Bluegrass season opens with Kathy Kallick Band

California’s Kathy Kallick Band jump start the Waskasoo Bluegrass Music Society season on Sept. 25 with Laurie Lewis guesting on fiddle.

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California’s Kathy Kallick Band jump start the Waskasoo Bluegrass Music Society season on Sept. 25 with Laurie Lewis guesting on fiddle.

Tickets for this Elks Lodge concert are available at area businesses including 53rd Street Music, The Red Deer Book Exchange, The Key Hole, Popow’s Autobody in Lacombe, Jackson’s Pharmasave in Innisfail and Rocky Mountain House’s Novel Ideas.

Vancouver folkster Rodney DeCroo makes his annual visit to our city Oct. 1 when he appears at the Velvet Olive. DeCroo always impresses with his personable manner and insightful lyrics.

Bluesman Morgan Davis plays the same venue on Oct. 10.

Country music legend George Jones comes by Red Deer on Oct. 15. Brooks & Dunn appear a week later, on Oct. 22. Corb Lund brings his Hurtin’ Albertans on Nov. 3 with Alan Jackson closing out the country cavalcade on Nov. 20. All shows at the Centrium.

This week’s disc reviews:

St. James’ Gate

License to Kilt

Self-released

Red Deer’s favourite Celtic band of brothers returns with their fourth long player, the anticipated License to Kilt.

The sextet is fully realized on this recording, capturing the enthusiasm and power of live performance on a professionally recorded album.

Significantly, bassist and bouzouki player Dave Best’s production ear is most highly tuned, layering as he does the many stringed, percussive, and wind sounds into a cohesive and balanced Celtic-rock bond.

The lead voices are mixed well above the stellar instrumental rumpus, with the rollicking Raise Your Glass and Whiskey Women standing out.

St. James’ Gate’s harmonies are largely of the ‘shouting in unison’ variety, entirely appropriate for spirited material. The group is anything but timid, as even the most heartfelt tune Good Good Man — a tribute to the departed Jimmy McMullen — rocks along. Balancing the endearing frivolity of Pub Brawl and A Man’s a Man are keenly constructed story songs, including Too Late, Johnny Ro and The Ghosts of Rogers Pass. Johnny Jump Up could have been prized from an obscure volume of Thin Lizzy out-takes while a cracking live version of The Waterboys’ classic Fisherman’s Blues and Peter’s Street bring the proceedings to a more traditional conclusion.

Of note is the impressive manner Billy O’Neil’s pipes and whistles are entwined within the St. James’ Gate sound. Fine local players, this is a most charming recording. Indeed, with License to Kilt, St. James’ demonstrates that the boys are back better than ever!

Ricky Skaggs

Songs My Dad Loved

Skaggsfamilyrecords.com

Without being able to pin down a defensible rationale, I’ve reacted coolly to Ricky Skaggs’s most recent bluegrass albums.

Listening to this solo album, on which the undeniably talented Skaggs plays and sings all the parts, I realized that I most appreciate the Kentucky native when he is singing unadulterated country music.

Skaggs’ solid vision for acoustic sounds is apparent.

These are simple songs from long ago — Green Pastures in the Sky, This World is Not My Home, City That Lies Foursquare and, of course, Little Maggie.

Despite the necessary multi-tracking of vocals and instruments, each performance sounds heartfelt and spontaneous.

Nothing fancy is added. Skaggs plays the fiddle, banjos, acoustic and resonator guitars, mandolins and mandocello, and bass, weaving an unadorned elegance throughout each number.

With 14 Grammy awards and a dozen country No. 1 songs behind him, with Songs My Dad Loved Ricky Skaggs has made what may prove to be his most completely satisfying recording.

Donald Teplyske is a local freelance writer who contributes a twice-monthly column on roots music; visit fervorcoulee.wordpress.com for additional reviews. If you know a roots music event of which he should be aware, contact him at fervorcoulee@shaw.ca

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