Since my diagnosis, Sammy Shelor has been kind enough to loan me the theme song, ‘Long Gone,” which is our prayer for all who deal with similar conditions. While it still presents many difficulties, we hope to eventually subtitle it “Gone At Last.” I appreciate your prayers and concerns as we try to make the best out of this we can.
Archive for the ‘Bluegrass CD Pick of the Week’ category
I hope you got there; what a fine festival. In case you missed it; there is a way to see these young folks in the next best venue to live. Darin and Brooke’s new DVD, recorded at the Easter Family studio in Charlotte N.C. is as close to the excitement of a live show as you’re gonna get. Invite over family and friends for popcorn; you can’t go wrong with this DVD.
Go to thier website to order: www.darinandbrookealdridge.com
Darin Aldridge is my “bluegrass young’un.” I have two biological children who I am very close to. Darin has been such a close friend that he is right next to family. He would often drop by the office at lunch to show me a new tune, and taught me a lot of mandolin over the years. I always wanted to do a mandolin duet CD with him, and we are have almost finished with it now.
We recorded with Greg Luck at Riverside Studios, and bless his heart he took the time to work with old Doc and make it right. There are some pics on Darin Aldridge’s FB page of the day at the studio. We still have to mix and master and line up art work etc, but we are close. Like books, CDs take a lot more time than what folks know.
The title of the CD is “The Kid and Dr. B- Mandolin Music Memories and Stories.” As far as I know this will be the only mandolin duet CD which also features story-telling and also a bit of generic medical advice; I always was a little different.
Carmen Claypool from Missouri picked up on the fact that several cuts will serve as a companion CD to “The Mandolin Case.” There has been some talk of a movie. If that ever happened, I hope y’all will lobby for our version of “The Cherokee Shuffle.” Darin and did the mandolin duet and then Darin overdubbed a guitar track and Luck filled in the bass line. We left several cuts spare by design and for a certain effect we wanted, but filled in this cut in case there was ever a soundtrack. Also I had any say in it the “Lost Indian” cut by Wayne and Kristin Scott Benson with Wayne’s super-talented N.C. student Jacob Moore would also make fine soundtrack material.
Of course most of this movie talk is only daydreaming by an old Doc having fun, but the CD is a definite, and we hope to release it in a few months. As far as movies, well, a man has to have his dreams, and I think it is time for another good bluegrass movie, don’t y’all?
All us bluegrass folks are more alike than we are different. The other day I got a CD from a group all the way out in Portland, Oregon, Kathy Boyd and Phoenix Rising. It was a gospel project titled “Walk Humbly.”
Isn’t that a great title? Bluegrass people everywhere tend to be more humble than much of modern society. They are so talented, and yet do not seek celebrity, but play because it is a spiritual thing. I’ll bet they are a lot like the bands I have been in over the years. We did some private parties and shows, but much of it was for nursing homes or schools, or a fund-raiser for some poor soul struck down by illness. We played because our souls could not get by without music.
The CD liner notes and pictures remind me of our people right here in North Carolina. Ms. Boyd is a petite dark-haired lady bass player (as is my wife) surrounded by a trio of tough-looking hombres in cowboy hats and beards. I noticed their fiddle man doubled on the mandolin. Unless the cat can play both of them at the same time, I might just have to sit in with them on the mandolin if we ever get out to Oregon. My favorite was “Faith, Hope, Bluegrass Music.” Those three things sustained me through some very lonesome times in the doc gig, so the band spoke my language with that cut for sure.
Check out their website at www.phoenixrisingband.org
Guys, if you ever tour North Carolina look up old Doc. I’m the one in the straw hat and sunglasses, and I often wear some wild Sam Bush Hawaiian shirt with pineapples on it. I know all the best jam sessions around. One time some folks were in from England to take in MerleFest. We were the opening act for Larry Sparks at Perry’s Auction Barn in Statesville just before the big festival, and someone sent the visitors over to ask me where they could play. They hung out with us and jammed with Charlie Waller at a regional bluegrass hang-out called the Bomb Shelter the next night. They said they liked that better than MerleFest! I’m not always that lucky but we’ve had a great run of it.
