Thursday, April 19, 2012

This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark
Various Artists

As presents go, it’s hard to beat what Guy Clark’s friends got him for his 70th  birthday. An all-star collection of buddies, road partners and fans got together and recorded 30 of his songs and called it This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark. It may be for him, but thankfully, it’s also for us.

The guest list is elbow to elbow with folks like Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Rodney Crowell and Vince Gill; Texans like Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, and Ray Wylie Hubbard; Verlon Thompson, Steve Earle and John Townes Van Zandt II.  The core Nashville band of Shawn Camp, Thompson, & pianist Jen Gunderman recorded these tracks live in studio with the help of Lloyd Maines, Mike Bub and Kenny Malone and are consistently flawless throughout.   Camp co-produced with Grammy-winner Tamara Saviano, who is working with Guy on his much-anticipated biography.

The highlights are stunning: Patty Griffin pulls The Cape around her like it always belonged there; James McMurtry’s take on Cold Dog Soup is chilling; Camp delivers the best version of Homeless I’ve ever heard; and the duet Emmylou Harris and John Prine make out of Magnolia Wind make the record worth owning. And while no song is a clunker, too many add clutter. Given the number of songs Guy has written, and the artists he’s influenced, the record could easily have been twice as large.  But a better record would be half this size.

The fact that I can complain about the record being too big while silently listing three or four songs I wish had been on here tells you what kind of songwriter Guy Clark is, what an American treasure he is and why these artists lined up to be part of this.

Curtis Lynch
December 2011

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bibb City Ramblers
Mountain Air

Sometimes it seems like the creation of a record or the evolution of a band is like making a roux – you take a few, seemingly simple ingredients and when they’re blended, stirred and simmered over time, they release a balance of flavors that become something special and unique.  And that’s where the Bibb City Ramblers find themselves with their newest release, Mountain Air.  The addition of Gini Woolfolk Davidson  on bass and vocals and Wildman Steve on washboard and vocals have given the mandolin of Brian Fowler and the vocals and guitar of “Dirty “Dan Davidson the room to realize the most complete Ramblers recording yet.

The title track opens up the disc, a high-flying ode to the Rockies and features the first of four appearances from Mosier Brothers fiddler David Blackmon. Throughout the twelve tracks, you hear a band defining itself while remaining difficult to pigeonhole. Dan’s bluesy picking and Brian’s blistering mandolin playing, along with Blackmon’s fiddle, rise from the rhythmic pad laid down by Steve and Gini and combine to create high energy Americana with tinges of newgrass on the instrumentals Red Mule Ride, the mandolin workout Slick Willie, Booze Mountain, and especially the barn-burning closer Whitetail Ridge, and old-school country on Are You Cheatin’ On Me and Hangover City. Gini’s tunes Katie McGee and the chilling 3 Bullets prove that the fightin’, killin’, cheatin’ and drinkin’ aren’t just left to the boys.

Trying to stake out a corner of the musical world is a difficult thing to do, but on Mountain Air, the love of a good story and an honest tune can be something the Bibb City Ramblers can call their own.

Curtis Lynch
April 2012

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