THE DAUGHTERS OF BLUEGRASS - BACK TO THE WELL - BLUE CIRCLE RECORDS BCR 003

The Daughters of Bluegrass was an idea conceived by Lorraine Jordan (co-producer with Dale Perry) and Gena Britt, both who are featured artists here. They thought that there were so many great women pickers and singers in bluegrass music today, why not bring them together for a recording project to showcase their talents. So these 18 singers, pickers artistes and songwriters joined together.
Heather Berry guitar, autoharp, vocals / Dale Ann Bradley guitar, vocals / Gena Britt banjo, vocals / Becky Buller fiddle, vocals, songwriter / Donica Christensen fiddle, banjo, vocals / Julie Elkins banjo, vocals / Dixie Hall songwriter / Lorraine Jordan mandolin, vocals, songwriter / Beth Lawrence bass, vocals / Megan McCormick guitar, mandolin / Frances Mooney bass, vocals / Michelle Nixon vocals, songwriter / Angela Oudean fiddle / Mindy Rakestraw guitar, vocals / Vicki Simmons vocals / Valerie Smith vocals and Jeanette Williams vocals.
Dixie Hall with husband Tom T., who are huge bluegrass supporters, lend four of their best songs to this project, coupled with songs from Michelle Nixon, Lorraine Jordan, Louisa Branscomb and more, and make this a full-circle release in so many ways. This showcases such a great variety of female performers within the bluegrass genre and does such a superb job of capturing the magic of America's music from traditional to contemporary. The years and experience represent many varied and great styles within the bluegrass genre, all are captured on this release. Their version of “Hickory Wind” breathes a new life into a standard, while the title track “Go Back To The Well” is outstanding along with “How’s it feel” “Homesick for the Hills” “Picture Of Jesus” (all written by Tom T & Dixie Hall) and “Come on Down the Mountain” from Becky Buller . This must surely be considered a Recording Event of the Year and in my opinion must be one of the best bluegrass albums this year and one you must add to your bluegrass collection. I do hope the project has great success as this would bring a welcome Volume 2. For more info you could visit their web pages at www.bluecirclerecords.com

OTHER SONGS:- Never Made It Home -Still Feel The Nails -Hicker Nut Ridge -Fools Gold -Prisoner Song -Pocket Knives & Fiddle Tunes -Grass Angels.

PEE WEE KING and his GOLDEN WEST COWBOYS KENTUCKY WALTZ….BACM CD D 143

Pee Wee King’s main claim to fame as a recording artist was his own version of “Slow Poke” made No 1 for 15 weeks in 1951.As a songwriter he co-wrote “The Tennessee Waltz” with Redd Stewart in 1947 and “You Belong To Me” co-written with Redd and Chilton Price didn't make the country charts until Jim Reeves reached No. 54. He joined his father's polka band aged 15 playing accordion, harmonica and violin and after playing with various bands finally took over Gene Autry’s band, (renamed the “Golden West Cowboys”) when Gene went to Hollywood in 1934. They moved to Nashville and joined the Grand Ole Opry where he introduced the electric amplified guitar and drums. He also appeared in movies: “Gold Mine In The Sky” with Gene Autry, “Flame Of The West” with Johnny Mack Brown, “Rough, Tough And West” and “Riding The Outlaw Trail” both with Charles Starrett as The Durango Kid. He signed with RCA Victor and had a long run on TV’s “Pee Wee King Show”. His 17 year’s with RCA produced over twenty LPs and 150 singles, Bonaparte's Retreat, Bimbo, Changing Partners, Tennessee Polka, Busybody, Slow Poke and Tennessee Waltz, In 1965 Tennessee adopted his song as its “State Song” while in 1974 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame. The band disbanded in 1969 but Pee Wee continued to make occasional appearances until he died of a heart attack on 7th March, 2000. (Gene Autry gave him the nickname Pee Wee on account of his short stature).This 24 track CD is of some of his recordings between 1946 and 1955 and runs for over an hour. The Kentucky Waltz included here is from 1947. Also included are Bimbo, Spanish Two Step, Ricochet, Crazy Waltz, Woodchopper’s Ball, and 2 songs written by Fred Rose, Out of my Mind and Texas Toni Lee. The music is outstanding and on listening you can understand why the sound lasted so long. Great historical recordings and to add to your collection. You can order direct by Tel:- 01304 205000 or www.bacm.users.btopenworld.com

OTHER TRACKS:-Southland Polka-Ghost & Honest Joe-Bull Fiddle Boogie-Chew Tobacco rag-Railroad Boogie-Busybody-I don’t mind-Seven come eleven-Keep your eye on my darling-Indian giver-Oh miserable love-Farewell blues-Tweedle Dee-Here lies my heart-Jim Johnny & Jonas-Tippin’ In.