I hope to post soon on a North Carolina event coming up this weekend. Rising stars Darin and Brooke Aldridge have their own festival, and it promises to be a dandy. Look over the line-up at www.darinandbrookealdridge.com.
I’ve got some doc paperwork to catch up on, but I’ll be back with some more stories soon. I hope to have an announcement on my book any time now. As my agent says, he’s gonna go out on the patio and switch on the party lights. When he met me he had only a very peripheral knowledge of bluegrass. The good news for us is now he’ll insist on a bluegrass band for the music.
When an old doctor can get an intellectual man to realize bluegrass music is like “Using your Bible for a Road Map” as to how to live life you’ve done something right, but I gotta give Indie all the credit. I learned it from him, and I’m gonna pass it on to you in “The Mandolin Case.”
Talk to you soon.
Darin and Brooke Aldridge’s new CD was expected right after the first of the year. It came in ahead of deadline. I have it on good authority that CrossRoads music just released it.
If you love good music don’t miss these kids. Don’t just take old Doc’s word for it; ask the Nashville crowd. They are in the business and want to find all the best new music. When I was in Nashville I went to Darin and Brooke’s IBMA Showcase. Eddie Stubbs was impressed enough to put them on a live feed to WSM (Grand Ole Opry) radio. I figure he knows a little about it.
I invited my Lit agent to that event because I wanted him to see first hand what all the fuss was about. When he first got involved with me, he knew nothing about this kind of music. He found their vocals and instrumentation spectacular, and took in every one of their shows. When a newcomer stays up to catch the last one at 2:30 in the morning it has to be good. While new to our music, he’s been in the talent search business a long time. He took notes of who was who all day. At the last session, he turned to me and said, “Doc, I notice all the movers and shakers are still here.” He was right.
While their music is based in a traditional style it is also new and different. They sound a bit like the Everlys or the Louvins except one voice is female and one is male. You’ll feel like you’ve never heard anything quite like them and yet feel you’ve heard them all your life.
They now have a booking agent, Andrea Roberts Agency out of Nashville, and have begun to secure gigs on the national circuit for 2010. North Carolina will always be home though, so I want to tell you about their upcoming show. Remember; you heard it here first. (okay, maybe 2nd; they have released the date on their website.)
The CD release party and North Carolina debut for the project will be at the Don Gibson theatre in Shelby, N.C. on Friday night January 22, 2010. Shelby is the home of Don Gibson. It is also the home of Earl Scruggs. The Gibson Theatre is brand new, but has all the earmarks of a potential historic venue.
I believe this will prove to be a historic show. After all, Earl Scruggs and Don Gibson are both Shelby natives. Darin grew up right down the road from Shelby in Cherryville, and Brooke is also a North Carolina native from Avery County. One would have to interpret that the folks from Shelby not only recognize the beauty of traditional based music, but also the value of booking homegrown talent when they break into the national scene. It’s no surprise to regional music insiders the Gibson theater was the chosen venue.
Still, I must tell you there are some folks who contend bluegrass based bands, regardless of how talented, will never have a mass commercial appeal. A lot rides on this show, not so much for Darin and Brooke, but for the North Carolina music scene. The people who love good music and also want to see it (and play) at bigger venues will want this to be a big success. Darin and Brooke are already booked up and down the east coast. The only question that remains is whether the folks in their back yard will understand what is about to happen and get out to support it. My bet is they will. One thing is certain. If we don’t, we’ll have no basis for complaint if the regional powers that be who book music acts decide later they won’t take a chance on our kind of music.
If you know this music I don’t have to convince you to go. If you don’t, give it a try. You will not regret it. This is not your father’s bluegrass. (although I love that t00) If you’re like me and love music but have grown weary of the canned ‘music’ that is put out nowadays with no other mission than to turn a profit, try this instead.
