Thursday, August 18, 2011

This Week in Sugar Hill History - James McMurtry "Walk Between the Raindrops"

13 Years ago (way back in 1998), Sugar Hill released the roots, country album "Walk Between the Raindrops" by James McMurtry.

Singer/songwriter James McMurtry, son of novelist Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove), seems to have inherited his father's knack for weaving a story with memorable characters, the aural equivalent of a page-tuner. McMurtry's tales of lovers, losers, wanderers and rebels trying to make their way through America's heartland are as rich with detail as anything by Faulkner or Capote. "Soda and Salt" is a darkly amusing tale of a rebel-without-a-cause--at the grade school level. The snaking, sardonic mid-tempo rocker "Racing to the Red Light" is a slice-of-life about a guy desperate to escape Nowheresville, USA, where most others seem content--or have just given up. Stylistically and vocally, McMurtry recalls Loudon Wainwright III (earthy but with a dry, wry wit), Lou Reed (if Reed had grown up in the Midwest) and John Mellencamp (catchy rock and roll with a keen awareness of the American working class and an affinity for folk and country). His tunes have subtle melodies and touches (like the Irish folk-tinge in "Every Little Bit Counts")--they don't hit you over the head, but instead get under your skin, like you're getting to know the people he's singing about. McMurtry's songs stay with you long after the player reads "0:00."

Buy the album here

This Week in Sugar Hill History - Walk Between the Raindrops by Sugar Hill Records

Friday, August 5, 2011

Elements of a Bluegrass song

After looking back each week at a different Sugar Hill album. The high council of bluegrass has been able to construct a graph depicting the four main elements of a bluegrass song. This graph is a toll that should be used to help determine if an artist, suspected of being bluegrass, qualifies or not. At least one song on each album should include a part of the elements of a bluegrass song. Lonesome could include missing a loved one such as Momma, or their dear girl. Death could be figurative, although a more accurate designation would be a person killed by the singer like in "Banks of the Ohio". Trains are trains and there is no leniency on that issue. G runs are a must, but as any bluegrass musician knows G runs come in all shapes and sizes which is why they comprise such a large percentage. As long as they are included, the song and artist are permitted to be labeled Bluegrass pending they fit the qualifications for elements of a bluegrass wardrobe, instrument, and lifestyle. Below is a short selection of Sugar Hill songs that we feel represent some of these elements. 

Elements of a Bluegrass Song by Sugar Hill Records