february 2009

thumbnailALBUM SPOTLIGHT: Theresa Andersson, HUMMINGBIRD, GO!
By Billy Altman
I'm sure everyone is familiar with the term "Everything but the kitchen sink." But on her delightful new CD Hummingbird, Go! (her second album, with an EP squeezed in between the two), Theresa Andersson works the concept not only figuratively, but literally as well. Not only does this album feature such an eclectic array of manipulated instruments and stray percussion objects that it sounds like it came out of a musicmaking utility drawer, but it was actually recorded in Andersson's own kitchen.

ALBUM SPOTLIGHT: Rachel Unthank And The Winterset, THE BAIRNS
By Christopher Hill
Already hailed as the new voice of British folk in their native land (they won the BBC Horizon Award and Mojo magazine's prize for best folk album of the year) the Unthank sisters, Rachel and Becky, and their backup musicians, the Winterset, are a dash of icy Northumbrian water in the face of those whose last memories of British folk are Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. The last generation's cavalcade of mumming, maypole dancing, neo-pagan, ale and acid-inspired folk-rockers stops here. You will find no jigs and reels on Rachel Unthank and the Winterset's newest album, The Bairns. There are no Child ballads, no Tam Lin, no fairies, no Samhain in the Unthank's Northumberland. The '60s and '70s folk-rockers saw the native British tradition as the door to Merry pagan Olde England. The Unthank sisters would not be at home there. But there is vision here.

thumbnailRicky Gene Hall & The Goods, BAM!
Listen, you have to take a guy seriously who funds his musical endeavors by driving a semi packed full of pig feed.

Danny Kalb is back in a big way, demonstrating undiminished vitality on electric and acoustic guitar and, perhaps to the surprise of some, using his weathered, conversational voice to great effect to get at the heart of his collection of original and evergreen tunes. There really isn't any style he tries here that doesn't come across as honest and deeply felt—no preservationist he, but rather a flesh and blood troubadour who feels these songs in his marrow.

thumbnailThompson Ward, PORCH FUNK
On their impressive debut album, Mississippi-born and -bred Steve Thompson and Bryan Ward fuse the best elements of Magnolia State groove to horn-infused Memphis and Macon rock 'n' soul, the better to carry the message of carefully crafted lyrics gracefully balancing the playful and the provocative. Both being men of deep faith and unconditional love of family and friends, Thompson and Ward recognize that actions have consequences, so their narratives typically acknowledge this immutable fact. But let's not get too heavy here: Porch Funk goes down easy; it's not didactic—you can take what you want from the messages and TW won't begrudge you your interpretations—it's a downright soul shaking, swamp-infested, righteously gospelized, gutbucket, steamrolling, good humored but serious minded musical juggernaut designed to get the house rockin' and stinkin' with profusely sweating bodies

Recent Issues

(For all back issues go to the Archive)


Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (www.johnmendelsohn.com)
Website Design: Kieran McGee (www.kieranmcgee.com)
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY; www.flickr.com/audreyharrod), Alicia Zappier (New York)
E-mail: thebluegrassspecial@gmail.com
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024