Archive for the ‘Jim Lauderdale’ Tag

Mac Wiseman & Various Artists- I Sang the Song review   Leave a comment

Mac Wiseman

Mac Wiseman I Sang The Song Mountain Fever Records

With all due respect to the folks who have released excellent bluegrass and country albums this year, and those who will undoubtedly do so in the coming months, we have our 2017 Americana/Roots album of the year.

An incredible undertaking by Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz, the most important element of the thirteen songs comprising I Sang the Song: Life of The Voice With A Heart is the source material, Mac Wiseman himself. Nearing 92, Wiseman was born in 1925 and recalls a time few of us can picture outside history books and re-runs of The Waltons. Wiseman is a man who knew A. P. Carter and has now had Sierra Hull share a song with him. Think about that for a half-a-moment.

“It ain’t bragging if you’ve done it,” asserts John Prine gently within the title track, revealing for the unaware that Wiseman performed alongside the acknowledged masters of 20th century roots music. A member of both The Foggy Mountain Boys and The Blue Grass Boys, as well as a charting, featured performer in his own right, Wiseman is a founder of the Country Music Association, and inductee to both the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame and the Country Hall of Fame.  A label executive and producer—and one of the finest bluegrass gentlemen I’ve had the pleasure of encountering, however briefly— Wiseman was always far more than “just another young hillbilly.”

The majority of these songs are obviously bluegrass, a few clearly country, and others find that sweet, magical spot between the two. Cooper and Jutz had the inspiration and wisdom to listen to and converse with Wiseman, finding in his stories threads to embroider  the ten new songs created together to communicate a compelling narrative of anecdote.

Naturally, the singing is incredible throughout. Recent IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year Shawn Camp is given a pair of songs, as is Milan Miller who appears with Buddy Melton (another IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year) and Andrea Zonn. Junior Sisk, yet a third IBMA vocalist recipient, also has two lead appearances, “Crimora Church of the Brethren,” on which he is joined by Ronnie Bowman (yes, another IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year) and “The Wheat Crop”—with the ladies of The Isaacs—which laments the lot of the poor farmer. These performances are expectedly outstanding, and the history-rich lyrics and eternal melodies provide galvanizing framework for blessed voices.

Justin Moses (fiddle, banjo, and Dobro) and Hull (mandolin) work with Jutz (guitar) and Mark Fain (bass) to serve as the house band, uniting to create a consistent instrumental environment. Cooper and Jutz harmonize on several tracks, providing further uniformity.

Within a song, Wiseman (“The Guitar,” via Moses and Hull) takes us from receiving his first Sears Roebuck, ragtop box, to the eventual day he stopped “playing in G and singing in C” to nail “There’s An Empty Cot in the Bunkhouse  Tonight” for an audience of one. As the album unfolds, his experiences through to the hardships of the depression (“Barefoot ‘Til After the Frost”, “Three Cows and Two Horses”) are revealed in a natural, homespun manner capturing the vernacular of his rural upbringing down to cold “feet just as red as a gobbler’s snout.” In the universal and frustrating balance poverty, even when things improve for Wiseman’s family (“Manganese Mine,”) another discovers only hardship and tragedy.

“Simple Math,” one of two sang by Americana icon Jim Lauderdale, details further experiences from Wiseman’s youth following him into early gigs as a professional musician including his big break playing Molly O’Day sessions. Lauderdale, one of the most prolific and versatile vocalists working today, adroitly relates the simple truths of Wiseman’s observations.

As compelling as the connections to Wiseman’s life are across the album, the fact that each song stands independent released from context is indicative of their significance. The bluegrass chart hit “Going Back to Bristol,” sung by Camp, radiates universal appeal, whether you’ve ever been near the border community, cut a side with Flatt & Scruggs, been near a Studebaker, or not.

Alison Krauss joins Wiseman on the closing benediction “‘Tis Sweet to Be Remembered,” one of his earliest successes, for a performance joining generations in hopeful love of music and life. Wiseman drops in on a few of these numbers, providing a foundation for the lyrics and music, but also allowing those with the greatest of admiration to communicate his story through the voices of generations influenced by “The Voice With A Heart.”

For thirty-eight minutes, timeless memories are communicated. Through time, these performances will be shared to become part of our collective memory.

Visit https://mountainfever.com/ to order.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. @FervorCoulee

 

Three Jim Lauderdale reviews   Leave a comment

a jim 1Flipping through the CDs on the shelves the other morning, I wasn’t surprised to find seventeen Jim Lauderdale albums. Labeling the North Carolina-born, South Carolina-raised singer, songwriter, musician, and producer as prolific is to understate the prevalence of his musical progeny. Since 1991, and including three recently released albums, Lauderdale has created no fewer than 25 complete albums.