When the Dillards were an unknown Ozarks band (before you knew them as the Darling family on the Andy Griffith show) they decided to test the water and book a show at an area college. It was a big success, and gave them the confidence to strike out for California. I hope we will treat the Aldridges the same way. We need to support our own. If we do, when they get to California they won’t forget us, and they are headed that way.
I am certain they would want you to know 25% of proceeds for this show will go to local area ministries. For the Aldridges, like most bluegrass bands, the gospel is a big part of what they do. These folks don’t just sing the gospel, they do their best to live it.
Here’s how to get a ticket to the show or order their CD. The easiest way right now is to go their website. The link is here: www.darinandbrookealdridge.com. Tickets will also be available at Shelby Music Center. I’m certain they will announce other locations in the near future.
Harvey County is small town America, one of those places where the City Hall is in the back of the Dairy Queen. Even though small in numbers, we have our music ear to the ground in a big way. We hear what’s coming, and want to be a part of it. I’ll have a few tickets at my office. If I’ve ever visited your blog or e-mailed you then you’ll have my personal e-mail. Contact me if you can’t get a hold of a ticket. Johnny’s Jewelry and Pawn will have ‘em too. Harvey County might not be big enough to host a show like this, but we’re progressive enough to see where this is headed.
I’ll see you there. Look for the gray-haired guy. Where there is good music in North Carolina Dr. Tommy Bibey is very likely a face somewhere in the crowd, ’cause no one loves it more.
Y’all go over to my blogroll and click on Darin and Brooke Aldridge’s site. They have a new CD due out soon and some free clips to preview the release. I’m sure they will make your Sunday afternoon very pleasant. I plan to follow-up and tell you more about them soon. Remember old Doc got the scoop for you on this one, ’cause more news will break soon.
Sam Bush is one more rocking right hand mando man. In fact, if you know anyone in the world who lays it down better than Sam please let me know so I can buy all their CDs and study them too. If Doc Watson calls you to cut the mando tracks for your project that shows it all.
Sam’s new CD, ‘Circles Around Me’ speaks to coming full circle. It is Bill Monroe, New Grass, side-man and front-man all wrapped into one disc; a must record for anyone with even the slightest interest in what traditional music is all about. I know it isn’t what Sam meant by the title, ’cause he is not a bragging sort of fellow, but it also hit me that Sam can pick circles around all of us.
When Sam hits the stage he gives it his all. Pretty soon he is drenched in sweat and red-faced. He just ain’t gonna let you show up at his gig and have a bad time. His band is the same way. Sometimes I wonder what drives a man like that, but then I don’t have to look too far. I could never be the kind of mandolin player Sam is (few on the planet are) but as a doc and even in my humble efforts as an artist I always want to give my best. Sam seems to be motivated to do the same.
Writer Larry Nager wrote up an article on Sam in the latest issue of ‘Bluegrass Unlimited.’ If you don’t get BU at least go buy a copy of this one and read this article. I love Sam’s quote at the end.
“It’s interesting, ’cause at age 57, I’m just trying to improve as a player and a singer. And I hope on this new record, it sounds that way to the listener. I’m not satisfied. You hear so many people, especially in this town of Nashville- they just want to be famous; that don’t mean it’s a good thing. I just want to play and sing better, and I don’t think I’m there yet. I’m still searching.” -Sam Bush BU Dec 2009
As good as the cat is, and he is the best, he’s still digging to try and be better. Isn’t that what should drive us all? I think as a doc what I did yesterday doesn’t make a bit of difference if I don’t give my all for my people today. To me that is why the work of an artist like Sam inspires me. It’s also why I worked so hard on my book. I wanted to give it my best effort to show what I believed to be true. Sam does that with his mandolin. I don’t think fame has got a d@^^ thing to do with any of it and I admire him for it.
There’s more I want to tell you, but I gotta go to the doc gig. I’ll edit and publish this in the morning, and I plan one more post on Sam this week. Y’all go take in a Sam Bush show. Take it from this doc; he’s good medicine.
Folks, I have secretly commandeered the studio computer while these guys work. Don’t tell ‘em I let you walk right in.
