Archive for the ‘Steve Forbert’ Tag

Fervor Coulee’s Favourite Roots & Bluegrass Albums of 2017   1 comment

Mac WisemanWhat is roots music?

I frequently have to remind myself that not everything I seek out is ‘roots.’ When I start considering Little Steven or Danko Jones (Wild Cat might have been my favourite album of 2017) albums as ‘roots’ music, I may be starting to lose the plot. So I pull myself back.

However, looking over the many lists of ‘the best of Americana, roots, folk, and bluegrass albums of 2017’ I wonder if many of us need to go back to the blackboard, and reconsider the definition of roots music. Right, there is no definition.

I started my ‘favourite roots albums of 2017’ with a list of 60 or so albums, and slowly started winnowing them to a manageable twenty. In the process most of the albums I’ve seen on other published lists fell aside (Willie Nelson’s God’s Problem Child and Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit’s The Nashville Sound among them.)

It was an excellent year for roots music, in my opinion. I know that when I mull over who else didn’t make the cut: Steve Earle, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Scott Miller, Sharon Jones, Slaid Cleaves, Rhiannon Giddens, Matt Patershuk, Doc & Merle Watson (the truncated version of the live Bear’s Sonic Journals set), Chris bleeding Hillman and Northern Cree (my final cuts), David Rawlings, Mark Erelli, Josh Ritter, Jeb Loy Nichols, Kim Beggs, Radney Foster, Dustbowl Revival, Amy Black…each album removed from consideration was naturally more difficult than the one before.

I’ve been sitting on this final version of Fervor Coulee’s Favourite Roots Albums of 2017 for a few days now, and I know I will cry out with frustration about an hour after it is published: chances are I’ve missed something special, an album of significance that fell behind a cupboard. I only discovered the latest from Eric Brace, Peter Cooper, and Thomm Jutz this week, and while I am loving it, in no way could it be fairly placed ahead of albums I’ve been appreciating for months. (Also discovered this week: this.)

As always, I have not heard every roots album released in 2017 and that is why I always refer to the list as ‘favourites,’ not best. As well, since I refuse to stream (beyond WDVX and CKUA) I can only consider that which I’ve either purchased or been serviced with from labels, artists, and PR types. I’ve chosen to roll bluegrass into the roots albums this year, eschewing a separate lists this year: that may or may not be indicative of how I’m feeling about most bluegrass releases.

Here we go: as always, no wagering.

