Archive for the ‘Red Beet Records’ Tag
I suspect that I would enjoy passing time about a round table with a cool beverage in my hand in the company of either Eric Brace or Peter Cooper. Two of my favourite musicians, songwriters, and wordsmiths, Cooper and Brace have released a strong slate of albums over the past decade. C & O Canal, their latest, pays homage to the folk and bluegrass music the two encountered in Washington, DC in the 70s and 80s. It is a remarkable set of music. My review is posted at Lonesome Road Review. I hope you think it is worth checking out.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. More great roots reviews coming soon. Donald
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 Bluegrass. 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 that 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 home 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 approach 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 over 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
I have a very strong feeling that 2014’s list of Roots Albums of the Year will be even more challenging to create than the last several years. No shortage of candidates already, and we’re less than a quarter of the way through. Eric Brace and Karl Straub’s exceptional Hangtown Dancehall is certain to receive considerable um, consideration.
My review of this album has been posted to the Lonesome Road Review. I’ve yet to encounter a recording associated with Brace that hasn’t been top notch, and I can hardly wait for the Peter Cooper & Brace album I understand is slated for later this year.
Thank you for visiting Fervor Coulee. I hope you are finding writing of interest. Stay in touch: @FervorCoulee
Eric Brace and Karl Straub have created a most ambitious album based upon and extending “Sweet Betsy From Pike,” a song from the California Gold Rush era. Prior to listening to Hangtown Dancehall, I had only passing familiarity with “Sweet Betsy From Pike” having heard versions by Suzy Bogguss and Johnny Cash. Admittedly, I hadn’t paid attention to the song, and certainly hadn’t gleamed the potential the song held.
A well-written overview of the album is available at Engine 145. In short, Brace has created ‘the rest of the story,’ an imagining of what happened to Betsy and Ike after the dance. “El Dorado Two-Step” isn’t nearly my favourite song on this wonderful and cohesive album, but it is the one I can find a (functioning in Canada) link to, so…I guess it’ll do. It is one of a couple songs featuring Tim O’Brien and, as always, he delivers. This track also features Mike Auldridge, Buddy Spicher, and frequent Brace collaborator Peter Cooper, among others, but curiously not Straub. The entire album is fair brilliant, and its liner notes and packaging- featuring woodcuts from Julie Sola- is outstanding.
Give “El Dorado Two-Step” a listen at the Red Beet Records site.
Thank you for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald @FervorCoulee
In a transcript of a new American Songwriter interview with the principals behind the I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow (Red Beet Records) project, Peter Cooper states: “Nothing’s wrong with modern country music if we choose to call what Elizabeth Cook and Tim Carroll are doing country music—which it is. It just gets lumped into some other kind of label because of…the whims of corporate radio. These are people whose music would be different had Tom T. Hall’s songs not been around to provide lesson and inspiration.” A good if unrealistic point, I suppose. The entire article is posted here: http://www.americansongwriter.com/2011/08/tom-t-hall-is-for-the-children/ It is a good read, but reveals some of the difficulties of the Q & A format of writing. My review of the album is here: http://lonesomeroadreview.com/2011/05/15/i-love-tom-t-hall%e2%80%99s-songs-of-fox-hollow-by-various-artists/
As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
Regular readers of Fervor Coulee understand that I have a bit of a musical man-crush going on for Peter Cooper and Eric Brace. The Nashville-based writers and singers have released a string of unbelievably wonderful recordings on their Red Beet label.
The latest is a tribute to a Tom T. Hall album from 1974; a children’s album, at that. Songs of Fox Hollow was the second album Hall released in ’74 which was fairly typical of him in the early ’70s. The album is currently available from iTunes with additional tracks. If you’re looking at Fervor Coulee, you likely don’t need to be convinced of the songwriting talents of Tom T. Hall. The man is remarkable, something I recognized as far back as the late ’70s when his Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 was one of the many albums I either ordered from the Columbia Record club or picked up at Woolco.
My review of the Cooper-Brace coordinated album Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow has just been posted at the Lonesome Road Review. The recording feels like it was captured in a loose and enjoyable setting, but the sound is tight. Great performances abound and the packaging is gorgeous with lovely woodcut prints illustrating the digi-pak. Check it out, y’all.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow
Red Beet Records
5 stars (out of 5)
By Donald Teplyske
The creative mind is a mystery.
Of all the Tom T. Hall projects that could have been undertaken by Eric Brace, Peter Cooper, and their raggle-taggle band of Nashville buddies, recreating the very successful (#3 on the country charts with a #1 song, “I Care”) Songs of Fox Hollow album would most likely have never occurred to most of us.
Good on them, then.
Hall, undoubtedly one of the most successful country performers and writers of the 1970s, has previously received the tribute treatment.