They are near the end of the session. Everyone is tired and I see a bit more gray hair this week than last week. I want to be the first person on the planet to tell you this will be a groundbreaking CD. I hear country duets here that deserve international exposure.
Darin Aldridge is as much a music perfectionist as I am a Doc. He’s driven to dig deep and give his best; always has been. So is this Salley guy. Every note, each phrase; it has to be right or it won’t fly. Brooke sings in the stratosphere, the harmony is solid down to the last trill, and the instruments ring acoustic true as Darin somehow coaxes out a tone old Doc can’t comprehend.
Read ‘Appetite for Self Destruction.’ The end for business as usual is at hand. The Internet and grass roots word of mouth is gonna free us all, and music will be by musicians and for people. And for my money, that is as it should be. I’m for the artists. They are the ones who move me.
The money folks who have exploited the artists will have to buy a ticket to the show. Don’t worry, they can afford it. Who knows, maybe they’ll come to love the music.
Balsam Range is the pride of the North Carolina mountains. It is hard to believe they could duplicate the magic of their first CD, but they did so. Their second release, ‘Last Train to Kitty Hawk’ re-confirms their position as a nationally acclaimed band.
Whether it is an original like ‘Jack Diamond’ or a Stanley Brothers reissue such as ‘I’m so Lonesome Without You,’ every cut rings true. Buddy Melton can sing any kind of tune, but he delivers the sad ones so lonesome it give me goose bumps on the arms and the hair stands up on the back of my neck. There are breakdowns and gospel numbers, love songs and ballads that tell stories, straight bluegrass and touches of country. While it does not stray too far from traditional, the collection is an acoustic music variety show.
All great bands have diversity, and Balsam Range is no exception. Buddy brings a bluegrass pedigree with a country flair from his days with Jubal Foster. Tim Surrett has played bass with artists as diverse as Tony Rice and the Kingsmen. He is also a bluegrass guy, but I like the hint of Southern Gospel in his lead and harmony vocals.
Mandolinist Darren Nicholson was on the road several years with bluegrass diva Alecia Nuggent, and can play Bill Monroe style or modern bluegrass with equal facility. He also is steeped in classic county, an influence that shows in his work. Marc Pruett has toured with everyone from Lester Flatt to Ricky Skaggs and keeps the bluegrass sound prominent in the mix with his classic banjo work.
An Caleb Smith? I’ve seen this young man stand shoulder to shoulder with Tony Rice. He can trade licks with the best and is also a very effective lead singer. With three who can sing lead the band never falls in a rut. You get something fresh on every track.
With these guys there is something old, something new and forever something blue. Give ‘em a listen.
The link to their website is: www.balsamrange.com
You guys remember how I posted a review of the Darin Aldridge/Brooke Justice project “I’ll Go With You” some time back? I said they were the best thing since sliced bread and more. I know some of you might have thought, “Well, Old Dr. B is just a nice guy, and hopes to help some North Carolina kids.”
Well folks, here it is. Breaking news from Bluegrass Unlimited, Feb 2009, page 47. By the way, BU is the toughest critic in the business. You can count on them for honesty. They have told it like it is for many years. Don’t send them an average project to review unless you want your feelings hurt. And to be 100% certain you understand, this passage is from them, not me. I quote,
“With “I’ll Go With You,” Darin Aldridge and Brooke Justice (recently married in December) have created a magnificent magnum opus that establishes new standards of excellence for bluegrass gospel music. This is a must acquisition for any serious music collection.”
There you have it, and Bluegrass Unlimited out of Warrenton, Virginia, (http://www.bluegrassmusic.com) is the final word on the subject. The full review is in their Feb 2009 issue.
The CD is available from the artists at:
or from the label at www.pinecastle.com
To give you Dr. B’s stamp of authenticity, every serious bluegrass musician in N.C. knew this day was coming for these guys; all we were uncertain of was the timing. When I found my BU in the mailbox late last night, I knew their day was here. From all of us not only in N.C., but the world wide bluegrass community, we send our highest and most heartfelt congratulations. Well done, kids.