Buffalo Rose – The Soil & The Seed

Folk and Soul-grass with soaring vocal harmonies.

 

 

 

The Soil and The Seed by Buffalo Rose is a well-produced, cozy folk record with soulful harmonies. Vocalists Mariko Reid, Lucy Clabby and Shane McLaughlin join together to create a wall of sound, with the gently plucked guitar (McLaughlin), dobro (Malcolm Inglis), bass (Jason Rafalak) and mandolin (Bryce Rabideau). In 12 tracks, Buffalo Rose energetically tackles a variety of  Americana-ish songs, ranging from boisterously upbeat (ripe for singalongs) to gently sweet and tenderly sad.

The album-opener, “God Willing,” is a fun stomp- and clap-heavy number, but the band shines brightest on tracks like “Poison Oak.” It’s a bittersweet number about learning from heartbreak, and finding light and a home after the hurt. The beautiful female vocals softly sing: “I opened up the blinds and let the sun in,” an affirmation about inviting happiness back into your life.

Richelle Sigrist – Eyes Of A Stranger

Much anticipated debut album from one of Oklahoma’s top up and coming female artists.

Album Notes
Influenced by James Taylor, Ray Charles, and Bonnie Raitt, Richelle’s original music is lyrically driven with various blends of classic rock, soul, blues and pop.

Abi Wade – Beautifully Astray

Abi Wade’s ‘A Bit Like Love’ helped cast off our daily duties, and for a moment, took our hand and navigated together through the virtual forest – mysterious, looming, pyramid-like. Abi’s music is a wonderful continuity of sound, mixed with haunting but demure beckoning of solitary serenades. It’s a delight.

“She cast aside the thunderous tangs, which upon she scattered her vocal complaints. Why does it come to this maladie of tragedies? She silently cast off, into that void. Lonely, and forever hazed.” -CHF-

“Why can’t our relationship be better than this?” she asked.

 

“Don’t know. I really don’t.”

“I really wish..”

Then before he could finish his excuse, she put her index finger near his lips, silently shouting at him to stop. She was crying. She hated when he groveled like this. She hated the situation they were in.

Again. And again.

Was there a end? Was her patience, as deep as space?

It was eating her alive.

She crumbled, continuing her silent sorrow, on that cold un-feeling kitchen floor.

 

Abi’s rendition is a vivid account, of things could or should have been, in this life or in another dimension. It’s a fascinating tale, without many words, but it ensures so much with calculated weight within the arrangement and impactful emotions of its emissions. Her natural vocal uniqueness and talents, bounce off of her external instrumental notes, accurately and empathetically.

We were taken by the production.

Kudos, Abi. Kudos.

We’re fans.

She’s a talent and we’re captivated by her vocals. Looking forward to many great things.

Frank Lee & Allie Burbrink – Roll On, Clouds

Frank Lee and Allie Burbrink (Bryson City, NC) are a vocal-driven old time duo. Their April 2018 release, Roll On, Clouds, showcases their favorite songs from over two years of performing together. These pieces range from blues tradition (“Somebody On Your Bond,” “Roll and Tumble”) to bluegrass classics (“Standing on a Mountain,” “Cabin on a Hill”), yet remain rooted in the old time aesthetic. Frank’s nylon string fretless banjo is the dominant instrument, with guitar, slide guitar, and Allie’s banjo and harmonica adding to the musical texture. Recording engineer Bruce Lang supplies upright bass on several tracks.

Frank and Allie, core duo of longstanding string band The Freight Hoppers, have traveled extensively as touring musicians. Frank, a founding member of The Freight Hoppers, has impressed audiences all over the United States, Canada, and northern Europe with his signature clawhammer sound. Allie is a founding member of The Whipstitch Sallies, a band from Indiana that toured in the Midwest, North Carolina, Colorado, and Hawaii. Together, the pair is a powerhouse duo with appearances planned across the country and in France.

1. Little Sadie
(Traditional)
Frank Lee: Vocals & Steel string banjo – aDGBD
Allie Burbrink: Harmony vocals & guitar
Bruce Lang: Upright bass
A classic murder ballad with long and deep roots in North Carolina popular in old time and bluegrass circles. Our version is loosely based on Clarence “Tom” Ashley’s.

2. Somebody on Your Bond
(Willie Johnson, © Alpha Music, Inc.)
Frank Lee: Vocals & National Duolian resonator guitar
Allie Burbrink: Vocals & guitar
A spiritual piece learned from Blind Willie Johnson.

3. Turn Your Radio On
(Albert E. Brumley, © Stamps-Baxter Music)
Frank Lee: Vocals & guitar
Allie Burbrink: Harmony vocals & guitar
Bruce Lang: Upright bass
Written by Albert E. Brumley, this catchy spiritual song was popularized by John Hartford. We learned our arrangement from the Blue Sky Boys.

