Archive for the ‘Mike Plume Band’ Tag

Fervor Coulee’s Ten Favourite Roots Albums of 2018   Leave a comment

Throughout December I have been posting a series of columns reflecting on the year-in-roots-music past. I hope you have been inspired to locate albums that had passed you by, and are enjoying what I have recommended.

Readership at Fervor Coulee has steadily increased the last three years with growth of 10% and 20% the previous two years. However, things went crazy this past year with an 70% increase in readership: simply incredible. [This increase in traffic makes 2018 the second highest in Fervor Coulee’s history, almost reaching the lofty heights of 2011.] REVISION: A late year surge of visitors put 2018 over the top: the most ‘successful’ since the site launched in 2008, and an 85% increase in readership over 2017. Thank you all. I am pleased that so many who appreciate roots music are visiting here to ‘take in’ my Roots Music Opinion: I don’t usually feature the biggest or most-PR driven releases-Horse Hats of Indianapolis and Broken Heathens with Semi-Ironic Beards, for example, received no coverage- I take pride on featuring roots music larger, more-renowned music sites miss. Twitter activity has also been positive with the reach of my various reviews more-or-less increasing monthly.

2018 saw 86 posts at Fervor Coulee, most featuring one- or two- reviews; I am guessing I featured about a hundred albums this year. Beyond that, I likely heard another hundred fifty, and heard samples from so many- via WDVX, CKUA, my Polaris Music Prize duties, and other outlets (often places where I will first hear an album to explore further)- so when I finalize my Favourite Roots Albums of 2018- as I am doing here- I am drawing on a fairly well-informed pool.

Thank you for your ongoing readership and exchange of ideas. Without readers, this whole endeavour would be absolutely pointless.

To determine my Ten Favourite Roots Albums of 2018, I draw upon my previous published year-end lists- Favourite Bluegrass, Blues, Roots/Singer-Songwriters, and Reissue, Archival, Live, Tribute, Re-recording, and Compilations- and simply select the ten I most enjoyed: it isn’t scientific, fair, or necessarily consistent. Here we go:

Fervor Coulee’s Ten Favourite Roots Albums of 2018:

  1. Bobbie Gentry- The Girl From Chickasaw County box set- an absolute essential marvel, discussed here as my # 1 Roots Reissue, Archival, Live, Tribute, Re-recording, and Compilations list I have never before considered naming an archival release as my favourite of the year: this 8-disc set certainly is deserving of the accolades it has received.
  2. Mike Plume Band- Born By the Radiodiscussed here as my #1 Roots/Singer-Songwriters list
  3. The Travelin’ McCourys- The Travelin’ McCourysdiscussed here as my #1 Bluegrass album of 2018
  4. David Davis & the Warrior River Boys- Didn’t He Ramble: Songs of Charlie Poolediscussed here as #2 Roots Reissue, Archival, Live, Tribute, Re-recording, and Compilations and # 3 on the Bluegrass lists
  5. Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard- Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes, 1965-1969discussed here as #2 Roots Reissue, Archival, Live, Tribute, Re-recording, and Compilations and as an Honourable Mention on the Bluegrass lists
  6. Pharis & Jason Romero- Sweet Old Religion– discussed here as my #2 Roots/Singer-Songwriters list
  7. Sister Sadie- IIdiscussed here as my #2 Bluegrass album of 2018
  8. John Wort Hannam- Acres of Elbow Roomdiscussed here as my #3 Roots/Singer-Songwriters list
  9. Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar- Run to Mediscussed here as my #1 Blues album of the year
  10. Rory Block- A Woman’s Soul: A Tribute to Bessie Smithdiscussed here as my #2 Blues album of the year

See previous Favourites of the Year using the search function, or look here to see the top album of each of the previous years going back to 2000.


Fervor Coulee’s Favourite Roots and Singer-Songwriter Albums of the Year 2018   1 comment

*the ones that weren’t bluegrass, blues, or ‘old stuff’ like compilations, reissues, and archival releases

This is the second run at my list. The first is lost somewhere on my hard drive, obliterated by the Blue Screen of Death. Reassembling the list wasn’t terribly difficult (although I did decide to cut back from thirty to twenty titles), but I do know some of the placings changed, which is natural: once past the ‘top five,’ albums could flip-and-flop a position or three all down the list. What was more difficult was recalling all my brilliance of opinion- so, that is lacking. Still, this is how I’m feeling today, and I think I am comfortable with this being representative of my Roots Music Opinion for 2018.  As always, these are my favourite albums of the year; it is not a ‘best of’…although, really it is!

