Archive for the ‘Patuxent Music’ Tag

Eric Bibb, Tom Ewing, Rob Benzing reviews   Leave a comment

I was busy writing last weekend, and the products of my efforts have been published over at Lonesome Road Review.

Eric Bibb’s Migration Blues from Stony Plain Records: it is as good as you hope.

Bill Monroe’s last lead singer, Tom Ewing, has put together a compilation of tracks from his late 80-early 90 cassette tapes: Tom knows bluegrass.

Rob Benzing is a DC area banjo talent.

BIBB_MigrationBlues_livretTom Ewingrob benzing




Corrina Rose Logston- Bluegrass Fiddler review   2 comments


Corinna Rose Logston Bluegrass Fiddler Patuxent Music

Patuxent Music, over the past handful of years, has released some very fine bluegrass music. Not everything they do is to my liking, but neither is everything that comes out on Mountain Home, Rebel, or Rounder.

This year has been especially pleasing. Things started late in 2015 with Danny Paisley & Southern Grass’s excellent Weary River and continued with Audie Blaylock & Redline’s The Road That Winds and Frank Wakefield and Leon Morris’s self-titled album. The Travers Chandler Archaic album had its moments, and while Charm City Junction didn’t do much for me personally, their talent is apparent.

Now comes a release from an artist I wasn’t previously familiar with but whom I am going to start watching out for, Corrina Rose Logston. From what I can gather searching the web (the one-sheet accompanying the album is short of background) this is Logston’s third album following a pair of (perhaps) self-released efforts. Previously this year, she released an album with the band High Fidelity, whose banjo player Kurt Stephenson is featured prominently on this release. Logston also regularly appears with Jesse McReynolds.

The title of the album is an acute summation. This is a bluegrass fiddle album, and a darned fine one. While I will sometimes drift-off (to use a polite term for ‘lose consciousness’) listening to a fiddle-dominated recording, Bluegrass Fiddler kept me intrigued from start to finish. No doubt part of the reason was that Logston’s assembled band keeps things interesting, not just supporting her fiddling showcase, but sounding like a true band who has worked up a strong set of numbers.

“Laughing Boy” kicks things off in capable fashion, and it isn’t too long before a delightful original “Sandbridge” makes an appearance. This lively number moves just a little, injecting some creative spark to the presentation. While the album is largely instrumental, there are two vocal tracks, both of which are impressive.

An old C&W song from Cowboy Copas, “I Don’t Blame You,” is featured first, and includes excellent interplay between the band members, especially Logston and guitarist Jeremy Stephens. It is the type of song one might expect John Reischman & the Jaybirds to uncover and enliven with bluegrass verve.

While many have heard “Foggy Mountain Top” a thousand times or more, we have to remember we all heard it for the first time performed by someone, and as often as not not the Carter Family. Whomever is introduced to the song via this rendition is in for a treat, as the fiddling is stunning, the lead and harmony singing is delightful, and Casey Campbell’s mandolin break is real nice.

Bluegrass vet David Mclaughlin appears on five tracks, including a stout “Smokey Mountain Rag.” P.J. George, who also plays with Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys (a band I reviewed here), is the bassist. Several popular fiddle numbers are featured including “Sopping the Gravy,” “Wilson’s Hornpipe,” and “Snowflake Breakdown.” The album’s second original number is a showstopper, “Honeycat Hornpipe.” Delightful.

Bluegrass Fiddler is a very impressive album, one that has the extra ‘something’ to separate it from the mass of releases encountered this year. It will find a place on my ‘best of 2016’ list, me thinks

Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show- Sho Nuff Country review   Leave a comment

It takes a lot of energy to review an album that severely disappoints. This one was exhausting.

As I state in the review, In Full Color was a great album, one of the finest of 2001. Worries on My Mind was almost as good. But damn it, Sho Nuff Country just doesn’t measure up. It is predictable and uninteresting. Unnecessary and unoriginal. Uninspired, even.

cd-karl-shiflettI more than gave the album a chance. Listened to it a half-dozen times before I finalized my opinion on it because it is frankly risky for a freelancer to lean heavy on a weak album. Safer to ignore it than risky incurring the wrath of a label or publicist.

