NEW RELEASES
(Received March 25-April 24)

DARREN BEACHLEY & LEGENDS OF THE POTOMAC
TAKE OFF
Patuxent Music PXCD210 (compact disc)

AUDIE BLAYLOCK & REDLINE
CRYIN’ HEART BLUES
Rural Rhythm Records RHY1060 (compact disc)

CADILLAC SKY
LETTERS IN THE DEEP
Dualtone 80302010720 (compact disc)

CAROLINA NATIVE SONS
RANK OL’ BLUEGRASS
Patuxent Music CD190 (compact disc)

CHERRYHOLMES IV
COMMON THREADS
Skaggs Family 6989020212 (compact disc)

CHRIS COOLE AND IVAN ROSENBERG
FAREWELL TRION
VoleOTone Records VOT 2139 (compact disc)

JOHN COWAN
THE MASSENBURG SESSIONS
E1 Music E1ECD2304 (compact disc)

FAREWELL DRIFTERS
YELLOW TAG MONDAYS
Heart Squeeze Records HS2K101 (compact disc)

GRASCALS
THE FAMOUS LEFTY FLYNN’S
Rounder Records 1166106412 (compact disc)

NATE GROWER
NATE GROWER
Patuxent Music CD193 (compact disc)

HARD LUCK BLUES: ROOTS MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE GREAT DEPRESSION—
BY RICH REMSBERG
University Of Illinois Press 9780252077098 (book)

JOHN HARTFORD STRING BAND
MEMORIES OF JOHN
Red Clay Records 7 4539 2 (compact disc)

HIGH 48s
UP NORTH
No Label, No Number (compact disc)

STEVEN EARL HOWARD AND THE BLUE DRIFTERS
EASY TO GET LOST IN THE WORLD
Root Bass Records, No Number (compact disc)

MEL BAY PRESENTS: CHAMPIONSHIP CONTEST FIDDLING
EDITED BY NATE OLSON
Mel Bay MB21400BCD (book/compact disc)

NUBLU
NIGHTS
No Label, RS0002 (compact disc)

OLD TIME BAND
DOWN BY THE BRAZOS
Hen Cackle Records HC506 (compact disc)

STATEMENT
AROUND THE CORNER
Mountain Fever Records MFR100201 (compact disc)

NORA JEAN STRUTHERS
NORA JEAN STRUTHERS
Blue Pig Music BPM1111 (compact disc)

SWEET POTATO PIE
JOURNEY CALLED LIFE
Mountain Fever Music MFR 100330 (compact disc)

DONNA ULISSE
HOLY WATERS
Hadley Music Group HMG1005 (compact disc)

ADDITIONAL RELEASES
By Les McIntyre

DIAMOND HEAD MOUNTAIN
THE STAINED GLASS IMAGE
No Label, No Number.

Diamond Head Mountain is a five-piece band consisting of Daniel Patrick (banjo), Ralph Martin (guitar and vocals) Gene Dobbs (bass and vocals), Larry Baker (guitar and vocals) and Chris Turner (mandolin). The Stained Glass Image is the group’s debut recording—a gospel collection of original material, most written by bandmember Gene Dobbs. The band’s vocals reflect a kinship to southern gospel groups. The 11 selections were inspired by personal experiences, such as “Rose, The Piano Player” that concerns a lady from the church the bandmembers attend. Other numbers include “When You Hear The Devil Knockin’,” “Don’t Tempt Jesus,” and “God Came Today For Mother.” For their first effort, Diamond Head Mountain has created an inspirational collage of gospel music that should earn widespread attention. (Gene Dobbs, 3362 Dobbs Ln., California, KY 41007, www.dhmbluegrass.com.)

TOMORROW’S NEWS
BECKY & BILLY
No Label, TN002.

Becky & Billy is the second release from the Florida group Tomorrow’s News. The 12 tracks include the familiar tunes “Matterhorn,” “Clinch Mountain Backstep,” “Those Memories Of You,” and “Oh Atlanta.” Two exceptions are bandmember Kalyn Hall’s “Good Things” and the title song written by family friend Samuel Kistner. Highlights include the lead vocals and soaring harmonies of Victor and Kalyn Hall. Becky & Billy is contemporary bluegrass at its finest and certain to win new fans for Tomorrow’s News. (Darlene Bass, P.O. Box 1777, Okeechobee, FL 34973, www.tomorrowsnewsband.com.)

THE WHITETOP MOUNTAINEERS
GO AWAY WITH ME, MUSIC FROM VIRGINIA’S HILLS AND HOLLERS
High Country Recordings HCR-001.