  1. Mac Wiseman- I Sang the Song (Mountain Fever Records) While #2 came close, it couldn’t overtake this early favourite. Produced and written with care and consideration, Mac Wiseman’s story is told through carefully crafted songs performed by some of Americana, roots, and bluegrass music’s finest performers. Kudos to Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz for fully involving ‘the voice with a heart’ in this production. Full review here. (Provided by label/PR)
  2. OtisOtis Gibbs- Mount Renraw (Wanamaker) East Nashville sage Otis Gibbs is perhaps America’s coolest working folk musician. Mount Renraw has held up over countless listenings. Full review here. (Provided by label/PR)
  3. K and CKacy & Clayton- The Siren’s Song (New West) Seldom have I been so wrong about an artist. These Saskatchewan cousins’ previous album didn’t impress me when it was released. Thankfully, I listened to both Strange Country and this most recent album with fresh ears this summer. The Siren’s Song is masterful. Full review here. (Provided by label/PR)
  4. gibson_2The Gibson Brothers- In the Ground (Rounder) The group’s finest album yet, and that is saying a lot. That it contains an entirely original set of songs makes the feat even more impressive. Full review here. (Provided by label/PR)
  5. DABDale Ann Bradley- Dale Ann Bradley (Pinecastle Records) When a Dale Ann Bradley album isn’t in my ‘top two’ of the year, you know either she has slipped or the year is particularly strong. No slip on the part of Bradley here: another masterful album of bluegrass music. Full review here. (Provided by label/PR)
  6. CrowellRodney Crowell- Close Ties (New West) Somewhere along the line, Rodney Crowell went from a compelling Americana singer and damn terrific songwriter to a walking legend: it may have happened with Close Ties, an album that saw him dig even deeper to find the heart of ten masterfully crafted songs that are more than enough for him to assume Guy Clark’s abandoned mantle. It goes beyond “It Ain’t Over Yet” and “Life Without Susanna,” as masterful as those tracks are. Every moment resonates, especially live, and the anguish with which he sings is genuine. Purchased
  7. TyminskiDan Tyminski- Southern Gothic (UMG) Along with Buffy Ste. Marie’s album, this is the one that sounds best loud. “We have a church on every corner, so why does heaven feel so far away?” Union Station’s ‘other’ main singer asks on the title track, and it just keeps going. Certainly more “Hey Brother” than “O Brother,” with Southern Gothic the bluegrass stalwart steps away from the traditional sounds he has long favoured to head toward a full-bodied rock and roll country approach that is wholly effective. The album is deep, no filler—song after song of surprisingly strong vocal and instrumental performances. Other standout tracks include “Perfect Poison,” “Temporary Love” and “Breathing Fire.” Southern Gothic has spent a solid day in my CD player on repeat on more than one occasion. Purchased
  8. ronsexsmith_3Ron Sexsmith- The Last Rider Continuing a streak of excellence, Sexsmith’s 16th (!) album may just be his finest. Excellent songs, catchy melodies, accessible production…I’ve seldom been so proud to have shown support for a musician. A very strong album, just the latest in a series of memorable, standout recordings. The songs alternate between playful and introspective, catchy and maudlin. Layered, but not flamboyant. I am really glad that I bought the album, and even more glad that I took the time to make the trek to see Ron and the band in Edmonton. Surprised and disappointed that this one didn’t receive deserving Polaris Music Prize attention. “Radio” is my favourite song of the year. Purchased
  9. Murder MurderMurder Murder- Wicked Lines and Veins (self-released) Canadian bluegrass with a side of grievous bodily harm. One of my Polaris Music Prize suggestions for this year. Full review here. (Provided by band)
  10. JaybirdsJohn Reischman & the Jaybirds- On That Other Green Shore (Corvus) Long Canada’s finest and most entertaining bluegrass band, the west coast-based band has again delivered a superior recording. Full review here. (Provided by band)
  11. JMJohn Mellencamp with Carlene Carter- Sad Clowns and Hillbillies (Republic) Full review here. (Purchased)
  12. Chris-stapleton-from-a-room-volume-1Chris-stapleton-from-a-room-volume-2Chris Stapleton- From A Room, Volumes 1 and 2 Country music’s last hope? Maybe. Not sure how he is doing it without radio support, but glad he is. Like no one else, of course, Stapleton doesn’t limit himself, reaching out to Kevin Welch (“Millionaire”), the music’s past (“Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning,” “Friendship”) and his own (“Broken Halos,” “Drunkard’s Prayer,” “Midnight Train to Memphis”) to make his new albums even stronger. (Purchased)
  13. made_to_moveChris Jones & the Night Drivers- Made to Move (Mountain Home) Full review here. (Provided by artist/label)
  14. Ann VriendAnn Vriend- Anybody’s Different EP (Aporia Records) Building on the immense power of her Love and Other Messes and For the People in the Mean Time albums, this six-track treat is on all my devices, and continues to get played regularly. A lively combination of soul, rock, and roots from a voice all should hear. (Purchased)
  15. Stax_Country_COVER_RGBVarious Artists- Stax Country (Craft Recordings/Concord Music) A deep dive into Stax’s associated country labels. Full review here. (Provided by label/PR)
  16. Akinny DyckSkinny Dyck & Friends- Twenty One-Night Stands Alberta country music is alive and well. Just not on the radio. Full review here. (Provided by Skinny Dyck)
  17. Lynn JacksonLynn Jackson- Follow That Fire (Busted Flat) My second 2018 Polaris Music Prize recommendation. Full review here. (Provided by label/PR)
  18. steve_forbert_flying_at_nightSteve Forbert- Flying at Night (Rolling Tide) I once wanted to be Steve Forbert. It didn’t happen. Forty years later, he continues to impress with each album. A bit brief for my liking, but better that than too long. Purchased
  19. buffy_3Buffy Sainte-Marie- Medicine Songs (High Romance) On which one of the most transformative Canadian artist re-imagines her catalogue, coming off her (perhaps) surprising Polaris Prize winning Power In The Blood. Collaborating with Tanya Tagaq on the powerful and catchy “You Got To Run (Spirit of the Wind,)” Sainte-Marie helps the uninitiated play catch up to 50 years of influential music. Play loud. Purchased
  20. becky warrenBecky Warren- War Surplus (Deluxe Edition) (self-released) War Surplus came out in 2016, but didn’t come to my attention until the Deluxe Edition was released this summer. A concept album (war veteran and the woman he loves), Warren has made a record to be remembered; the narrative is apparent, the instrumental and vocal changes keep us engaged, and it holds up over time. With an approach not dissimilar to Lucinda Williams although with better annunciation than we’ve experienced from LW this past decade, Warren allows listeners to become invested in her creations; the characters become real, without any of the bravado or self-satisfaction that sometimes hamstrings this type of recording. (Provided by label/PR)

