songs of Rain, Snow, and Remembering a couple autumns ago. The Ontario-based singer-guitarist is very good, and Follow That Fire is her ninth album over the course of two decades. In 2015, I compared her to the likes of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Lynn Miles, and those remain fair, in my way of thinking. Like those songwriters, Jackson gets to the core of the heart fair quickly.

Produced this time by Michael Timmins (a new Cowboy Junkies album would be welcome any time, by the way) Jackson sounds subdued across that album’s three-quarters of an hour, holding her cards close as she shares these song.

Still, there is a hint of playfulness in the way she approaches “Mystery Novels, Short Stories, and Car Songs,” bringing to mind another Timmins sibling, an effect one suspects is deliberately repeated on the closing “No Regrets.” Obviously a narrative songwriter, Jackson’s “Alice” may be the saddest song I’ve heard all year, filled with hope and ache, betrayal and murder. Jayzus, it might not work as a bluegrass song, but I would love to hear Dale Ann Bradley give it a try. As it is, Jackson’s (sounds like) finger-picking gives the song all the atmosphere it needs.

Skydigger Josh Finlayson (bass) and Cowboy Junkie Peter Timmins (drums) form the rhythm section, and combined with Michael Timmins’ production choices, a most compelling and consistent ambiance is created. Andy Maize (The Skydiggers) joins Jackson on “Meet Me In The City,” in a better world a song that would be heard on every country, rock, and pop station across the country. “Meet me in the city for one last go ’round,” she sings. “We’ll take all the time you need” is revised to “I’ll take all the time I need” by song’s end. Another radio-friendly (in an alternate time, perhaps) number is “Tossing & Turning,” a soulful little song about a love that should know better.

Aaron Goldstein’s pedal steel works nicely in concert with Aaron Comeau’s keys (“Night Comes Down,” “Ghosts”) throughout the set. Inspired by the loss of a friend, one of the more introspective numbers is “Random Breakdowns, False Starts, & New Beginnings.” approach.

I know I meant to search out previous Lynn Jackson albums last time I reviewed her. Follow That Fire is a reminder that I need to get onto that project. The rest of the country needs to start paying more attention, too. Damn, she’s good. Great songs, great voice, inspired production: get this one. Fingers crossed: this is Lynn Jackson’s Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.

Chris Hillman- Bidin’ My Time review   Leave a comment

HILLMAN_BIDIN_COVER_RGB

Chris Hillman Bidin’ My Time Rounder Records

Chris Hillman.

With those two words, Americana is defined.

The fact that he was once in a band called the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers should have told me he was going to be my Americana touchstone, but I didn’t discover that group’s sole recording until years after I fell under his spell. Trace a line through the most significant groups, albums, songs, and moments of Americana and roots music of the last 50 years, and as likely as not one encounters Hillman.

The Hillmen. The Byrds. Turn! Turn! Turn! Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Flying Burrito Brothers. Gilded Palace of Sin. “Sin City.” “Wheels.” Manassas. Souther-Hillman-Furay. McGuinn-Clark-Hillman. Hillman-Pedersen. The Desert Rose Band, maybe the best country band of the 1990s. “One Step Forward.” Rice, Rice, Hillman, Pedersen.

The Byrds were no more before I had heard of them. Ditto The Flying Burrito Brothers. How some feel about Roger McGuinn and more frequently Gram Parsons, that is the esteem in which I hold Chris Hillman.

Two stories: I once stalked Hillman for most of a Wintergrass festival, following him around from stage to workshop to lunch. I stopped myself before it got too creepy. I thought. I once set out to see Hillman and Pedersen at an Edmonton casino show, only to discover 125 kilometres into the drive that I had forgotten my wallet at work. By the time I had retraced 250 km, and added on another 75 to finish it off, it was too late to make the show. I was crushed, and ended up sitting in a hotel parking lot listening to the final 15-minutes of At Edwards Barn at journeys end.

Bidin’ My Time, Hillman’s first album in the dozen years since The Other Side, is a significant return if for no other reason that it features so many of the folks—McGuinn, David Crosby, John Jorgenson, Pedersen, Jay Dee Maness—with whom he in no small way created what we now call Americana. That the album was produced by Tom Petty, and features Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench is icing. It is perfection across 33-minutes.

