Review: Special Consensus - Country Boy, A Bluegrass Tribute to John Denver

About a year ago, a tribute album to John Denver was released which was in a word, awful. I reviewed it for KDHX radio, which was kind of fun, actually, given that you rarely get the chance to review something that offers itself up so completely to unequivocal derision. I know that it’s not cool to quote yourself, but here’s a bit of what I had to say about The Music In You: A Tribute to John Denver, illustrating a point that I’d like to revisit here:

Review: Big Country Bluegrass - Memories of the Past

While I enjoy most any bluegrass, if you were to browse my music collection you'd find it leaning heavily towards newgrass.

But there are times when you walk up to the jukebox (do they even exist anymore?!) and you just need to hear something with roots... it doesn't have to be OLD, after all good music is timeless, but "roots" can be a little harder to come by. This is bluegrass with mountain twang in vocals, driving banjo riffs, sweet mandolin breaks - you'll only need to add a porch on a mountain cabin to complete the setting. Yes, I guess maybe that describes "roots."

Review: Carlene Carter - Carter Girl

I have an unerring fascination with the Carter Family—or more precisely the Original Carter Family—because everything about their professional lives as musicians (or “musicianers” as AP would say) is as exotic as it is unfathomable. We all know at least the outline of the story: AP hears Sara’s voice and falls in love, convinces Sara and Maybelle to drive with him to Bristol to record, despite the fact that there were no paved roads and Maybelle was nine months pregnant. Late, tired, hungry, they sit in front of a recording horn and, on the first day, record “Bury Me Beneath the Willow,” and, among other things, “The Storms are on the Ocean.” The next day they record “Single Girl, Married Girl,” and “The Wandering Boy.” In all they recorded just six songs at those sessions, and four of which became part of the very fabric of Americana music.

Review: Marty Raybon & Full Circle - The Back Forty

Marty Raybon has been performing as a singer for over 40 years, but I had not heard his music until this 2013 release with Full Circle called The Back Forty. Perhaps the unfamiliarity is because Raybon has mainly produced music in the country music vein, with some of his material crossing over into bluegrass. By his own admission, The Back Forty is his most fully realized bluegrass effort of his long career, and was inspired by his interest in dedicating a full album’s worth of material to a music style that he has loved since his childhood.

Review: The Expedition Show - Stormy Horizons

New expeditions of discovery and exploration are frequently marred by bad weather, uncertainty, disease and a breakdown of the human condition. Not so with the latest exciting release from The Expedition Show! May of 2013 brought the listening community Stormy Horizons and the only fever in evidence is a welcome one in the form of Mountain Fever Records, the recording studio and label for the release. With nothing to prove and everything to share, Blake Williams on banjo, Kimberly Williams on vocals and bass, Wayne Southards on vocals and guitar and Alex Hibbitts on vocals and mandolin, supported by Tim Crouch on fiddle and Phil Leadbetter on dobro bring us 12 exquisitely performed and recorded tracks solidly rooted in Bluegrass with a touch of swing, occasional gospel and the Blues.

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