Tuesday, January 01, 2019

18 Bluegrass Favorites from 2018!

As we get ready to welcome 2019, it seems like a good time to look back on a few of the finest Bluegrass recordings that we enjoyed at Bluegrass Cafe in 2018.  This list of favorites is not ranked in order of preference, but rather, alphabetically.  Most of these selections have been played frequently throughout the year, but in case you missed 'em, here's a recap:

  • Bill And The Belles - "DreamSongs, Etc." (Jalopy Records):  Is this a Bluegrass record?  Nope.  Is it an enjoyable record of tunes you might have heard in the 1930s or 1940s?  Absolutely.  
  • Becky Buller - "Crepe Paper Heart" (Dark Shadow Recording) Released on Valentine's Day, this CD features Becky with her fine band, as well as guests Rhonda Vincent, Sam Bush, and the Fairfield Four.  The recording also features a song named as the 2018 IBMA Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year, "Speakin' To That Mountain."
  • David Davis & the Warrior River Boys - "Didn't He Ramble:  Songs Of Charlie Poole" (Rounder Records):  Charlie Poole's music pre-dated what we know as Bluegrass, but still, he was a definite influence on the music we hear today.  Clearly, Poole's music influenced David Davis, too, as this tribute is a delight.  
  • The Earls Of Leicester - "Live At The CMA Theater At The Country Music Hall Of Fame" (Rounder Records):  The music of Lester & Earl & the Foggy Mountain Boys lives on...as it should.
  • Feinberg Brothers - "Party For One" (Cabinwood Music):  The sophomore effort from these Long Island, college student brothers (and their wonderful band) is a joy from start to finish.  The record is filled with band originals and covers of songs written by Northeast favorites, Smokey Greene and Robert Fraker, among others.  Seek it out.
  • Five Mile Mountain Road - "Five Mile Mountain Road" (Patuxent Music):  Do you like old-time instrumental music?  This is the disc for you.
  • Mickey Galyean & Cullen's Bridge - "Songs From The Blue Ridge" (Rebel Records):  Worried that traditional Bluegrass is disappearing?  Fear not when there are still bands like this one to carry on that traditional sound.
  • High Fidelity - "Hills And Home" (Rebel Records):  Another retro-type of band:  modern pickers who love to recreate the traditional Bluegrass sounds of bands like Reno & Smiley and others.  Great stuff.
  • Hot Rize - "40th Anniversary Bash" (Ten In Hand Records):  How do you celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the most popular bands in the history of Bluegrass?  Why, with a concert, of course!  Add in some special guests, and you have a delightful CD celebrating (most) all things Hot Rize.
  • Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road - "True Grass Again" (Pinecastle Records):  Lorraine Jordan has made it her mission to perform what she calls "true grass."  The title song from this project is one this band recorded with two fellow Bluegrass traditionalists:  Dan Paisley & Junior Sisk.  Clearly, someone wants to hear this style of music, as the title song is currently in the #1 position on the National Bluegrass Survey.
  • Kathy Kallick Band - "Horrible World" (Live Oak Records):  This California-based band doesn't record often enough, in my opinion, and Kathy's band and her records just don't disappoint.
  • Del McCoury Band - "Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass" (McCoury Music):  As if there was ever any doubt.
  • Alan Munde & Billy Bright - "Es Mi Suerte" (Munde's Child Records):  This is the second recording from a banjo legend and a wonderful mandolin picker from Texas.  If you like to listen to all sorts of banjo music, this is the record for you.
  • Junior Sisk - "Brand New Shade Of Blue" (Mountain Fever Records):    Though Junior has disbanded his Rambler's Choice band, he certainly hasn't abandoned his traditional Bluegrass sound.  
  • Special Consensus - "Rivers And Roads" (Compass Records):  Another solid effort from this Chicago-based band.
  • Various - "Epilogue:  A Tribute To John Duffey" (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings):  With 50+ musicians paying tribute to one of the most colorful characters in the history of Bluegrass Music, how can you go wrong?  Project co-producer Akira Otsuka spent many years matching performer to song, and has done an outstanding job recreating and making new many terrific tunes from both the Country Gentlemen and Seldom Scene song catalogs.  
  • Various - "Gonna Sing, Gonna Shout:  Bluegrass Gospel From The Pen Of Rick Lang" (Billy Blue Records):  The New Hampshire songwriter wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on this record, which is one of the first two recordings issued by a brand new label in the Bluegrass World, Billy Blue Records.
  • Roland White & Friends - "A Tribute To The Kentucky Colonels" (Mountain Home):  Just as the title says, the Bluegrass Hall of Famer (with a little help from his friends) pays tribute to his former band with brothers Clarence and Eric White.
Happy New Year!!

Amy O.

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