november 2008

USEF, Roots Music Association
Reach Out To The Troops

The United States Entertainment Force and Roots Music Association are invested in supporting the families of soldiers who have been wounded overseas. The revenue collected from events such as the World United Music Festival goes directly to the families in need, making the WUMF the only event of its kind in the nation. This year's WUMF is slated for November 14-16 in San Marcos, TX, just off I-35 on Centerpoint Road, behind the Prime Outlet Mall. Some 150 bands will be presented on eight stages during the three-day event.

The United States Entertainment Force (USEF) is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, which dedicates their resources to the Troops and Veterans who have given so much in the name of Freedom and service to our country.

An example of some of the services provided by The USEF:
"We'll Take It From Here" Tour—Reaching over 750,000 Soldiers and Families. A tour of military bases abroad to bring the Soldiers and their families the message of support from home.
The tour aims to:
*Provide soldiers with information about available resources that they can take advantage of now, or as they transition out of the service.
*Provide assistance with, and educate soldiers about transition programs in the areas of: employment opportunities, education, medical assistance, counseling and many others.
*Deliver care packages, canes, and other necessary items.
*Give gifts such as guitars, electronics, holy medals, prayer cards, flags, and so much more.

The USEF is affiliated with more than 350 other organizations, combining the resources necessary to take care of families in need.

Together The USEF and Roots Music Association are helping to give back to the soldiers who serve the United States every day; to support them, to acknowledge them, and to thank them

To learn more about how to get involved with The USEF, visit For more info on the World United Music Festival, visit For more information on the Roots Music Association, visit, and while you're there, cast your vote in the Roots Music Awards 2008 balloting.

Cover story: Interview: Hal Ketchum: A Sense Of Where He Is
By David McGee

From his 1988 debut on Threadbare Alibis to his new album Father Time, Hal Ketchum has remained true to a set of themes, holding true to what the legendary country songwriter Harlan Howard told him early on: "Write what you have a sense about." Those themes, broadly, have been the tumultuous experience of love in all its forms, from the obsessive to the toxic to the exalted; the burden of dreams; and the universal lessons gleaned from a rich, complicated family history. It was way past time to check in with Ketchum and discuss Father Time in specific and the journey he's been on in general.

Keep On Believin': Joe Louis Walker Is A Witness To The Blues. Ask Him.
By David McGee

If you're looking for a straight answer, Joe Louis Walker is not your man. Oh, he's truthful in his responses, straight in that sense. But how he gets to the point is, well, roundabout. There's no prevarication about what the meaning of "is" is, but to ask a question of Joe Louis Walker is to embark on a journey. He'll address the topic at hand directly but, being big on context, he takes his interlocutor into the deeper history that brought him to a particular point in time. A chat about his powerful new album, Witness To The Blues, proves the point.

The Gospel Set: Murry Oldham: Next Stop: Salvation
By David McGee

A statement by Murry Hammond about Murry Hammond, I Don't Know Where I'm Going... is a stark, spare chronicling of spiritual longing on a spiritual journey that winds up in a place of spiritual renewal. Almost all of the songs center on or reference travel via steel rail, making it clear that Hammond, a railroad aficionado, sees the Iron Horse as the ideal vehicle for carrying him to his spiritual salvation.

In Concert: John Hammond's Real Blues In T-Town
By David McGee

John Hammond pulled into Tulsa's The Blank Slate on October 9 and took his audience on a vivid trip through his, and the blues', history.

Crossing Over: Remembering the Four Tops' Levi Stubbs, Motown's Norman Whitfield, and soul singer Dee Dee Warwick

Album Spotlight: The Earl Brothers, MOONSHINE
The pattern has been for the San Francisco-based Earl Brothers (Robert Earl Davis on banjo and lead vocals; Danny Morris on guitar and tenor vocals; Larry Hughes on mandolin and an occasional lead vocal; James Touzel on bass) to emerge every two years and deliver another knockout punch with a new album. It happened in 2004 with Whiskey, Women & Death, again in 2006 with Troubles to Blame, and now, in 2008, with Moonshine. When listening to the Earls' songs, you find yourself checking the songwriter credits, thinking this one or that one must be about a hundred years old. But no, they're all original here.

Album Spotlight: Elvin Bishop, THE BLUES ROLLS ON
Don't look now but Elvin Bishop has cut not only one of the best blues album of this or any other year, but one of the best blues albums he's ever been part of, going back to the Butterfield Blues Band days. That's a seriously deep thing to say, but it's true.

