Thursday, November 1, 2012

This Week in Sugar Hill History - "West Textures" (1989)

    An extraordinary songwriter and musician, Robert Earl Keen Jr. debuted his third solo album, "West Textures" on November 5, 1989. This album marked Keen's third outing and is a beautiful collection of tunes, most of which are original compositions. Like Nanci Griffith and Steve Earle, Keen's style lies somewhere between alternative country and contemporary folk. Filled with acoustic guitar, Dobro, fiddle, mandolin, accordion, and upright bass, "West Texture" is a consistently enjoyable collection of standout tracks.

Get the album from iTunes here or from Amazon here. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

This Week in Sugar Hill History - "The Grass is Blue" (1999)

    On October 26, 1999, Dolly Parton released her first album with Sugar Hill Records, entitled "The Grass is Blue," and began a beautiful relationship with bluegrass music. It was inevitable that Parton would eventually go all the way back to the mountains with a bluegrass project. A child of the southern Appalachians, Parton would have absorbed this music straight through her skin during her formative years. And, indeed, her performance on this CD is impeccable, as is her choice of material. She convinced her producer that Billy Joel's "Travelin' Prayer" and Blackfoot's hard-rocking "Train, Train" could work as bluegrass songs and, sure enough, they did. She also reached into the traditional folk repertoire and crafted a beautiful, haunting version of "Silver Dagger." Parton shows a terrific knack for this genre and, as always, her approach was a bit eccentric, but that's one of her gifts as a musician. She's always followed her own muse; this time it led her to a singular interpretation of bluegrass that was one of the important bluegrass releases of 1999.

Get the album from iTunes here or from Amazon here. Enjoy!

Friday, October 19, 2012

This Week in Sugar Hill History - "Skip, Hop, and Wobble" (1993)

   19 years ago this week, on October 15, 1993, Jerry Douglas teamed up with Russ Barenberg and Edgar Meyer to collaborate on what would be one of the most influential Americana albums of their time: "Skip, Hop, and Wobble." Entirely instrumental, entirely enjoyable, the tracks on this CD run the gamut of musical expression from the humorous play of "Why Don't You Go Back to the Woods" to the slow, beautiful "Hymn to Ordinary Motion." The liner notes discuss the creative process around each song, as well as the group's union, and the challenges and rewards of playing as a trio. Sam Bush does a couple of very nice guest spots on mandolin. If you are tired of the musical simplicity and inane lyrics of much of today's music, this CD cleanses the palate.

Get the album from iTunes here or from Amazon here. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

This Week In Sugar Hill History- "The Great Dobro Sessions" (1994)

On July 15th, 1994, Sugar Hill Records released the album, The Great Dobro Sessions: The Gathering of Resophonic Pickers. The album, noted as one of the most important gatherings of dobro players in the world, featured some of the most influential dobro plays in history, including Oswald Kirby, Josh Graves, Gene Wooten, Jerry Douglas, Mike Aldridge, Stacy Phillips, Curtis Birch, Sally Van Meter, Rob Ickes, and Tut Taylor. The album, produced by Jerry Douglas and Tut Taylor, was praised by legendary guitarist and songwriter, John Fogerty, saying “Dobro… Mysterious… Soulful… Sometimes it sounds like a barefoot boy going down the dirt road to the fishin’ hole. Other times it’s that impossibly beautiful woman that you can never have. In the right hands, as you will hear, it just doesn’t get any better.” With tracks like “Fireball Mail” featuring all of the players together and the classic Beatles tune, “Day Tripper” which gets the bluegrass treatment from none other than the late Gene Wooten himself, this album will have you stompin’ your boot the whole way through.

Get the album from Amazon here.