That’s pretty much it for 2017 here at Fervor Coulee. I still have a couple projects sitting on my desk requiring my attention, and I will get to them next week…I hope.

It has been a great year- let’s see what the future brings.


Fervor Coulee’s Favourite Roots Music Albums of 2013   2 comments

These types of lists are fairly self-indulgent, but most things we do seem to be. What the heck, then?

I am fairly confident in my choices this year- I created lists as the months passed, and have considered well in excess of a hundred albums for placement.  Here then are my favourite roots music albums of the year, accompanied by links to longer pieces I’ve written or, alternately when I didn’t write about a particular album, video.

[Update: #25 has been revised. Someone asked why so little mainstream country. Answer, I don’t listen to most of what would be considered modern country. I didn’t listen to the Brandy Clark album enough yet to place it in my Top 25, but I am really enjoying it. Whether that is mainstream…]

Favourite Album Covers-

skaggs1. Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby- Live Cluck Ol’ Hen

2. Guy Clark- My Favorite Picture of You– Great story behind this one. Well executed.

3. Noam Pikelny- Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe– some concert posters in the background may have pushed it over the top

4. Sturgill Simpson- High Top Mountain

5. Jack Lawrence- Arthel’s Guitar

Favorite Covers and Tribute Albums-

1.Don Rigsby- Doctor’s Orders: A Tribute to Ralph Stanley

2. Let Us In Americana- The Music of Paul McCartney

3. Unsung Hero : A Tribute to the Music of Ron Davies

4. Joe Mullins & Junior Sisk- Bluegrass Hall of Fame

5. Jack Lawrence- Arthel’s Guitar arthel

6. Martyn Joseph- Tires Rushing By in the Rain

7. Ben Sollee- The Hollow Sessions

8. You Don’t Know Me: Rediscovering Eddy Arnold

9. Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs- Under the Covers, Vol.3

Favourite Reissues and Archival Releases of the Year-

1. George Jones- The Complete United Artists Solo Singles george

2. Steve Forbert- Early On: The Best of the Mississippi Recordings and the Alive on Arrival/Jackrabbit Slim twofer, more concise and accessible than the previous Rolling Tide reissues

3. Townes Van Zandt- Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Sessions & Demos 1971-1972

4. Guy Clark- Dixie’s Bar & Bus Stop

5. The Bottle Rockets- The Bottle Rockets/The Brooklyn SideThe Bottle Rockets was and is one of the greatest Americana/ albums ever recorded. The bonus tracks provide further context for the days that I wasn’t aware of until they were over. So enthralled with that album, I’ve allowed The Brooklyn Side to sit on the shelf untouched since the first and only time I played it all those years ago. My mistake. One I won’t allow to be repeated.

