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October 26, 2011

New Music for October

I first found out about Old Man Luedecke (who is, BTW, not that old) through my Canadian connection. Canada seems to offer an environment that encourages musicians to be true to their own sound, a spirit that may have helped the old-time banjo picker from Nova Scotia win the 2009 Juno for Best Roots Album - Solo for "Proof of Love." He's back with a new collection of fresh folk songs tinged with nostalgia: My Hands Are on Fire and Other Love Songs.

Not to make this issue of the Chat too banjo heavy (as if you could ever have too many banjos!), Noam Pikelny is out with an album of originals. Equally as charismatic as sometimes-partner-in-crime Chris Thile, Noam's work with the Punch Brothers has taken up a lot of his time lately. Beat The Devil & Carry A Rail puts the spotlight back on his stellar musician with the help of friends including Steve Martin, Aoife O'Donovan (from Crooked Still), Jerry Douglas, Tim O'Brien, Bryan Sutton and yes, even Chris Thile.

Much like Thile's former band, Nickel Creek, Bearfoot released its first CD when the band members were still youngsters. The Bearfoot teens came out of Alaska with a love of bluegrass that was exciting in its promise. The band, like most groups of high school friends, has felt some growing pains. Members went to college - some in Alaska, some in the lower 48 - and now, Bearfoot is reconfigured in Nashville with original members Angela Oudean and Jason Norris joined by singer/songwriters Nora Jane Struthers and Todd Grebe (also an Alaska transplant) and multi-instrumentalist P.J. George. Check out their new beginnings in American Story.

Dan Zanes has had a rather improbable musical career. He started the indie rock band the Del Fuegos right out of college and had enough success that Rolling Stone called them the "Best New Band" of 1984. Then, Zanes got married, had a baby and - before you know it - he's playing a banjo and recording super hip folk CDs for kids. His songs have been heard on the Disney channel and Nickelodeon and his 2007 CD, "Catch That Train," won a Grammy Award. Zanes' latest (recorded with cool friends like Sharon Jones and Andrew Bird) is Little Nut Tree - his sixth all-ages CD.

More new music (possibly featuring banjos):

Beppe Gambetta - "Live at the Teatro della Corte"
Zucchero Sugar Fornaciari - "Chocabeck"
Ashley Brooke Toussant - "Sweetheart"
Indigo Girls - "Beauty Queen Sister"
The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band - "Peyton on Patton"
Deep Dark Woods - "The Place I Left Behind"
Ry Cooder - "Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down"
The Once - "Row Upon Row of the People They Know"
Tom Russell - "Mesabi"
Dale Ann Bradley - "Somewhere South of Crazy"
Kate Campbell - "Two Nights in Texas"
Scott Cook - "Moonlit Rambles"
Ray Bonneville - "Bad Man's Blood"
Beoga - "How to Tune a Fish"
Dehlia Low - "Tellico"
Abbie Gardner - "Hope"
Billy Cardine - "Yours to Find"
Disappear Fear - "Get Your Phil"
Amy Speace - "Land Like a Bird"
April Verch - "That's How We Run"
Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 3:10 PM | Comments (1)

Review: Moody Bluegrass TWO...Much Love: A Nashville Celebration of the Moody Blues

October 3, 2011

Moody Blugrass.jpgby Jim Blum,

Moody Blugrass TWO...Much Love:
A Nashville Celebration of The Moody Blues

(Bunny Rae Records)

You may not know the name David Harvey as well as you know The Moody Blues. They became stars during the 60's and into the 70's at a time when radio embraced groups who took chances. The Moody Blues came before Emerson, Lake, & Palmer and Yes in the nicknamed categories of "art-rock" or "symphonic-rock." Like many of us who grew up on this English group of heroes, David was also a fan. Today he is a producer and session player, mostly on mandolin. He puts both talents to work once again on a follow up to the first Moody Bluegrass release in 2004.

"TWO...Much Love" features a parade of Nashville's best acoustic players, plus the members of the Moody Blues themselves, who make cameo performances. John Lodge is back, for example, reviving "Send Me No Wine." Backing him are: Andy Hall, dobro (Infamous Stringdusters), Tim May on guitar, Barry Crabtree on banjo, and the fiddler is Stuart Duncan. The best songs however, feature the Nashville stars singing the leads. Ricky Skaggs shines on "You and Me." Joining him on this number are Alison Brown on banjo and Aubrey Haynie on fiddle. Ronnie Bowman sings "The Story in Your Eyes; " John Cowan takes honors on "Tuesday Afternoon;" and wait till you hear Tim O'Brien's bluegrass diary entry following "Dear Diary," a tongue in cheek follow up to the original. Highlights on this version feature Moody Blues players Ray Thomas on flutes and Mike Pinder on mellotron. (Remember?)

The album kicks off with Vince Gill powerfully delivering "I Know You're Out There." This song is for all the lonely-hearts, then and now, inspiring them to hold on until their soul mate arrives. Chances are you'll be singing along instantly, especially if you are a baby boomer. This album features one of the last recordings Harley Allen ever made, and it is sweet to hear his widow, Debbie Nims, harmonizing with him once again.

Harvey has once again sparked conversation with these arrangements, but pulls them off with such class that any suggestion of novelty instantly disappears once you listen. He adds vocal harmony (The Settles Connection) and strings at the right moments, but mostly lets his cast of stars deliver. And they do.

Posted by Jim Blum at 5:00 AM

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