ALBUM SPOTLIGHT: ELVIS PRESLEY—On Stage: Legacy Edition—Two shows; two pivotal moments in the first scenes of Elvis’s last act. There would be another couple of years of fully engaged performances onstage and in the studio, before the onset of steady, systemic decline on all fronts. That he produced any worthwhile work at all during the latter years is altogether remarkable, given the maladies afflicting him spiritually and physically. But here, in these moments of new dawn, he was a sight to see.

ALBUM SPOTLIGHT: JOHNNY GIMBLE, Celebrating With FriendsPretty near everything about Johnny Gimble’s Celebrating with Friends is right. This legendary Texas fiddler, for one, truly is legendary, having been around long enough and been good enough to be one of Bob Wills’s Texas Playboys and to tour with Willie Nelson, so it’s right that he get an album-length tribute on which some notable musicians of our time (and of all time) gather ‘round to help him put on this little clinic here.

BRAND NEW STRINGS, No Strings AttachedIt’s not much of a stretch to call Brand New Strings the most exciting traditional bluegrass debut since Dailey & Vincent, and in fact one Jamie Dailey gives the band his own rave review on its website. Set aside “the best” debate for a moment, though, and appreciate what is irrefutably here on No Strings Attached.

THE COAL PORTERS, Durango— When a Kentucky-born Byrds/Dylan scholar and a Scottish standup comedian joined forces in London way back in the ‘90s and started playing acoustic bluegrass renditions of their original songs, it was solely in response to a dare. Since then they have been joined by a hotshot female Canadian fiddler (Carly Frey) and a stellar banjo man from Cornwall, Dick Smith, with Jeff Kazmierski doing the honors on doghouse bass. Truly multicultural at the right time in history, the Coal Porters are not quite like any other band out there in the roots field.

RANDY KOHRS, Quicksand Randy Kohrs has joked about his 2007 album, Old Photograph, showcasing his affinity for blues, country and bluegrass-to his disadvantage commercially, because a solid outing on disc fit neatly into no single niche. But to an artist whose simple description of his music is "acoustic," Old Photograph was true to his sensibility. Nevertheless, Quicksand should avoid the same classification conundrum as its predecessor, since this Kohrs-produced longplayer comes down foursquare in traditional country and bluegrass territory (them blues can really get you down sometimes), with ample dollops of fiddle, mandolin, banjo and of course Kohrs's impeccable and always tasty resophonic guitar and equally affecting vocals serving to evoke a classically backwoods feel throughout.

MARLEY’S GHOST, Ghost TownLow-key, deeply felt and beautifully realized in all respects, Marley’s Ghost’s Jack Clement-produced Ghost Town is the sort of roots exercise that lays easy on the soul upon first hearing, and grows more meaningful over time, as its core humanity reveals enduring truths about the human condition.

BOB STUMP & THE BLUE MOUNTAIN BAND For a mere six bucks, the self-released six-song sampler CD from upstate New York’s Bob Stump & The Blue Mountain Band may well be the best bargain extant in roots music. On the band’s website Stump says he seeks to paint “the American landscape in words and music.” The landscape in question is as much about inner geography as it is the lay of the land—and every bit as affecting. Anyone who has a heart will want to take this trip.

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