Here he comes once more, Mr. Jack Dumery, one of the finest connoisseurs in Country music of our time. Jack is often in correspondance with artists, and he has the knack to find the more obscure, although the best talented ones.
Nuff said, here is his turn.
Over the years Charlie Thompson has always been known for the high quality of his live performances all over Europe as well as for his first-class recordings.
His latest release, « THE FOOTHILL SESSIONS’, available on CD/LP, is only here to confirm that he is a true master of Rockabilly and Hillbilly music.
Recorded in Pasadena, California, Charlie is strongly supported by top-notch musicians. We find here TK.SMITH (lead-guitar), JERRY WAKEFIELD (steel-guitar), WALLY HERSON (string-bass and also producer of the sessions), DAVE STUCKEY (drums), BOBBY FURGO (fiddle) and CARL SONNY LEYLAND (piano), a dream band if any.
« A blue million tears« download Charlie has selected 12 songs in the 50’s Hillbilly repertoire, every track a real gem whether strong boppers like « The Automobile Song » (Luke McDaniels), or « Boogie Blues » (Earl Peterson) or beautiful weepers like « A Blue Million Tears » (Carl Butler) and « I Miss You Already » (Marvin Rainwater/Faron Young). Charlie put his own touch and sensibility to the songs while every single note from the musicians is a perfect delight for the ears of the listeners. « THE FOOTHILL SESSIONS » is probably one of the best releases for 2015.
CHARLIE THOMPSON won « Best Honky Tonk Male Singer » at the Ameripolitan Music Awards 2016 » in Austin, Texas, on February 16, 2016, being the first European to win.
Flatt & Scruggs, along with Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers or Jimmy Martin were among the pioneers of traditional Bluegrass music. After playing along side Bill Monroe, Lester and Earl started their own band, The Foggy Mountain Boys, in 1948. Josh Graves joined the outfit in 1955, first as a bass player but soon switched to dobro which was then to become a defining feature of the Bluegrass sound.
Jerry Douglas, acknowledged to be the finest dobro player around these days, has put together a handful of super pickers, known as the Earls of Leicester, to pay homage to the sound of Flatt & Scruggs : SHAWN CAMP (famous singer/songwriter in Nashville), CHARLIE CUSHMAN (banjo), TIM O’BRIEN (mandolin), JOHNNY WARREN (fiddle) is himself the son of Paul Warren, a member of the Foggy Mountain Boys and BARRY POSS (string-bass).
We return to the roots of Bluegrass music with 14 classics from the Flatt & Scruggs songbook like « I’ll Go Stepping Too », « On My Mind », « Dim Lights, Thick Smoke », « You’re Not a Drop In The Bucket ».
Jim Dickerson is a Memphis singer/guitarist well known for his work with the North Mississippi All Stars and the South Memphis String Band. The Wandering is his latest project for which he has assembled the talents of four female mid-south vocalists/instrumentalists. SHANNON McNALLY (voice/guitar), VALERIE JUNE (vocal/banjo/guitar), AMY LA VERE (vocal/string bass) and SHARDE THOMAS (vocal/fife/drums). DICKERSON plays various guitars and sing harmonies on this recording.
« Mr. Spaceman« download The song selection, ’Sittin’ On Top Of The World’, opens with a quite unusual fife part played by Sharde who is probably one of the last fife players in the vanishing fife and drum tradition. Her vocal on this all-time Blues (and also Country) classic shines and she also leads an excellent version of the Gospel « Glory, Glory » with harmonies from her partners. Amy La Vere turns the Byrd’s classic « Mr Spaceman » into a jug band number full with a kazoo break, slapped string bass, Shannon’s duet vocal and Valerie’s harmonies. Shannon McNally gives a real cowboy ballad with «Outlaw » including yodel and sweet melody. Her version of «Lovin’ Him Was The Easier Thing » is without doubt the best version ever heard with a true country sound. Valerie June handles classics such as « Old Joe Clark », « You Are My Sunshine » and « In The Pines ».
