Volume Five – Milestones

Recorded, Mixed and Mastered at Mountain Fever Studios / Willis, VA by Aaron Ramsey
Executive Producer: Mark Hodges

Fresh off the win of TWO International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards, Volume Five has emerged with new music being released on Mountain Fever Records today. “Now That’s a Song” is the first single from an upcoming album due early next year.

Founded by Glen Harrell (fiddle & vocals), Volume Five includes the talents of Patton Wages (banjo & vocals), Colby Laney (guitar & vocals), Chris Williamson (bass & vocals), and Jacob Burleson (mandolin & vocals). These five musicians together blend into a band with true and proven staying power. With countless IBMA, SPBGMA, and Dove Award nominations to their credit, the band walked away with IBMA’s Emerging Artist of the Year and Song of the Year honors just last month in Raleigh, NC. Their previous album, Drifter, received rave reviews, produced several charting singles, and hit Billboard’s Top 5 Best-Selling Bluegrass Albums chart.

With their career moving with an upward trajectory, Volume Five is coming out of the gate strong with “Now That’s A Song,” the first single from their new album. “I had been looking for a good uptempo song and contacted Bob Minner to see if he had anything fresh to send me,” says Glen Harrell. “This one caught my ear right away and I thought ‘now that’s a song.’ A few moments later, after reaching the chorus, I realized that was actually the title of the song! Bob co-wrote this with Shawn Lane and we think it’s a winner!”

With an unexpected, almost subtle dobro kickoff, “Now That’s A Song” blazes into a spirited, straight-up bluegrass melody supporting a sweet lyric telling of a long-time love. Harrell’s lead vocal moves flawlessly with the words while the makeup of V5 proves exactly why they are turning a genre of music noted for its musical dexterity, on its ear.

Texas Heat – That Hot and Blue Guitar

Bernd Wolf, Texas Heat, February 3, 2018

I really have to tell you all about our new album, “That Hot And Blue Guitar”. We’ll release it on Friday, February 23, 2018. It’ll almost coincide with Johnny Cash’s birthday on February 26, but that is not intentional. It just so happens, even though this is an album about Johnny Cash. But let’s start at the beginning.

“There’s this great studio around the corner from where I live. I’d like to record a band there. How about it, Bernd?” These may have not been the exact words, but that’s how it all started. My friend Danny Hendriks, now formerly frontman and lead singer of the Music Road Pilots, started talking to me about “this studio”. De Moor Studios in Wijchen in the Netherlands, that’s what he was talking about. Texas Heat hadn’t recorded anything in years, and all our old CDs were long sold out, and I wasn’t allowed to have them repressed or use the recordings in any form. Since these were all my songs, though, songs I had written, I could always go back and record them again. This was the time. I thought we needed a PureCASH album to sell at our shows, and get this Johnny Cash theme done and settled to be able to move forward. So, with a lot of planning and checking different schedules, we went to Wijchen in November. It hurt to not be able to see my son Dean on his birthday, the first time ever in 17 years, but it was the only weekend that worked. So Elli, Jens, Gunnar and myself hit the road and drove to Wijchen. We checked into our B&B somewhere in the vicinity, and with great excitement, we drove over to the studio. Danny greeted us and introduced us to the studio owner, Jules Peters. What a nice guy! And looking around the recording room, I knew this was gonna be great if we managed to play well. Three days… well, two and a half, actually, of hard work lay ahead. Sunday at around 6pm, we stopped the session. We had recorded all eleven songs with the full band, worked on individual tracks here and there, recorded some extra guitars and left the rest for another weekend. We had to record the vocals and record some more guitars. We went home tired and happy, knowing there was more hard work waiting in the future. There was one moment on this weekend where I knew that the album was going to be great. Danny and I listened to “Etta’s Tune”, a song written by Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal about Etta and Marshall Grant that we recorded for this album, when Elli came into the control room and said, “Is this us? Really? Cool!” From the very first note on that we recorded, I knew Danny was the right guy to record us.

