Archive for the ‘Pinecastle Records’ Tag

Blue Mafia and Wildfire reviews   Leave a comment

I don’t understand why record labels and bands release ‘regular’ albums in December. For gift giving and year-end splurges, I understand the compilations, box sets, and special editions being released late in the year.

Pinecastle Records released two bluegrass albums in December, 2016. Both are really strong and distinctive albums, but weren’t heard until most of the ‘year-end’ lists were compiled. A shame because-a month after their release-they haven’t received as much attention as I think they deserve.

hangingtree Blue Mafia is one of my favourite bluegrass bands. I’ve yet to catch them live-living on the edge of the frozen prairies and forests of Alberta does have some drawbacks-but their two previous albums were immediately appealing. Their third release is just as strong, and is one that I’m going to be listening to a lot as the next months unfold. My review has been posted at Country Standard Time.

My review of their second album, Pray For Rain, is posted here. My Cold Heart, one of the finest bluegrass debuts I’ve reviewed, is written about here.

wildfireWildfire is a group I’ve been listening to since their first album was released in 2001. They have undergone all sorts of lineup changes over the year, but Robert Hale and Curt Chapman have been the consistent members and have just released their fifth recording. My review has been posted at Country Standard Time.

An excellent start to the 2017 bluegrass season. Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Grascals, Honeycutters, Travers Chandler, & Sister Sadie- lost/found   Leave a comment

Starting the ‘year-end’ process, and in doing so I found a couple reviews posted elsewhere that I didn’t link through here at Fervor Coulee.

Very early this year, The Grascals released their eighth album ..and then there’s this. Country Standard Time published my review. It was a great way to start off what turned out to be a better than typical year of bluegrass albums. grascals

This summer, The Honeycutters knocked me out with their exceptional album On The Ropes. That review was published at Lonesome Road Review. the-honeycutters-on-the-ropes

Travers Chandler’s Archaic was released a few months back, and my review was published over at Country Standard Time; the typo is likely entirely my own danged fault. Some good ones on here, but a couple clunkers, too. archaic

Finally, can’t believe I missed putting up a link to one of my favourite albums of the year, Sister Sadie’s debut release. What a set- over at Country Standard Time.

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Careless on my part- sometimes it is hard to keep up. Best to you- listen to some roots music. Maybe even buy it! Donald

Blue Mafia- Pray For Rain review   1 comment

untitledBlue Mafia Pray For Rain Pinecastle Records

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

An Indiana-based bluegrass outfit, Blue Mafia returns with their sophomore album. Their stealthy, self-produced debut My Cold Heart was a bluegrass highlight of 2013, notable for its creative songwriting, strong vocal execution, clear production values, and fine instrumental balance.

Those elements remain within Pray For Rain, and this album meets the rising expectations that come with a second release. Admittedly, the album didn’t hit me upside the head as My Cold Heart did; that could have at least as much to do with me as it does Blue Mafia.

Dara Wray, who wrote the majority of the material on the previous album, has only three songs on this set. Of these, the title cut (sung by Kent Todd) may be the most complete: the harmonies, a band strength, are especially appealing here, while the song’s loping, change-of-pace gait is appreciated. “One Bad Day” is appealingly dark with “Consider It Goodbye,” a kiss-off song, having a challenging rhythm and lively arrangement.

The quintet’s lineup remains consistent. Cody Looper continues to make a positive impression on the 5, and Todd’s fiddling enlivens many a performance while Michael Gregory’s bass playing is simultaneously solid and unobtrusive. Meanwhile, Dara and Tony Wray share the lead vocal work with Todd while also handling the mandolin and lead guitar.

Mainstays from the  Stanley Brothers (“I’m Lonesome Without You” and “East Virginia Blues”), Peter Rowan (“Moonshiner”), and Pete Goble and Leroy Drumm (“I’d Like To Be A Train”) are skilfully presented; these familiar songs may draw some listeners to a still-relatively under-known band, but those already committed to the group may initially be disappointed with this reliance on outside material.