FAIRLEY HOLDEN - I’VE GOT BLUES TO SPARE ….BACM CD C 146

Here’s a new name from the past who only had a short 2 year career as a solo singer. Specialising in comic songs like “Keep them icy fingers off of me”(3 versions here) “I know you don’t love me like you used to” and “Put some meat on them bones”. I think he was just as effective on straight songs like on the Hank classic “Move in on over”. He was also part of a duo with Jack Holden and as the “Holden Brothers” they had a longer career. He also wrote some of his own songs (4 include here). On the first 4 tracks Moon Mullican plays piano, Jethro Burns plays lead guitar, Homer Haynes on rhythm (later to become Homer & Jethro) and Tommy Covington on steel with either Slim Miller or Bob Simmons on fiddle. This is what we would call Hillbilly music with the vocal nasal and definitely rural, more like an early Grandpa Jones. Not really my cup of tea but if you like the nostalgia and historical recordings then this is for you. You can order direct by Tel:- 01304 205000 or www.bacm.users.btopenworld.com

OTHER TRACKS:-Port to Portal pay-Intoxicated rat-I’ve got blues to spare-There’s more than one way to skin a cat-Coo Se Coo-Long Long Dresses-Don’t monkey round my wider-She’s some daisy for 19 years old-Graveyard light-You’ve been a bad bad bad little girl-Oh that nagging wife of mine-It’ll make a change in business all around-Papa’s getting old-The lady & the soldier-From Lexington to Louisville-Little Maggie-Heartbroken, lonesome & blue-I’m a married man-That’s why I’m crying in my sleep.

CARLY GOODWIN - DREAMING BEAR MUSIC..00002

Here is a great debut album from a great voice singing solid country songs backed by solid country musicians, all gathered together by Carl Jackson, who produces as well as plays banjo, acoustic guitar, gut string guitar, sings backup and even co-writes 2 of the songs. The production was made easy by the outstanding group of musicians playing here, Catherine Marx on piano, Chris Woods drums, Kevin Grantt bass, Randy Kohrs (dobro on 4 songs), Jim Van Cleve on fiddle, (with Aubrey Haney on fiddle on 2 songs), Mike Johnson steel guitar and Jeff King electric guitar, though not all musicians play on all the tracks. There’s an electric bluegrass feel to some songs like “Just another mountain” “New light dawning” “High on a Mountain” while the self penned “Still too blue” with it’s steel guitar intro is solid country in the traditional style. Carly co-writes “Still too blue” and “High on a mountain” with Larry Alderman, and co-writes the poignant “Baby come back home” (paying tribute to the US Soldier’s wife still at home) with Gail Goodwin (her Mum) and Gerald Smith . She also co-writes “Mountains, Rivers, Storms and Tears” with Gail and Carl. There’s not a weak song in this collection, even her recording of “Crazy” is something special, (Oh not another Patsy clone I hear you say), no this is special, a duet with Willie Nelson who has never duetted on this song before. The final 2 songs on the album are written by Leslie Satcher and bass player Kevin Grantt, 2 lovely ballads “Until then” (a great duet with Jon Randall) and “Homecoming day”. Carly’s voice is very appealing with a confidence and maturity well beyond her 24 years. Again I would say that this is a singer with a great career in her future and that’s without a crystal ball. www.carlygoodwin.com is her web site.

BUTCH MARTIN and the Rogue Valley Riders - PEOPLE PLACES and MULES…B.S.W. CD 5125

Having favourably reviewed 2 previous album by Butch ( “Whittler’s Corner” and “Come Ride the Wagon” also on BSW) I was looking forward to hearing this latest, and I was certainly not disappointed. There’s not many changes since his last CD, a few of the musicians and some of the songwriters, but the music speaks volumes, crystal clear production (once again by Bob Pagano who also engineers) and great songs in the cowboy/ bluegrass/acoustic mould. The musicians play stand-up bass, lead and rhythm guitars, fiddle, banjo and mandolin and surround Butch’s experienced voice to perfection. The songs open with Tom Russell’s story of “Rayburn Crane” followed by 3 songs written by Baxter Black, “Chasing the moon by the tail” “Last of the Singing Cowboys” and “One Kansas Night”. Then the Charlie Daniel’s classic “Wyoming on my mind” gets an outing that does justice to the song, followed by the tender (autobiographical?) “House Full of Love” partly told in monologue and song, which Butch co-writes with Gary Antonucci. David MacKechnie co-writes 4 more songs (with a variety of co-writers) for this album “Timothy’s Guitar” “Blue Sky over Red River” “Only a Rodeo Clown” and “The Love Song That I Promised”. Butch also includes 2 more monologues “The Preacher and the Bear” and “The Reverend Mr. Black” and his way with a story is great. He closes the Cd with a great bluegrass version of “Fox on the Run”. The blend of cowboy songs recorded with a bluegrass feel, gives the COW-GRASS connection, and this album is certainly one to add to update your Butch Martin collection. Another winner from Butch and B.S.W.

