The action’s at the Vat in next few days

Tonight, Matt Anderson brings electrifying blues rock to The Vat Pub; an increasingly familiar presence on Alberta stages, this New Brunswick band leader brings with him the Hupman Brothers, themselves an impressive duo.

Array

Tonight, Matt Anderson brings electrifying blues rock to The Vat Pub; an increasingly familiar presence on Alberta stages, this New Brunswick band leader brings with him the Hupman Brothers, themselves an impressive duo.

Also at The Vat, songwriters take the stage Monday for a circle of music. Four Singers with a Song goes at 8 p.m., and features the storytelling of Rob Heath, lively country-Cajun artist Crystal Plamondon, Nashville-based Edmontonian Laurie Kerr, and emotive jazz-pop vocalist Emma-Lee. $10 at the door.

Also, the Central Music Festival is holding a talent contest for area musicians with first prize being a half-hour, paid slot at the third annual festival to be held August 14 and 15. Details at www.centralmusicfest.com.

This week’s CD reviews:

Various Artists

Appalachia: Music from Home

Lonesome Records

Recently, I have spent my Monday evenings watching Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People. A beautifully assembled documentary of the Appalachia area, the four-part series captures a region of the Americas too often portrayed in stereotype. And if the geography and people of the region are central to the story, the third pillar of the series has to be the music serving as soundtrack.

Appalachia: Music from Home is a 20-track collection of largely old-time mountain tunes that fleshes out the history of the region through song with a bit of blues, folk, and bluegrass mixed in. It is an impressive collection featuring music from varied sources.

Naturally, it works as a companion to the PBS series, but it also stands on its own as a summary of the importance of music to the people of Appalachia.

While many of the songs are familiar (Soldier’s Joy, Roll On Buddy, Shady Grove) the performances are not necessarily ones most will have in their collections. High points are a live take of Darrell Scott’s Banjo Clark, Dock Boggs’ Coal Creek March, and Jean Ritchie’s Pretty Saro. Ralph Stanley delivers Gloryland and the Traditional Sacred Harp Singers perform Weeping Mary.

Beautiful arrangements place focus on instrumentation, capturing the sense of place that cannot easily be duplicated by those not of Appalachia. In a few words, singers capture generations of family and community history.

The series is scheduled to conclude on PBS Detroit Monday evening.

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

Lonely Street

Rounder

Doyle Lawson has been operating a most successful school of bluegrass for thirty years; no matter who is in his band, Quicksilver remains precise and fresh, capturing the instrumental, emotional, and sacred intensities imperative to the bluegrass sound.

With Lonely Street Lawson introduces yet another Quicksilver line-up, one that has already changed with the departure of vocalist Darren Beachley. And while such turnover must be frustrating to one of the music’s guiding minds, Lawson always presents stellar recordings featuring unbelievable three-part harmonies. Lonely Street is no exception.

Lawson is especially adept at providing country songs with a bit of bluegrass panache.

He does that here with not only the title track, previously recorded by Patsy Cline, George Jones, and others, but also with a great little song from Marty Robbins, Call Me Up and I’ll Come Callin’ On You; this one features some nice mandolin from Lawson and fine fiddling from Brandon Godman.

New songs including When the Last of Our Days Shall Come, Monroe’s Mandolin, and the instrumental Down Around Bear Cove provide listeners with additional reasons to seek out the latest from Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.

Lonely Street may not go into the books as a DL&Q classic recording, but there is much to recommend it to those who appreciate the finest in bluegrass trio harmonies and smooth bluegrass instrumentation.

JJ Cale

Roll On

Rounder

This one slipped by me a couple months back, and I’m glad to have rediscovered it.

JJ Cale has made a career of riding breezy, bluesy grooves, and he doesn’t change things up too much on the fifteenth album in a recording career stretching back to the early 70s.

His voice melds ideally with the roots rock, rhythm and blues, guitar-based music contained within Roll On. Cale’s vocal style is shockingly laid back and seemingly unaffected by the passage of years.

This is no doubt because Cale never seems to be trying very hard.

Not that the album sounds lazy or undeveloped.

Everything works to perfection, from the jazz-influenced percussion- much of it by Cale himself- to the impeccably tasteful electric guitar serving as the disc’s skeleton.

Roll On occupies the same shelf in my listening library as Mark Knopfler’s albums of recent years; it won’t appeal to everyone, but there are times when JJ Cale’s sounds perfectly complement the mood of a day.

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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