Reviews

Review: Ron Block - Walking Song

Listening to this disc, I wished that I had no idea who Ron Block is or any of the things he’s done in his career. By any measure, he’s done a lot, most notably as a member of Alison Krauss and Union Station for twenty years. On his own, he’s released two collections prior to this one, and they—as this one—are populated by a lot of very high-powered musical friends. His previous releases were more overtly dedicated to his gospel writing, which can often come off as preachy and lacking much depth or dimension.

Review: Donna The Buffalo - Tonight, Tomorrow & Yesterday

OK let me say it upfront, this ain’t Bluegrass. So why is this review appearing on the HVBA website? Simple, this is a great album by a great band.

Donna the Buffalo is one of the most respected “Americana” bands on the scene today. “Americana” music, that ubiquitous term that refers to a combination of American musical traditions and styles including folk, traditional, country, blues, and other “roots” music forms. But the label hardly fits the experience.

Review: Adam Steffy - New Primitive

The first track on Adam Steffey’s new album New Primitive opens with a pop music flourish of a kind that you don’t typically find on oldtime albums. It’s a statement that this isn’t just another album of traditional tunes. Rather, this one is going to rock.

It’s his third solo project and one that Steffey says he’s been hoping to do for some time— namely to record some of old time tunes that are rooted in the musical history of Appalachia. All the pieces here are traditional ones that have been handed down in the traditional way, from player to player over the course of generations.

Review: Doc Watson - The Definitive Doc Watson

You can be forgiven for thinking, “Do we really need another collection of Doc Watson recordings?” When I heard of this release, that’s what I thought. My initial impression was that Sugar Hill was just releasing something in order to drum up some sales in light of Watson’s passing in May of last year.

Once I got my hands on this collection, I realised that the answer is, actually, yes, you do need another collection of Watson recordings, and this is it. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into selecting the tracks here, and Jack Lawrence, long-time guitar player with Watson, was one of the people involved. As well, the tracks have been remastered, evening out some of the sonic anomalies of the very early recordings, allowing them to sit well alongside the later recordings, the most recent of which is a duet with Bryan Sutton on “Whiskey Before Breakfast” recorded in 2006.

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.”

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