Sho Nuff Country just doesn’t work. Want to know why? Read my review over at Country Standard Time. And please know, label/publicist aside, I don’t craft a negative review lightly. Obviously the group thought they were recording something special. Their label believed in what they put together. I know they invested heavily in the project. But there was no way I could find to put some gloss on this one.

Your opinion may be different. Feel free to write your own review.

Audie Blaylock & Redline- The Road That Winds review   1 comment

It has been a busy summer- I’ve written quite a few reviews, and done more listening than I likely should have, but I’ve done even more reading: as a result, projects around the home didn’t get accomplished. Neither did writing. (I had planned on working on my short stories/novella this summer. Hmmm…didn’t happen.)

With all the music coming my way, I haven’t found the time/energy to sit down and write about enough of it. Lazy, perhaps- I do normally try to write about 75% of what gets sent to me. (Thanks, PR folks.) I fell short this summer, so today I make the attempt to write that wrong. I’ve also been working at refining my writing, trying to write tighter; working without constraints (or an editor) I’m sometimes not as focused on ‘how’ I am writing. This weekend I decided to concentrate on the quality of my writing, taking time to be more concise in my expression.

Here we go: several reviews of roots music released over these summer months. Hopefully, something leads you to further investigation.


Audie Blaylock & Redline The Road That Winds Patuxent Music

Audie Blaylock & Redline returns with their fifth album in eight years. Like the previous releases, The Road That Winds is a bluegrass album firmly down the dotted, middle line—it holds a steady course without drifting toward the edges, meeting anything in its way head on. Blaylock comes from the Jimmy Martin school, and his music will always be rooted in that tradition. However, over the course of their evolution, the younger members of the group—and obviously, Blaylock, too—have kept their sights on progressing with their music, ensuring they remain relevant as artists and entertainers. It’s straight-ahead bluegrass, but forward looking in execution. Banjoist Evan Ward has returned to Redline, while the impressive Patrick McAvinue continues on fiddle and mandolin. Reed Jones is the bass player, and also contribute four original songs including the inspirational (co-write with Blaylock) “Life Without a Spare” and “The Ties That Bind.” Bob Amos’ “Where the Wild River Rolls,” previously recorded by Hot Rize a quarter century ago and Elton John/Bernie Taupin’s “Daniel” will be familiar to most. As typical of Blaylock albums, this one comes in around 34 minutes; one would think they could have squeezed out another couple songs. Key cuts: those mentioned and “Cousin Sally Brown” and “Ride and Roll.”

Frank Wakefield & Leon Morris review   Leave a comment


Frank Wakefield & Leon Morris Frank Wakefield & Leon Morris Patuxent Music

For those with an eye on its history, Frank Wakefield and Leon Morris are much revered members of the bluegrass community.

Frank Wakefield has long been one of the more colourful components of the bluegrass spectrum, having developed his own style of mandolin playing while spending time with Red Allen, Jimmy Martin, The Greenbriar Boys, and others before launching a well-regarded career as a featured artist.

Guitarist Leon Morris has been an integral member of the Washington, DC and area scene from the late 1950s onward, and his recordings with Buzz Busby (such as Honkytonk Bluegrass on Rounder Records) are greatly admired; for many years, he has led the group Leon Morris & the (Bluegrass) Associates.

Patuxent Music has brought together these two senior members of the bluegrass world on a generous self-titled recording. While the album has much to recommend it, it is a little strange in its composition. The principals receive equal billing, but Morris appears on only seven of the fourteen tracks. Wakefield, Nate Leath (fiddle), Stefan Custodi (bass), and Mark Delaney (banjo) comprise the core band with others including Scott Brannon and Bryan Deere taking lead vocal turns with Danny Paisley and Tom Mindte offering up harmony. Danny Knicely (guitar) appears on select tracks.

Given this, the album isn’t really a Wakefield/Morris album as much as a Wakefield & Patuxent Friends release. And, as such, is quite enjoyable. In my opinion, it just isn’t what it appears to be from the cover.