[I delayed publishing this review as I was waiting for the official release, with full credits, to make its way to me. It hasn’t, so I am unsure of who played exactly where as I am relying on an advance copy lacking notes. In the meantime, of course, Las Vegas was rocked and Petty passed.]

The album’s first track, familiar from Mr. Tambourine Man, is “The Bells of Rhymney,” which quickly swells to an explosion of harmony (courtesy of Crosby and Pedersen) that is unforgettable. Additional numbers from The Byrds are revisited, including the bluegrass-flavoured “The New John Robertson” (“The Old John Robertson,” The Notorious Byrd Brothers) and Gene Clark’s “She Don’t Care About Time.” The classic pop sounding “Here She Comes Again” is a four-decade old McGuinn-Hillman composition that sounds immediately familiar.

“Restless,” “Different Rivers,” “Given All I Can See,” and the title track are all Hillman-Steve Hill co-writes testifying to Hillman’s enduring mastery of song and performance. At 72 years, Hillman remains full-voiced, fully in control as he presides over these songs. The arrangements are full and even lush, ideally suited to complement each other as an album. Closing with “Wildflowers,” Hillman sings familiar words with a gravity magnified by this week’s events:

You belong among the wild flowers,
You belong somewhere close to me,
Far away from your trouble and worry-
You belong somewhere you feel free,
You belong somewhere you feel free.

Bidin’ My Time. The song hints at what Hillman is looking toward, but this album—the seventh released under his name since 1976—allows hope that gig is a-ways in the future.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

 

John Lee Hooker- King of the Boogie boxset review   Leave a comment

JLH_CVR_SQ_CMYK

John Lee Hooker King of the Boogie Craft Recordings

There is something ethereal and true about John Lee Hooker that even his contemporaries never quite achieved. Whether getting gritty or fatally romantic, searching for hope among the forlorn or finding joy in the minutiae of the daily struggle, John Lee Hooker brought the real blues, the deep blues, to an expansive listening audience, always sounding as if he were performing to an audience of one—you.

Long ago when I was but a young Fervor Coulee—eighteen and mostly clueless—John Lee Hooker’s Fantasy double compilation Black Snake was the first blues album I discovered. Working at the failing Climax Records in Leduc, Alberta for a few months in the spring and summer of 1983, I started this lifelong journey into roots music discovering most of the Carter-Cash clan—Rosanne, Johnny, Carlene, Rodney, and Nick Lowe—as well as Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, and The Stray Cats, not to mention George Jones, Deborah Allen, and—eventually—John Lee Hooker: “I’m Prison Bound,” “Good Mornin’ Lil School Girl,” “Come On and See About Me,” and “Tupelo Blues.” It wasn’t long before I found my way to “Boom Boom” and “One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer” via cover versions and a lack of supervision—who knew you weren’t allowed to crack any album you wanted for in-store play?

Once I heard “Boogie Chillen’,” I was done: no other blues would ever top it. The archaic playing style and the repetitive notes appealed to something base within me, and then that voice reaching across and over it all—fueled by desperation—Hooker communicated with a suburban white boy through his music as few —Townshend, Springsteen, and the voices of Three Dog Night—had done to that point. No matter the song, John Lee Hooker was immediately identifiable. His growling vocal timbre reached to a time before measure, his deep talking blues making a journey across race, social strata, generations, and history.

This expansive five-disc set appears to be the ultimate encapsulation of John Lee Hooker’s recorded output. Produced in conjunction with a number of labels and Hooker’s family, the box set distills 40-plus years of recordings into a manageable distillation while retaining all the essentials and incorporating a few previously unreleased necessaries.

Starting with his 1948 recording of “Boogie Chillen’,” with the first three discs we are taken for a three-plus hour ride through Hooker’s recording career. Most of these tracks have been readily available on various collections over the years, but what is most appreciated herein is the care with which they have been collated. Recorded months apart, “Goin Down Highway #51” slides straight out of “Huckle Up Baby” like it was planned, with “John L’s House Rent Boogie” and “I’m In The Mood” waiting around the corner. The sound quality is pristine, and the accompanying notes informative.

