Review: Hammertowne

"In most cases, much forethought, planning, and sometimes recruiting, goes into forming a musical unit. But not in this case. This group of musicians gathered in a studio as session players on a solo effort, and something special transpired.

After the stop button had been hit on the first take of the first song, several seconds of complete silence filled the place, until finally from the control room came... "WOW." The energy and musical compatibility was so strong, that the fellows decided they wanted to... TAKE IT OUTSIDE! Thus... HAMMERTOWNE was born!"

Review: Nu-Blu - Ten

Celebrating their 10th year as a band, Nu-Blu has issued their newest release Ten. Founded in 2003 by husband and wife team Daniel and Carolyn Routh, Nu-Blu has developed a strong following while establishing their reputation as a progressive bluegrass band. While firmly versed in the traditions of bluegrass and gospel, they also bring other musical styles into their fresh, contemporary sound. This is a hard working band, their road schedule is relentless, playing many out of the way venues and bringing new audiences to bluegrass.

Review: James King - Three Chords And The Truth

Some types of music have a longer shelf life than others, and I think bluegrass is one of them. Recordings of, say, the Dry Branch Fire Squad made in the 1980s hold up just as well today as when they were recorded. Certainly there are lots of albums like that, ones that were recorded simply, staying apart from whatever musical and music production fads were popular at the time. Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice sound so young on “Skaggs and Rice”—it was recorded in 1980—though it holds up, and we don’t approach it today as a time piece (at least I don’t).

Steep Canyon Rangers: Tell The Ones I Love

Culturally, we seem to like the idea of the struggling artist, someone who suffers for their work and who’s work seems to benefit from the struggle that goes into it. Would we revere people like Hemingway, for example, if their lives were idyllic and the only drama was in the pages of their books. I’m not sure the work would seem as honest, and that’s true in music as well. Roni Stoneman was a banjo player with the storied Stoneman family, and her relatives were there with the Carter Family at the Bristol sessions. She went on to star on Hee Haw and, when that was over, descended into crushing poverty and abuse at the hands of her husband. I heard her in interview once when she was asked to give advice to a 12-year-old musician. Stoneman said, “Enjoy the music that you play, because, most of the time, that’s about all you’re going to get out of it.”

Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe


If there is a God in heaven, this heartbreaking recording must win best recorded event, or best instrumental by people who don’t normally appear together, or whatever the hell IBMA has for award categories now. I found it a near-religious experience, so nominate it for gospel recording for all I care.

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