TRESA STREET - BABY IT’S YOU… A.M.I.1527-2

Back in August 2005 I reviewed Tresa’s Cd “Ain’t Nothing Changed” and following the successes of the album and the single around the world AMI have now reissued another collection of previously recorded songs. Originally recorded in 1996, it was recently enhanced, additional overdubs added and digitally remixed for CD release. This stands on it’s own merit and certainly deserves a reissue, great songs sung with a great punchy delivery on the raunchy side of rowdy. Even the old Buddy Holly classic “Oh Boy” gets treated like Gretchen Wilson would do it “Redneck-Woman-Style”. “If I’m not crazy” would make a great single as would “Oh Boy”. Tresa includes 3 of her own songs “A man like you” and “Every time I think it over” both touching country ballads with great sympathetic steel guitar and “What’s it gonna take” is a punchy up tempo leaving song. She also leaves her mark on the opening track the Bacharach /David /Williams easy listening love song “Baby It’s You” another single that has great crossover potential .Check out www.tresastreet.com about both Cds.

OTHER SONGS:-If I let him touch me-Last light-Love rules-Fire.

DAVE SHERIFF…OVERWORKED & UNDERPAID - STOMP DSCD73

There is something special about recording country music in the USA that appeals, and having been down that road on many occasions myself I can truly understand why Dave Sheriff recorded this album there. Writing all 13 songs, he obviously wants each song to get that special treatment, and when you write good (even great) songs, you do want them to be recorded in their best light. So with 13 songs Dave heads off to join Mark Moseley in Nashville. Next get the best musicians, so they line up a veritable who’s who of top session players :- on drums & percussion - Tommy Wells, bass - Duncan Mullins, upright bass - Dave Roe, acoustic guitar - Bruce Watkins & Larry Beard, piano & keyboards - Gordon Mote, fiddle - Rob Hajacos, electric guitar - Dug Grieves & Kerry Marx, steel guitar - Doug Jernigan & Scotty Saunders, dobro- Sonny Garrish and on banjo - Vic Jordan. They add Monty Allen, Brittany Allyn, Marjie Cates and Ray Walker as background vocalists. They get the mix right with Mark working his magic, return to the UK and release it. Now comes the really hard bit, getting good reviews and loads of radio play. So here is my contribution in the next sentence. I think I’ve just listened to the UK Country Album of the Year. This is without doubt the best British album I’ve heard this year. Its got everything a good album should have, great songs well sung, great production, great musicians giving their best, all captured and wrapped around the voice. The style varies across the CD, stomping opener, fast-paced rocker to follow, a lovely mid tempo ballad, then a big ballad delivered with great sincerity. Shades of bluegrass with banjo and fiddle follows, back to a rocker, then a waltz, then another three fast-paced dance tunes, a country shuffle, then the new single guaranteeing great radio play (and riding high in the charts) with guest vocalist Ray Walker from the Jordanaires. The 13th track is in the western swing bracket and rounds off the album. This is a winner in all departments and deserves to be too. www.davesheriff.com or Tel O1553 617546 and order a copy now.

SONGS:-Overworked & underpaid -Red hot rock’n’roll -A beautiful day -Live for today -A friend fn feed -No better life than a good life -Dance like there's nobody watching -Better late than never -My baby's never wrong - Wake up wake up! -Get a new love in your life -(I wish I had a) Bassman like The Jordanaires -Boogie with my baby.

