Sunday, 19 May 2013
“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.
Sunday, 05 May 2013
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.
Saturday, 20 April 2013
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.
Friday, 12 April 2013
God Didn't Choose Sides Vol 1 is the first of a new series that touches on bluegrass, country, and roots music by writers such as Paula Breedlove, Mark Brinkman, Brad Davis, Ray Edwards, Mike Evans, Terry Foust, Steve Gulley and Tim Strafford, and performed by an all-star line-up including Marty Raybon, Russell Moore, Ronnie Bowman, The Lonesome River Band, Dale Ann Bradley, Steve Gulley, Carrie Hassler, Bradley Walker, Tim Stafford, and others. The songs are all new, but are rooted so deeply into American history that it's easy to forget that they're not songs from the Civil War period, rather they are about that period.
Tuesday, 09 April 2013
Don Rigsby has been around a while, and as such always seems to be there, not too far away. Many probably came across him for the first time in the movie Bluegrass Journey where he’s onstage with the Lonesome River band (in what some consider their best line up) at the IBMA’s and then later, in the hallway of the hotel at the conference, playing his heart out with Don Rigsby and Friends. Maybe we’d seen him in Lonesome River, but with the movie and the subtitles, he finally had a name.