Chris Hennessee – Ramble

Chris Hennessee says-
“Not so many years ago I loaded up the Ford Ranger and made my way out of my home town of Decatur, TN headed for Nashville. In the years that followed I have been blessed to have the opportunity to write with some of the most talented people in the world and play with the most talented musicians. I’ve also been blessed with cuts on records like Billy Currington’s “A Little Bit Of Everything” as well as Kevin Fowler, Corey Morrow, Rodney Carrington, and Cody Johnson albums. Recently a song I wrote with my friends The Wild Feathers titled “Hennessee” was featured on the hit TV show “Nashville”.
Since the Fall of 2012 I’ve been a member of one of the best bands on the road backing my good friend Mr. Jamey Johnson. With Jamey I’ve had the opportunity to share the stage with some of my musical heros like Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Allison Krause just to name a few.”

Great review here


Blue Yonder – Rough And Ready Heart


Every Tuesday evening since early 2013, Blue Yonder, a trio of nationally-known musicians representing diverse strands of Americana musical traditions, has given people in a small Charleston, WV, venue a soul-cleansing way to connect with themselves and each other.

With the February 2018 release of their new record- ing Rough and Ready Heart, Blue Yonder plans to bring this same experience to new audiences in similarly intimate settings beyond their home state of West Virginia.

Anchored in compelling grooves of classic country, rockabilly, swing and folk music, the band presents original songs about “living, loving and los- ing along life’s backroads and highways” that people from all walks of life can relate to.

“My songs tell stories that anyone who’s been in re- lationships or set out on a road trip can relate to, no matter where they come from,” says John Lilly, Blue Yonder’s national award-winning, and nationally traveled, performing songwriter. “It’s been great to be able to work in my home town with guys who ap- preciate playing mostly original music, and to share that music every week with our regulars, who keep coming back to hear new material.”

Blue Yonder guitarist Robert Shafer, noting the many styles of Lilly’s songwriting, appreciates that “with Blue Yonder I can stretch out more than I can with most bands.” One of few to win the prestigious Win eld Walnut Valley national at-picking contest more than once, Shafer is also known as a “spectacular rockabilly guitarist who also brings swing and bop in uences to his playing” (Washington Post).

Blue Yonder upright bass player and producer Will Carter, best known for founding the global summit of old-time musicians at the annual “Clifftop” festival in WV, reports that for him “an evening with Blue Yonder is like telling tales around a camp re – the stories we tell take me out of my speci c situation and connect me, through shared experiences and emotions, with everyone in the room.”

Recorded at Echo Mountain Recording Studios in Asheville, NC, Rough and Ready Heart introduces listeners to charac- ters dealing with life and death, love and loss, memories and aspirations – with stories set to a pleasing arc of Amer- icana styles ranging from barn-burning rockers to gentle waltzes to mournful ballads to inspirational anthems. The band’s debut recording, Bittersweet Road, features all origi- nal songs and reached #2 on the Freeform American Roots radio chart in late 2013. 

Dawson Hollow – Boy Of My Youth

In their debut LP, the sibling quintet of Dawson Hollow brings together a fun and spirited collection of folk-rock tunes. Drawing inspiration from bands like The Avett Brothers and First Aid Kit, Boy of My Youth showcases the magic of sibling harmony while pulling out every rhythmic trick in the stomp-folk book to create a greatly entertaining record.

It’s difficult to tie Boy of My Youth down to one single subgenre. The songs vary from indie rock to traditional folk, giving the album an eclectically variable feel which in turn keeps listeners on their toes. However, there is still a strong thematic structure that keeps the record moving, especially lyrically. The sibling songwriters emphasize the connection between home and youth, reminiscing the good old days when they paraded through the neighborhoods in “Hills & Roads,” and pleading for people to cherish the moment in “Be Here.”

There is something special that comes from two or more siblings singing together. The harmonies are tighter, and the voices ring with a pure resonance. “BOMY” is a standout track on the record in part because of how enchanting the vocals are, which dip in and out minor chords through a wavy chord progression. Ben Link leads the way, continuing the theme of having to grow up and part ways from a life at home. However, he finds the nostalgic feeling he misses so much in the love he still shares with his family. “You learn to grow/With the time/Don’t know what’s next/Only what’s behind/Love carries on.”

