The last two weeks at both jobs has not been conducive to either listening to, or writing about music. Getting up at 5 am to be at work at 6 and then working 10 or 11 hours day makes thinking and writing a hard thing for an older man to do. Yeah, I know 60 is the New 40, but this week my body feels like the old 60 and it doesn’t help that I don’t have time to exercise!!!
So on this day in 1971, the year I completed my sophomore year at the University of Florida Alsion Krauss was born, and just 16 years or so later I would be buying the début album of this young Rounder Records fiddle player!! Big things were expected of this young phenom and boy, she sure has delivered!! Here’s some of Alison’s history and accomplishments from Wikipedia!!
So, very rarely do I remember my dreams, but last night my sleep was interrupted twice, and I remembered snippets of two dreams. The first snippet involved a fight a fight of some sort and a woman lunging at someone and stabbing them in the neck, it came complete with gurgling sounds emanating from the victim! The next snippet involved me coming home to some apartment and a car load of people pulling up the driver looked familiar but I couldn’t place the face or name. Anyway, I went inside and a few minutes later I heard music and opened the door and there in the entranceway of the apartment were a bunch of people playing music. there was a guitar player and a fiddler and I don’t know what else. I don’t remember what they were playing but I shouted out “Play Uncle Pen!” and then I woke up, without hearing the song…… hum, must mean something, yeah right! Anyway, I did get to listen to a couple of covers of “Uncle Pen” this morning and here’s my favorite from a young Ricky Skaggs!!
Ok so the other night I wrote that for me the most important aspect of the music I listen to, is the quality of the musicianship of the artists. I like music where the vocals almost take a backseat to the music.When I listen to music, I want to hear the individual instruments not just a blending of all the instruments together. I live for the solos!! I wrote “Give me a tight bluegrass band with a great mandolin, banjo or dobro player and I’m a happy camper”. Well, after listening to Della Mae‘s new album This World Oft Can Be, I’m one happy camper, because these five women can bring it!! And as an added bonus, the vocals are great too!
I’ve written many times, what draws me to many, many bands is their musicianship. Whether the band plays jazz, blues, country or in this case bluegrass, if the members of the band are masters of their instruments, I’ll listen! That is certainly the case with Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen. Frank Solivan is a master of his instrument, the mandolin, Although he’s also an accomplished guitarist and violinist! Now The Dirty Kitchen can also bring it…
So this morning I was thinking about music that gets me moving and came back again to that old staple, “Can’t Stop Now” from the New Grass Revival. The only album that I have from the band is The Best of New Grass Revival. By the time I starting listening to music again in the mid-90s the band had gone their separate ways. But while they were together from 191 when John Cowan and Pat Flynn joined the band, they were an amazing foursome!! I can’t think of many better collection of musicians than Sam Bush on mandolin, Bela Fleck on banjo, John Cowan and that amazing voice of his on bass , and Pat Flynn on guitar! You can read about the band here at Wikipedia. I really think that I need to go back and explore their albums, because there’s probably some songs that I would put on a Best of album that they didn’t!! Anyway here’s “Can’t Stop Now” to jump-start your Saturday!!
So the other day I saw, debuting at number 41 on the Roots music Report Bluegrass charts a new album from Johnny Staats and the Delivery Boys, Time Moves On. An earlier Johnny Staats album Wires & Wood is a favorite, so it was a no brainer that this new release was going on the iPhone. So I’ve listened a couple of times to the album and this morning on a trip to Target, I got to listen to the complete album and I love it. For those of who don’t know Johnny Staats he is an excellent mandolin picker and his Delivery Boys all deliver on this album. Staats was born and raised in West Virginia and still delivers there for “UPS” throughout the area around Sandyville. Staats started playing mandolin at the age of 7 and by the age of 9 he joined his first bluegrass band and by the age of 13 his was competing in competitions. From his website:
So the other day I noticed an interesting band named, The Unseen Strangers at number 25 on the Roots Music Folk Chart. The album was Follow the Sound, I looked around at several music sites and I couldn’t find the album. What I did find was their 2010 release Time Travel, so I settled for that album. Well I shouldn’t say settled because the albums is terrific! First there’s the picking which is outstanding. Any band that kicks off an album with an instrumental, in this case, a track titled “Windmill Road” has my attention immediately! On the second track, it was the tasty fiddle and then the mandolin on the next track, after it may have been the banjo! Because you see that the picking throughout the album is great! Then there are the vocals and songs which are just as good and when you put it all together you get a really fine bluegrass from this five man band from Canada!!
So if you’re like me and sometimes you need some good old-time mountain music, check out Trout Steak Revival! Their latest album Flight, is now number 15 on the Folk DJ Charts and it’s a good one! The band calls Denver Colorado home and members hail mostly from Colorado and the mid-west. The band formed in 2009 after extensive close friend jam sessions during backpacking trips and backyard parties.
Ok so on this day in 1971 Carole King released one of the most successful albums of all time Tapestry, so I should do a nice piece on Carole correct. Yes, it is but that’s not how my mind works! As I thought about Tapestry I thought that it is one of the few albums by a female performer that is in my music library. But then I started thinking about the women who are in my library. There are several Joan Baez albums, some Judy Collins. Joni Mitchell.. How about Emmylou Harris….. I could play “Hot ‘Lanta” one of my favorites from Emmylou..,. but that thought took me to Rhonda Vincent and the Rage…. and that took me to “Drivin’ Nails in My coffin” yes that is a perfect morning music song. then I found a video of the song from probably around 2001 when she recorded the album The Storm Stills Rages. The album was the second bluegrass album she recorded for Rounder and my introduction to her music! When I watched the video I saw that Michael Cleveland the great fiddler whose playing I love was in the band but then I saw the list of pickers on the album, which I had forgotten. It’s a list of truly great musicians whose music I’ve listened to over the last twelve years since the release of that album!