Review: The Gibson Brothers - They Called It Music

They Called it Music is a confident tour through the themes and traditions of bluegrass music, prefaced conceptually by the title and the title track, which is a statement about the genres of traditional music. Old-time, bluegrass, gospel—before the record shops needed genres in order to organize records, it was all just music. And it’s the players from the time before music became commercial that the Gibsons, to some extent, are eulogising here. In the title track they sing “I swear their ghosts are with me, I can feel 'em when I play/It wasn't all about the money like it is today.”

Review: Claire Lynch - Dear Sister

I teach seniors beginner guitar classes at a local active living centre supported by the city where I live. The students, bless them, are coming at something new at a point in their lives when many of their peers wouldn’t dream of putting themselves out there in the same way. It’s difficult and frustrating, but I like to remind them that learning an instrument isn’t about performance, at least not principally. First, it should be about exploring a new artistic geography. If you’ve ever tried to play a G-run, you know the satisfaction of pulling it off. But you also can appreciate like never before the people who do it well and employ it well in the service of a song. Learning an instrument brings more enjoyment, I think, to what we hear than what we play.  That’s a minor example of a big idea: the more we know about something, the better we can appreciate the mastery of those who do it well. 

Review: American Drive

This is a tremendous first CD for this “new” band to the bluegrass scene! “American Drive” is essentially J.D. Crowe’s “New South.” The song selection, arrangements, and stylistics are all reminiscent of the J.D. Crowe’s bands over the years, especially recently.

Featuring the excellent lead vocals of veteran “New South” members Dwight McCall (mandolin) and Rickey Wasson (guitar), each accomplished in their own right, the album is a joy to listen to from beginning to end. The band is rounded out by Matt DeSpain (resonator guitar) who sings the lead on a few songs, Kyle Perkins (upright bass), and Justin Jenkins (banjo). If you like JD Crowe’s recent discs, you will enjoy this fine CD, too!



Review: The Roys - Lonesome Whistle

On this album, the brother & sister duo Lee and Elaine Roy, are backed up by Ricky Skaggs' band. The Whites add vocals on the track “That's What Makes It Love.

The vocal performances by Lee and Elaine are excellent, and they deliver their well blended harmonies one expects from siblings. The band back backing them up is impressive, providing excellent instrumentation, and tasteful breaks. If you've ever seen the Ricky Scaggs' band, you know what they are capable of and they deliver it to you on this album.

Review: Spinney Brothers - No Borders

Dick Bowden recently wrote a compelling cover story about the Spinney Brothers for Bluegrass Unlimited. Titled “On The Road With The Spinney Brothers” (April, 2013) Bowden gives an account of one leg of the Spinney Brothers' summer 2012 tour, following the band from the moment they leave the Bluegrass in the Hills festival in Hopedale, Ohio, on Friday to travel to a Saturday/Sunday gig at the Podunk Bluegrass Festival near Norwich, Connecticut. It’s a ten-hour drive, so says MapQuest, and Allen Spinney, unable to sleep in a moving vehicle, drives it all. They have a break of a few hours in a hotel before suiting up and heading to the festival. Bowden ends the article just after the last Podunk set as the Spinneys gather at the van once again to head off to the next engagement. 

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