Doctor Ralph Stanley, Generations Of Influence

Ralph Stanley Doctor Ralph Stanley
Generations Of Influence
By Derek Halsey

Just one day before Dr. Ralph Stanley passed on June 23, 2016, musician Lucy Cochran posted the now-famous video of Stanley singing “Pretty Polly” with Patty Loveless and the Clinch Mountain Boys on Facebook. Cochran is an excellent fiddler whom I first saw play on a very late night at the Appalachian String Band Festival, an annual get-together in the mountains of West Virginia, otherwise known as “Clifftop.” After graduating from the prestigious Berklee College of Music, she found herself in a heavy-metal country band called Stump Tail Dolly. The loud, experimental and fun group is not something that the late Dr. Ralph would have listened to, yet his influence is there. Said Cochran when she posted the “Pretty Polly” video: “If I spent the rest of my life doing nothing but watching and re-watching this perfect moment in time, I would be ecstatic.”

Less than 24 hours later, Dr. Ralph was gone. Cochran responded to the sad news. “I posted that video last night, obviously before Ralph passed, because it is so perfect and powerful that it moved me to tears,” said Cochran. “When I was 9, my dad took me to see the Down From The Mountain tour. Sometime during the concert, Ralph came out to sing one of his many perfect a cappella numbers. He looked tiny on the massive stage, singing to several thousand people. He must’ve looked lonesome out there—surely the song he was singing sounded that way—because out of nowhere Patty Loveless showed up on stage next to him and held his hand while he finished his song. I remember being moved to tears in that moment. Since then, I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen him and heard him and cried with him. Ralph Stanley is one of the only artists that can make me shut up and listen long enough to really hear what he had to say. Of course, I’m crying now. But I’m happy knowing that he’s probably somewhere with Carter now, making the most beautiful music that ever was.” Read entire article »

Remembering Ralph Stanley
By Sandy Hatley

Dr. Ralph Stanley — Generations Of Influence
By Derek Halsey

Reflections On The Life And Legacy Of Dr. Ralph Stanley
By Daniel Mullins

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By Derek Halsey

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Bluegrass Survey

Top Album for August

AND THEN THERE’S THIS…,
THE GRASCALS,
Mountain Home 1643


Top Song for August

I KNOW BETTER THE GRASCALS (B. Droze, C.J. Meyers) AND THEN THERE’S THIS…, Mountain Home 1643

August 2016 Reviews

GRASCALS

THE GRASCALS AND THEN THERE’S THIS… Mountain Home MH16432 The last Grascals release moved them closer to Americana. The drums were more upfront, the songs somewhat harder-edged. The question was, where would their next recording take them? Well, just as “Life Finds A Way,” life sometimes gets in the way. Longtime members Jamie Johnson and […]

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Tony ROOK

TONY ROOK THE ROAD BACK HOME No Label No Number This pleasant project by the banjo picker, songwriter, and guitarist Tony Rook is a fine example of mainstream bluegrass. The vocals are all handled by Rook, and he does a masterful job on leads and singing all of the harmonies. The songwriting ranges from good […]

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RICE-&-MENZONE

WYATT RICE & DAN MENZONE ALLIANCE SOMETHING OUT OF THE BLUE Mountain Fever MFR 160318 This alliance is the basis for some fine picking and singing. Wyatt Rice will be known to all, but those who have been asleep, as brother to the legendary Tony Rice. Dan Menzone is his picking partner and a fine […]

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SWIFT-CREEK

SWIFT CREEK MAGNOLIA No label No number If you’re looking for a laid-back sound that mixes a lot of influences from bluegrass to blues to a little Americana, North Carolina band Swift Creek might be your ticket. The group, mostly known around the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, just released their second album, Magnolia. The group broadened […]

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BILL-EMERSON

BILL EMERSON & SWEET DIXIE THE GOSPEL SIDE OF BILL EMERSON & SWEET DIXIE Rural Rhythm RUR-1132 This all-gospel set from Bill Emerson & Sweet Dixie is a compilation of 12 previously-released songs. The earliest, “Beautiful” (the most Gentleman-ly song here, sung by Randy Waller) and “Keep On The Sunny Side” (sung with anthem-like stateliness […]

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BACK ROADS MANDOLIN VOLUME TWO BY BUDDY MERRIAM. (Buddy Merriam, P.O. Box 862, Sound Beach, NY 11789, www.buddymerriam.com.) Buddy Merriam is a mandolin player from New York who has over 500 mandolin compositions to his credit. He’s spent 35 years leading his group Buddy Merriam & Back Roads and for 25 years has been the […]

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DAVE-ADKINS

DAVE ADKINS Mountain Fever Records MFR 160226 With his third recording for Mountain Fever, Dave Adkins has brought all the musical threads together and produced his finest work to date. I’ve noted that the one area for Adkins needing work was his bluegrass phrasing. His last recording was almost there. This one is. One need […]

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KEVIN-PRATER-BAND

THE KEVIN PRATER BAND WALKING RAILS & COUNTING TIES No Label No Number With the possible exception of the slightly minor cast of the lost love tune “Joanie” and Kevin Prater’s own tragic romance original “You’re In Love With Another,” the offerings here, sad subject or no, have an upbeat, positive sound that make you […]

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GRAHAM-SPARKMAN

GRAHAM SPARKMAN HAZARD WAS HERE No Label No Number There is a loose, Americana, old-time quality about this recording from Graham Sparkman. It reminds me of one of the earliest CDs I reviewed for BU, one by Fred Lantz, a recording that similarly blended old-time, bluegrass, and folk in a freewheeling ’60s sort of fashion. […]

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CIRCA-BLUE

CIRCA BLUE ONCE UPON A TIME Orange Blossom Records No Number Readers of these pages may well be aware, I always gravitate to a swinging, country/jazz type song. There’s a good one here on Circa Blue’s third release—their first on Orange Blossom Records. The song is called “Tripped, Stumbled And Fell,” written by Dawn Kenny […]

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THE COMPLETE 5-STRING BANJO METHOD: BEGINNING, INTERMEDIATE, MASTERING BY NED LUBERECKI Alfred Music 44932, 44935, 44939. (Alfred Music, P.O. Box 10003, Van Nuys, CA 91410-0003, www.alfred.com.) This three-volume set will take the student from the raw fundamentals to being a knowledgeable player with improvisational skills, if they follow the path set out by the author. […]

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MULLINS-AND-THE-RADIO-RAMBLERS

JOE MULLINS & THE RADIO RAMBLERS SACRED MEMORIES Rebel Records CD-1863 Once again, Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers have returned to the deep, abiding well of bluegrass gospel where, from time to time, they seek—and find—renewed inspiration. Sacred Memories is a worthy sequel to the band’s last gospel outing, Hymns From The Hills, from […]

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ROUNDER-BOOK-OF-TRIVIA

THE ROUNDER BOOK OF BLUEGRASS TRIVIA BY BILL NOWLIN Rounder Books 1579402518. (Rounder Books, 29 Lancaster St., Cambridge, MA 02140.) Trivia buffs will enjoy this new book of bluegrass music trivia by Bill Nowlin, co-founder of Rounder Records. Nowlin got the idea for this book after he started writing the “Bits & Pieces” trivia column […]

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