Martha Spencer (banjo, fiddle, guitar, dulcimer, and vocals) and Jackson Cunningham (guitar, mandolin, banjo, and vocals) are members of Southwest Virginia’s Whitetop Mountain Band (BU, July ’09). They also perform as the White Top Mountaineers as featured in this collection of 15 old-time melodies drawn from sources such as Estil Ball (“Trials, Troubles, Tribulations”), Byrd Moore (“When The Snowflakes Fall Again”), Ola Belle Reed (“You Don’t Tell Me That You Love Me Anymore”), and John Carson (“Honest Farmer”). Other entries include “Poor Sinner Fare Ye Well,” Martha’s own “Home Is Where The Fiddle Rings,” and a Wilburn Brothers country classic “Go Away With Me.” Martha Spencer and Jackson Cunningham have here a magnificent collection of duets and must listening for anyone who treasures traditional values. (Whitetop Mountaineers, 6586 Highlands Pkwy., Mouth of Wilson, VA 24363, www.whitetopmountaineers.com.)

MAW
ADVICE FOR THE YOUNG AND FOOLISH
Bluegill BG005.

On their Web site, Maw describes themselves as “…a group of women who like to sing and play cheery little songs, mostly about death and destruction.” Their latest release blends old-time favorites such as “Little Glass Of Wine,” “Cluck Old Hen,” “What’ll I Do With The Baby-O?,” along with several original tunes. Tracy Floreani (guitar and vocals) contributed the title song, along with “The Dowry Mule” and “Factory Boy,” while Jeanie Wells (banjo, guitar, and vocals) offers “Venus Eyes” and “Laundry Song.” Other performances include Ola Belle Reed’s “You Led Me To The Wrong” and the traditional “Starry Crown.” Advice To The Young And Foolish is old-time music with a touch of originality that teems with enthusiasm and mirth. Hopefully, there will be other similar productions from the fertile minds of the members of Maw. (Maw, 1621 Rhode Island, Lawrence, KS 66044, www.listentoyourmaw.com.)

THE TADCASTERS
No Label, No Number.

The Tadcasters is a trio acoustic group that performs regularly in and around Covington, Ky., and Cincinnati, Ohio. The group consists of Bill Littleford (guitar, bass guitar, percussion, and vocals), Nick Laboffe (mandolin and vocals), and Matt Wiesenhahn (banjo, harmonica, and vocals). This self-titled disc is their debut and features seven original numbers including “Out Of Frets,” “Baggy Bones,” and “Jesse’s War.” While their style isn’t strictly bluegrass, it does contain bluegrass overtones. This abbreviated (seven tracks) production should be appreciated by those already familiar with the music of the Tadcasters. (Bill Littleford, 3905 Lewis Cir., Erlanger, KY 41018, www.thetadcasters.com.)

.357 STRING BAND
LIGHTNING FROM THE NORTH
No Label, No Number.

Lightning From The North is the third release from Wisconsin’s .357 String Band and, with the exception of “Milwaukee Here I Come,” all the tunes are original and include “Half Tank Of Gas, Full Tank Of Lies,” “Head Under My Heel,” “Dust Devil” and “Darkness In My Soul.” The group’s style is acoustic music in hyperdrive. With few exceptions, the songs are performed at a frantic pace. While this might be okay in front of a live audience, it quickly becomes monotonous in recorded format. Also, the sound effects closing out the final track are downright annoying. Lightning From The North should be most appreciated by those hearty souls who have witnessed .357 String Band in person. (Derek Dunn, 2935 N. Weil St. #3, Milwaukee, WI 53212, www.357stringband.com.)

THE COAL PORTERS
DURANGO
Prima Records SID 023.

The latest from the Coal Porters is similar to their previous endeavor (BU, Jul ’08). Most of the 13 selections were written by bandmembers Sid Griffin, Dick Smith, and Neil Herd. Also featured are guest musicians Tim O’Brien (mandolin on “Roadkill Breakdown) and Peter Rowan (guitar and vocals on “Moonlight Midnight”). The band is at their finest on “No More Chains,” “The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Oil,” and “Like A Hurricane.” Also featured are the traditional standards “Pretty Polly” and “Sail Away, Ladies!” “Durango” is another significant milestone for the Coal Porters, proving why they are one of Europe’s most prolific contemporary bluegrass bands. (Prima Records, P.O. Box 2539, London, England NW3 6DF, U.K., www.myspace.com/thecoalporters.)

BOBBY ATKINS & THE COUNTRYMEN
MEMORIES OF LESTER FLATT & EARL SCRUGGS OF THE 1950s
Thunderbolt Records TB-1923.