  1. Mike Plume Band Born By The Radio– It took twenty-five years, but Mike Plume has emerged as the next great Canadian songwriter, a man who comfortably stands shoulder-to-shoulder with those who influenced him. It has been a long ride, filled with songs memorable and albums impactful, but full realization is achieved with Born By The Radio. The songs are comprised of images universal and personal. “Waste a Kiss on Me,” on which he again squeezes in Kerouac, “Mama’s Rolling Stone,” “Monroe’s Mandolin,” and “Western Wind” are as strong songs as Plume has created, and the instrumentation and energy from the MPB is the stuff of legend. An album without waver. One of two Steve Coffey album covers on the list! (purchased download) 
  2. Pharis & Jason Romero Sweet Old Religion– A pair of Canadian Folk Music Awards last month further embellished the repute of this  focused British Columbia duo, and well-deserved they were of the recognition. Pharis’ voice is a wonder, Jason is no slouch, and together their old-timey harmonies and instrumentation are things of wonder, while their songs are contemporary slices of the world past and present. A beautiful album replete with memorable performances. (serviced CD) 

3. John Wort Hannam Acres of Elbow Room– Alberta’s venerable folk songwriter went even deeper on his seventh album, sharing with listeners his innermost tribulations. Recent years appear to have (almost) got the best of Hannam, and he has poured his darkness and challenges into an expertly-crafted collection of songs that are inspiring and impactful while being just plain enjoyable. “Key of D Minor,” “The Quiet Life,” and “Ain’t Enough” are among the finest songs he has written and recorded, and the title track is a wonder: “where the dotted-lines turn to gravel” may become Fervor Coulee’s new tagline. John has long been a Fervor Coulee favourite, and that his album comes in #3 is testament to the strength of the Plume and Romero albums. (purchased download)


The new Word Press settings and features are turning what should be a twenty-minute copy and paste, insert the links, and publish activity into an hour of misery and wonky formats. Bear with me- I will try to fix upon publishing via editing. Sigh. 

4. Gretchen Peters Dancing With the Beast Reviewed here (serviced CD)

5. Ashleigh Flynn & the Riveters Ashleigh Flynn & the Riveters Reviewed here (serviced CD)

6. Hadley McCall Thackston Hadley McCall Thackston Reviewed here (serviced CD)

7. Rosanne Cash She Remembers Everything From first listen, and as she has since Seven Year Ache and Somewhere In The Stars hit the turntable at Climax Records 35 years ago, Cash drew me into her current state of mind. As she has long done, Cash is reflecting on current circumstances- politics, division, gender inequality, complexity of relationships- encouraging engagement at higher levels while ensuring her songs are listenable, intriguing, and nuanced. Beautiful, as ever. That she can address weighty topics without sounding didactic is a bonus. (purchased CD and vinyl) 

8. Craig Moreau- A Different Kind of Train Reviewed here (serviced CD)

9. Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore Downey to Lubbock– Albums like this are the reason I continue to listen to music with a passion that has only increased over forty+ years. Two Americana masters come together to create an album standing with everything they’ve produced across lengthy careers. Hearing Alvin sing John Stewart’s “July, You’re A Woman” gets Downey to Lubbck a place in the top thirty: the two originals (including the autobiographical, mood-establishing title track- “I’m an old Flatlander,” Gilmore sings) and the expertly executed covers sneak it into top ten territory. (purchased download) 

10. Mary Gauthier Rifles and Rosary Beads– An early favourite this year, the album dropped in regard simply because I lost the disc in June: sometimes I really regret my propensity toward clutter. Had I had it all year, Rifles and Rosary Beads may well have rated higher on this list. Still, I bought the vinyl last week and I was immediately reminded of the recording’s intensity. Gauthier and her songwriting collaborators have delved as deep into the experiences of America’s military service men and women (and their families) as likely anyone has before done. The effect is lasting, with lyrical detail capturing the full-impact of service experiences shared in songs far-reaching and memorable. Mary Gauthier has been quietly building her career and artistic vision for twenty years- it is terrific to see her ‘break-through’ (again!) in 2018. (purchased download; purchased vinyl)

