New Releases – February 2017

 DARIN & BROOKE ALDRIDGE—FASTER AND FARTHER—Mountain Home MH16642 (compact disc)

BETHEL MOUNTAIN BAND—MOSTLY HYMNS—No Label, No Number (compact disc)

TIM CONNELL & ERIC SKYE—JUNE APPLE—Half-Diminished Records, No Number (compact disc)

TONY HUBER & FRIENDS—BEARTRACKS: FRIENDS—Tresbear Music 0002 (compact disc)

INFAMOUS STRINGDUSTERS—LAWS OF GRAVITY—Compass Records 746782 (compact disc)

ORIGINAL FIVE—HAPPY LANDING—Rootsy Music 140 (compact disc)

JOHNNY STAATS AND ROBERT SHAFER—MUSIC FROM THE MOUNTAINS—No Label, No Number (compact disc)

Additional Releases

THE CROW VALLEY STRING BAND—ISLAND TIME—No Label, No Number. This is a family band from the Pacific Northwest consisting of Jim Litch (bass), Rachel Bishop (fiddle), and young brothers Tashi Litch (mandolin) and Kaj Litch (guitar, fiddle). This mostly instrumental project features Tashi Litch’s mandolin accompanied by Kaj Litch’s guitar and Bishop’s fiddle. Selections include the “Guringius”/“Indian Point” medley, “Up 18 North” from the Kruger Brothers, the “Scotland”/“Calliope House” medley, a French-Canadian medley called “Maison de Glace”/“Reel de Printemps,” and the familiar “Fisher’s Hornpipe.” The vocal selections are familiar tunes that include “Rollin’ My Sweet Baby’s Arms,” “Bury Me Beneath The Willow,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” and “Sittin’ On Top Of The World.” The strength of their project is in the picking, while the vocals still show their youth. (www.crowvalleystringband.com)

HUB CITY REVUE—COMING HOME—No Label, No Number. Dave Staebler is joined by his sons Jake and Dave, Jr., and Jimmy Cross to form the Hub City Review from western Maryland. Jimmy Cross plays banjo and is the principal songwriter, offering “Lonely, Lonely” and the title-cut “Coming Home” to the mix. Jake Staebler is guitarist and lead singer and contributes “Foggy Mountain Freakout.” Dave, Jr., plays bass and Dave, Sr., plays mandolin. Many of the selections here are familiar to both traditional and more modern audiences and reflect the band’s style. Tunes include “I’ll Stay Around,” “Big Spike Hammer,” “Doin’ My Time,” “Midnight Moonlight,” and “I Know You Rider.” The band has an interesting approach where many of the songs are played in the same key and with the same tempo. They also make use of unison-harmony vocals and Dave, Sr.’s single-note mandolin style is rather unique. This is overall a good project. (Hub City Revue, 20823 Jefferson Blvd., Smithburg, MD 21783)

HOMESTRETCH RIDE—HERE & NOW—No Label, No Number. Homestretch Ride is a four-piece band from the Hammond, Ind., area consisting of Philip Collins (guitar), Phil Loranger (banjo), Joe Binder (mandolin), and Bill Brier (bass). Collins does most of the songwriting and all of the lead vocals. Collins’ songs include “Forever And A Day,” “Pow,” “True Love,” and “What Do You Think.” Loranger contributed two instrumentals “I45” and “Downshifter.” Other tunes are more familiar and include “I Know You Rider,” “Sitting On Top Of The World,” “Going To The Races,” and “You Can Have Her.” Instrumentals include “Dear Old Dixie” and “Blackberry Blossom.” These guys are good pickers and Collins is a fair singer. Aside from the song lists, there’s not much information on the CD, but this a good effort from Homestretch Ride. (www.homestretchride.com)

THE EASY RAMBLERS—MAYBE SOMETIMES—No Label, No Number. Upstate New York is home to the Easy Ramblers. They are Mark Allnatt (banjo), Scott Ebner (guitar, mandolin, accordion), Maureen Henesey (vocals), Dann Mather (bass), and Eddie Zacholl (guitar). They are joined by guests Henry Jankiewicz (fiddle), Ron Keck (washboard, cajon), and Nick Piccininni (mandolin, fiddle). With the exception of the traditional “Hop High My Lulu Girl” and Bob Dylan’s “Country Pie,” all other songs were written by Zacholl. Henesey and Zacholl share lead vocals with which Henesey’s powerful lead is a dominant feature. Instrumentally, they are tight and the harmony blends are very nicely done. Zacholl’s tunes include “Back To The Well,” “Slow Burn,” “Daddy Was A Rambler,” “Lost And Found,” and the title-cut “Maybe Sometimes.” Known for their ‘easy grass’ approach, the band won a Syracuse Area Music Award in 2011 and were again nominated in 2013. Look for more from the Easy Ramblers (facebook.com/theeasyramblers)

RANDALL FRANKS—30 YEARS ON RADIO & TV, VOLUME I & II—No Label, No Number. Randall Franks is primarily a musician (fiddle, guitar, mandolin), but he was also known as Officer Randy Goode in the ’80s-’90s TV series In The Heat Of The Night and has appeared in other roles in both TV and film. He’s also played and recorded with many artists over the years. On this two-CD collection, Franks is joined by a variety of such artists as he presents a mix of many familiar tunes, all taken from CD projects, TV shows, and films recorded between 1982 and 2015. Volume I is a 23-song gospel collection on which he was joined by artists Jeff & Sheri Easter, Gary Waldrep, Raymond Fairchild, David Davis, and Travis Lewis. Selections include “I’ll Meet You In Church On Sunday Morning,” “In The Garden,” “Amazing Grace,” “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms,” and “Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem.” There is also a comedy skit with “Doc” Tommy Scott called “Letter From Down Home.” Volume II is a collection of bluegrass and Americana on which Franks played with Jim & Jesse McReynolds, Bill Monroe, Chubby Wise, Raymond Fairchild, and David Davis. Lots of familiar tunes here such as “Golden Slippers,” “Orange Blossom Special,” “Black Eye Suzy,” “Old Joe Clark,” “Katy Hill,” and “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” Franks plays fiddle on most cuts and provides most of the lead vocals with a pleasant delivery. These two CDs give a pretty good look at the long and talented career of Franks. (www.randallfranks.com)

BOOK

ENCOURAGERS III: A GUIDING HAND—BY RANDALL FRANKS—Peach Picked Publishing. This book is the third in a trilogy by Franks, sharing his experiences and influences in his life as an actor, musician, and entertainer. In this book, Franks again relates stories of his many friends, acquaintances, and fellow musicians and actors who have helped shape his career. Many of these include Bill Monroe, The Dillards, Carroll O’Conner, Kenny Baker, Andy Griffith, Jerry Clower, Bobby Hicks, Bing Crosby, Sally Field, Lester Flatt, John Hartford, Tom Wopat, and the list goes on. Franks tells his stories in a comfortable narrative style, as he recalls and reflects on his many encounters with folks who influenced his life, career, and religious beliefs. Included is an index of each individual included in the narratives and a fairly lengthy section of the many food recipes he has collected from folks he’s met along the way. This is another interesting look inside a multi-talented individual. (www.randallfranks.com)