However, it is with these songs that Blue Mafia prove themselves most adaptable. “Moonshiner” explodes out of the gate, “East Virginia Blues” is afforded an arrangement that is fresh and unusual, at least to these ears, and I don’t believe I’ve previously heard “I’d Like To Be A Train” given a female perspective.

Blue Mafia gained considerable momentum with the success of their first release. Pray For Rain should find them appealing to an even wider audience.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

 

Recent Roots Writing   Leave a comment

I haven’t done a great deal of writing during the past month, but I have placed a few pieces recently.

I posted my review of Phil Leadbetter’s new album The Next Move over at Fervor Coulee untitledBluegrass. With a bluegrass heart at the core of the album, Leadbetter and his many collaborators have created a wonderful disc that should find favour with those who are open to strong country influences. The reigning IBMA Dobro Player of the year has done very well here, and has enlisted strong singers including John Cowan, Steve Gulley, Dale Ann Bradley, Con Hunley, and especially Shawn Camp to give voice to the songs.

A few reviews went up at the Lonesome Road Review over the last month.

My take on Alice Gerrard’s new album Follow the Music is something you may be interested in if you appreciate strong folk music with an old-time bent. If you are not familiar with Gerrard, she has been a mainstay in the old-time music world for more than forty years, and prior to alicethat was without a doubt ‘a pioneering woman of bluegrass’ through her long association with the dearly missed Hazel Dickens. Not one to rest on her laurels, Gerrard has teamed with the principals of Hiss Golden Messenger to produce an album every bit as compelling as last year’s Bittersweet.

Fayssoux McClain may not be familiar to you, but if you have listened to the early albums from Emmylou Harris, you’ve heard her voice. Recording under her given name, Fayssoux has found a homealbumart with the Red Beet Records conglomeration- Peter Cooper and Eric Brace. If you are missing country sounds and tradition in the ‘country’ music of today, I Can’t Wait may be what you should be seeking.

Dublin’s I Draw Slow, beyond having a non-traditional sounding name for a bluegrass band also have a rather non-traditional draw slowapproach to the music. Still, there is something here that will be of interest to those who come to the music with rather open ears. I won’t be listening to this album as frequently as I do the music of James Reams, Flatt & Scruggs, or Dale Ann Bradley, but I found a great deal to appreciate within their album White Wave Chapel.

Walter Salas-Humara has been a central figure within the world that was once (for a few years) classified as alt.country, roots rock, or No Depression music. As the mainstay and chief songwriter for The Silos, Salas-Humara has released a whole lot of music walterover the last (almost) 30 years. Curve and Shake is his latest solo release, and it is a grand recording that I find myself returning to weeks after writing the review, a rare occurrence.

On second thought, I guess I have been doing enough writing these past weeks! Still, there are many albums sitting on the pile awaiting my attention- just need to find the time.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

 

 

Gold…In A Way- The Circuit Riders- Let the Ride Begin   Leave a comment

Over at Fervor Coulee Bluegrass, I’ve posted a new edition of Gold…In A Way, my once-in-a-long-while, but-still-semi-regular feature that takes a look back at an album I enjoyed at some point in the past twenty years.

CircuitToday, while doing some research on early-80s bluegrass bands, I came across The Circuit Riders’ album Let the Ride Begin, released in late 2006. The album is available digitally and at online retailers- this is the band formed by former members of The Country Gentlemen, and has nothing to do with the group of the same name that recorded in the ’90s or since.

I most likely hadn’t listened to the album since it was released, but had positive memories of it. Listening to the disc today, I appreciate the recording all the more.