That out of the way, Frank Wakefield & Leon Morris is first and foremost a bluegrass album of  quality. While I may favour the Leon Morris songs (notably “Blue Monday,” “I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling,” and “Here Today and Gone Tomorrow”) there is no drop-off when Brannon (“Made Up My Mind”) or Deere (“I Don’t Believe You’d Do Me Wrong”) are featured. Wakefield’s mandolin playing is featured throughout, and this consistency is one of the album’s strengths. One appreciates his deftness on the previously mentioned Bill Monroe classic as well on the more expansive “Rondo.”

“Lena,” a Morris composition from the early 70s (if not earlier), is reprised to excellent effect, with Paisley singing the high harmony. Regard for Wakefield’s voice may not be universally positive, but his rendition of “Never Fall” (“I Thought I’d Never Fall in Love Again”) from his days with Red Allen is conveyed with sincerity.

Frank Wakefield & Leon Morris is a solid bluegrass release that leaves one heading to the shelves (and download sites) in search of more from Morris and Wakefield, two legends of the music quite frequently overlooked.


Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass- Weary River review   1 comment

paisleyDanny Paisley & the Southern Grass

Weary River

Patuxent Music

Done right, bluegrass sounds simple.

We know it isn’t, of course; anyone who has watched a talented group working up a new song is aware of the incredible complexities that go into making a pure and natural bluegrass song.

Some people are convinced that bluegrass needs to be altered and intensified with additional, progressive elements in order for the music to continue to advance within a broader marketplace, and perhaps they are correct. Still, few things sound as wonderful, as clean, and—yes—simple as a bluegrass band at the top of its game, creating music that is entrenched in a tradition that stretches back seventy years and more.

A bluegrass band that has no pretense about it, one that knows that every song needs to be individual within a sound palate that is as deep as it is wide: is there anything better?

Danny Paisley & the Southern Grass are one sterling example of such a band.

Weary River was released in late 2015, too late to be considered for most year-end lists, but one hopes the album will received its due in this new year. For those who continue to appreciate bluegrass unadorned by passing-fancy, Weary River has much to offer.

It contains several songs from the repertoire of The Southern Grass, a Paisley-Lundy family entity since the 70s, including the spirited lead cuts “Darling Nellie Across the Sea” and “Uncle Ned,” as well as the sentimental “Mother Knows Best.” Three instrumental tunes are sprinkled throughout: “Grey Eagle,” featuring T.J. Lundy sawing a storm, a new one entitled “Fall Branch” from creative banjoist Mark Delaney, and one of Bill Monroe’s signature tunes, “Come Hither to Go Yonder,” featuring each instrumentalist, but none so obviously as the youthful Ryan Paisley on mandolin. Doug Meek plays the majority of the fiddle parts throughout the album, while Russ Hooper adds Dobro in a few places.

As great bluegrass does, Weary River takes listeners on a journey to the pits of despair. The title cut is a new Chris Stuart number: one may recall that Danny Paisley & the Southern Grass performed Stuart’s (with Ivan Rosenberg) 2009 IBMA Song of the Year “Don’t Throw Mama’s Flowers Away” on a previous album. “Weary River” is not only an exceptionally well-written song, but Paisley’s soulful lead vocal performance is equal parts aching (for what is missing) and devastated (by that which has been lost): there is not one iota of joy or light within its four and a third minutes. The fact that “Weary River” could serve as soundtrack to my yet-to-be completed novel of matrimonial strife, idealistic duplicity, and childhood neglect is simply a bonus.

Alongside “Weary River,” “The Letter Edged in Black” almost sounds uplifting, while Ringo Starr’s “Don’t Pass Me By” is positively hopeful: not sure how Del McCoury missed out on ‘grassifying this White Album track. The vocal and bass contributions of Eric Troutman are an outstanding addition to The Southern Grass for this recording, while Paisley remains one of those wonderful, under-heralded bluegrass rhythm guitarists.

Like Road into Town and The Room Over Mine, Weary River is a truly impressive modern, straight-ahead  bluegrass recording.