More than a decade ago alt-country and roots performers including Kelly Willis, Calexico, Iris Dement, and Whiskeytown were featured on Real: The Tom T. Hall Project. That album remains a personal benchmark all other tribute albums are measured against.
A few years after that, bluegrass singer Charlie Sizemore released The Story Is…The Songs of Tom T. Hall. In ways entirely different from the Real project, Sizemore’s recording conveyed the magic that great Tom T. Hall songs contain.
Creating music for children is a challenge few can meet. One must have the knack of appealing to their senses of rhythm, rhyme, justice, and humour while ensuring that the songs stand-up to repeated listening. A difficult task compounded by the desirability of making the music equally attractive to the parents who make the purchases.
Few children’s albums recorded in the country music field have been as successful as Songs of Fox Hollow. “I Love” had been recorded and released a year earlier, traveling quickly up the charts to #1 (and #12 on Billboard’s Hot 100). “I Care” and the album followed and were among the final, highest charting successes Hall would experience.
Listening to the album almost forty years after its release, one is struck by its lack of condescension; the songs, their sentiments (and sentimentality), and their arrangements make little allowance for the youth of its intended audience. The overarching themes—acceptance, caring, ecology, and silliness—are universal and as relevant today as they were when Peter Cooper first heard them as a child.
I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow was recorded last summer at Tom T. and Miss Dixie’s Fox Hollow. Conceived by Cooper and Brace, the call went out and their friends gathered for what sounds like was a great few days in the country.
As was the original album, the tribute project is ideal. Starting with a base of songs that are damn near faultless in tone and content—“Sneaky Snake,” “Oh Lonesome George the Basset,” and “The Barn Dance” amongst them—the foundation couldn’t be more solid. Imagine having Duane Eddy along to lay down signature licks while Buddy Miller and Patty Griffin sing “Sneaky Snake” and the bar appears fairly high.
East Nashville’s finest are involved. Elizabeth Cook and Tim Carroll lay out a lovely rendition of “I Wish I Had a Million Friends” while Jon Byrd reveals the logic of “How to Talk to a Little Baby Goat.”
The album’s strongest track may be Jim Lauderdale’s interpretation of “I Like to Feel Pretty Inside.” His matter-of-fact recitation of Hall’s observations surrounding self-acceptance, kindness, and truth toward others captures the album’s intent in less than three minutes.
Peter Cooper’s gentle rendition of “Everybody Loves to Hear a Bird Sing” deserves to be heard by the masses and Eric Brace and & Last Train Home’s “The Mysterious Fox of Fox Hollow” balances the innocent mysteries and dark menace of nature.
Every track and performance offers something of value. Gary Bennett’s “The Barn Dance” and Mark & Mike’s “The Song of the One-Legged Chicken” embrace the frivolity of word play while Bobby Bare’s “I Care” and Patty Griffin’s “I Love” are sincere in their sentimentality.
A new Miss Dixie and Tom T. Hall song is amended to the original album’s track listing. “I Made a Friend of a Flower Today” features Tom T. joining Fayssoux Starling McLean. Starling McLean’s voice is pure and true and serves as a reminder of how note-perfect her album of a few years ago (Early) was.
The house band for this recording include Nashville’s finest: Lloyd Green takes care of the pedal steel guitar while Jen Gunderman (keys), Mike Bub (bass), and Mark Horn (drums) are also consistent in their presence.
As are all Red Beet projects, this one is beautifully packaged. Julie Sola’s woodcuts are beautifully rendered and embrace the natural spirit of the recording.
Conceived in respect and gratitude, I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow is another recording in which the team of Peter Cooper and Eric Brace can take great pride; someday they are bound to fail, but they haven’t so far.
Over at Lonesome Road Review, Aaron has posted my fresh review of two amazing albums from the inspired spirits of Peter Cooper and Eric Brace. There is an error in the 6th paragraph (‘fevered’ listening?) that totally confuses me, but I wrote it; not sure what I meant, but I trust that Aaron will make the adjustment for me. The Lloyd Green Album from Peter Cooper and Master Session from Peter, Eric Brace, Lloyd Green, and Mike Auldridge are both seemless and impressive. I don’t give out 5 star reviews easily- these two are certainly deserving.
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper with Lloyd Green & Mike Auldridge
Red Beet Records
5 out of 5
The Lloyd Green Album
Red Beet Records
5 out of 5
By Donald Teplyske
Eric Brace and Peter Cooper, as talented singers, musicians, and writers as they are, obviously know nothing about the music business. How else can one explain their continued inability to play by the rules governing their industry?
Their superb 2008 release You Don’t Have to Like Them Both featured the partnership collaborating on songs of their own creation while bringing diverse tunes from some of their favorite writers and performers. The idea of running dual, parallel careers—Brace with Last Train Home, Cooper as his own dang self—as distinct performers and as an engrained partnership runs counter to conventional thought in a business where a consistent identity is paramount.