4. Travelin’ Down This Lonesome Road
(Bill Monroe, © Unichappell Music Inc. And Bill Monroe Music)
Allie Burbrink: Vocals & harmonica
Frank Lee: Harmony vocals & nylon string fretless banjo f#BF#BC#
Credited to Bill Monroe, this heartbreak song is one from bluegrass repertoire that makes a great blues piece.

5. Standing on a Mountain
(Alton Delmore, © Vidor Publications, Inc.)
Frank Lee: Vocals & steel string banjo aDGBD out of F position
Allie Burbrink: Harmony vocals & guitar
Bruce Lang: Upright bass
A sweet song written by the Delmore Brothers. We learned our version from Jim and Jesse McReynolds.

6. Cabin on a Hill
(Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, © Peer International Corp)
Allie Burbrink: Vocals & guitar
Frank Lee: Vocals & guitar
A Flatt and Scruggs classic! We have fun trading the lead vocals on this one.

7. Gallows Pole
(Traditional)
Allie Burbrink: Vocals & guitar
Frank Lee: Vocals & nylon string fretless banjo c#BG#C#
Possibly the oldest song we perform, this piece is from the singing of Lead Belly. It’s been in Frank’s repertoire for many years. Find Frank’s tabs on our website under “Funky Frailing with Frank,” episode 1.

8. Sandy Boys
(Traditional)
Frank Lee: Nylon string fretless banjo dBEAB
Allie Burbrink: Steel string banjo f#DGCD capo 4
Modal tune commonly played on the fiddle and popularized by West Virginia fiddler Edden Hammons.

9. Arkansas Sheik
(Traditional)
Frank Lee: Vocals & guitar
Allie Burbrink: Harmony vocals & guitar
Bruce Lang: Upright bass
A cautionary song recorded in Atlanta by Riley Puckett and Clayton McMitcheon in 1928, warning Missouri girls not to get involved with boys from Arkansas.

10. Stagger Lee
(Traditional)
Frank Lee: Vocals & steel string banjo gDGBD
Allie Burbrink: Harmony vocals & guitar
Bruce Lang: Upright bass
This murder ballad describes the altercation between “Stag” Lee and Billy Lyons in St. Louis, MO in 1895. First recorded by Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians in 1924 under the title “Stack O’ Lee Blues”. We print t-shirts of the Black Patti label version by Long Cleve Reed and Little Harvey Hull. Our version is based on the Pine Ridge Boys’ from southwest Virginia.

11. Reuben’s Train
(Traditional)
Frank Lee: Vocals & nylon string fretless banjo d#BD#F#B Allie Burbrink: Harmony vocals & harmonica
Another popular piece in both bluegrass and old time circles, this melody is also called “Train 45”.

12. Can’t Nobody Hide From God
(Willie Johnson & Angeline Johnson, © Alpha Music, Inc.)
Allie Burbrink: Vocals & guitar
Frank Lee: Harmony vocals & National Duolian resonator guitar (open D)
Bruce Lang: Upright bass
Blind Willie Johnson’s 1930 recording is the source for this spiritual song. One of the first songs we started singing together.

13. Roll and Tumble
(Willie Newbern, © Music Sales Corp. Obo St. James Music)
Allie Burbrink: Vocals & harmonica
Frank Lee: Harmony vocals & nylon string fretless banjo d#BD#F#B
Learned from Rosa Lee Hill, this piece comes from the northern Mississippi blues tradition. Find Frank’s tabs on our website under “Funky Frailing with Frank”, episode 6.

14. Sugar Babe
(Traditional)
Frank Lee: Nylon string banjo eBEAB
Allie Burbrink: Steel string banjo eDGBD capo 7
Learned from the playing of Joe Birchfield and adapted to the banjo. Find Frank’s tabs on our website under “Funky Frailing with Frank”, episode 2.

15. Let the Sun Shine Down on Me
(Jean Ritchie, © Jonathan B. Pickow Trust)
Allie Burbrink: Vocals & steel string banjo f#DGCD capo 4
Frank Lee: Nylon string banjo eBEAB
Bruce Lang: Upright bass
Recorded by Jean Ritchie in 1965, this piece appears on the album “Mountain Hearth and Home: Jean Ritchie Sings the Songs of her Kentucky Mountain Family.”

All songs arranged by Frank Lee and Allie Burbrink © 2018
www.frankleeandallieburbrink.com
Recorded at Big Creek Studios in Barnardsville, NC
Mixed and mastered by Bruce Lang
Photographs by Terri Clark Photography
Design by Karl Eggers Design

Thanks to all who preordered this album to fund the recording process, especially Connie Burbrink and Dorothy Kendall.
Thanks to Bruce for his patience, good humor, and skill.
Thanks to all who have stood by us through the sunshine and through the clouds.
Thanks to Sam, Little Kitty, Eensteen, and Sadie for entertaining us.