« If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day » comes from the repertoire of Blues giant Robert Johnson and Valerie gives a new life to the song. The work of all those talents, vocally and instrumentally, in the Folk, Blues or Rock fields is a true success and a second volume would be much welcome.
Hear Mr Dickinson ?
Michael Hurtt’s first CD ‘Come Back to Louisiana’ was released in 2006 on the Allons label from New Orleans. Now it’s time to bring more Hurtt music to sink your teeth into. Hurtt moved to Detroit, Michigan, after hurricane Katrina hit south Louisiana in 2005. He was followed by JD Mark (lead/baritone guitars) leaving other members of the band spread around.
Early 2013 original members of the Haunted Hearts met again in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to record this new project. Michael (vocal/guitar), JD Mark (guitars), Mitch Palmer (electric/steel guitars), John Trahey (string bass) with the addition of Detroit Lonely Charles (drums). The sessions led to a perfect selection of Rockabilly and Honky-Tonk material including original songs mostly written by Michael, from the opening track « Searching For Shadows » which gives the color of the whole CD with hot vocal and lead-guitar to « This Heart is Haunted», a Louisiana colored ballad.
In between, « Rambler’s Blues » with its tribute to Jimmie Skinner, superb rockabilly; « I’ll Put The Finger On You » on which recording engineer Erik Alderink shows he can handle the lead-guitar as a true master. « You Don’t Have To Tell Me The Night Is Long » with its shadow of the Johnny Cash sound, and another Louisiana type ballad « This Heart Is Haunted ».
Covers include « Breaking Hearts » (Bill Browning), the obscure « I’ll Move Along » (Red Lewis), « My Hamtrack Baby » (Ray Taylor) and, last but not least, one of the best Rockabillies ever «Teardrops Valley » (The Lonesome Drifter). Unfortunately, JD Mark passed away in July 11, 2013, a few months after these sessions were held in Ann Arbor (RIP).
The Steeldrivers « Reckless » Rounder 0624-2 (2010)
Steeldrivers’ singer (Chris Stapleton) left the group and his replacement, Gary Nichols, will be in Craponne. Stapleton, beside being a good vocalist, is first a Nashville songwriter. One can surely see this new group on YouTube. I prefer personnally the fiddle player Tammy Rogers (already seen in Nashville, and 2 times in Paris) and Mike Henderson, mandolin and, most of all,dobro.
Better sides of this hybrid bluegrass band : the powerful fast « The Reckless Side Of Me », the bluesy (great dobro) « Peacemaker », the lively classic bluegrass sound of « Guitars, Whiskey, Guns and Knives » and the haunting (fine vocal by Stapleton) « Ghosts Of Mississipi ». Buy it in confidence !
Tim Hus « Hockeytown » Stony plain (2010)
Tim is a Canadian honky-tonk singer, whose compositions are very promising and interesting. The instrumentation is of classic origin, even comprising accordion (« North Atlantic Trawler ») and the inspiration includes references to trucker’s culture (« Canadian Pacific »). Also noticed were « Picture Butte Charlie », classic honky-tonk sound, and the « Talkin’ Saskatoon Blues ». An artist to look for in the future !
A duet (Nadine on vocal and guitar, Stephen on banjo and fiddle) who offer a cajun pot-pourri of old, traditional songs as well as personal compositions. I like Nadine’s high-pitched vocal in « Parlez-nous A Boire » (Invite us to drink), or the good « Les Oiseaux Vont Chanter » (The birds are going to sing). I picked up « Un Ange Pour Toute La Louisiane» (An angel for all Louisiana) too, and the fine instrumental fiddle-led « Brown’s Dream ». Really don’t know if they are used musicians on CD, but felt it a bit monotonous in term of paces and rhythm guitar styling. Maybe a duet to look for in the future.
