New Releases – November 2017

BALSAM RANGE—IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME—Mountain Home MH16962 (compact disc)

MIKE BARNETT—PORTRAITS IN FIDDLES—Compass Records 746952 (compact disc)

GINA CLOWES—TRUE COLORS—Mountain Home MH17002 (compact disc)

MICHAEL JOHNATHON—EVENING SONG—Poet Man Records PMR70015 (compact disc)

JIM LLOYD—PLAY GUITAR IN 7 DAYS—Jim Lloyd Music, No Number (compact disc)

MOHAVISOUL—HOMETOWN BLUES—Mannequin Vanity Records, No Number (compact disc)

MONOCLE BAND—THE CLEARING—No Label, No Number (compact disc)

MILE TWELVE—ONWARDS—Delores The Taurus Records DTT0044 (compact disc)

NOTHIN’ FANCY—IT’S A GOOD FEELING—Mountain Fever MFR170922 (compact disc)

RAGGED UNION—TIME CAPTAIN—Shining Castle Music SCM1701 (compact disc)

SWEETWATER STRING BAND—AT NIGHT—No Label, 2017 (compact disc)

Additional Issues

FREE RANGE—OLD SOUTH DELAWARE—No Label, No Number. A new project from this Delaware-based foursome features the fiddling and songwriting of bandleader Steve Quillen. Joining Quillen are Curt Fox (banjo), Ali Reed Quillen (guitar), Phyllis Dodd (bass), and guest Mickey Justice (mandolin). Eleven of the fourteen selections were either written or arranged by Quillen, including “I’ll Still Be Loving You,” “Remembering When,” “Kentucky Whippoorwill,” “The Prettiest Shuffle,” and the title-cut. He also created the arrangements for “East Virginia Blues,” “Poor Rambler,” and “My Home’s Across The Blue Ridge Mountains.” Other tunes include the Delmore Brothers’ “Blues Stay Away From Me,” “Rough And Rocky” from Justice and Tabuchi, and “Back To The Cross.” Quillen’s fiddle is dominant throughout, with the exception of Curt Fox’s banjo on “Caroline County Breakdown.” Mickey Justice’s mandolin is heard on “Prettiest Shuffle.” This is a nice project with pleasant vocals and lots of good fiddling. (

WELL STRUNG—AROUND THE SUN AGAIN—No Label, No Number. Well Strung is a band from western Pennsylvania who play locally and have a good following. The band is Stephanie Green (fiddle), Sam Stuckey (guitar), Corey Wood (mandolin), Tom St. John (banjo), and Jeff Scheller (bass). Songwriting credits are spread amongst the bandmembers. Selections include “On My Way,” “Hangover Blues,” “When It Rains,” “Grab Your Wings,” “Live And Learn,” and the title “Around The Sun Again.” There is a cute tune from Stuckey called “Festival” which says life should be like a bluegrass festival. Everyone takes turns on lead vocals and share in the harmonies. The band is quite good instrumentally and has produced a nice project. (

PAPER WINGS—No Label, No Number. Showing their love for traditional and old-time music, Wilhelmina Frankzerda (banjo, guitar, fiddles) and Emily Mann (banjo, guitar, fiddles) exhibit their unique instrumental and vocal sound in this project of mostly original material. That material includes “Seven Miles,” “Rush Creek,” “Winter Storm,” and “Shoe Shiner.” Also included is Hank Snow’s “Prisoner’s Dream,” and Hazel Dickens’ “Only The Lonely.” Simply crafted and executed, these songs bring an innovative and timeless sound to their music. Paper Wings will be a new addition to fans of old-time and traditional stylings. (

SUSAN NIKAS—STORIES—No Label, No Number. Susan Nikas is a singer/songwriter from California who produced this project of mostly original material. She is accompanied by Les Johnson (guitar), Dennis Caplinger (bass, guitar), and Elizabeth Terlinden (vocal). With the simple instrumentation, this is more of an Americana collection. The arrangements are focused on Nikas’ pleasant lead vocals, backed by Johnson and Terlinden. Nikas’ songs include “All Gone,” “Beer And Cigarettes,” “Hometown Refugee,” “Asteroid,” “The Waiting Room Of Hope,” and an interesting version of “Cherokee Shuffle.” Other selections include Kate Wolf’s “In China,” Harlan Howard’s “Never Mind,” and Darrell Scott’s “Memories And Moments.” There are a number of good songs here that may be of interest to other artists. This is a nice venture from Nikas. (Susan Nikas, P.O. Box 604, San Dimas, CA 91773.)

Comps & Reissues

DAKOTA DAVE HULL & SEAN BLACKBURN—ACE PICKIN’ AND SWEET HARMONY / NORTH BY SOUTHWEST / RIVER OF SWING!—Arabica Records CF-20, CF-21, CF-22. Dakota Dave Hull and his late partner, Sean Blackburn, brought a distinctly Northern edge to acoustic swing music when they were appearing regularly on A Prairie Home Companion and playing festivals around the Midwest forty-some years ago. Originally released in the late 1970s, these three albums became collector’s items as the decades passed. And once Sean passed away, this music became even more important as a reflection of the swing revival.

After years of trying to get the rights to his own work back, Hull finally succeeded and the result is a reissue of all three of Hull & Blackburn’s records. Featuring the core of Garrison Keillor’s great house band, including Butch Thompson and Peter Ostroushko, as well as guest artist Tim O’Brien, these CDs sound fresh and original as when new. Blackburn’s droopy-eyed voice and Hull’s buoyant guitar playing ring true as ever on tunes such as “Jungle In My Jeans,” “Ya Gotta Have A Moustache,” “Dixie Cannonball,” “Blue Shadows On The Trail,” and many more. Hull & Blackburn’s work will appeal to anyone who loved their sound back in the day. And for a new generation of players and listeners interested in roots and Americana music, these reissues will go a long way to ensuring that the wonderful swing sounds of Dave Hull and Sean Blackburn keep shining on. (