november 2009

SAM BUSH, Circles Around Me— Being a solo artist has not been the main focus of Sam Bush’s long career, as is evident by this, only the seventh such album bearing his name alone above the marquee. But what a career it’s been.

EMMITT-NERSHI BAND, New Country Blues— At the confluence of Leftover Salmon and the String Cheese Incident arises the Emmitt-Nershi Band, headed by multi-instrumentalists/songwriters Drew Emmitt, he of LS, and former String Cheeser Bill Nershi. Seeking to craft something tradition-rooted but apart from standard progressive fare, the two band mates have found a niche to call their own out of the gate.

RICKY SKAGGS, Solo: Songs My Dad Loved— Say this about Ricky Skaggs: when he decides to do a solo record and leave his awe-inspiring Kentucky Thunder home, he really does a solo album. On Solo: Songs My Dad Loved, Skaggs plays and overdubs a dozen instruments, all acoustic save for the Danelectro electric bass, and overdubs his own voice when he needs to harmonize with someone.

RALPH STANLEY, Can’t You Hear The Mountains Calling— As Marty Robbins once sang, “Some mem’ries just won’t die.” So it is, to our great benefit as listeners and fans, with this stirring album from Ralph Stanley and one of his finest iterations of Clinch Mountain Boys, which is saying something in and of itself.

YONDER MOUNTAIN STRING BAND, The Show— Yonder Mountain String Band prides itself on being a bit out there, uninterested in perpetuating traditional bluegrass templates long since perfected by others but rather taking their cue to be daring from the music’s visionary giants—think Bill Monroe, think Jimmy Martin, think Del McCoury; and not least of all, think of early, challenging punk bands.

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