Eileen Jewell presents Butcher Holler « A Tribute To Loretta Lynn » Signature Sounds (2010)
This is a difficult task of paying tribute to an icon of Country music of the ’70s to the ’90s, but Eileen Jewell (vocal) does it fairly well. Actually her versions of Lynn’s songs may even sound better than the originals, according to Jack Dumery ! I believe him, me being not familiar with Loretta Lynn’s music. Anyway, I particularly liked « Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind »), with Eileen’s assured vocal over a crisp lead-guitar. Other goodies do include « I’m A Honky Tonk Girl », with love gone wrong lyrics which seem suited to Loretta’s image. Let’s also take a listen to the nice shuffler « A Man I Hardly Know » or the good « Deep As Your Pocket », and I’m ending with « You’re Lookin’ At Country », a great Honky tonk song in its own right. A very fine CD, you surely enjoy if you ever decide to pick it.
Pokey Lafarge & Soul City Three « River Boat Soul » Free Dirt Records (2010). Takoma Park, MD
This is entirely something else. Back to roots music and « jazz manouche ». Pokey and his band do offer a large amount of happy old-time music, be it traditional songs (« Claude Jones » or « Sweet Potato Blues ») or own compositions like « Daffodil Blues ». I felt like their sound of traditional instruments, like kazoo, mouth harp, banjo and acoustic guitar. All selections are taken at brisk tempos, even the blues songs. I noticed the slower « Bag Of Bones », full of laziness. A very nice record I recommend to old-time music lovers. But the other people will enjoy it too !
This is Jack Dumery’s new chronicle. Jack kindly chose the CDs and sent them , allowing me to review them with an open ear. And I found in the batch some real treasures in various styles, honky tonk, cajun or gospel hillbilly. Although I don’t have Jack’s writing abilities to English, I hope to pass round the pleasure I had discovering the CDs.
Jack left, Xavier (bopping editor) right - Attignat, 2008
MICHAEL JEROME BROWNE & The Twin Rivers String Band (Borealis Records)
On this 2004 release, MJB shows his eclectism is american roots music. His vocals and playing shine with the support of top musicians such as JORDAN OFFICER, MICHAEL BALL or MARY GICK.
From the opening track, “BROWNE’S HOEDOWN”, listeners are captivated. The tune is a twin fiddle duet (MJM, Jordan) while “THE COO COO” is an Appalachian classic sung by the artist with the only support of his own banjo, a fascinating combination to all lovers of old-time music.
Sources are various and “YOU DONE ME WRONG” is a Ray Price’s honky-tonk classic from the 50’s which finds a fine old-timey sound here with the superb duet singing of MJB and JODY BENJAMIN.
“OUT ON THE WESTERN PLAINS” comes from the repertoire of LEADBELLY and turns into hot western swing with great fiddle (MICHAEL BALL) and electric lap-steel (JORDAN OFFICER), not to forget first-class yodelin’ from JODY BENJAMIN.
LEADBELLY again with “SHREVEPORT JAIL”, with just MICHAEL’s voice and steel-bodied Hawaïan guitar for 2.49 mn of country-blues heaven.
The artist’s love for Cajun music is also obvious as 4 cuts out of 19 are in the style. All four are excellent, let’s just mention “LA CONTREDANSE A TI-BROWNE” and “TWO STEP DE LA VILLE PLATTE”, the latter was originally made by DENNIS McGEE and is not a two-step like this title might suggest but a beautiful waltz with just vocal and fiddle.
“PAY DAY” from MISSISSIPI JOHN HURT is turned into a banjo tune here. Great singin’ and pickin’.
Other BROWNE’s originals are “STILL ON MY MIND”, “ARLINGTON TOWN” which deals with domestic violence. “JUST LOOK UP” with strong PENNY LANG vocal supports or “MAY YOU COME UP AND STAY”, a memorable fiddle/banjo duet.
From start to finish this collection flows with feeling, energy and emotion. Five stars for MICHAEL JEROME BROWNE and his musicians.
THE BLUE RIDGE RANGERS RIDES AGAIN (Verve records) (2009)
THE BLUE RIDGE RANGERS first appeared in 1973 when FOGERTY recorded such an LP for the Fantasy label. He was also playing all instruments on this project. Everybody remembers this now.
36 years later the idea finds a new life with a major difference in the fact that a solid band is present in the studio with Buddy Miller (guitar), Greg Leisz (pedal/lap-steel, gtrs, dobro, mandolin), Dennis Crouch (bass) to name just a few.
