Review: Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen - On the Edge

In their first release since their 2012 IBMA nomination as Emerging Artist of the Year, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen have come up with a winner in On the Edge. While Solivan has captured considerable media attention with his “Dirty Kitchen Experience,” in which he prepares a three-course meal combined with a performance by the band, that shouldn’t distract from the group’s impressive musicianship, both in their individual skills and in their exceptional ensemble work.

Review: Snyder Family Band - Building Bridges

There is a novelty to being a family band, just as there is a novelty to being very young yet sounding like someone who has been playing for decades. There was a time when the Snyder Family Band was both of those things—I first heard them when a friend took me to the Cook Shack, a small, cozy roadhouse in rural North Carolina to see a little girl play fiddle.

Kruger Brothers: Remembering Doc Watson

“As long as there is a song and a flat top guitar, there will be a part of Doc Watson living on.”

The Krugers Brothers met Doc Watson in 1997 when they were invited to play at Merlefest, the annual festival memorializing Doc’s son, Merle, who died tragically in a tractor accident in 1985. In the years that followed, their friendship with Doc grew and they were often invited to the Watson home or to back up Doc in some of his final concerts when not on the road themselves.

Review: Peter Rowan - The Old School

At times, Peter Rowan seems like the Zelig of roots music, that is, like the person in Woody Allen’s film of the same name who becomes whoever he is standing next to. In the course of his long career, Rowan has been a bluegrass boy (and apparently wrote, depending on who you ask, the Monroe hit “Walls of Time”), a new-age Buddhist mystic, and truly everything in between. He was a founding member of Earth Opera, a band that opened for the Doors, before joining the west-coast rock band Seatrain. In the 70s he did what I like to think of as pot-grass as a member of Old and In the Way, a unit that included Jerry Garcia, which granted the group lasting fame, and Vassar Clements, which afforded it respectability. Since then he’s done reggae-billy, southwestern yodelling, traditional bluegrass, singer-songwriter material, flexigrass, country, Texas swing, a tribute to Gene Autry, and extended jam sets with seemingly anyone who would have him.

Steve Martin/Edie Brickell: Love Has Come For You

When I first saw a note about this album online, I had to do a double take as it seems like an odd pairing. Martin is a good banjo player, and has had a beautiful collaboration with the Steep Canyon Rangers over the past few years, resulting in two albums of new material. That work is good, if not great, and the personality of Martin—quirky, funny, oddball—is one of the reasons. He’s funny. He’s made a career of being funny. He’s never presented himself as a banjo virtuoso, and laudably has used his fame to shine a light on players who are, including the recipients of his annual banjo award, Noam Pikelny, Sammy Shelor, and Mark Johnson. If he doesn't make the greatest music in the world, it is good, and the playing is strong, something that the Steep Canyon Rangers have brought to the earlier projects. Live, Martin and the Rangers are a delight.

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