JL_Hooker 001After this generous rendering of vintage and essential blues—”My First Wife Left Me,” “Tupelo Blues,” “Stuttering Blues,” “Boom Boom,” and the like—with only a handful of unreleased material—highlighted by the suggestive “Meat Shakes on Her Bones” from 1961—the majority of the rarities surface. Disc Four is comprised of various live takes augmented by a set of five recordings from Berlin, 1983 that have not previously been available commercially. Captured at a time when the older bluesmen were in danger of being forgotten with the advance of popular music that had little connection to roots of rock ‘n’ roll—we all remember new wave, the advance of goth, and the earliest days of hair metal—these live takes reveal the vitality Hooker never lost, no matter with whom he played. Extolling the audience to “Hear me out, here,” Hooker moans his way through “It Serves Me Right to Suffer” as a man who has lived an imperfect life while “Boom Boom” and “One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer” are delivered with the energy and playful verve of a man who has done the songs a couple thousand times and never lost the joy.

Disc Five features collaborations ranging from 1952 and “Little” Eddie Kirkland (“I Got Eyes For You”), the early 70s with Canned Heat (“Peavine”) and Van Morrison (“Never Get Out of These Blues Alive”) through to his days as an elder statesman and Grammy winner with Bonnie Raitt (“I’m In The Mood,”) B.B. King (“You Shook Me,”) and  Los Lobos (“Dimples.”) Nothing new is revealed on these (mostly) readily available cuts, but presented in this manner they are a reminder of Hooker’s versatility and range of influence.

100 songs, nine previously unreleased, over five discs with what appears to be exceptional packaging (unfortunately, I only have the downloads and scans to judge by) King of the Boogie celebrates the 100th Anniversary of John Lee Hooker’s birth, and marks the kick-off of events—including museum exhibits, radio specials, and a film documentary—celebrating this milestone. With a reasonable price point and a hearty dose of indispensable blues, King of the Boogie is not only a brilliant introduction to the blues master, but a suitable testament to his place in modern roots music history.

KING_OF_THE_BOOGIE_PACK_SHOT

Posted 2017 September 30 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

IBMA Awards 2017- Live results & reactions   Leave a comment

Well, I got the stream going just a couple minutes late- looks like Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver had the honour of starting things off. Hosts Bela Fleck and spouse Abigail Washburn are now attempting humour. Sigh. Funny that the screen has a big black box on the right side. Maybe just me.

Namechecking every banjo player of the last 100 years.

I will be dropping in my commentary as the awards are announced. We will eventually get there. You would never know that bluegrass had a history of incorporating comedy listening to this painful opening segment.

Show is dedicated to Pete Kuykendall. As has happened before I believe, Dale Ann Bradley opens the awards with Joe Mullins-

DOBRO PLAYER OF THE YEAR Jerry Douglas; Andy Hall; Rob Ickes; Phil Leadbetter; Josh Swift.

I predicted that Josh Swift would win, and was also hoping he might. It will not happen again tonight, but I was right on both counts. Kudos to me. First mention of Jesus.

BASS PLAYER OF THE YEAR Barry Bales; Alan Bartram; Mike Bub; Missy Raines; Tim Surrett

I am hoping for Del & ‘Em’s Alan Bartram, but predicting Surrett. The winner is…Alan Bartram, his first win I believe…and he is nowhere to be found. Kenny Smith accepts.

First appearance of a baby. Sigh. And first mention of Glen Campbell who did so much for bluegrass. Yes, that is sarcasm. Here we go with  live performance of John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind” from Flatt Lonesome, who I predict will have a fairly significant evening. And, the first appearance of buffering in the Bluegrass Bunker.

Interestingly, that doesn’t much sound like “Gentle on My Mind.” I must have misunderstood something in the introduction- could have sworn they were said to be playing “Gentle On My Mind.” But… first commercial.