11. Florent Vollant Mishta Meshkenu Long one of Canada’s finest and most influential roots musician, Vollant has been making time-stopping music since Kashtin’s first album. As far as I have heard, he never falters; Mishta Meshkenu is as anticipated- rhythmic, energetic, and memorable. I don’t need to know what he is singing about to appreciate this album. (purchased download)

12. Roscoe & Etta Roscoe & Etta– Maia Sharp and Anna Schulze are about as rock ‘n’ roll as this list is going to get. I ignored this album when it arrived- to be fair, it came without cover art or notes, a simple advance disc housed in a clear plastic sleeve. Once I listened, I was won over. Rewriting “You Oughta Know” as “Stupid Pretty Face” was fair brilliant, but the strength of the album is found across the entirety of eleven songs. “Play On” and “Broken Headlights” are among the strongest songs heard this year. Roscoe & Etta is a terrific album. (serviced CD)

13. John Prine The Tree of Forgiveness– A master who refuses to compromise. The Tree of Forgiveness is a concise album, all the more powerful for its intensity. Little lightness here, Prine is on a mission to expose his human condition. (purchased CD)

14. Kaia Kater- Grenades– Where our favourite female, biracial, Canadian, old-timey clawhammer banjo player reaches way out to grasp the flowers at the end of the branches. Kaia explores her heritage and family throughout Grenades, creating an album singularly engaging and insightful. More mainstream, even pop-oriented, than previous Kater albums, Grenades is a natural progression. (serviced download)

15. Ashley McBryde Girl Going NowhereYeah, there is no room for music this good on country radio. (That clip brings this cynical and grizzled old man to tears. Seriously- the emotion!) No filler, these eleven songs alternately create moods and describe experiences that everyone can relate with, for good or bad. This is what country music needs to once again become. Fingers crossed; breath not held. (purchased download)

16. Eliza Gilkyson SeculariaReviewed here (serviced download)

17. The Gibson Brothers Mockingbird– A significant departure for the perennial bluegrass powerhouse, but not a jarring one. The lead and harmony vocal signatures remain, and that they’ve broadened their approach for this album isn’t something anyone within the paranoid, protectionist bluegrass collective should fear. As always, excellent songs. (purchased download)

18. Pistol Annies- Interstate Gospel– A little bit irreverent (The album kicks off with, “Jesus is the bread of life without him, you’re toast”) and a whole lot brilliant (“I Got My Name Changed Back,” “5 Acres of Turnips,” “When I Was His Wife,” and “Masterpiece,” being but four) their third album is somehow even better than those which came before. The trio of dixie chicks- Lambert, Monroe, and Presley- mine fifty-plus years of songwriting history to craft a set of original, self-written songs that is smart, sassy, and certainly superior to that clogging country music airwaves.  (purchased CD)

19. Leslie Satcher & the Electric Honey Badgers 2 Days in Muscle Shoals– While previous albums were enjoyable but uneven, everything comes together for Satcher on 2 Days in Muscle Shoals. A venerable rockin’ southern country masterpiece that dares you to not dance. (purchased download)

20. Joe Nolan Cry Baby A moody, soulful album of finely-tuned roots music. Last time I heard Nolan, he was busking at a farmers’ market. While good practice to test-run his songs, I hope Cry Baby takes him further down his hillbilly highway. (serviced download)

Honourable mentions: D. B. Rielly Live From Chester (#21, and bumped by the late arrival of the Pistol Annies) reviewed here, Vivian Leva Time Is Everything (reviewed here), Steve Forbert The Magic Tree, Mandy Barnett Strange Conversation, J. P. Harris Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing (reviewed here), Edward David Anderson Chasing Butterflies (reviewed here), Kevin Gordon Tilt and Shine, Amos Lee My New Moon, Tim Easton Paco & the Melodic Polaroids, Mark Erelli Mixtape, Mariel Buckley Driving in the Dark, The LYNNes Heartbreak Song For the Radio (reviewed here)and Thomas Stajcer Will I Learn to Love Again? (reviewed here)

There you have it, my favourite singer-songwriter (-ish) albums if 2018. Hopefully my choices lead you in a direction you find satisfying; my list is likely different from others’ you’ve encountered. Later this month we will finalize my Top Ten albums of the year. Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. 