Song selection is faultless as well with first track being “Paradise” which finds one of his most soulful interpretations here.
“Never Ending Song Of Love” was written by Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett and sounds almost like a Cajun song, thanks to Jason Mowery’s fiddle, Dennis Crouch’s slapped bass and shouts in the background.
Everybody knows “Garden party”, the Ricky Nelson classic with vocals by Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit (The Eagles) and a very Burton-like guitar by John.
Let’s not forget the Bakersfield legend with Buck Owens’ “I Don’t Care” recreated with much success. Buck would be proud.
With such a title and arrangement, “Heaven’s Just A Sin Away” could be a gospel song but it’s not. The arms of a loved one are never too far from the heaven doors but I doubt that any pastor would appreciate this song in his church.
The biggest surprise in the song selection comes with “Fallin, Fallin’, Fallin’”, an excellent hillbilly bopper recorded by BUD DECKLEMAN on MGM in the early 50’s. John and his musicians treat the number with respect, fiddle and steel breaks shine while Buddy Miller’s guitar licks are just strikin’.
Another 50’s country classic is “I’ll Be There” (Ray Price). No better choice for such a collection.
Gene Simmons’ “Haunted House” was a 1964 novelty hit on Hi and is a wild country-rocker in this 2009 cover. Not bad at all.
The name of Bruce Springsteen might embarrass some of our readers but his duet with JOHN FOGERTY is a pounding “When Will I Be Loved”, first-class, although I must admit that my own preferences go to “I Don’t Care” or “Fallin’, Fallin’, Fallin’”.
JOHN FOGERTY’s talents are still intact after a long career, he’s definitely a rock star who could be a country music legend too. Thanks to him for paying tribute to the roots with albums like “RIDES AGAIN”. They are only a few in the rock world today.
LUCKY TUBB “DAMN THE LUCK” (TUBB Records) (2008)
This young artist’s is the grand-nephew of the legendary Texas Troubadour, ERNEST TUBB, while his uncle is GLENN DOUGLAS TUBB, better known as GLENN DOUGLAS on his 50’s Decca sides. Who remembers his excellent “Let It Roll” and “You Sure Look Lonesome”.
Many are accusing LUCKY TUBB of being a retro-country act or to try to copy his famous ancestor’s voice which is totally untrue. His appearance at the 2010 Craponne Country Music Festival in France has been much noticed and successful.
Out of the 3 CDs released by LUCKY to this day, I consider this one as being his best.
Most of the 11 cuts are fast country boppers like “Takin’ It Back” or “It’s Your Wagon”, both originals with excellent singin’ and guitar pickin’. Too bad that the name of the guitar player is not mentioned in the sleeve notes; one J.W. Wade is playing an Electrolux Telecaster. Is this thing supposed to be a guitar? Please, help me.
Lucky has written 6 songs on the CD, 3 come from the pen of Glenn.
We also find a cover of Ronnie Wade’s “Annie Don’t Work No More” which I will quote as much better than the original King side from 1957. This new version is 100% rock-a-billy with great guitar and steel breaks.
“Sweet Mental Revenge” was written by Mel Tillis and a hit for Waylon Jennings in the mid-60’s. Strong lyrics and solid interplay between steel and guitar make the song one of the highlights of the CD. Yes, please take me back to the Texas honky-tonks.
Final cut is “Damn The Luck”, a pounding honky-tonk blues, also written by Lucky, with dobro and fiddle well on the fore. Great lyrics with the inevitable reference to uncle Ernest and Waylon and Willie as well as JC (Johnny Cash probably). Lyrics close with such a final line as “to 1950 I’m backslidin’ ‘cause Nashville is just a shame.” With such words you can easily understand why LUCKY TUBB isn’t much welcome in Music City.
Jack Dumery has perhaps the finest knowledge in France of multiple forms of Country music today. He’s well and lives near Orléans, France. Here are three of his best discoveries over the last months. Thanks, Jack, for this post!
