Laurie_fiddle_2013LAURIE LEWIS
Layers Lyrics Of
Songwriting Sophistication
By Bill Conger

Laurie Lewis is one of those people who can do it all musically. The two-time IBMA Female Vocalist Of The Year is a gifted singer, fiddler, guitarist, bandleader, and teacher. She’s also a talented wordsmith, who has quilted together layers of lyrics with a “Magic Light.” Through “Blue Days” and “Sleepless Nights,” her words have been like an “Old Friend.” “The Light” of inspiration touches Lewis as her “Restless Rambling Heart” is able to “Visualize” the “Wind At Play” and “Green Fields.”

Diehard fans of the bluegrass trailblazer will surely recognize those aforementioned songs from her treasure chest of gems that she has mined for nearly four decades. For many years, she crafted some of her best writing while camping out at a friend’s house along the coast of Mendocino County, California. Today her fountain of inspiration springs forth from a variety of sources.

“Misery is always a good one,” Lewis said with a laugh during a phone interview from her Berkeley, California home. “If you get unhappy, you’re more likely to write than if you’re happy. When you’re unhappy, you want to figure out a way to express yourself, and when you’re happy, you’re just having too much fun doing what you’re doing. Another thing is the natural world. I find it to be inspirational in many ways. I like to have sort of space and quiet when I write, and that often happens outdoors.” Read entire article »

Remembering James Alan Shelton
By Derek Halsey

Laurie Lewis — Layers Lyrics Of Songwriting Sophistication
By Bill Conger

Mary Tyler Doub
By Dale and Darcy Cahill

Mitch Jayne — A Rememberance
By Steve Duniphan

Roger Bellow — In A Country State Of Mind
Multi-Instrumentalist And Vintage Country Connoisseur
From The Streets Of Chicago
By Marci Shore

Raymond W. McLain — An Appreciation
By Jack Tottle

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August 2014 Reviews

UNCAGED & FREE: UNDERSTANDING, IMPLEMENTING AND OVERCOMING THE CAGED SYSTEM—TAUGHT BY ROLLY BROWN—Stefan Grossman Guitar Workshop GW1015. DVD, 121 min., $29.95. (Stefan Grossman Guitar Workshop, P.O. Box 802, Sparta, NJ, 07871, The CAGED system gets its name from the common major chords C, A, G, E, and D that it uses to teach the […]

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MA CROW & THE LADY SLIPPERS MEMORY OF A MOUNTAIN Boopie Studios BPS005    This Ohio-based quartet has a lot going for it on this project. The steady guiding hand of Ron Stewart is one of those things, but it is the wealth of talent and experience from each member that really shines through on […]

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DANNY ROBERTS NIGHTHAWK Mountain Home 15232    Ten years ago, I reviewed Danny Roberts’ first solo recording, Mandolin Orchard, giving it solid marks. Now comes Nighthawk, a step up all across the board. Begin with the sound quality improvements. If you remember his first, you’ll notice this immediately. This is much clearer, much more sonically […]

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MATT WALLACE FOR A SEASON Pinecastle Records PRC-6515    There have been many albums recorded over the years by sidemen and women, some that were great and some that let you know why the headliners are the headliners. I have to admit, I wasn’t all that familiar with Matt Wallace before listening to the CD. […]

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BRADFORD LEE FOLK AND THE BLUEGRASS PLAYBOYS SOMEWHERE FAR AWAY No Label No Number Since Bradford Lee Folk’s recording seems centered around lyrics, that will draw the most attention here. That said, some mention of the musical settings is necessary. A couple of them are straight-ahead bluegrass, the one with the most traditional drive being […]

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SPECIAL CONSENSUS AND FRIENDS COUNTRY BOY: A BLUEGRASS TRIBUTE TO JOHN DENVER Compass Records 7 4627 2    The late John Denver never really played bluegrass music, but he wasn’t shy about using the fiddle and other bluegrass instruments on songs such as “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” and others. And, over the last […]

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I DRAW SLOW WHITE WAVE CHAPEL Pinecastle Records PRC1187    I Draw Slow’s second album for Pinecastle Records, White Wave Chapel, draws from the many roots and branches that have made up the underlying ingredients of bluegrass music over the years. Not a standard bluegrass album by any means, the recording is an amalgamation of what […]

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ONDRA KOZÁK ATAMAN Bluegrass music is, thankfully, an international endeavor. Even so, more can always be done to reach out to lovers and performers of the music whether they be in Japan, Italy, Australia, or the Czech Republic, where scenes are already established, or in many other countries ripe for good tunes. The Czech Republic […]

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IN IT FOR THE LONG RUN: A MUSICAL ODYSSEY BY JIM ROONEY University of Illinois Press 9780252079818. Paperback, 321 pp., $24.95. (University of Illinois Press, 1325    S. Oak St., Champaign, IL 61820,    Just how important is Jim Rooney—singer, songwriter, show promoter, record producer, and author—in the history of bluegrass, folk, and folk/country music? […]

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RICH IN TRADITION LONESOMEVILLE Mountain Roads Records MRR-1019    The fourth CD from Rich In Tradition offers much that recalls such ’70s and ’80s groups as Boone Creek or Summer Wages or the Virginia Squires. They are not on the same level as Boone Creek—though arguably not far off—but are a very listenable band, highlighted by […]

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THE GENTLEMEN OF BLUEGRASS CAROLINA MEMORIES Pinecastle Records PRC1188    They do and they don’t. A decided lean toward the Country Gentlemen is evident on this Pinecastle debut from the Gentlemen of Bluegrass. Five of the tracks are covers of tunes once covered by the CG, including “Traveling Kind,” “This Morning At Nine,” “Blue Birds […]

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BRYAN SUTTON INTO MY OWN Sugar Hill SUG-CD-4105 Bryan Sutton has long been revered as one of the most accomplished and innovative acoustic guitarists on the scene. Novice guitarists no doubt study his techniques the way young, aspiring painters study masterpieces in The Louvre. Now, with his aptly-named fourth album for Sugar Hill, Sutton has […]

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UNSPOKEN TRADITION SIMPLE LITTLE TOWN No Label CRA 002    Split by the Blue Ridge Mountains, the western North Carolina-based members of Unspoken Tradition have melded into a polished ensemble with strong original material, abundant talent, and an already distinctive sound subtly more trad than most new bands. Simple Little Town proves an auspicious debut […]

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DENNIS ELLIOTT FIDDLER’S DREA No Label No Number    This self-produced CD features Elliott’s obvious talents on banjo, mandolin, guitar, and especially fiddle. He has won many contests on fiddle, banjo, and mandolin, not only in his native Louisiana, but also in his current home in Virginia and beyond. His playing on these instruments is […]

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THE DOWNTOWN MOUNTAIN BOYS HEARTLAND No label No number Let’s see…plenty of superlatives? Check. Showers of accolades? Check. Glowing tributes? Check. Then we’re off. The Downtown Mountain Boys are a group of five veteran Puget Sound area musicians who have been together for at least seven years. Heartland is their second release. To begin with, […]

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