Review: The Other Side Of Towne - Grasstowne

Grasstowne is Steve Gulley on guitar and lead vocals, Alan Bibey on mandolin and lead vocals, Phil Leadbetter on resonator and slide guitars, Jason Davis on banjo, and Travis Greer on bass. Special guest Stuart Duncan on the fiddle helps out on so many of the tracks that he's an essential member of the band for this disc.

The Other Side of Towne is the band’s sophomore album, following their award-winning debut The Road Headin' Home.  If you like your bluegrass with deep country roots and a strong gospel background, The Other Side Of Towne is a great place to start.

Review: New Lost City Ramblers: Where Do You Come From, Where Do You Go

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has re-issued the recordings of the New Lost City Ramblers (1958 - 1973) in a new 3 CD set.
This set features two previously released CDs of the Ramblers classic Folkways recordings: The Early Years, 1958-1962 with the original trio, and Out Standing in Their Field: Volume II, 1963-1973, with Tracy Schwarz replacing Tom Paley. A newly compiled third disc, Where Do You Come From? Where Do You Go?

Blue Highway: Some Day: The Fifteenth Anniversary Collection

It seems like just a few short years ago that I attended a concert at Wilkes Community College. Looking back, I guess it was 1994 or '95, I was there to see the band Seldom Scene, with new members Dudley Connell, Fred Travers and Ronnie Simpkins making their Scene debut.  But, the opening act blew me away, for it was the first time I had heard Blue Highway.  I came away with an autographed copy of their CD A Long, Long Road and a feeling of excitement for what would become one of my personal favorites.  That first Rebel Records recording was followed by two more Rebel releases and, then, a compilation of “the best of” the first three.

HVBA Year In Review

While everyone seems to have given 2009 the bums rush out the door, I looked back and there were many great aspects to this past year.  I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the many people who contributed to make 2009 a banner year for the HVBA.

Seems like only yesterday that we were singing harmony in Lynn and Steve Lipton's parlor with the great Ernie Sykes at a vocal workshop.  Earlier that morning Ernie conducted a bass workshop, as well. Thanks to Lynn and Jerry Oland for setting this up.

Best $1 Bluegrass CD…and More!

If you love bluegrass instrumentals, treat yourself to a great and inexpensive gift from your local Dollar Tree store.  Don’t be fooled by the cardboard jewel case for the album Smokey Mountain Memories, thinking it might be amateurs.  The group un-named) is clearly composed of topflight performers on banjo, guitar, base, and mandolin.  You get 10 tunes, some familiar standards and some not heard often.  There are two vocal numbers, one forgettable, the other not bad.  You won’t find the fiddles and flutes claimed on the wrapper, but this is still a great CD, with some wizard playin’ especially in “Billy in the Lowground” and “Cherokee Shuffle.”

Review: “Susanville” by Dixie Bee-Liners

A GPS computer voice intones,

“Enter highway. Drive more than 2000 miles.”

And so begins the Dixie Bee-Liners concept album, “Susanville.”  The concept is a road trip, but this isn’t Leon Copas or C.J. McCall telling epic tales of the road.  There aren’t a lot of songs about trucks, or truck stops and diners, or truck stop girls, although there are token songs such as “Truck Stop Baby,” “I Need Eighteen Wheels” and “Trixie’s Diesel-Stop Café.”  The concept is way too high a trajectory for me.  In fairness, there is a tag line of this CD that reads, “Every car on that highway has a story.”  So, maybe it’s just eavesdropping on conversations, laments, internal monologues, rants, etc.  It surely isn’t like National Lampoon Road Trip, either.
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