Add to this their series of East Nashville: Music from the Other Side compilations, featuring artists who don’t even record for their label and the extravagance of their album packaging, which is as accomplished as anything one expects from a major label release, and you have a pair of fellows who run contrary to convention.
No surprise then that their latest, simultaneously released projects prominently feature an instrument that is heard less significantly within today’s country music, the pedal steel.
Master Sessions brings the finest purveyor of the bluegrass resophonic guitar Mike Auldridge (Seldom Scene, Darren Beachley, John Starling) together with the pedal steel legend that inspired him, Lloyd Green. What on paper may appear initially terribly inefficient—Why have pedal steel and reso playing off each other?—works exceptionally well within this balanced representation of artistry and performance.
Contemporary country music seldom sounds this inspired. Master Sessions seldom progresses beyond a mid-tempo shuffle, but rarely does such gentle music inspire such intense listening. This is music rooted in the sounds of Nashville of the 60s and 70s, times often disparaged today but which proved to be extremely popular at the time. Under the vigilant guidance of Brace and Cooper, the bevy of stringed instruments find a tasteful balance, with the overt lonesomeness of the Green’s pedal steel playing against the rhythmic mournfulness of Auldridge’s resophonic.
Classics from the country field (a staggering version of Herb Pedersen’s “Wait a Minute” and an equally impressive reading of Tom T. Hall’s “Í Flew Over Our House Last Night”) complement contemporary interpretations of similarly themed songs, including Jon Byrd’s song for all seasons, “Silent Night.” Every song is stronger for the contributions of Green and Auldridge.
Certainly no Brace and Cooper project would be complete without a handful of modern wonders from these always inspiring artists, and Master Sessions is no exception. “Suffer a Fool” out-Crowells Rodney as Cooper, working with Don Schlitz, captures the wonder many men feel for their partners. Brace (with Karl Straub) takes a different tract with “It Won’t Be Me,” as the singer realizes his woman will be better off with someone else.
Cooper’s “Nice Old Man” and John Hartford’s “I Wish We Had Our Time Again” mark the passage of time in entirely different ways and each is a wonder. In its own way, each of the album’s eleven songs—like each delicately placed instrumental nuance—is a memorable and essential component of the greater project.
With ‘life on the road’ an overarching theme, Master Sessions is a fully realized hallmark of country music recording.
If Master Sessions sounds like something you need to check out, you are certain to appreciate Peter Cooper’s latest The Lloyd Green Album. If anything, the focus of this album is magnified due to the interplay of Cooper and Green.
In the album’s liner notes, Cooper writes, “I presented each of these songs to my favorite musician, steel guitar maestro Lloyd Green, as nearly blank canvases, shaded only by acoustic guitar and vocal. He drew the paintings, and then some of our friends came by and framed the whole deal.”
Like Kevin Welch (and his partner Kieran Kane, for that matter) one imagines that it takes a lot to get a rise out of Cooper. He approaches his singing and playing with such calm confidence and cool composure that the majesty of his music is magnified by this unassuming rectitude.
It is this artistic maturity and vision that allows Cooper to impose insightful heft to the lyrical hijinks composed by he and Todd Snider in “The Last Laugh.” In “Gospel Song” Cooper sings of staring at long-ago pictures while “living in penance for the sins I always denied.” “Champion of the World” balances things out a bit with an appreciation that much comes down to the vagaries of the dealt hand.
It isn’t enough for Cooper to be a master at his craft. He knows that those who came before him—be they Tom T. Hall or John Hiatt—crafted songs that capture emotions and images perhaps even better than he can. So when Cooper wants to explore the fate of the returning veteran or rambler, he turns to “Mama, Bake a Pie” and “Train to Birmingham,” songs that capture truth and honesty with unembellished lyrical richness.
As a partner in this creation, Green provides evocative support and emotional augmentation. At his disposal, the pedal steel is just that little more emotive, that slight touch more sincere in its contribution to the landscape created by Cooper.
By the way, those friends Cooper mentions in his notes include Richard Bennett (guitar), Jen Gunderman (keyboards and accordion), Pat McInerney (drums and percussion), and Julie Lee (harmony)—all of whom also show up on Master Sessions—as well as Kim Carnes, Pam Rose, Eric Brace, Fayssoux Starling McLean (all harmony vocals) and Rodney Crowell, who adds vocals to his own “Tulsa Queen.”
Peter Cooper is an underrated singer and songwriter. His proficiency is such that one hopes that the day is near when he is mentioned in the same conversations as those he some obviously admires. The Lloyd Green Album contains much which should, in a just world, move things in that direction.
But we know that fate and a multitude of other factors often gets in the way of recognition of capacity. Rather than worrying about the injustice of under-rewarded art, one should appreciate that which is so apparent. Both Master Sessions and The Lloyd Green Album are outstanding collections of contemporary Americana and stand as testament to the power and veracity of independence.