Boy of My Youth can feel a bit derivative at times in the sense that it’s difficult to not compare them to other groups. In fact, there is a direct nod to the Avett Brothers with the song title “Pretty Girl from Missouri,” which closely emulates Avett Bros. songs “Pretty Girl from Chile,” Pretty Girl from San Diego,” and “Pretty Girl from Michigan.” Though, in the context of the album this is more of a respectful nod than it is direct copying. With all of that being said, Boy of My Youth is a strong debut record from an extremely promising band. It’s impossible not to tap your foot or sing along a few times throughout the album. Dawson Hollow is a group to keep your eye on, as they will surely have much more to offer us in the future.


Guest Writer: John Wheeler wrote this piece. We think he’s pretty cool. 

I see hawks in L.A – live and never learn

I SEE HAWKS IN L.A. formed in the first year of the 21st century on a desert journey that has led to seven releases,UK/Europe and U.S. tours, and way too much fun. Alt country folk rock with rich harmonies and a way outsider approach to Americana.

Author: Peter Churchill

I See Hawks in L.A. “Live and Never Learn” (Blue Rose, 2018)





The Ragtone Ramblers – Ragtone Stomp

Playing in the pocket where country and jazz unashamedly mingle, The Ragtone Ramblers first release Ragtone Stomp, represents 12 months of careful songwriting and captures a sound that is both unique and strangely familiar.

The six tracks showcase a style distilled from the great hillbilly, honkytonk and western swing acts of the early 20th century with hints of jugband, Dixieland and country blues also getting a nod. The recording retains the warmth and character of the bands vintage sound and energetic live shows.

The sweet country twang of three distinct vocalists and songwriting styles blend seamlessly against a back drop of steel guitar, slappin’ bass, tenor banjo and the rattle of the washboard.

Introduced by a mutual friend who just knew they’d be great together, the band formed in early 2017, after realising they shared a common love of early American roots music and vintage instruments.

Evolving from bands including Floyd Family Breakdown, Mayhem County Boys and the Sugar Shakers – the Ragtone Ramblers recorded on this release are: Dennis Duigan (vocals, guitar, mandolin, harp), Mitch Humphrys (vocals, archtop guitar, steel guitar, tenor banjo), Paula Hackney (vocals, washboard, tenor banjo and snare). Toby Mellonie plays double bass at live shows.

Borrowed Tyme Band – Borrowed Tyme Band

Formed in late 2015, Borrowed Tyme’s vocal harmonies are often heard soaring above Roger Brown’s clean, crisp mandolin style and Josh Wood’s driving style of banjo. Rounding out the other half of the group is Dan Canerday and his seasoned style of guitar and Rick Wilson’s dynamic bass playing.

The High Country Cowboys – Great American Cowboy

Award winning yodeling and Traditional Western Harmony with a Classic sound similar to the original Sons of the Pioneers.

Remembering the good old days of Western Music and the Silver Screen Cowboys like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and the Sons of the Pioneers, the High Country Cowboys present to you, their brand of this Classic Genre! Born and raised in Montana, the three brothers John, Joe and Marty were brought up in the heart of ranch country where the roads are all dirt, and the cows still out number the people! They grew up watching the old B-western films on VHS which instilled in them their love for the west and of course cowboy music. Since their beginning in 2014, they have been recognized by different associations across the country. Their lead singer Marty has been awarded as Western Music Associations ‘Yodeler of the Year’ 3 times and once with the Pro Cowboy Country Artist Association. The PCCAA Also awarded the group as “Music Group of the Year” in 2017. They also received “Best Traditional Album of the Year” with the WMA IN 2017. Their traditional sound and three part western harmony has been compared to the Sons of the Pioneers and Marty Robbins.

Kenny James & Friends

Album Notes

Kenny James retired from life as a Network Administrator in a mid-size mid-western town in late 2016. He immediately returned to the life he had given up years before – as a singer/musician/entertainer and sometimes songwriter. He and his wife Donna sold the family home, bought an RV and began looking for a place where the musical tastes fit the music that had always been in his heart. Even though traditional country music had been starved from the airwaves, it was still loved by many and he knew he could find an audience who would share his musical tastes. And where better to look than in the Hill Country of Texas! Kenny spent as much time as he could listening to and playing with the many of the outstanding artists in and around the Bandera, Texas area and this album is in large part derived from the musical legacy of that area. Kenny went to his son, Ken Pearsall, who worked at a recording school in Madison, WI, to engineer the tracks and he went to his many friends to lend their talents to the recordings. Many had played country music most of their lives. For all involved, this was a labor of love. You will find a list of the musicians and the instruments they played on the liner notes on the album and below. We all hope you enjoy the music!