Two months later, in January 2018, Elli and I drove out to that area again to record the remaining guitars and all the vocals (we had recorded scratch vocals while recording the band, of course). Saturday morning, we started the second round of recordings in the attic of Danny’s house. The guitars came in great, a little editing here and there, and then it was time to start singing. Danny had a number of great studio mics. We tested them all, recorded some lines and compared, then made a decision as to who would sing through which microphone. The fun we had recording the band in November was at least repeated, if not doubled. Three singers… three Country singers, that is, supporting each other to get the timings, the phasings, the notes, the sound and, most importantly, the emotions down on tape… ah, excuse me, hard disc. If I hadn’t experienced it in November, it would have become more than obvious here what a hard worker with great ears Danny is. What a pleasure to work with him! We ended up getting everything recorded by Sunday night. Erwin Van De Ven, a supernice guy, great Bluegrass picker and great repairsman, dropped by on Sunday to bring Danny a guitar he had worked on. And since he brought his mandolin, we thought there certainly was room on our record for a Gibson F5. You can hear him beautify “Redemption Day”, a Sheryl Crow song that we arranged the Texas Heat way. It now has a certain Bluegrass touch. A Gibson F5 and a Fender Tele on the same song, that’s as close as I could come to also salute my other hero, Marty Stuart.

Going home that night, I knew I could have recorded the one or other extra guitar here and there, but the album was really done. Mixing was next, and sending tracks back and forth by Whatsapp sure is a modern way of working together. And I was yet to get in touch with the last person missing in this puzzle, and to say the best was saved for last would not be fair towards Danny and Erwin and my band, but Dion Vermaes sure was worth the wait. Dion mastered our album at De Moor Studios, and, once again, what a supernice and super talented guy he is! Make no mistakes about all this – it was our good, no… our dear friend Danny Hendriks who coordinated all these people and the whole timeline. About a week ago, after two weeks of mixing and talking back and forth, making some suttle and some not so suttle changes, adding reverb here and there, talking about differences in sounds, moving instruments in the mix from the right to the left and back again, finding a guitar missing I wanted to record but forgot to, making a change that makes up for that missing guitar, I had to make a decision in what order I’d want the songs. Elli and I found the right order, I guess. There is no other possible order.

So, finally, three days ago, I received the masters, and I’m happy. The album sounds great! It is way about time to thank Danny Hendriks for his hard work, patience, know-how, his perfect coordination, his friendship and all the fun we had! If you want to record a great record, you should go and contact Danny and his company For The Record Music. More thanks go out to Jessie, Danny’s wonderful wife, for her great hospitality. To Jules Peters at De Moor Studios: I hope YOU are satisfied with our results! Your studio is a great place, my friend! Thanks for inviting us and letting us put some serious boom-chicka-boom through your facility!  To Erwin Van De Ven: thanks for stopping by and putting some of your talent into our record! And thanks for taking care of my boxes. Finally, to Dion Vermaes: Thanks for your talent and for putting the right finishing touches to our record! To you all: We’ll be back!

One last word: These songs, at least eight of them, are a piece of my heart. I’m proud of these songs, I’m proud of these recordings, I’m proud of my band! Please support us and everybody involved in this project by buying this record. Support independent musicians and all these extremely talented people involved in their projects!

Midnight Skyracer – Fire

The reservoir of talent on the current acoustic-folk-bluegrass scene seems nigh bottomless!…  Those cheeky Carrivick Sisters Charlotte and Laura seem to crop up everywhere these days, notably in newgrass-contemporary-flavoured quartet Cardboard Fox (who’ve just released their second album Topspin), and this fresh-sounding all-female quintet is yet another string to their bows (so to speak).

Here in this sparky new “girl-power bluegrass” outfit Laura and Charlotte are teamed up with virtuoso banjoist Tabitha Agnew and mandolinist Leanne Thorose – both of whom also sing (and how!) – and double bass player Eleanor Wilkie (who doesn’t sing, but as it turns out has also written some of the songs for this debut Midnight Skyracer album).

 

High-energy playing, characterful and strongly individual solo and harmony singing, high-class original songwriting, and a real talent for cutting through to the core of old-time bluegrass standards like Hazel Dickens’ Working Girl Blues (and that one’s a blinder!) – well what more could you want? Just get the opening track, Leanne’s Fuel To My Fire, slotted into the player, and feel the hard, tough, gritty energy she voices, set to one of the most driven, motoring rhythms you can imagine, not a beat or note missed – wow!