WILLIE NELSON/Willie and the Wheels (Bismeaux Records)
WILLIE NELSON goes back to his roots with this new Texas Western Swing CD. RAY BENSON, ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL were pioneers of the style revival in the early 70’s and they bring strong support to Willie on this one. Nobody could have dreamed of such a musical team.
The singer and musicians have selected 12 classics, here brilliantly revisited, from « SWEET JENNY LEE », « OH YOU PRETTY WOMAN » to « CORINNE, CORRINA ». Every player (RAY BENSON, guitar – JASON ROBERTS, fiddle, mandolin – FLOYD DOMINO, piano – EDDIE RIVERS, steel-guitar), a strong rhythm section, WILLIE’s relaxed and jazzy vocals (with shades of FLOYD TILLMAN, one of Willie’s early influences) make this CD one of the best Country releases from the last decade.
« FAN IT » came from Jazz before entering the Western Swing repertoires. Young Rock’n’Roll pioneers like Bill Haley probably found their inspiration in such numbers .
ELISABETH McQUEEN is the regular singer/guitarist with A.A.T.W. and here brings her assistance to Willie for a superb and bluesy « SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD », while an instrumental number, « SOUTH », shows the talents of two great musicians, PAUL SHAFFER on piano and Nashville star VINCE GILL on guitar.
There is also a deluxe edition of « WILLIE AND THE WHEEL » featuring an additional song, « I’LL HAVE SOMEBODY ELSE » with the phenomenal young fiddle player from Austin, RUBY JANE.
Liner notes were written by RAY BENSON himself and pay tribute to the late legendary producer JERRY WEXLER who was the originator of this product in 1979.
THE SIDE-WINDERS/ROMPIN’N’STOMPIN’ WITH (Bop’n’Stomp Records)
Over the last few months, a new type of Rock’n’Roll, performed by Young CaMex musicians, meet the favors of audiences. Wild vocals and high speed temps are opposed to traditional Rockabilly. That is why this new release on the Bop’n’Stomp label from San Diego will be a pleasant surprise to the fans of the latter with deep Hillbilly-Bop/Country-Boogie roots.
RENE EDSON CERVANTES (vocals, guitar), RAMON IBAN ESPINOZA (lead-guitar, vocals), EDWARD GIOVANNI GRANADENO (string-bass) and CARLOS ANDRES VELASQUEZ (drums) are the writers of 11 songs on this CD, the only cover being « FEEL LIKE A MILLION » (EMERY BLADES on ARVIS). JEFFREY MORGAN (steel-guitar) guests on 4 titles, his sound being much welcome.
Twelve gems in Rockabilly style, from « ONE OF THESE DAYS » to « SWEET DREAMS ».
This is undoutedly a group to pay great attention to. Let’s hope this first release will not be their last one.
TIM HUS/BUSH PILOT BUCKAROO (Stony Plain Records, Canada)
Here’s one of my best discoveries over the last few months and this canadian artist has already 4 CDs to his credit, « BUSH PILOT BUCKAROO » being the last one.
With shades of JOHNNY CASH, RAMBLIN’ JACK ELLIOTT and TOM CONNORS in his own style, TIM takes us all on the road of real life with a strong and craggy voice, original songs and a first-class backing band usic Telecaster, steel-guitar, dobro, fiddle and string-bass. Nobody should be well unaware of such a talent.
From his first song, « DEMPSEY HIGHWAY », we travel through the vast canadian spaces to meet fascinating characters and admire grand sceneries. California will not be overlooked with « BAKERSFIELD MUSIC », a tribute to MERLE HAGGARD and BUCK OWENS. Every track is a real tale.
« MAN WITH THE BIG HAT » is a cowboy song from present times with GARY FJELLGAARD appearing on a duet with TIM on this one, while « COAL MINE » sounds more like real bluegrass, as opposed to the other songs on the CD. « ROADHOUSE BAND » would have fit WAYLON JENNINGS or HANK WILLIAMS, Jr. in their best days.
Twelve great numbers by an artist who deserves more recognition and larger broadcast on so-called « Country » stations.