Toby Keith's new album is masterfully conceived in its technical elements and arrangements, played with conviction and subtlety, and thoughtfully considered in its storytelling; however, these attributes would be for naught were it not for Keith's deeply invested vocal performances suggesting a heightened level of emotion in play. Deep feelings cut deep. Alone among many a good Toby Keith recordings, That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy has the feel of something more than a mere Album of the Year. It's destined to be an enduring classic, any way you cut it.


Charlie Haden Family & Friends, RAMBLING BOY by Billy Altman
Rambling Boy is a truly remarkable return-to-roots collection which, as the title implies, finds the eminent bassist Charlie Haden surrounded by a dazzling array of singers and instrumentalists ranging from Rosanne Cash, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Dan Tyminski, Jerry Douglas, Bruce Hornsby and Pat Matheny to Haden's own gifted family: his daughters, singing triplets Rachel, Petra and Tanya; his son Josh; and wife Ruth Cameron.

This clawhammer collection, encompassing 15 tracks released on albums between 1971 and 2001, and five previously unissued cuts of more recent vintage (1996-2001), finds a lively, unbridled Stanley tearing through a batch of mostly traditional numbers with various lineups of Clinch Mountain Boys getting their two cents' worth in as well. For those unfamiliar with the relentless drive of clawhammer picking, here's a crash course in it as taught by the master; for those well acquainted with the technique, prepare to be struck dumb by the virtuosity Stanley and his bandmates exhibit at every turn.

Ralph Stanley II, THIS ONE IS TWO
On the fifth album of his solo career, Ralph Stanley II makes his strongest case yet for stepping out of his legendary father's long shadow and being considered on his own merits. This One Is Two consolidates the strengths of the previous four solo efforts-strong songs, emotionally fired vocals, superior musicianship-and adds Stanley's own assured presence as his own man.

In 1999 Columbia/Legacy enhanced the legend of Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison concert by releasing an expanded edition featuring an additional three tracks not included on the original pressing, as well as updated liner note reflections by Cash himself and Steve Earle. What really happened at Folsom Prison on January 13, 1968, however, has been long rumored but unheard by the general public, rarely even by Cash's most intimate friends. Welcome to the Legacy Edition of Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison, which corrects the imperfect record of the events that occurred on a prison's stage occupied by Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Carl Perkins, the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers and the Tennessee Three and edited into a single, seamless and overpowering live album that catapulted Cash into the top tier of American artists of his time, a lofty perch he commanded to the end of his days.


It's way past time for a tribute to Son House, and who better to bring it to life than the veteran blues woman Rory Block? Not only is she a much honored blues artist herself, but she knew the man-as a 15-year-old budding musician, she met and played for the then-newly rediscovered Delta blues giant in 1965, following one of his shows at the Village Gate in New York. Were he still with us, Son would surely approve of this record as much as he did of Block's artistry way back when.

Chris James and Patrick Rynn, STOP AND THINK ABOUT IT
Veterans of the Blue Four and Rob Stone and the C Notes, and in-demand session players as well, hotshot guitarist/vocalist Chris James and his stellar bass playing buddy Patrick Rynn consolidate nearly two years' of immersion in the blues, Chicago style, into this, their impressive duo debut on record. Working with a dazzling supporting cast of bandmates, James and Rynn blend five of their own well-turned original tunes with seven impeccably chosen covers, four of which are by one of their mutual heroes, Elmore James, which in and of itself says you need to check this out.

This exemplary new box set will find its biggest audience among Orbison completists, who now, at last, have a career chronicle embracing not only the pre-Sun years through the Monument years, as do most other Orbison overviews, but also touches down in the '70s and '80s when he was doing good work on MGM, Elektra/Asylum and, of course, Virgin (when he was produced by Jeff Lynne, T Bone Burnett and, for only one cut but the best of the lot ["She's a Mystery to Me"], Bono), and adds some extra flavoring on Disc 4 by including cuts from the Class of '55 (with Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis) and Traveling Wilburys projects, along with three Orbison songs used in recent films plus a previously unreleased live version of "It's Over." The other big advantage this box has over the 1988 version is vastly improved sonics, producer Gregg Geller and mastering engineer Vic Anesini adding to their exemplary record of restoring fading treasures to state of the art audio standards.

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters: RADIO HOPE
Tommy Emmanuel: CENTER STAGE

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