Walkin’ Talkin’ Dancin’ Singin’- July 19 & August 2, 2010   Leave a comment

The album I'm most glad I listened to last week

Two weeks in one this time out, with lots of time for listening and reflecting. Our plans changed and instead of heading up to Stony for a day of Blueberry, we headed to the mountains and the Canmore Folk Music Festival. I’ll write about that later; a great time was had.

Rachel Sweet- Fool Around A few years ago, Maria McKee wrote about this album in Mojo and made the comment that Lone Justice would not have existed without it. Having finally read her comments, they closed a circle for me as I have long believed that the influence of this album- marginalized as it was upon release to new wave soft, adolescent porn amid many a twitter and scoff- has been underappreciated. As McKee wrote, “She’s got that baby voice, but there is real muscle there too, a bit like Brenda Lee.” An album that I can sing and play air drums to all the way through.

George Jones- Anniversary: Ten Years of Hits Lots of schlock, but several great songs.

Jerry Castle- Don’t Even Ask

The Wailin’ Jennys- Firecracker and Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House– Listening to the Jennys in anticipation of writing a Ruth Moody review. I got a chuckle while in one of the mall stores late last week when I spotted the Wailin’ Jennys filed in the country section under Waylon Jennings.

Megan Jerome- Bloomers

Mary Kastle- Beneath the Folds Still trying to find the right words. Very impressive is a start.

Baskery- Fall Among Thieves A better album than the band was in the little set I heard last weekend in Calgary.

Tom Russell- Cowboy’d All to Hell Did I really need yet another set of Russell remixes and re-recordings. Turns out, I did. Another excellent set from T.R.

Bob Walkenhorst- 2010.04.14 Kansas City, MO

Matt Urmy- Shadow of a Lovely Place and Sweet Lonesome See review at Lonesome Standard Time

Tony Owen- I Got Soul New Orleans soul, that is.

The Acorn- No Ghost

Katrina Leskanich- The Live Album No big surprises. I’ll spend more time with this one.

Lonesome Traveler- Looking for a Way See review at Lonesome Standard Time

Ruth Moody- The Garden Review to follow soon.

 Steven L. Smith- Outside of Tupelo See review at Lonesome Standard Time

Greg Kihn- Mutiny Greg Kihn from before I had ever heard the term No Depression.  I picked up this album for $2 the other day, having never seen or heard of it before. It is a bit, a lot roots, and very, very good.

Chris Rea- The Road to Hell & Back Live jazz pop from a few years ago. A spontaneous pick-up at the used store. Quite nice, but I doubt I’ll listen to it again.

Mike Plume Band- 8:30 Newfoundland Released at the absolute wrong time last year, just two weeks before the cut-off date for the 2009 Polaris Music Award. As such, it had no chance and as it was, I didn’t even know it existed until about a month later. A brilliant album, definitely one of Plume’s finest collections and one of my favourites of 2009. Every song is memorable.

Mike West- Interstate 10 Reminds me that I need to get to the disc shelves way more often. With fine excuses, sometimes it seems I spend too much time with new releases and too little listening to old favourites. I’m not sure why I went looking for it, but I’m glad I did. A super set with great insights including, “All my love songs have got too many words, Buddy Holly wrote about the best loves songs I think I ever heard.”

Crooked Still- Some Strange Country

Willie Nelson- Country Music

David Ball- Sparkle City

25 Albums I’m Really Glad I Listened to this Summer- Part 3   Leave a comment

The final chapter- and in no particular order other than the way they scattered across the floor-

Introducing Hanggai Hanggai (eMusic, 2008) My discovery of the summer. Hanggai is a Mongolian stringband featuring throat singing. Their traditional, Eastern sounds are provided bluegrass and old-time touches. Live, they are energetic and arresting. On disc, thoroughly engaging. Songs like “My Banjo and I” and “Drinking Song” are immediately appealing while more controlled material such as “Four Seasons” and “Haar Hu” sneak into long-term memory. A brilliant little album, and I still regret not purchasing the live recording they had on offer at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival; by the time I returned, they were all gone. Never hesitate when it comes to music. Those open to ‘world’ sounds should find something very appealing about Hanggai. Let’s hope they hook up with The SteelDrivers for a recording in the near future.

