Archive for the ‘Mountain Home’ Tag

Chris Jones & the Night Drivers- Made to Move review   Leave a comment

made_to_move

Chris Jones & the Night Drivers Made to Move Mountain Home Music Company

It is ridiculous that we expect groups and artists to constantly out-do themselves from one album to the next. Once a pinnacle is reached, perhaps we should be pleased when a group simply maintains their standards.

Therefore, I’m not going to suggest Made to Move is better than Chris Jones & the Night Drivers’ previous recording, the hit-laden collection Run Away Tonight. Indeed, it may not be. No, that future classic was a mighty high bar, but if Made to Move doesn’t exceed it, it certainly matches that recording as a set of original bluegrass that is superior to the majority encountered.

The album kicks off with a healthy Chuck Berry vibe (“All the Ways I’m Gone,”) that complements Jones’ confident low-nsome vocal canter. Before the song is out, we’ve heard memorable, stellar picking from not only Jones, but mandolinist Mark Stoffel and co-producer Dobroist Tim Surrett.

And things just continue to get better with each passing song.

Newest Night Driver Gina Glowes’ vocal harmony contributions are noticed and appreciated, giving a new depth to the group’s well-established sound. Her 5-string chops are obvious throughout, but especially on more reflective pieces such as the already chart-topping “I’m A Wanderer” and “Living Without.” “Last Frost” is the album’s banjo instrumental, and it is a fully-developed musical landscape that the imaginative can read like a story. On this tune, bassist Jon Weisberger’s tone is notable.

Weisberger, who co-wrote half the songs on the album, is a formidable bass presence. He doesn’t impede with his presence, of course, but no one in bluegrass seems to be able to do exactly what he does—perhaps it is just a testament to the way the group records, but his bass rhythms are never experienced as an apparent afterthought.

With his bold, baritone voice, Jones is easy to listen to and his mild-mannered approach to a song allows him to connect with listeners in a way some vocalists never master. A story song such as “The Old Bell” pulls one into its history within seconds, while the ‘coming home’ “Range Road 53” appeals in a similar manner if with increased tempo. “Silent Goodbye” may remind listeners of a previous Jones-Weisberger co-write, “Final Farewell.”

Stoffel is known as a tasteful accompanist, and his contributions to songs including “Rainbows Fell” will have some listeners leaning in toward the speakers. His mando-laden “What the Heck?!” closes the set, and is a fitting way to wrap-up the album, one that is as fresh and sparkling as its coda.

Clowes’ approach to “Dark Hollow” is readily apparent and perhaps even innovative, but it is Stoffel’s notes that I gravitate toward. The Night Drivers present an interesting arrangement of the old warhorse, one that obviously sparked the band’s interest as they worked it up together. By modulating the tempo mid-song, the Night Drivers encourages one to re-engage with the oft-heard standard.

Finally, I know Jones has recorded albums without a Tom T. Hall song, but not often. Made to Move‘s offering is a gentle interpretation of the Johnny Rodriguez co-write “You Always Come Back (To Hurting Me,)” a #1 from 1973.

Chris Jones & the Night Drivers are undoubtedly one of bluegrass music’s strongest instrumental bands. Each of the musicians is a master of their craft, and together they produce a style of bluegrass that is most likely unique. With Jones as their lead singer, they are blessed with one of the strongest, most recognizable vocal stylists the music offers. Will 2017 finally be the year that the band are recognized by the International Bluegrass Music Association when it comes time to complete ballots? One hopes so, because they truly have earned it.

Made to Move is another top-notch album from Chris Jones & the Night Drivers.

Darin & Brooke Aldridge- Faster and Farther review   Leave a comment

dbacover-300x263My review of the sixth album of new material from Darin and Brooke Aldridge has been posted to Country Standard Review. They have become one of bluegrass music’s most reliable acts.

http://www.countrystandardtime.com/d/cdreview.asp?xid=6272 will get you there.

Donald

 

Posted 2017 February 17 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

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Balsam Range- Hillbilly Voodoo review   Leave a comment

balsam-rangeOver the past decade, Balsam Range has become one of the most played and rewarded bluegrass bands. I’ve written about them many times, and have reviewed their latest album over at Lonesome Road Review.

My review of Five is linked through here.

I reviewed their album with John Driskell Hopkins here.

My review of Papertown is here.

Trains I Missed was reviewed here.

Balsam Range- Trains I Missed review   Leave a comment

My first review of 2011- for a 2010 release- has been posted over at Lonesome Road Review. Check it out if you’re interested. I really like the slogan the band uses at their website: “Where the music lives, breathes, and grows!” Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Balsam Range
Trains I Missed
Mountain Home Music Company
4 stars (out of 5)

By Donald Teplyske

Since their inception four years ago, Balsam Range has been a consistently impressive force within the bluegrass recording community. Their well-crafted third album furthers their effort toward becoming one of the premier bluegrass acts.

As on previous releases, Trains I Missed finds Balsam Range presenting a range of contemporary bluegrass sounds, music based firmly in the sounds of Bill Monroe (who they covered five times on their debut recording Marching Home) while embracing seemingly more progressive but equally appealing influences such as Blue Highway.

Hailing from the area of North Carolina where the Smokies meet the Blue Ridge, Balsam Range has featured a stable five-man lineup since their recording debut. Tim Surrett plays acoustic bass while adding resophonic guitar to select tracks. Buddy Melton is the fiddler with Darren Nicholson featured on mandolin. Caleb Smith handles guitar with the band’s most experienced musician, Marc Pruett, providing exceptional five-string contributions.

Everyone excepting Pruett sings lead and harmony vocals with Smith singing lead most frequently. The only guest musician invited to the proceedings is pianist Jeff Collins who contributes to “Meanwhile.”

Several tunes from this album have received considerable airplay. The title track, written by Walt Wilkins, Gilles Goddard, and Nicole Witt, may be most familiar and is a mid-tempo number that reflects on choices made, their impact on where one ends up, and the resulting blessings.

“Callin’ Caroline” has also proven to be a popular track; an up-tempo song previously recorded and co-written by Darryl Worley, it is a rather insubstantial song of the “I can’t wait to get off this highway and back to her” variety.

More significant is the inspirational “The Touch,” an accounting of the possibilities that arise reaching for the Savior’s hand. “Hard Price to Pay” and “On the Run” are lively numbers that maintain interest while exploring well-trodden bluegrass territory.

The Carter Family’s “East Virginia Blues” is dusted off and given a spirited reading. Randall Hylton’s “Gonna Be Movin’” featured on The Darrell Webb Band’s album earlier this year, is also performed and allows that band to further explore their vocal harmony dexterity.

Balsam Ridge is a banjo and fiddle-driven bluegrass band. Their vocal harmonies are superior to that which one would expect from a ‘hometown’ group, and their instrumental interplay is exceedingly engaging.

Further distinguishing themselves from the pack, Balsam Range’s approach to lead vocals is varied: Melton and Smith trade the lead position on select songs and all four vocalists are fully capable of carrying a song to fruition.

Balsam Ridge doesn’t exactly push boundaries, but they inject enough vibrant warmth into their style of bluegrass that they appear fresh and appealing. Trains I Missed is a more than satisfying bluegrass album.