Michael Cleveland is an absolute delight, and if you have any cause to doubt it, then have a listen to “Jack O Diamonds” from his latest release, On Down the Line. It’s the standard old-time fiddle tune, though he fills it with nods, winks, chuckles, in-jokes, and punch lines. Yes, he’s a master of the instrument, but that’s not what Cleveland is about. He’s about having a lot of fun, and he does, and he lets us have a lot of fun too.

I am not one of those people who is ultra-nostalgic for the past. The past was hard, and I tend to see progress as time goes by.

However, there are a few things about the early sixties that do make me nostalgic – one is the role of radio and another is old-time harmony. Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys Radio Shows perfectly satisfies both of these nostalgias.

Dave Adkins is one of the new and upcoming voices of bluegrass... one of those voices that stand out out from the crowd, once heard you won't forget who you're listening to. This is not the high-lonesome-sound, this is grit and cheap whiskey, bar rooms, jails, and of course both love and heartbreak. Adkins has attracted a lot of attention across the bluegrass community, including a SPBGMA Male Vocalist of the year nomination.

There’s no way Frank Solivan's kitchen is dirty. I’ve not been to his house, so I can’t say for sure, but if his music is any indication at all, the kitchen is probably very clean and well organized.

Like a talented chef, it takes a certain attention to detail to gather some musicians together, mix in a little original music performed on traditional instruments, add a pinch of virtuosity and have it come out sounding good. If you didn’t already know, Frank's other passion is cooking; definitely not a coincidence.

There are quite a few similarities between Balsam Range and Blue Highway, this is in terms of the way they approach music, the kinds of songs they present, and their ability as musicians. And there’s this too: they always seem to think that they need to start each album with a barnburner of one sort or another. An “up” tune. In a statistically significant number, the second track is also the title track, as on Lonesome Pine, Through the Window of a Train, Sounds of Home — it’s as if the first track is the sound check before the concert. More correctly, it’s an instinct that carries over from the stage, in that bands want to get the audience on side as quickly as possible, and a rousing number is the way to do that. But, an album isn’t a concert, and programming an album is—or should be—different that programming a set of music for a live show.


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