Becky Buller and Larry Stephenson present:

GOSPEL RECORDED PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR “Give Me Jesus”

Larry Cordle (artist), Traditional/Larry Cordle (writer), “Give Me Jesus” (album), Larry Cordle (producer), Mighty Cord Records (label); “Hallelujah”

Blue Highway (artist), Public Domain arranged by Blue Highway (writer), “Original Traditional” (album), Blue Highway (producer), Rounder Records (label); <b>”I Found a Church Today” The Gibson Brothers (artist), Eric Gibson/Leigh Gibson (writers), “In the Ground” (album), Eric Gibson, Leigh Gibson, and Mike Barber (producers), Rounder Records (label) “S

Sacred Memories”Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers with Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White Skaggs (artist), Dolly Parton (writer), “Sacred Memories” (album), Joe Mullins (producer), Rebel Records (label);

“Wish You Were Here” Balsam Range (artist), James Stover/Michael Williams (writers), “Mountain Voodoo” (album), Balsam Range (producer), Mountain Home Records (label)

Honestly, before they played the clips I could only hear one of these songs in my head, The Gibson Brothers tune. a real good one, so that is my hope, but my prediction was for “Sacred Memories. And, there is a tie between those two songs! How does that happen? Well, I know how- let’s see- three of my Hopes have won so far, and two of my predictions. Won’t last. 

Now,

NSTRUMENTAL RECORDED PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR  “Fiddler’s Dream”

Michael Cleveland (artist), Arthur Smith (writer), “Fiddler’s Dream” (album), Jeff White and Michael Cleveland (producers), Compass Records (label);  “Great Waterton” Kristin Scott Benson (artist), Kristin Scott Benson (writer), “Stringworks” (album), Kristin Scott Benson (producer), Mountain Home Records (label); “Greenbrier” Sam Bush (artist), Sam Bush/Scott Vestal (writers), “Storyman” (album), Sugar Hill Records (label); “Little Liza Jane” Adam Steffey (artist), Tommy Duncan/James Robert Wills (writers), “Here to Stay” (album), Adam Steffey (producer), Mountain Home Records (label); “Flint Hill Special” The Earls of Leicester (artist), Earl Scruggs (writer), “Rattle & Roar” (album), Jerry Douglas (producer), Rounder Records (label)

My prediction was for Michael Cleveland, always a safe bet, but I am hoping for Kristin Scott Benson, one of the most exciting players going. And they give the award to…Michael Cleveland. Many, 3 predictions out of 4. I’m doing pretty good.

Balsam Range performs “Girl of the Highland.” Some mic problems are now fixed. Great band. Would like to see them come north some day.

Missy Raines and the leader of Bluegrass 45 are presenting:

GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR Jim Hurst; Kenny Smith; Bryan Sutton; Molly Tuttle; Josh Williams

Hoping for Kenny Smith, but feel like Molly Tuttle will get it…on the basis of an EP and live appearances. Feels like time for a female picker to get recognized…and she is: Molly Tuttle. No doubt a great player- I was thinking she might get the Emerging Artist award, and she still may.

MANDOLIN PLAYER OF THE YEAR Jesse Brock; Sam Bush; Sierra Hull; Frank Solivan; Adam Steffey

My computer froze up like a banjo-player’s claw. I always hope for Jesse Brock in this category, but am okay with Sierra Hull winning for the second year in a row.

Earls of Leicester and Bluegrass 45 collaborating on “Salty Dog Blues.” I can listen to Shawn Camp any time, but something got lost in the translation here: maybe a handful too many players on the stage.

I am not sure I have ever before predicted four awards in a row. It can’t last.

Frank Solivan and Kristin Scott Benson presenting:

RECORDED EVENT OF THE YEAR  “East Virginia Blues” Ricky Wasson and Dan Tyminski (artists), “Croweology: The Study of J.D. Crowe’s Musical Legacy” (album), Rickey Wasson (producer), Truegrass Entertainment (label); “Going Back to Bristol” Shawn Camp with Mac Wiseman, Peter Cooper, Thomm Jutz (artists), “I Sang the Song (Life of the Voice with a Heart)” (album), Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz (producers), Mountain Fever Records (label); “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” Bobby Osborne with Sierra Hull, Alison Brown, Rob Ickes, Stuart Duncan, Trey Hensley, Todd Phillips, Kenny Malone, Claire Lynch, and Bryan McDowell (artists), “Original” (album), Alison Brown (producer), Compass Records (label) “Steamboat Whistle Blues” Michael Cleveland featuring Sam Bush (artists), “Fiddler’s Dream” (album), Jeff White and Michael Cleveland (producers), Compass Records (label); “‘Tis Sweet to Be Remembered” Mac Wiseman and Alison Krauss (artists), “I Sang the Song (Life of the Voice with a Heart)” (album), Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz (producers), Mountain Fever Records (label)