KAREN TAYLOR-GOOD…HOW MANY WOMEN - INSIGHT RECORDS KTG06-12

Karen is probably best-known outside the US as a hit songwriter with No1 Country singles "How can I help you say goodbye" for Patty Loveless ,"Not that different" for Collin Ray and “ Party on” for Neal McCoy. Her songs have also been recorded by Melissa Manchester, AI Jarreau, Laura Branigan, Bosson, Nana Mouskouri, Diamond Rio, Mark Wills, Uppity Blues Women and Sarah Jory. She has had 9 nationally charted country singles herself in the US and she has also sung on recordings by Elvis, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rodgers, George Jones & many others. Karen has also been nominated:- by the CMA for Song of the Year, for a Grammy for "How can I help you say goodbye", by SESAC as Best New Artist -The Vista Award and is a SESAC “Songwriter of the Year” winner twice. Having this kind of a pedigree you have to have a high standard when you record. (Karen has 3 Cds previously released).She says herself “…These are songs I have been waiting for other artistes to record. I can’t wait any longer!…” There’s 14 songs here all co-writes with various other writers. She sings 2 duets “If you do” a great wedding song with Collin Raye and “One mile apart” with Walter Suhr, (repeated in Spanish as tracks 15 ). 5 of the songs have “The Band” playing, a 6 piece, rhythm & lead guitars, bass, drums, mandolin and piano while the other songs have backings with keyboards only on “Bless his heart”, keyboards and mandolin on “You never said anything about love”, guitar and mandolin on “One mile apart”, and a lovely almost bluegrass sound from guitar, bass, fiddle & mandolin on “God’s Refrigerator” (which is Karen’s new single now on the Hotdisc & NCM charts). The novelty songs “Bless his heart” and “I’m telling Ellen” work well, but Karen’s forte is the love ballad like “You never said anything about love” “Man enough” “Wild blue yonder” “Deep blue desert sky” and “On angel’s wings” while up-tempo and midtempo songs are included too). Her voice is wistful at times but Karen can deliver with strength when needed. The songs are all great songs and Karen’s versions are probably the best versions you’ll get. Check out the pages at www.karentaylorgood.com for details

OTHER SONGS:-Hooked on you-Oh Guinevere-How many women-Love is a verb.

ROBERT LEE CRIGGER - SATURDAY NIGHT IN GEEZER FLATS…RLC-002CD

Robert is probably best known as the piano player from Tom T Hall’s band and with the Jean Shepard band Second Fiddles for years. He toured the UK with Jean Shepard and my own band some years ago and even performed solo on that tour. He is also a regular keyboard player on the Grand Ole Opry playing with various artistes. This Cd was made for ‘on the road’ sales and includes 11 covers of country standards. It's Robert's first vocal album and as well as playing piano and singing harmony he also played all keyboard parts, bass and programmed drums. Guitar player Jimmy Capps from the GOO staff band plays rhythm and lead guitar to his usual high standard. The albums moves through oldies from an earlier era of country and being a piano player his choice includes songs covered by Jerry Lee, Mickey Gilley and other singing piano players. The opening song an up-tempo “I’ll sail my ship alone” is followed by a shuffling version of “Your cheating heart” and “Let’s say goodbye like we said hello” in a similar tempo. Loved “Drinking Champagne” with light strings added while “Crazy Arms” and “If You’ve got the money” gets the Jerry Lee treatment but not vocally. “Nobody’s darling but mine” is turned into a lovely gentle waltz. Robert even includes the Bobby Bare monologue “God Bless America Again” to great effect and closes the album with the Dick Feller-Sheb Wooley comedy song “I Just don’t look good naked anymore”. Overall a very pleasurable listen and hopefully this will lead to more on the vocal side for Robert.

OTHER SONGS:- Midnight-Don’t be cruel

REG POOLE…FOR THE LOVE OF MY COUNTRY - MATILDAROO RECORDS ROO-003

Reg Poole is one of the great story tellers in Australian Country Music, a big man with a voice to match. His style is unashamedly Australian and takes you on a journey of discovery down under. This is his 24th album release. He was born in Victoria, just after World War II and grew up on a dairy farm. He formed his first dance band in the 1960's, but didn't record till 1972. In 1973 he gained a contract with W&G Records, recording his award winning song “Australian Country Music Hall Of Fame” and became a Golden Guitar winner in 1974. (He won another 2 in later years). Reg is the 33rd inductee to Australia's highest country music honour, “The Roll Of Renown” (Australia’s equivalent to the Country Hall of Fame).This new 13 track album includes original tunes, old favourites and a touch of comedy which are all part and parcel of his “Live” show. The excellent musicians include acoustic, bass, steel and electric guitars, drums, dobro, fiddle and mandolin and give this a great country sound. It opens with the patriotic self-penned title track “For the love of my country” and the second song is a sincere tribute to his friend Slim Dusty, A Tribute to Slim” co-written by Barney O’Donnell. The first of 3 monologue is next “The man in the glass” followed by a great gospel ballad “Halfway home” another Poole co-write. “Mount Ida” (almost bluegrass with a bright tempo) and another Poole original “Long White Cloud” are 2 songs about New Zealand. The sad train song “The luggage van ahead” is about a father taking his late wife home while the “Ode to a bull” is a comical bull riding rodeo song. “A Grave Situation” is a remake of the Ray Stevens song with a similar tale (the old drunk down in the grave joke) told here as a monologue with sound effects. “I get so lonely” is the only cover and non Australian song on the CD but fits in effectively. “ I Love the Rodeo” is self explanatory while “Two of You” is a catchy waltz tempo with the writer wishing there were two of his one love, both written by Reg. The collection closes with a short monologue “Smiling”. While Reg Poole may not be as well known as other Australians here in the UK he should be, as I found this to be one of the best COUNTRY album I’ve heard from down under for many a year. www.regpoole.netfirms.com is his web site.