My piece can be located HERE.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Gold…In A Way- David Parmley & Continental Divide: Three Silver Dollars   Leave a comment

untitledGold…In A Way is an opportunity for me to occasionally re-examine a bluegrass album that I believe deserves a second listen. This time out I look at David Parmley & Continental Divide’s 2009 album Three Silver Dollars. Featuring a title cut from Tom T. Hall and outstanding playing from Parmley, Dale Perry, Ron Spears, Ron Stewart, and Kyle Perkins, this was without doubt one of the finest albums of 2009. It stands up five years later. This link will get you over to Fervor Coulee Bluegrass, where the piece is published.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald @FervorCoulee

Town Mountain- Leave the Bottle review   Leave a comment

My review of Town Mountain’s brand new album Leave the Bottle has been posted to the Lonesome Road Review. A very promising album and group, I believe.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Town Mountain
Leave the Bottle
Pinecastle Records
3.5 stars (out of 5)

By Donald Teplyske

Town Mountain release their fourth album, and second for Pinecastle, this autumn. Leave the Bottle is a darn strong bluegrass album featuring original, band-written music, a powerful instrumental presence, and vocal diversity and dexterity.

From Asheville, N.C., Town Mountain has garnered considerable airplay with previous releases. As well, the still youthful group has traveled far and wide playing their music; they have appeared at IBMA, performed internationally, and toured with respected bluegrass and jam bands. Further, their song “Diggin’ on the Mountain” was featured on the recent Putumayo bluegrass compilation.

Town Mountain is a band that finds their inspiration both in the traditions of bluegrass—traditions that include both Jimmy Martin and New Grass Revival—and in the increasingly expansive world of the jam bands. Much like the Steep Canyon Rangers, Town Mountain has found a way to bridge these seemingly disparate universes, appealing to audiences of all types.

Without doubt, this band has fine writing chops. Either as co-writers or singular offerings, eleven of the dozen songs originate within the group. “Lawdog,” written by mandolinist Phil Barker, is a law-breaking throwback to the days of the Osborne Brothers; with Barker singing high and plaintive on this one, Bobby O naturally comes to mind. This may prove to be the album’s most popular track.

Another Barker song, “Greenbud on the Flower,” is more meditative; sung by Robert Greer, this one comes near the conclusion of the album and is of the “hard times aim to movin’ on” variety. Barker also writes two songs with frequent collaborator Charles Humphrey III. “Don’t Go Home Tonight” closes the album and is a plea for the party not to end while “Lookin’ in the Mirror,” the album’s spirited lead track, perhaps tells the rest of the story.

Also presenting songs is banjo player Jesse Langlais with three including the album’s title lament. Sung by Greer and with nice mando fills from Barker, “Leave the Bottle” is a traditional “drinkin’ on the road” song: “Hey, bartender, leave the bottle, because the drink helps to keep her far away.” The song could be taken a couple different ways, depending on whether you’re the one leaning on the bar or are the one left behind. He also wrote the very excellent song of questionable decision-making, betrayal, death, and a cold, lonesome corpse, “Away From Home.”

Greer also contributes a cut. “Up the Ladder” reminds one of both “Hard to Handle” (the Otis Redding song later cut by the Black Crowes) and “White Lightning”: it is a hard times tune disguised as a romp. Fiddler Bobby Britt weaves a bit of magic on the album’s instrumental, his own “Four Winds.”

Whereas the band’s previous albums featured covers of songs written by Springsteen, Van Zandt, and Hank III, Leave the Bottle’s sole cover  is of more obscure origin. “Loaded” comes from the Wood Brothers featuring a laid-back, Chatham County Line approach that deviates only a few beats per minute from the original: a very effective tactic for a blurry-eyed song of self-destruction.

Robert Greer sings the lead the majority of the time. His voice and approach is every bit as distinctive as Chris Stapleton’s, and this certainly helps Town Mountain separate themselves from the pack.

Produced by Mike Bub with Scott Vestal handling the knobs, Leave the Bottle has every element needed to help Town Mountain expand their presence within their bluegrass world