6. Billy Bragg Life’s A Riot with Spy vs Spy, 30th Anniversary Edition A most concise vision of the power of words and music; comes with a recent live encore of the 7-track e.p.

7. James Keelaghan History: The First 25 Years

Favourite Various Artists and Compilation Albums-

1.  Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War imagesJ2S505VN

2. The Daughters of Bluegrass- Pickin’ Like A Girl

3. God Didn’t Choose Sides

4. Classic Banjo from Smithsonian Folkways

5. Ghost Brothers of Darkland County

The following are my favourite stand-alone albums of 2013, often the albums I spent the most time with this past year (or, in the case of late year releases, the albums I feel I will end up spending the most time with):

1. Guy Clark- My Favorite Picture of You: The elder statesman does it again, producing another exceptional collection of songs, all but a cover of a Lyle Lovett song co-writes. Beautifully sung and played. Clark’s thirteenth album of new material, recorded at age 71, was head and shoulders this past year’s finest roots music album. If there is justice, and voters were actually listening, he’ll receive a Grammy in January.

2. John Reischman- Walk Along John

3. J. R. Shore- State Theatre

4. Slaid Cleaves- Still Fighting the War: Gives ol’ Guy a run for his money.

5. Mike Plume- Red and White Blues: Following up the very excellent 8:30 Newfoundland, Mike Plume returned not only with a most sincere Stompin’ Tom Connors tribute, but a set of songs- almost equal parts Maritime stomper and prairie balladry- that will soon stand with his best.

6. Kimberley Rew- Healing Broadway: Pub roots.

7. Bruce Foxton- Back in the Room: If by roots you mean rock n roll.

8. The Gibson Brothers- They Call It Music

9. Chris Jones & The Night Drivers- Lonely Comes Easy

10. D. B. Rielly- Cross My Heart & Hope to Die

11. Darden Smith- Love Calling

12. Robbie Fulks- Gone Away Backward

13. The Del McCoury Band- The Streets of Baltimore: Experience counts for a whole lot.

14. Leeroy Stagger- Truth Be Sold

15. Alice Gerrard- Bittersweet

16. Noam Pikelny- Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe

17. Marshall Chapman- Blaze of Glory: Another great album of honest roots rock.

18. Holly Williams- The Highway: Purchased after reading a couple reviews and having never heard her; glad I did.

19. Sturgill Simpson- High Top Mountain: I’m glad all music isn’t this well-grounded in the country tradition. Makes it all the more special when you find it.

20. John Paul Keith- Memphis 3 A.M.: A long-time favourite singer.

21. James King- Three Chords and the Truth: Only bought this one before Christmas; need to listen more, but nothing to lead me to believe it isn’t going to stay with me for a long time.

22. Kim Beggs- Beauty and Breaking: an exceptional collection of song that are already familiar. With more listens, I’m confident  it will become even more appreciated.

23. Jeff Black- B-Sidea and Confessions, Volume Two

24. Peter Rowan- The Old School

25. Blue Mafia- My Cold Heart Was in consideration right up until I wrote the final draft. Another listen brought it forward, knocking Emmylou & Rodney out of the 25th spot. I’m sure they will recover.

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell- Old Yellow Moon: Once upon a time, an album this stunning would be much higher that #25; that is one indication of how great the last year has been.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee so often in 2013, and I hope you will continue to find roots music opinion of interest in 2014 and beyond.

As always, Donald @FervorCoulee on the Twittering thing.