RHONDA TOWNS…I WANNA BE LOVED BY YOU - DAWN RECORDS 66395900001

This is a superb debut album from a female vocalist that should have a longer shelf life than most . The 10 songs here have a distinct, smooth vocal from an outstanding voice, mixed with a traditional country sound given a modern feel. Rhonda came to the attention of producer Norro Wilson who produces four songs on this debut. Jim Cotton (producer for Billy Ray Cyrus Montgomery Gentry and Alabama) produces two more songs . It was taken over by producer Harold Shedd (Reba McEntire /Shania Twain/Alabama/Toby Keith) who, impressed with what he heard, joined with Jim to produce three more songs and an a cappella performance of "The Lords Prayer" produced by Billy Williams was added to make the ten tracks. The songs are from some heavy hitters in the song writing business and include Freddy Weller, Larry Boone, Karen Staley, Randall Hylton, Rick Holt, Bo Allan, Bernie Nelson and the song "Slow Rain" written by Dobie Gray closes the album. Great songs too like “Something better” which opens the Cd ( also her latest US single) “I wanna be loved by you” was the first single out last year. “Those were the nights” is a lovely love song with just Rhonda and an acoustic guitar. The up-tempo fiddle intro on “Plenty more love” give the music a lift at track 7 and grabs your attention. “I’ve heard the wind blow before” could have been a hit for Loretto Lynn or Reba some years ago (stone country steel guitar song) and “Go on with yourself” falls into the same bracket. The long list of musicians (due to the numerous sessions involved ) include top players like Gene Chrisman, Mike Chapman, Pete Wade, Mike Severs, Sonny Garish, Mike Smith, Hargus Robbins, Joe Spivey, Randy Kohrs and 8 more pickers plus 5 backup singers. Rhonda lives in Phoenix, Arizona, dividing her time between there and Nashville where she is actively pursuing her dream to become a major singing country music entertainer….and she should succeed. Visit her site at www.rhondatowns.com

BIG RAIN…OAK RECORDS…OAK 0289

Big Rain trio consists of Peter Alamo, Bruce Guynn, and James Chatterton. Bruce handles lead vocals, bass guitar and keyboards. Peter plays lead and rhythm guitars and sings vocal harmony. James adds guitars and piano and after joining the trio for the recording sessions was invited to join as the third member. The additional musicians drafted in for the recording are Chet McCracken on drums and percussion, Richie Podolor, mandolin, Doug Livingston peddle steel guitar and Bobby Furgo on fiddle. After the release of three successful albums on their own label, and having established themselves as a recording and performing artist with a unique and original sound, they received a recording contract from Ray Ruff at Oak Records, who also produced the album. The second single, "Sweet Inspiration," hit No14 on New Music Weekly Indie Top 30, No 48 on New Music Weekly Country Main Chart, and went to No1 on Indie World Chart. Ten of the eleven songs are written by Bruce (2 co-writes with Mark Gurley) while James adds one song “Las Vegas”. As this is very much a working band, the songs are all about life on the road in one context or another. The tight production gives the band a clear crisp sound and the vocals overlaying the music stand out. Most of the songs are mid tempo and the album could do with a fast paced song or even a slow ballad to off-set the similar tempos. Having said that the album is very enjoyable and with the right radio play this trio could easily make the breakthrough into the big time. “Sweet Inspiration” “Las Vegas” and “December Night” are the standout songs for me. Contact www.bigrain.net

OTHER TRACKS:- I’m Not Running -Angel In My Room- -Sound of Freedom -Valley of Towers -I’m Breaking Out- -Waiting-Home-Hotel Life

That’s it for another month, keep on keeping it country,Gerry Ford.