I believe the entire “I Sang the Song (Life of the Voice with a Heart” album should walk away with this award, but since that isn’t the way the award works…

I know Bobby Osborne will win, but I believe the entire I Sang the Song (Life of the Voice with a Heart) album should walk away with this award, but that isn’t the way the award works…and I don’t know if enough folks heard the music from it…I was right- Bobby Osborne singing a Bee Gees song with a cast of IBMA favourites wins this award. I guess: I didn’t hear it, but others obviously did. No doubt, Bobby Osborne has not been recognized enough by the IBMA in recent years, as he has released several terrific albums. I just didn’t think Original was one of them. Good to hear him speak, and he is obviously appreciative of his Compass Records team. Compass does get their deserving artists to the fore, just ask Dale Ann Bradley and Special Consensus.

EMERGING ARTIST OF THE YEAR Front Country; The Lonely Heartstring Band; Molly Tuttle; Sister Sadie; Volume Five

I predict Molly Tuttle, but have my fingers crossed for the veterans of Sister Sadie. Will only be disappointed in one result. The winner is…Volume Five. Didn’t see that one coming; if memory serves, they have been up for this award before. Two times before, apparently. Good band of few words.

God, Banjo Mingle dot com is not funny. Just move the show along, please. JCMISAP.

This is more like it- a whole passel of folks paying tribute to the Bristol sessions. Jim Lauderdale, Carl Jackson, Becky Buller (man, she is tall!) Sammy Shelor, Michael Cleveland, Sierra Hull, and is that Larry Cordle? Nice.

This may be the last summer-like evening in Central Alberta this autumn, and I am in the Bluegrass Bunker reporting on these awards. Such is my dedication to my art.

Alison Brown and Jeremy Garrett present:

FIDDLE PLAYER OF THE YEAR Becky Buller; Jason Carter; Michael Cleveland; Stuart Duncan; Patrick McAvinue; Ron Stewart

Pulling for Buller (and Stewart) but have learned to never bet against Michael Cleveland. Patrick McAvinue comes out of left field to snag this one. He has been around awhile.

BANJO PLAYER OF THE YEAR Ned Luberecki; Joe Mullins; Noam Pikelny; Kristin Scott Benson; Sammy Shelor

A banjo joke. Not a good one. Predicting Joe Mullins, who has never got his due, but fingers crossed for Benson- three lady pickers in one year? Nope. Noam Pikelny. So, my average has dropped back to earth: not a sniff the last three awards. That feels about right. Five predictions in a row will never be matched…not by me! Still, would be nice if Noam played more bluegrass.

Of course, the feed starts buffering just as Missy Raines and Jim Hurst are about to pay tribute to the ‘grassers that passed away this year. Back, at the Ms. Lots of names I am not familiar with…must have attempted to overcome previous criticisms for not having mentioned ‘so and so’ and went with mentioning everyone. Can’t be knocked for that, especially within a music and industry that is so regionalized: every community has their bluegrass pillars who should be remembered.

Now, paying tribute to Pete Kuykendall- a man whose contribution to bluegrass is pretty dang near impossible to measure. Dubbed the music’s Godfather, in the familial sense. Seems appropriate. Tim O’Brien, Jerry Douglas, Molly Tuttle, Missy Raines, and a guitar player I can’t recognize (so sorry) perform “I Am Weary, Let Me Rest,” a most poignant choice. Oh, that’s Danny Paisley! Funny, as soon as he took his lead, I recognized him. Dang, buffering again.

Completely lost the feed now. Intermittent now-

Michael Cleveland is accepting an award, but I don’t know what. Going to guess Instrumental Group of the Year, but will wait to see if I get back the show.

INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR Balsam Range; The Earls of Leicester; Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen; Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper; Punch Brothers

I am going to post this in hopes that I was correct and Flamekeeper got Instrumental Group of the Year. I should have considered the “Compass” factor into my predictions. I didn’t.

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR Brooke Aldridge; Dale Ann Bradley; Sierra Hull; Amanda Smith; Molly Tuttle

I will always hope for DAB, and predicted Sierra Hull, but I was leaning toward predicting Brooke Aldridge, but wasn’t willing to put money on her…should have- well deserved, I think. I have lost the stream again. Restarting doesn’t help. Sigh. Back to the Female Vocalist category- with Brooke Aldridge’s victory, there has now been a different winner each of the last six years: Dale Ann, Claire Lynch, Amanda Smith, Rhonda Vincent, Becky Buller, and now Brooke. Bluegrass has come a long way since the days that RV won 7 years in a row. Always has been a diverse field, but now it is being recognized.

Lost the plot entirely now- not sure what is happening. God, it comes back just in time for more Banjo Mingle ‘humour.’ It isn’t my night. Lost it again.

Would love to be hearing Front Country. Restart your router, the advice is…it isn’t my router!

Apparently facebook streaming is not the way to get bluegrass in front of the masses. Sorry to say, it ain’t working, and I am moving on. I will update with the rest of the winners later tonight when the press releases come out.

Just got it back in time for Hazel Dickens’ and Alice Gerrard’s induction into the Hall of Fame, appropriately by [an increasingly emotional, I think] Laurie Lewis. No more typing for now, just watching. Learn, y’all.

Hazel Dickens did so much in bluegrass, and I am so pleased that Laurie is including quotes from her bluegrass peers in this tribute. So sad that the stream is so poor, at least for me: I’ve tried everything. So disappointed- I’ve been waiting 15 years to see Hazel inducted, and I can’t. I am hoping someone will post this later. Missed much of Laurie’s speech, and almost the entirety of Hazel’s nephew’s. Catching much of Alice’s, if with many drop outs. Now, Laurie joins Alice and musicians in a song, which doesn’t play for me.

Unfortunately, I’m out. I guess I should have invested in Sirius. Frustrated that facebook doesn’t seem to be able to handle 900+ viewers. Later.

I’m back. Facebook remains unwatchable here in the north, but by scrounging the ‘net I am finding additional results. Unfortunately, I missed the inductions into the HofF of Roland White and Bobby Hicks.

VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR Balsam Range; Blue Highway; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; Flatt Lonesome; The Gibson Brothers

I would advocate for Blue Highway to be the Vocal Group annually, and do, but I really thought this year would be Flatt Lonesome’s and I was right. At least my predictive powers have recuperated in the time away from facebook live.

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR Shawn Camp; Eric Gibson; Leigh Gibson; Buddy Melton; Russell Moore

I so wanted the Gibsons to walk up together and receive this award, but despite Eric’s campaign to have Leigh named (or was it the other way around) neither was- I thought Moore, not the most interesting vocalist in this group in my opinion, would win, but was more than pleased to read that Shawn Camp received his second nod as Male Vocalist.

The stream still isn’t working here, and other streams are: I don’t think it is me. Too bad the IBMA can’t find a stable, sustainable platform for video of their awards show.

SONG OF THE YEAR “Blue Collar Dreams” Balsam Range (artist), Aaron Bibelhauser (writer); “Going Back to Bristol” Shawn Camp (artist), Mac Wiseman/Thomm Jutz/Peter Cooper (writers; “I Am a Drifter” Volume Five (artist), Donna Ulisse/Marc Rossi (writers); “Someday Soon” Darin & Brooke Aldridge (artist), Ian Tyson (writer); “The Train That Carried My Girl from Town” The Earls of Leicester (artist), Frank Hutchison (writer)

 I don’t believe songs forty, fifty, and more years old should be eligible for this award, although I had no problem with “Man of Common Sorrow” capturing the award years ago. Inconsistency is part of bluegrass, Saturday night drunkenness and murder, Sunday morning gospel. “Going Back to Bristol” is a brilliantly crafted song, but I thought BR would win this one. Again, didn’t see Volume Five rising to this level. I guess I will have to start reconsidering them, eh? I still don’t think “I Am A Drifter” is as significant a song as “Going Back to Bristol,” but since when does that matter?

