Friday, October 24, 2014

CD Review: Jarekus Singleton - Refuse To Lose

Perhaps the most exciting new artist I "uncovered" at the 2014 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion was bluesman Jarekus Singleton. This guy has a presence - both charisma and guitar prowess - that just captivated the crowd - including me. Plus I learned he's a fan of Albert King - so I'm even more enamored.  His background is the inspiration for his inaugural Alligator Records release Refuse To Lose. Just listen to the title track how this once promising college basketball player returned to the guitar for inspiration. His voice is soulful, his guitar playing - funky and hot. But make sure you concentrate on the lyrics. Anyone who has hit a tough spot can relate - with Crime Scene and Blame Game my favorites. The album also features James Salone on the organ, Ben Sterling on bass, John "Junior" Blackmon on drums and percussion. Pair with beer from Jackson Mississippi's live music and now brewery Hal and Mal's. Cheers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Album Review: Bryan Elijah Smith - These American Hearts

At this year's Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion I planned part of my schedule around Bryan Elijah Smith and what a good call. he band is tight, with their self described alternative Americana sound rockn' the stage. Too bad it was an early show; a few beers with this band in the evening would kill it.  Afterwards I headed straight to the merch store to pickup his latest release: These American Hearts - featuring The Wild Hearts. TThe album is a collection of songs describing the various emotions that life on the road produces. A month after BRRR, I haven't put this CD away. It's addicting. The musicianship of  Smith & The Wild Hearts (drummer Justin Shifflett, pianist Jeff Miller, violinist Jay Austin, and mandolinist Ethan Hawkins) is outstanding - like I said - a tight band.  Pair with the Shenandoah Valley's Three Brothers Brewing. Cheers.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Album Review: Billy Strings & Don Julin - Fiddle Tune X

If you like fiddle tunes, then you need to rush out and grab this new release from Billy Strings & Don Julin: Fiddle Tune X.  The catch, is that there isn't a fiddle in these tunes, just a guitar and mandolin. But boy, can these two play. 22-year-old guitarist Billy Strings and mandolinist Don Julin tear it up; pure energy. The vocals? Straight out of the Appalachian mountains. This is one downright enjoyable album - even when they slow it down with " Lonesome Moonlight Waltz" or "I Am A Pilgrim". But for me, "Beaumont Rag" says it all. Pair with Michigan's Short’s Brewing Company where the duo perform November 1st.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Album Review: Sons of Bill - Love & Logic

Charlottesville Virginia is fast becoming a major music town and one of the reasons is Americana Rock band Sons of Bill. The trio of brothers (James, Abe and Sam Wilson), along with Seth Green and Todd Wellons, have just released a new album Love & Logic. I was able to listen to the album from the Garden & Gun First Listen, and it looks like the band retains their roots rock style with a hint of Tea Leaf Green grand sweeping sound. Don't worry, there's still plenty of power ballads, pedal steel, and catchy lyrics reminiscent of previous work. "Road to Canaan" is my favorite track, with "Lost in the Cosmos (Song for Chris Bell)" a close second; but the new style is in spectacular display in "Bad Dancer". Listen to the end because "Hymnsong" is classic Sons of Bill. Pair with Charlottesville brewery Three Notch'd Brewing Company. Cheers.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Album Review: The Devil Makes Three - I"m A Stranger Here

Hard to believe, but the Americana blues outfit, The Devil Makes Three is out with their fourth album, I’m a Stranger Here, produced by Buddy Miller and recorded at Dan Auerbach’s (The Black Keys) Easy Eye Sound in Nashville. That's a good start. The trio of guitarist/frontman Pete Bernhard, stand-up bassist Lucia Turino, and guitarist Cooper McBean meld many genres into a rally interesting sound. From Stranger to Goodbye Old Friend, this release is full of darkness and sorrow; reflecting the band's maturity; but the compositions are excellent. Love this release. Favorite track is A Moments Rest; love the banjo picking and strings. There is also a guest appearance by The Preservation Hall Jazz Band as they lend a hand in the gospel laced Forty Days. Pair with their hometown brewery Whetstone Station Brewery from Brattleboro Vermont. Cheers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Album Review: Progressive Bluegrass with Front Country - Sake of the Sound

I knew that voice was familiar when I heard the first track (Gospel Train) of Sake of the Sound, the debut album of Front Country a Bay Area collection of like minded musicians. That familiar voice, Melody Walker, whose Gold Rush Goddess and We Made it Home (with Jacob Groopman) we've reviewed in the recent past. Joining Walker and Groopman to form Front Country are Adam Roszkiewicz, Jordan Klein, Leif Karlstrom, and Zach Sharpe. This band is tight as evident by winning the 2012 Rockygrass band competition and in 2013 the equivalent at Telluride. Walker handles most of the vocals and has the range for gospel to melodic as in the title track. The second song, One Kind Word, encapsulates this band's abilities: Walker's vocals, tight harmonies, individual picking, all melding into one glorious song. The same with the album. Can't believe I missed their East Coast swing into Raleigh for the IBMA's World of Bluegrass.Won't make that mistake again. Pair with Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery. Cheers.