Lee Miller, Steel Guitar & Harmony Vocals
Lance Massey, Lead Guitar, Harmony Vocals
Glenn “Junior” Moore, Bass Fiddle
Jesse Armstrong, Cajon
Randy Myatt, Lead Guitar
Gary “The Voice” McAdams, Harmony Vocals and Vocal Arrangements
Ken Pearsall, Archtop Guitar, Recording Engineer, Mixing Engineer, Mastering Engineer
Steve Doiel, Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Harmony Vocals
Biff Blumfumgagnge, Fiddle
Eric Nofsinger, Fiddle
Kenny James, Acoustic Guitar, Lead Guitar, Accordion, Bass Guitar, Lead & Harmony Vocals, Arrangements, Songwriter and Producer

Gwenifer Raymond – You Never Were Much of a Dancer

The 32-year-old Welsh multi-instrumentalist Gwenifer Raymond is a perfect advertisement for the benefits of chasing down rabbit holes. As a young Nirvana fan, she heard their cover of Lead Belly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night and started hunting down American acoustic blues, then sought guitar lessons from a teacher who introduced her to John Fahey, the pioneer of American primitive guitar music. Fahey echoes throughout her mesmerising debut album (there’s even a track called Requiem for John Fahey). So much so that hearing it blind you would refuse to believe it had been recorded by a Brighton resident originally from Wales. Surely this stew of bluegrass, blues and haunted Americana could only come from a land where cotton and tobacco grow.

The opening track, Off to See the Hangman Part I, is a red herring, Raymond picking out a droning, Arabic-inflected melody on an old violin. But on the second, Sometimes There’s Blood, the fingerpicking begins and never lets up. It’s a wonderful and mysterious album: Raymond plays everything herself, with attention to detail not just in playing but in instrumentation (a 1920s Bradley Kincaid “Houn’ Dog” parlour guitar included). It’s music that creaks, in which you can hear the metaphorical wind whistling through the figurative cracks in the walls. Please don’t assume it’s all southern gothic for acoustic instruments, though: there’s joy in the the fast picking of Face Down Strut and the frantic Appalachian banjo picking of Oh, Command Me Lord! This is a gorgeous album, and Gwenifer Raymond is a profound talent.

The Sea the Sea – From the Light

The headlong rush to consume, categorise and understand new music before, quickly moving on to the next new single, new EP, new album has become one of the defining characteristics of the contemporary listening experience.

Some albums, though, require and deserve close attention, repeated listening, revealing their intricacies and inner-depths long after the initial rush of vibrant rhythm or sugary close harmony has faded away. It will probably come as no surprise to you that I consider From the Light the second album from The Sea the Sea to be just such and album. This is folk-tinged pop of the highest order.

Having grown from the initial pairing of Chuck and Mira Costa, primary songwriters for the group with the addition of Cara May Gorman on vocals and synthesizer, as well as drummer and percussionist Stephen Struss, the sonic possibilities open to The Sea the Sea are much wider, as well as more challenging and ultimately exhilarating for the listener than they were previously. Production from Tony Pohl gives each element of the band plenty of room to breathe and space to shine, showcasing the versatility of both the songs penned by the Costa’s and the quartet themselves.

This album has everything you could possibly hope for. It starts deceptively-gently with ‘All Go Right’ which gives the initial impression of being an off-cut from The Civil Wars before expanding it’a palette with orchestral and percussive flourishes. Beautifully mixed vocal lines sweep in and out, weaving around and in between one another as the newly-expanded four-piece set their stall out early on.

But it would be a mistake to think of this record as an insubstantial slice of atmospheric pop. For every gentle ballad-esque moment such as ‘Gemeni’ or ‘Let it Be Said’ which is as ready made for a key scene in Grey’s Anatomy as any song has been in recent memory with its “When you come to me, let it be real, may the road rise to meet you the wind at your heels….we go with no apologies or we go alone” refrain and lilting 6/8 rhythms, there’s the pleasant surprise of the driving ‘Phototropic’ or the aptly named ‘Ricochet’, which skitters around, giving each member of the band the opportunity to truly shine.

By the time of closer ‘Take That’ any sense that The Sea the Sea are mere pretenders will have long-since faded away. This is substantial modern pop music, in the vein of bands like The Magic Numbers, another act with a recent album who are incredibly consistent and innovative but who remain oddly overlooked. This is a beautifully mixed and intricate record deserving of wider acclaim.