september 2011

monroeVARIOUS ARTISTS, Bill Monroe Centennial Celebration: A Classic Bluegrass Tribute--In the same manner that Monroe’s music reached beyond the boundaries of what became known as bluegrass, the multiple generations of artists represented on the 28 tracks here underscore the degree to which Monroe’s songs continue to speak to musicians who grew up in times and circumstances quite different from the rural, isolated, close-knit family life Monroe knew in his childhood and which informed his view of the world and the values he advanced as a songwriter—values that clearly have not gone out of style, as these performances prove, ranging as they do from the 1970s to the present day.

highwayBLUE HIGHWAY, Sounds of Home--A good year for bluegrass music from new and established bands and solo artists alike is heading into its final quarter in grand style with the release of Blue Highway’s Sounds of Home, the celebrated band’s first album of all-original material in a decade.


bradleyDALE ANN BRADLEY, Somewhere South of Crazy--The home you cultivate in your heart and in your memory, and draw strength from thereafter--through “the mystery of strange million-visaged time that haunts us with the briefness of our days,” as Thomas Wolfe observed in Of Time and The River--is the place we belong. Martin Sloan learned this at the end of The Twilight Zone episode titled “Walking Distance,” and Dale Ann Bradley is perfectly attuned to its truth in Somewhere South of Crazy.

nu bluNU-BLU, The Blu-Disc--The band’s sophomore album advances the strengths of its first album and then some, albeit minus any new original songs from group founders Daniel and Carolyn Routh. On the other hand, when a band can draw from a pool of tunes by the likes of Tim Stafford, Jon Weisberger (in collaboration with each other and with other writers), Mark Brinkman, Marc Rossi and Donna Ulisse, et al., well, go for it.

ulisseDONNA ULISSE, An Easy Climb--Arguably her most personal album, An Easy Climb is indisputably the most impressive showcase yet of Ms. Ulisse’s continuing development as a first-rank contemporary songwriter and singer.


giviing treeTHE GIVING TREE BAND, The Joke, The Threat And The Obvious--This is the Giving Tree Band, and The Joke, The Threat And The Obvious is but another chapter in an unfolding saga ever more compelling with each installment. Something special is going on here, and the wheel’s still in spin.

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