For Willow

* * * * * *
Vocal harmonies, banjo harmonies. Blues harmonica, blues banjo. Reso guitar, fingerpicked guitar. Old favorites, a few surprises. Sweet, spirited, soulful. Recorded in North Carolina, ROLL ON, CLOUDS is a collection of the swath of music Frank & Allie love to share in their live shows.

Roll On, Clouds might be tucked under the bluegrass umbrella, but you won’t hear any banjo rolls or any fiddles. The banjos are hit, not picked, in a style called clawhammer that predates the rolls so commonly heard in bluegrass music. Frank and Allie both have bluegrass music in their musical backgrounds, but their banjo approach here, attention to source recordings, and placement of the beat would cause a more attuned listener to stow this CD on the Contemporary Old Time shelf alongside releases from their band The Freight Hoppers. But at the same time, the blues is a heavy influence on this record, with slide banjo, slide guitar, and Allie’s vocals packing a bluesy punch on those tracks. Though the influences are wide, this collection of songs has a coherent feel – confidence from years of playing together, yet freshness of trying some new things in the safety of the studio. This isn’t a record that’s been worked over with all the tools of modern studios, though. You’ll hear rawness, imperfections, and the feeling you’re watching the music be made in front of you. With its natural feel and its lyrics of heartbreak and hope, ROLL ON, CLOUDS is for anyone waiting for hard times to pass and for the sun to shine down again.

* * * * *

 

Crystal Shawanda – Voodoo Woman

 

Since her debut on both the Canadian and American country charts, it has been obvious that Crystal Shawanda could sing.

Recording largely formulistic, and at times bombastic, country-pop, Shawanda found limited success as a mainstream country singer, touring in support of Brad Paisley across Canada, for example, and ‘almost’ hitting the Country Top Twenty a decade ago with the rather ‘over the top’ emotionally-rife “You Can Let Go.” Still, Dawn of a New Day showed promise and—looking back—“My Roots Are Showing” hinted at the direction Shawanda would eventually follow.

Going the route of independence has proven artistically significant for Shawanda, who released a more personal set of music with Just Like You, but the album’s singles didn’t get significant traction at country radio. The album did garner Shawanda a well-deserved Juno Award as Best Aboriginal Album in 2013.

More recently, she has redefined herself as a blues-rock singer, and this seems to be the genre where she is most comfortable. The Whole World’s Got the Blues was a more than impressive collection of blues standards and original material, including the steaming, self-penned title track and “I’m Not Your Baby.” Revealing herself as an honest blues belter, Shawanda also remained true to her roots. Included on the album was the evocative and powerful rocker “Pray Sister Pray” as a call-to-action for the Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women of Canada.

Fish Out of Water continued Shawanda’s foray into southern blues sounds, with both title track and “When You Rise” showcasing her ability to get to the gritty roots of the music while “Laid Back” showed a softer, more satisfied and companionable side.

Voodoo Woman was released late in 2017, but is only now hitting radio. It is a one hell of a blues album, loaded with memorable vocal performances.

Recording a set of covers for the first time, Shawanda revisits the music that inspired her as a child growing up on Manitoulin Island. Influenced by her brother’s listening habits, the blues spoke to Shawanda—as they do to many of us—as unvarnished reflections of troubled lives.

Somewhat playfully, a hybrid of “Wang Dang Doodle” and “Smokestack Lightning” opens the album, but Shawanda hits her mark from the start. “I’ll Always Love You” previously appeared on The Whole World’s Got the Blues, and in this new rendition is as powerful as a heartfelt, blues ballad can be. Janis Joplin’s, via Big Mama Thornton, “Ball and Chain” is given a fiery arrangement, with a much appreciated extended saxophone break.

Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind”—known to many as the melody for Chris Stapleton’s version of “Tennessee Whiskey”—is an undisputed showstopper, but so are most of these familiar numbers. Co-producer (with Shawanda) Dewayne Stobel, one believes, provides the lead guitar licks, and these are consistently impressive across the album, but maybe just a little more so on the rump-twitchin’ “Trouble” and closing “Blue Train/Smokestack Lightning Revisited.”

Personally, Shawanda’s version of “Misty Blue” is stellar. Written as a country song and a hit for both Wilma Burgessand Eddy Arnold (and later, again for Billie Jo Spears), Dorothy Moore’s 1976 version of the song was likely the first soul/R&B song I fell in love with: I’m discriminating in what I will accept when a singer comes back to this beautifully crafted song. Shawanda further demonstrates her vocal range on this number, pulling back the growl and grit to provide the song with the sensitivity and ‘wanting’ required. Truly masterful.

Voodoo Woman reveals Crystal Shawanda as a blues performer of significance. The musicianship is excellent, the production crisp. And, most importantly, Crystal Shawanda can sing. Give her another listen: you will be missing something important if you don’t.