The Gift The Jam (1982) I missed The Jam, completly and inexplicitly. In the late 70s and early 80s, I loved everything British music offered. From Judas Priest, Girlschool, Kim Wilde, and Kirsty MacColl to Kajagoogoo, Nick Lowe, XTC, and Bauhaus, if it came from overseas, could be found in Smash Hits or NME, and was available on import- chances are I found it. Even things that didn’t really appeal to me (Japan) or that I didn’t really understand (Joy Division) got a listen.

But the Jam, I didn’t get. To be fair, I wasn’t exposed to them either. It was only with “Town Called Malice” that The Jam received commercial airplay in Edmonton, and I did buy the 12” single of it. Beyond that, the band fell on deaf ears. I got into Weller a bit with The Style Council- Our Favourite Shop was more than intriguing and I went thorough a serious Bruce Foxton period when everything from Touch Sensitive was absorbed- but for the next 20 years, Weller and The Jam (and The Jam were much more than Paul Weller) were ignored by me. Somewhere along the time Weller’s albums started appearing on YepRoc, I started exploring The Jam and each of their albums have become a new favourite as they have been acquired. Fittingly, their swan song was finally found this summer, and The Gift was worth the 27 year wait. Ridiculous, that I admit. From the opening bass rumble of “Happy Together,” The Gift is a masterpiece. “Precious,” “Just Who is the 5 O’clock Hero,” “Trans-Global Express,” and of course “Malice” have been heard and enjoyed on out-take collections, compilations, and live albums, but the songs work best as a cohesive set. It is an album of its time and beyond, one that can be taken as surface music that is laden with grooves, hooks, and catchy choruses as well as really listened to for nearly hidden sounds and lyrical insights. Well worth (re)discovering, depending on your history with Paul Weller and The Jam.

When Lost at Sea The Wooden Sky (Black Box, 2008) I believe this one came out two years ago, but I had never heard of them until a friend caught a bit of their music at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. I purchased the album at the Fest without having heard it- after all, all the Hanggai was gone- and have seldom been so pleased by a ‘never heard of it, but bought it anyway’ impulse buy. (The ultimate of which was my trifecta in the summer of ’82 when I purchased Billy Idol, Built for Speed, and Live It Up with my first semi-adult paycheque at Climax Records in Leduc- which would in a few months also be the location of my first record store job.) The album doesn’t seem or sound as calculated as their latest- and still very good- recording, with more rock elements obvious. The cold darkness of “Lonesome Death of Helen Betty Osborne” brings the album to a beautiful sounding if disturbing close.

Finally, album 25…

8:30 Newfoundland Mike Plume Band (Moraine/Fontana North, 2009) I don’t know where Mike Plume has been since Fool for the Radio appeared and then disappeared from store shelves, but I’m glad he’s back. (Hints of the past half dozen year are provided in “Weeds,” but I’ve no idea how literal they should be taken.) For a while there during the No Depression heyday, I was convinced that Plume was going to be ‘the next one’ to be discovered. I guess it never happened, but his recorded legacy stands up against those of Chris Knight, Robbie Fulks, Slaid Cleaves, and just about any other singer-songwriter type one could mention. The album title is a reference only a Canadian would understand, and the title track name checks as many small towns and features as a pair of Stompin’ Tom albums. The music surpasses the occasional songwriting indulgence Plume allows himself (really, Mike- “knocking boots?”) Produced by Brent Maher (he who discovered The Judds and has been a Nashville A-lister for 30 years) and Charles Yingling (according to Google, either a short baseball player from the late-1800s or a music consultant and contractor in Nashville- whichever, never heard of him), Plume seems to have found a team that understands the importance of staying true to your music and roots while skirting about the edges of the mainstream, much as Corb Lund has. I’ll even forgive him from stealing (in “Like a Bullet from a Gun”) from me a line I’ve been using for years- “Old enough to know better, young enough not to care”- although I haven’t actually lived that particular sentiment). Hockey, driving, judgment, love- all the important themes are explored, and the album – forgive the mindless cliché- completely rocks…in a non-commercial, country kinda way. His voice is as strong as ever. Comeback of the year, anyone?

And that is the list, although many more albums were listened to and enjoyed throughout the summer. Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee.