Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Del McCoury Band

American Legacies

McCoury Music/Preservation Hall Recordings

PHJB-McCouryDixieland meets bluegrass: Right off the bat, the fact that both use banjo comes to mind. But imagining the result of such a union isn’t easy.

It might sound like bluegrass with horns. Or it could sound like Dixieland with mandolin and fiddle. On “American Legacies,” it sounds like a little of both.

When the Del McCoury Band collaborated with PHJB for “After You’ve Gone” on last year’s benefit album “Preservation,” the result was so good that McCoury’s group felt like it was just the beginning. This is the result of their muse being followed.

Attempts at fusing the two genres are not exactly without precedence: In 1971, the Kinks employed the Mike Cotton Sound to add brass to their countrified classic, “Muswell Hillbillies.” The relationship spilled over to the followup, 1972’s “Everybody’s in Showbiz.” More overt attempts at blending bluegrass with Dixieland include Pete Wernick’s group Live Five (later called Flexigrass) and Larry Keel’s BlueBrass Project. But “American Legacies” is the first time a full-on Dixieland band has made an album with a bluegrass group.

McCoury is no stranger to collaboration: In 1999, his group joined forces with Steve Earle to create the album “The Mountain.” Likewise with PHJB, whose “Preservation” contained a different collaborator on each track, including Merle Haggard, Pete Seeger, Dr. John, Tom Waits, Jim James, Jason Isbell, Richie Havens, Blind Boys of Alabama and Buddy Miller.

“American Legacies’ ” dozen new and old numbers offer plenty of adventure. Two instrumentals, “Mullensburg Joys” and “Banjo Frisco,” provide endless parades of solos. “The Sugar Blues” and “One Has My Name” put the spotlight on trumpet-fiddle interplay. “Jambalaya” has a rocksteady tuba beat tempered by Caribbean-style percussion. “I’ll Fly Away’s” gospel beginning gives way to “Saints”-style Dixieland before morphing into four-part bluegrass harmony and then back to gospel.

And it’s not all built around McCoury’s lead vocals, either — in true democratic spirit, PHJB vocalists Mark Braud and Clint Maedgen get to sing nearly as often, affording an even deeper exploration of the project’s possibilities.gnm_end_bug

1. The Band’s In Town
2. One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)
3. Shoeshine Blues
4. Banjo Frisco
5. A Good Gal
6. Jambalaya
7. I’ll Fly Away
8. You Don’t Have To Be A Baby To Cry
9. The Sugar Blues
10. Mullensburg Joys
11. 50/50 Chance
12. One More ‘Fore I Die

Total time: 47:12

External links
DMB’s website
PHJB’s website
iTunes Store

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One Man Show

SCI Fidelity

30dbThere’s been no shortage of jam bands in the post-Grateful Dead era: Blues Traveler, Phish, moe., String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee and Widespread Panic, as well as countless “newgrass” groups including Railroad Earth, Yonder Mountain String Band and Blueground Undergrass.

A few recently have displayed a balance of quality musicianship, arrangement, restraint and vocals that places them in the same league as the good ol’ Dead.

Widespread Panic, for one; witness their latest, “Dirty Side Down.” But another, unexpected outfit is 30db: a side project consisting of Umphrey’s McGee guitarist Brendan Bayliss; Yonder Mountain String Band mandolinist Jeff Austin; North Mississippi Allstars drummer Cody Dickinson; Hot Rize guitarist Nick Forster; and Open Road bassist Eric Thorin.

The brainchild of Bayliss and Austin, 30db’s sound is driven by Bayliss’ electric guitar and Austin’s equally weighted mandolin, which at any minute could be serving a lead, rhythm or harmony function. The combination makes for a fresh approach in a genre that’s been slightly stale of late.

Trading off lead vocals from song to song, the two sing of something found to be in common after their paths crossed on the road enough times, something that was the catalyst for forming the group: recent breakups with significant others.

Despite such downer subject matter, the disc manages to be upbeat, rocking and — first and foremost — jamming!gnm_end_bug

1. One Man Show
2. Always Up
3. Susanah
4. Liar
5. Backfire
6. Automatic
7. Lick #6
8. Grave
9. Return Item
10. Instrumental In D
11. Get In Line
12. One More
13. Wadmala
14. Backbone

Total time: 47:30

External links
artist’s website
iTunes Store

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The Black Crowes

Before the Frost … Until the Freeze

Silver Arrow

crowesIf Warners Bros. Records were still around — that is, the late-1960s/early ’70s version that nurtured artists and allowed them to experiment and evolve unfettered by corporate formulas and quotas — the Black Crowes no doubt would be on it.

If the Crowes had been around in 1969-75, they would have fit right in alongside such acts as the Beau Brummels, Van Morrison, Faces, Grateful Dead, Ry Cooder, Little Feat and Tony Joe White.

The recent addition of Luther Dickinson (slide guitarist extraordinaire for the North Mississippi Allstars) is the best thing to happen to the group in a long time, giving it a country-blues edge just when it needed to reinvent itself after a four-year sabbatical. Dickinson also brings wisdom to the table via his late father Jim, who produced many of Warner’s best bands in its heyday.

Brimming with newfound confidence after their return to form on last year’s “Warpaint,” the reconstituted Brothers Robinson and Co. recorded five nights of gigs in front of a handpicked audience in February and March at Levon Helm’s barn. They culled two discs’ worth of new material and released half as the CD “Before the Frost …” with a code to download the remaining “… Until the Freeze.”

Others have released double albums for the price of one, and the Crowes aren’t the first to release a new batch of songs as live tracks. But it’s probably safe to say they’re the first to do both simultaneously.

More of a standard Crowes album, “Frost” includes “Good Morning Captain,” which could pass as a lost Little Feat song somewhere between their first two albums; the Grateful Dead-like “Houston Don’t Dream About Me”; and the Beatlesque “And the Band Played On.”

But it’s “Freeze” that’s the real treat, chock-full of bluegrass and country indulgence. The instrumental “Aimless Peacock” is reminiscent of Loggins and Messina jams like on “Pathway to Glory” and “Be Free.” Bluegrass is even more prevalent on “Garden Gate,” bringing to mind Jim Lauderdale’s work with Ralph Stanley or Steve Earle’s collaboration with the Del McCoury Band. And “Roll Old Jeremiah” is as good a slice of country-rock as anything from Poco, Pure Prairie League or New Riders of the Purple Sage.

Multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell sat in throughout the shows, embellishing select songs with his formidable banjo, fiddle and pedal steel work.gnm_end_bug

1. Good Morning Captain
2. Been A Long Time (Waiting On Love)
3. Appaloosa
4. A Train Still Makes A Lonely Sound
5. I Ain’t Hiding
6. Kept My Soul
7. What Is Home
8. Houston Don’t Dream About Me
9. Make Glad
10. And The Band Played On
11. Last Place That Love Lives
… UNTIL THE FREEZE (free download)
1. Aimless Peacock
2. Shady Grove
3. Garden Gate
4. Greenhorn
5. Shine Along
6. Roll Old Jeremiah
7. Lady Of Avenue A
8. So Many Times
9. Fork In The River

Total time: 1:40:56

External links
artist’s website
iTunes Store

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Andy Hall

Sound of the Slide Guitar

Sugar Hill

This is the second solo album for Hall, resonator guitarist (dobroist) for emerging “new” bluegrass band The Infamous Stringdusters. Recorded mostly live in the studio, it boasts eight instrumental and three vocal tracks, on which Hall sings lead. He plays a mahogany Meredith resonator, a 1929 National squareneck Style 2 Tricone, a Bear Creek Hawaiian and a koa Harper resonator.

Eight of the album’s tracks are originals, including the vocal number “One More Moment Here With You”; he also sings on “Deep Elem Blues” and Mark Simos’ “Fresh Flowers.” The third cover song is Norman Blake’s instrumental “Green Light on the Southern/Bony Crossing the Alps.”

There’s much to like on this album, for bluegrass fans and nonfans. Standouts include speed-pickin’ numbers “Velocity” and “The Chase,” as well as dobro duet “Circle the Sun,” mandolin duet “C-Bops (Special Ops)” and the unaccompanied Blake cover.

Lending their support are guitarists David Grier and Tim Stafford; fellow dobro player Rob Ickes; banjoist Noam Pikelny; drummer Tom Giampietro; and Hall’s fellow Stringdusters.

1. Resurrection Bay
2. The Chase
3. Paples Blues
4. Circle The Sun
5. Deep Elem Blues
6. Velocity
7. Fresh Flowers
8. C-Bops (Special Ops)
9. Always You
10. One More Moment Here With You
11. Green Light On The Southern/Bony Crossing The Alps

Total time: 40:59

External links
artist’s link
iTunes Store

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Blueground Undergrass



In their previous incarnation, experimental bluegrass outfit BGUG had a six-piece lineup that included pedal steel. But the group broke up in 2002 after four years and three albums, leaving peers Yonder Mountain String Band, Railroad Earth and the now-defunct Leftover Salmon to kick out the jams.

About a year and a half ago, banjoist/leader Jeff “The Reverend” Mosier reformed the band as a five-piece, leaving out the pedal steel. Back for more on “Faces” is original fiddler David Blackmon, who’s played for everyone from Jerry Reed to Widespread Panic. New guitarist Matthew Williams, formerly of Capt. Soularcat, brings more rock to the sound as well as five tunes to the record. Bassist Francisco Fattoruso (son of Argentine keyboardist Hugo) plays a mean five-string but apparently for the album only. Matt Cowley, from another Mosier group, the Ear Reverants, is in the drummer’s seat.

The Reverend contributed three tracks: “Ole Love Ole Tune,” featuring Col. Bruce Hampton (ret.) and Jimmy Herring, two of Mosier’s old bandmates from the Aquarium Rescue Unit; “Clock Goes On”; and the title track, a song that he says came out “in one piece” after he nearly drowned.

Rounding out the set are cover songs of Guy Clark (“Dublin Blues”), Ralph Stanley (“Clinch Mountain Backstep”), Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter (“Black Muddy River”) and Bill Danoff (“Potter’s Wheel”).

1. Faces
2. Dublin Blues
3. In This Life
4. Our Feet
5. Feel At Home
6. Clock Goes On
7. Like Discovering The Ocean
8. Renee
9. Potter’s Wheel
10. Clinch Mountain Backstep
11. Ole Love Ole Tune
12. Black Muddy River 

Total time: 1:04:03

External Links
artist’s link


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