ALBUM OF THE YEAR Fiddler’s Dream” Michael Cleveland (artist), Jeff White and Michael Cleveland (producers), Compass Records (label); “In the Ground” The Gibson Brothers (artist), Eric Gibson, Leigh Gibson, and Mike Barber (producers), Rounder Records (label); “Mountain Voodoo Balsam Range (artist), Balsam Range (producer), Mountain Home Records (label); Original Bobby Osborne (artist), Alison Brown (producer), Compass Records (label); Rattle & Roar The Earls of Leicester (artist), Jerry Douglas (producer), Rounder Records (label)

As assured as I am that In The Ground is the finest bluegrass album- by a lot- in this category (all original material, expertly executed instrumentally and vocally) I was equally sure that Bobby Osborne would receive this award. Balsam Range released a very good album, without a doubt- I just thought the voters would go in a different direction. Any of four albums would have deserved this award.

Sam Bush and Sierra Hull are frozen on my screen, and in a brief second of movement the Earls of Leicester appeared to walk toward the podium. Putting all that together tells me that I won’t see the finale featuring the Osborne Brothers and that the Entertainer of the Year award has been given out:

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR Balsam Range; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; The Earls of Leicester; Flatt Lonesome; The Gibson Brothers

Any other year I would have been thrilled to have The Earls named Entertainers of the Year, and they are great, but I thought The Gibsons deserved the nod. Better that the alternative, definitely.

Sorry for the funky fonts.

Missed perhaps by some was the youthful emergence witnessed in the individual instrument awards. Hull, now a two-time winner, is 26, and Pikelny (also a two-time winner) is 36. Bartram, the old-man of the six and a first-time winner is 40, while first timers Tuttle (24), McAvinue (28), and Swift (31) bring the average age of the group to under 31. Without doing any additional math, I am going to predict that is a record: prove me wrong. Add in Brooke Aldridge, whose age I can’t easily locate, and we may have an irreversible changing-of-the-guard.

I guess that is the IBMA Awards for another year. Best I can tell, only three of my chosen won (the first three awards of the night) and seven of my predictions came true, not quite as good as I did last year. That result tells me that while what I most like in bluegrass isn’t what the industry is supporting, I am still connected enough to the bluegrass happenings that I can guess almost as often as not who they will support. And in some cases- Brooke Aldridge, Instrumental Group- I should have predicted with my gut. See you in a year!

Posted 2017 September 28 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

IBMA Awards 2017- Hopes & Predictions   Leave a comment

Over at Fervor Coulee Bluegrass, I ramble on a bit about the International Bluegrass Music Association awards to be handed out in less than a day. May be of interest…probably not.

Posted 2017 September 27 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

John Reischman & the Jaybirds- On That Other Green Shore review   Leave a comment

Jaybirds

John Reischman & the Jaybirds
On That Other Green Shore
Corvus Records
http://www.thejaybirds.com/

It has long been known that John Reischman & the Jaybirds are one of my favourite bluegrass combos. To my ears, they have everything I expect from a band—vocal complexity and diversity, exceptional instrumentation and harmonic interplay, rock solid material with a curiosity  for the past and the ingenuity of creative originality.

When I was booking bands for the local association, The Jaybirds were the first non-locals I pursued. In subsequent appearances they never disappointed. I have seen them live about as many times as any bluegrass band I have witnessed, and even briefly used their “Jaybird Ramble” as my radio show theme song.

So, I’m a fan. But I am also a critic, and understand perhaps why they have never ‘broke through’ within the bluegrass world. Being based in western Canada has possibly been an impediment. I’ve heard some say that can appear a bit too polished, and maybe have at times appeared a bit ‘stiff’ on stage, especially early on. Still, the quality of their five previous full-fledged albums (and a seasonal EP) are without question—one of the strongest catalogues any bluegrass band can present since their debut of 2001. Why they are still not as recognized as other bluegrass bands—the Balsam Ranges, the Gibsons, the IIIrd Tyme Outs, and others—remains a mystery to my way of thinking.

