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!