Steve Forbert- Live show offered online   Leave a comment

Received this note in my inbox today:

Live in Toronto : Free 24 Song Download Available Now! On Saturday, March 10, Steve played two sets at Hugh’s Room in Toronto , ON. Over the next eight days we will be making 24 recordings from this performance available as free downloads exclusively from

If you’ve been around a while you know the drill: Three new tracks will be added each day and only be available on for 24 hours before being removed to make room for the next recordings in the series. You can visit today to grab the first three recordings from the first set: “Thinkin'”, “Come With Me”, and “Hang On Again Till the Sun Shines (nyc)”. We’ll add tracks 4, 5, and 6 to the site on Sunday, April 22.

So grab the files while you can and enjoy the “show”!

There you go- free music on Record Store Day, a day which I can’t get excited about- living 150 km from the nearest record store will do that to you, I suppose.

Posted 2012 April 21 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

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New-old Steve Forbert music released   Leave a comment

I haven’t heard them yet, but I am very excited to receive news that Steve Forbert has readied for release two albums from the 80s, both with bonus tracks, and a recent live recording.

Little Stevie Orbit, maybe my favourite of the first four albums released on Nemperor/CBS in no little part that it was the first Forbert album I purchased the week of release back in 1980, and Steve Forbert have been remastered and supplemented with bonus tracks and- in the case of Little Stevie Orbit- a live set from 1980.

Also ready for shipping from is Don’t Look Down, a set of live solo recordings from two shows in 2010 and 2011. Available exclusively from Forbert’s website, the albums are available in two deluxe bundles. See for details.

I can’t wait until my set arrives.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Steve Forbert- Set the World Ablaze- free download   Leave a comment

And I thought I had a busy weekend. Apparently, Steve Forbert was even busier.

This just arrived in my mailbox: “Set the World Ablaze”, a brand new Steve Forbert studio recording, is now available as a free download!

The song, completed on May 20, 2011, is a protest piece about those who profited the most from the events leading up to the 2008 financial meltdown — and those who have profited “big time” from its taxpayer bailout aftermath.

I have no hesitation in spreading the word. will get you there. Enjoy- new Steve Forbert is almost always a good thing. I’m not sure if this one will have the longevity of Steve’s “The Oil Song,” but it sounds pretty good to me and I love the idea of the immediacy of getting it out to the public.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee, Donald

Steve Forbert “Hey Good Lookin'”-“Four Strong Winds”   Leave a comment

If I was a good blogger, I would have mentioned this two weeks ago. Steve Forbert is giving away tracks recorded live in Seattle (Oct. 2010), but only a track per day and they are only up for two days each. So…we’re on track 13 today- again, sorry!- but today’s track is notable for its Canadian content- Ian Tyson’s “Four Strong Winds” completes a two song-medley with “Hey, Good Lookin'”. Get it here…but only for a few more hours:

I’m not suggesting that it is life-changing, but it is a darn fine little performance of a song I haven’t before heard from Forbert.

Forbert is one of those artists who ‘get it’, in my opinion. He understands that by whetting listeners’ appetites in this manner, he engages them with his music and realizes that by building this relationship, he profits (however marginally) in the end. He has been posting free, live downloads for years and even released a collection of these a couple years back.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Posted 2011 February 23 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

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Walkin’ Talkin’ Dancin’ Singin’- August 16, 2010   Leave a comment

The album I most enjoyed this week.

Danielle Doyle- The Cartographer’s Wife I’m getting closer to finding the words for this album. It is one of those discs that I discover something new to appreciate with every listen. Her voice is especially appealing, reminding me a little of one of the Be Good Tanyas. Seek out this one.

Red Horse- Red Horse Reviewed in the column this coming Friday, I’ve listened to this one several times and keep coming back to it. Listening just today with fresh ears, the depth of the voices and the mastery of the art are so appreciated. A stellar album.

Alejandro Escovedo- Street Songs of Love and The Alejandro Escovedo String Quartet  Room of Songs Two very different recordings that engage dissimilar elements of Escovedo’s talents. While I always enjoy hearing Escovedo kick it out, I most appreciate the gentler side that he occasionally reveals. I only just learned of and found the Quartet album and appreciate it a little more with every song and listen.