Add to that output dozens of guest appearances, compilation album tracks, and songs cut by recording artists from (alphabetically) Gary Allen and Mandy Barnett through to George Strait, Kelly Willis, and LeeAnn Womack, and you have someone who makes Alejandro Escovedo seem a laggard.

a jim 2Planet of Love, that debut recording, remains a favourite, as does his early masterwork, Persimmons. These were mainstream country records that contained a vibrant pulse heartened by smart writing, creative singing, and inventive musicianship. His albums with Ralph Stanley, and mid-aught recordings including Headed For the Hills and The Bluegrass Diaries were superior, and no matter what perspective of Americana he elected to explore- countrypolitan, bluegrass, jam-band, troubadour, straight-up and hard, or Appalachian roots- he pulled it off with skill and no little bit of magic.

There were stumbles. At times, Lauderdale and his songwriting collaborators- especially Robert Hunter- delivered a jim 3songs that were (depending on outlook) apparently or obviously formula-driven and predictable, perhaps overtaxing material that needed time to lay fallow. However, these blemishes were the exception rather than the rule. Where contemporaries deliver an album every three or four years, Lauderdale consistently unleashes a recording annually at minimum, a dozen since 2006. He has released four in the past year, three in 2013 alone, including Blue Moon Junction and Black Roses simultaneously this past November.

If anyone matches Lauderdale’s level of prolific creation combined with consistent high quality, they’ve escaped my attention.

My reviews of these three exceptional albums from Jim Lauderdale have been posted to Country Standard Time:

Old Time Angels: http://www.countrystandardtime.com/d/cdreview.asp?xid=5358

Blue Moon Junction: http://www.countrystandardtime.com/d/cdreview.asp?xid=5359

Black Roses: http://www.countrystandardtime.com/d/cdreview.asp?xid=5360

 

Are these three albums created for the same audience? They could be, if that audience is flexible and fluid enough to react to the musical curves Lauderdale extends. Alternately, each may appeal individually to different types of listeners- Old Time Angels (video of the title track here) for the ‘grassers, Blue Moon Junction for the folk club crowd, and Black Roses for those who are interested in more jam band-influenced sounds.

Jim Lauderdale isn’t afraid to get out of his comfort zone. We should be willing to meet him halfway.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. @FervorCoulee

Donald

Free Jim Lauderdale Song Download   Leave a comment

Well, I can’t find the link on the Sugar Hill Records site, but the always reliable The Bluegrass Blog tells me that in celebration of today’s release of Reason & Rhyme, Jim Lauderdale’s new bluegrass album, Sugar Hill is offering up a download of “Love’s Voice.” Hopefully this link to TBB will get you near your download: http://tinyurl.com/3wlr2a2. It’ll cost you an email address. A link to my review of the album (from Fervor Coulee Bluegrass) is posted down below thereabouts…

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Posted 2011 June 21 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

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Jim Lauderdale- Reason and Rhyme   Leave a comment

I’ve posted- over at Fervor Coulee Bluegrass- a review of Reason and Rhyme, the album from Jim Lauderdale that will be released next week. http://www.countrystandardtime.com/blog/FervorCouleeBluegrass/entry.asp?xid=761 will get you there. It is an uneven album, in my opinion, but has much to recommend it and I have enjoyed listening to it for the past couple weeks. Its flaws, while apparent, only detract momentarily and don’t overwhelm the release.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Jim Lauderdale & the Dream Players- Honey Songs   Leave a comment

Jim Lauderdale & the Dream Players

Honey Songs

YepRoc

 

Winning Grammy Awards has allowed Jim Lauderdale to record what he wants, when he wants. Such is the case with his latest album-his fourth in less than eighteen months- Honey Songs.

 

With a backing band the sort of a liner note reader’s wildest fantasy (Burton, Tallent, Perkins, Hardin, and the like,) Lauderdale has crafted a full-bodied collection of songs that successfully straddle the conflicting forces of the country world- Nashville commercialism and retro-country hipness.

 

“Honey Suckle Honey Pie” establishes the parameters of the proceedings with classic-sounding, tic-tac country guitar and playful but heart-earning vocals. Elsewhere, pedal steel comes wailing to the fore.

 

“I Hope You’re Happy”,”Hittin’ It Hard”, and “It’s Finally Sinkin’ In” are a trio of love gone south tunes, but each has a distinctive approach to the conveyance of the proceedings. Emmylou Harris stops by to lend her voice to the album’s pining closer (“I’m Almost Back”) while Patty Loveless, Buddy Miller, and Kelly Hogan appear elsewhere.

 

Jim Lauderdale is one of the most criminally under-known country singers and songwriters enjoying critical acclaim. Honey Songs reveals a little more with every listen, and is further evidence that his creative well is in no danger of running dry.