The title of this recording from Bobby Atkins and the Countrymen is somewhat misleading in that only four of the twelve tracks are associated with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs (“Head Over Heels In Love With You,” “Cabin In Caroline,” “Down The Road,” and “Someday We’ll Meet Again Sweetheart”). The remaining selections include John Denver’s “Country Roads,” the Kitty Wells heart song “How Far Is Heaven,” and the Jim & Jesse instrumental “Border Ride.” Still, the performances are well-executed and should be eagerly welcomed by fans of Bobby Atkins and the Countrymen. (Thunderbolt Records, 1109 Cleburne St., Greensboro, NC 27408, e-mail: thunderboltrecords@aol.com.)

ON THE EDGE

DEREK KROGH
BANJONATOR
No Label, No Number.

Derek Krogh is a banjo picker from the San Francisco Bay Area. Although this latest project has some bluegrass content, it may not appeal to many bluegrass purists. Derek is featured on both the acoustic and electric banjo often accompanied by saxophone, organ, drums or cello. Several tracks including “Cripple Creek,” “Livewire,” and “Down East” utilize basic bluegrass instrumentation. However, most other tracks are heavily electrified. Banjonator is certainly an interesting project, but will probably appeal more to those not afraid to explore the unusual. (Mighty Tobar Prod., PO Box 277, La Honda, CA 94020, e-mail: banjomatic@earthlink.com.)

NOTORIOUS
ELKINS
Black Socks CD27.

This CD challenges the boundaries of bluegrass and old-time music. Notorious is a quartet consisting of Larry Unger (guitar, banjo, and bass), Eden MacAdam-Somer (fiddle and vocals), Sam Bartlett (mandolin and Jew’s harp), Mark Hellensberg (banjo, ukulele, and percussion). Elkins features a total of 16 tracks from a variety of sources. Jay and Eden wrote “Sarah Jane,” “Jolly Jack’s Polka,” and “Rodeo Clown Rag.” One of the more haunting melodies is “River Falls,” inspired by a lodge in South Carolina. Also included are the traditional pieces “All Night Long” and “Henry Reed’s Breakdown.” Also included are several selections from Romanian and Yiddish sources. Elkins is an engaging collection that offers something for those who appreciate traditional folk music regardless of the source. (Black Socks Press, P.O. Box 6322, Lincoln, MA 01773, www.notoriousfolk.com.)

BOOK

MY FIRST BLUEGRASS GUITAR PICKING SONGS
BY STEVE KAUFMAN
Mel Bay MB20793BCD.
(Mel Bay Publications, #4 Industrial Dr., Pacific, MO 63069, www.melbay.com.)

In this 36-page book, Steve Kaufman teaches the basics of guitar picking including learning chords, reading tablature, strumming techniques and others subjects. Other lessons include several songs to learn including “Old Joe Clark,” “Cripple Creek,” “Flop-Eared Mule,” and “Golden Slippers” among others. Accompanying the book is a CD containing samples of all the lessons. My First Bluegrass Guitar Picking Songs is designed to teach the basic techniques of guitar picking from one of the most respected musicians in bluegrass music.

DVD

MEL BAY PRESENTS: THE MURPHY METHOD, RAWHIDE AND OTHER BLISTERING BANJO FAVORITES
TAUGHT BY MURPHY HENRY
Mel Bay MB22047DVD.
One DVD, two hours, $29.99. (Mel Bay Publications, #4 Industrial Dr., Pacific, MO 63069, www.murphymethod.com.)

You can’t beat experience, especially when it comes to teaching. Murphy Henry is everything I like in a teacher: knowledgeable, thorough, patient, but most of all experienced. She’s confronted just about every problem and question a student might have, and she puts that experience to use in this addition to her extensive DVD banjo instruction series.

The Blistering Banjo Favorites that Murphy teaches on this twohour DVD are “Rawhide,” “Bluegrass Breakdown,” “Theme Time,” and “Hazel Creek.” All are accessible from several levels of easily navigable menus.

Much has been made of the fact that Murphy doesn’t use tablature, preferring to teach by sight and ear. Proponents and opponents of this method can sometimes overstate their cases. What’s important is the end product and many people have learned banjo (and learned it well) by using The Murphy Method. The benefit of not using tablature is that the lesson goes straight into the cerebellum and you don’t have to wean yourself away from the written page. Frankly, the only downside I see is that you can’t quickly refer to measures on a page and might have to watch the DVD to isolate a particular passage. In the age of instant digital access, this is not a problem.

Murphy is one of the cleanest, most straightforward players around. She teaches more than notes and chords here; she teaches tone, timing, and touch. Each lesson is divided into an uptempo version of the song, a sloweddown version, followed by a patient teaching of each measure through the song, and then a version played with guitar so the student can get used to following a rhythm instrument. This is an often overlooked aspect of banjo playing that Murphy rightly emphasizes. Recommended for anyone in need of adding some highoctane barnburners to their banjo repertoire. CVS