Leanne’s gutsy, commanding voice takes the lead on five tracks; Tabitha’s altogether gentler vocal presence (equally effective in its own way) leads on three, and Laura on just one (an impeccably-harmonised, true-hearted cover of the gorgeous Bill Monroe number Sitting Alone In The Moonlight). As for the remaining track, well you can tell by its title that Spinous Shark, is gonna be an edgy instrumental tour-de-force – and so it proves. In fact, it’s a surprise not to find at least a couple more instrumental cuts here, given the superlative chops on display (but then again, you could say that the lasses’ proficiency isn’t strictly On Display but just part of their furniture and the air that they breathe!).

 

The disc’s menu and careful sequencing both celebrate and showcase the expressive variety and individuality of the participants. But even so, you can’t fail to sit there open-mouthed at the astounding dexterity of the playing, which is brilliant even by championship-standard bluegrass standards – for there’s sensitivity in shading and dynamic balance too alongside and inside the high-octane note-spinning virtuosity. You just can’t believe the band’s been together barely a year!  Yeah, I gotta say it, this CD is tremendous.

Tour Dates

5TH MAY • CROSSOVER FESTIVAL • CONGLETON, CHESHIRE

8TH MAY • SUDHAUS • TÜBINGEN, GERMANY

9TH MAY • FABRIKBEITZ • WÄDENSWIL, SWITZERLAND

11TH MAY • JENAER FRÜHLINGSMARKT • JENA, GERMANY

12TH MAY • PRIVATE CONCERT • BÖLLENBORN, GERMANY

13TH MAY • WODAN HALLE • FREIBURG, GERMANY

14TH MAY • KAUFMÄNNISCHE SCHULE – NEUBAU • BAD URACH, GERMANY

15TH MAY • NEUE WELT • INGOLSTADT, GERMANY

16TH MAY • RATTLESNAKE SALOON • MÜNCHEN, GERMANY

17TH MAY • CLUBHEIM • VÖHRINGEN-ILLERBERG, GERMANY

18TH MAY • SCHWIIZER PÖSCHTLI • RIFFERSWIL, SWITZERLAND

19TH MAY • SPRING BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL • WILLISAU, SWITZERLAND

27TH JUNE • BURNETT’S HILL CHAPEL • MARTLETWY, PEMBROKESHIRE

28TH JUNE • LYCEUM FOLK CLUB • NEWPORT, GWENT

29TH JUNE • SPARC THEATRE • BISHOPS CASTLE, SHROPSHIRE

30TH JUNE • MUSIC AT THE BUILDINGS • ASHINGTON, WEST SUSSEX

1ST JULY • WHITSTABLE SESSIONS • WHISTSTABLE, KENT

2ND JULY • THE HARRISON • KINGS CROSS, LONDON

3RD JULY • DARTFORD FOLK CLUB • DARTFORD, KENT

4TH JULY • THE MUSICIAN • LEICESTER, LEICESTERSHIRE

6TH JULY • PRIDDY FOLK FESTIVAL • PRIDDY, SOMERSET

7TH JULY • ABBOTSBURY FESTIVAL • ABBOTSBURY, DORSET

9TH JULY • THE BELL INN • BATH, SOMERSET

15TH JULY • FOLK BY THE OAK • HATFIELD HOUSE, HERTFORDSHIRE

27TH JULY • BEER AND BLUEGRASS • POOLE, DORSET

10TH AUGUST • CROPREDY FESTIVAL • CROPREDY, OXFORDSHIRE

19TH AUGUST • PURBECK VALLEY FOLK FESTIVAL • HARMAN’S CROSS, DORSET

24TH AUGUST • SHREWSBURY FOLK FESTIVAL • SHREWSBURY, SHROPSHIRE

25TH AUGUST • TWINWOOD FESTIVAL • TWINWOOD. BEDFORDSHIRE

30TH AUGUST • UPWOOD VILLAGE HALL • UPWOOD, CAMBRIDGESHIRE

6TH OCTOBER • DERBY FOLK FESTIVAL • DERBY, DERBYSHIRE