The Mountains & The Trees- I Made This For You

Kathy Kallick Band- Between the Hollow and the High-Rise A great bluegrass album.

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice- Heartaches and Dreams

Will White- Rise Above

D.B. Rielly- Love Potions and Snake Oil Working on a review of this one; a wide range of sounds and approaches. Quite nice.

Black 47- Fire of Freedom Enjoyed this one’s spirit.

Jay Clark- Live at Jammin’ at Hippie Jack’s A two-disc collection from East Tennessee’s favourite modern songwriter- and if he isn’t, he should be- I am never disappointed by Jay Clark. Yes, I’ve heard these songs before and no, he doesn’t significantly alter them. But when I picture Jay sitting on a stool singing these songs to a collection of people who not only get him and appreciate his perspective, but who have lived his words, I feel that much more of a connection to his songs. If you haven’t heard Jay Clark, this is a great place to start.

Dave Carter with Tracy Grammer When I Go This album has been in my eMusic Saved for Later file simply because I was certain I already had it but couldn’t find it. Three years later, I accept that maybe I didn’t already have it. Makes me miss even more what I only caught live once. They had a special connection, but this album is- as the title implies- largely Carter and that is what I needed this week.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band- London Calling: Live in Hyde Park Watched the DVD this past week. Let no one accuse Springsteen of not working for a living. By the time this three-hour journey is finished, Springsteen is drenched to the knees in sweat. Yes, the voice gets hoarse in places, maybe even flat, but the songs and energy carry the day.

Steve Forbert- Bang Contest EP Send in a cover of the oft repackaged Van Morrison Bang sessions, get a digital EP of recent live cuts. My offering is to be added as #21, but hasn’t made it yet.

Cowboy Junkies- The Radio One Sessions Has anyone ever heard an ‘off’ recording of the Cowboy Junkies? I haven’t.

Hugh Dillon- Works Well With Others Formerly the chief Headstone and now an actor, Dillon returned to the studio for this offering. It’s pretty good, but not essential.

The Cat Empire- Cinema

Badfinger- The Best of Badfinger Three great songs and some others that I can’t remember.

The Payola$- Hammer on a Drum Sounds as good if not as vital as when first heard. Need to pull out No Stranger to Danger.

Great American Taxi- Streets of Gold Gladly overpaid for this one at the Central Music Festival this weekend. As I had heard many of these songs live on various live recordings, nothing surprised me too much but I’m glad to have the set. “Lumpy Beanpole and Dirt” is a terrific number.

Tim O’Brien- Chicken & Egg Like just about every other Tim O’Brien album. Expertly played, fresh songs. More mainstream Americana rather than bluegrass .

Rolling Stones- Exile on Main Street Reissue, disc 2 I bought the single disc version when it was re-released but haven’t listened to it yet. I borrowed the 2-disc set from the library and gave the second disc a listen today. Sounds fine, but I’m not interested enough to listen to the bonus material again.

Continuing my way through the pile and onto the ‘B’ titles:

Dan Baird & Homemade Sin- self-titled An okay rock and roots album with a couple catchy songs, but doesn’t come close to having the staying power of his earlier album Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired.

David Ball- Heartaches By the Number I understand why Ball would want to make this album and the performances are more than solid. A fine listen with some great songs included, but I doubt I’ll listen to it again very soon.

The Banana Splits- We’re the Banana Splits A nice slice of history. I attempted to watch an episode the other day and realized that some fond memories of childhood should never be revisited. Having said that, it is hard to beat “The Tra La La Song!”

Bobby Bare & Skeeter Davis- Your Husband, My Wife I love the Internet for lots of reasons. This is one of them. Solid, mainstream 60s country.

Bobby Bare- I’m A Long Way From Home

Willie P. Bennett- Blackie and the Rodeo King and Hobo’s Lament Whenever I dig out a Willie P. album, I feel some kind of good. I saw something about Willie being honoured at the upcoming Canadian Country Music Awards, which is a good thing.