John Reischman—having played with the Good Ol’ Persons, Tony Rice, John Miller, Kathy Kallick, and more—has long been one of bluegrass music’s most impressive and versatile mandolinists. Deeply influenced by Bill Monroe, Reischman has had the added benefit of being able to not only follow the inspiration of the instrument’s traditional Master, but to hear and work with others to provide guidance as well as the dedication to shape the instrument and its musical presentation in his own image.

Reischman’s bandmates Nick Hornbuckle (a more than impressive 5-stringer playing in an adapted 2-finger style), Trisha Gagnon (a tasteful bassist with an incredible voice in both lead and harmony positions),  Greg Spatz (an immensely sensitive and versatile fiddler and, as an aside, a formidable writer of prose), and Jim Nunally (a man of many hats including producer, absolutely devastating guitarist, and a singer rivaling Del McCoury, in my opinion) are unparalleled on the Canadian bluegrass scene (the fact that two-members of the group are naturalized Canadian citizens and only Gagnon is Canadian by birth doesn’t escape me) and—should this be a competition—could stand mic-to-mic with any of the most prominent bluegrass bands. [Someone will need to be the referee here, but I believe I may have just written a 113-word sentence that is almost grammatically justified.]

With the release of On That Other Green Shore this summer also comes news that Jim Nunally has left the group, the first personnel changeover the group has experienced. As I’ve already noted, Nunally has been one of the five pillars of the group, and his departure is significant. His playing and singing, as well as personality and songwriting, will be missed. For the unfamiliar, sample the two-song burst mid-set on Field Guide: “Arrowhead,” a Hornbuckle composition, features stunning flat-picking from Nunally while “Shackled and Chained,” one of his songs, is one of Nunally’s many fine vocal performances as a Jaybird.

One That Other Green Shore is not terribly different from previous JR&JB releases, and that is no criticism. The group has established an appealing and winning formula. The group boasts five song- and tune-writers, four vocalists, three-part harmonies, an untouchable duo of lead singers in Gagnon and Nunally, and a singular focus on making bluegrass music that is dynamic and memorable. As they typically do, the Jaybirds here refresh under-appreciated (or at least, under-known) songs from the Americana-roots-old time traditions, mix in some gospels and cracking instrumentals, and a handful of instrumentals as well as (this time) a song from The Beatles to create a unified representation of modern bluegrass.

Gagnon’s “I Don’t Want to Say Goodbye,” written upon her father’s passing, is not only emotional but also soothing. Two numbers feature the Jaybirds’ four-part vocal harmony ‘wall of sound.’ “You’ve Got To Righten That Wrong” and “Don’t You Hear The Lambs A-Crying” come from previous times but seem entirely apropos to current world circumstance, perhaps in ways the originators never intended. Spatz doesn’t contribute an original fiddle tune this time out, but brings to the group Caridwen Irvine Spatz’s “Thistletown,” a mournful and introspective piece well-placed within the 13-song set.

Nanually’s “Gonna Walk” features strong guitar lines, and I suppose serves as a fitting farewell nod to the group of which he has been integral the better part of two decades. “Today Has Been a Lonesome Day” is a song we’ve long heard at Jaybird shows, but makes its recorded debut here: interestingly, for a number that the group first worked up long ago, Patrick Sauber (who is the newest Jaybird) joins the group here on baritone.

 

new jaybirds

The ‘new’ Jaybirds: Image borrowed from the internet: no credit apparent, but will correct/remove if requested

 

Reischman has written dozens of memorable instrumentals, and “Daylighting the Creek” (listen to Spatz’s fiddle here—dang!) and “Red Diamond” join the list. His lead take on Paul McCartney’s “Two of Us,” in duet and close harmony with Gagnon, is a highlight of this recording. As they have done before (think “Shady Grove” from Vintage & Unique and “The House Carpenter” on Stellar Jays) the Jaybirds inject new shades to a familiar piece with the closing “Katie Bar the Door.”

As all John Reischman & the Jaybirds albums have been, On That Other Green Shore is beautifully packaged, and for those who still believe such matters, is well-deserving of purchase as a physical CD. Sneaking up on twenty years, John Reischman & the Jaybirds remain a vibrant part of contemporary bluegrass. Search them out.