Roll west for Rockies Bluegrass Festival

A couple choices this weekend for those looking for live roots music. Featuring Nova Scotia’s The Spinney Brothers, the Canadian Rockies Bluegrass Festival goes this weekend at the David Thompson Resort.

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A couple choices this weekend for those looking for live roots music.

Featuring Nova Scotia’s The Spinney Brothers, the Canadian Rockies Bluegrass Festival goes this weekend at the David Thompson Resort.

Several Alberta groups also appear. Call 1-888-810-2103 for information.

Tomorrow night, Captain Tractor returns to The Hideout. Celebrating the release of their sterling Famous Last Words, the Edmonton group will likely pack the Gasoline Alley joint.

The Mark Davis Band, with guests Camp Radio, appears at The Hideout June 23 as Davis marks the release of his excellent album Eliminate the Toxins.

The formidable Mary Gauthier comes to the same venue with explosive fiddler Tania Elizabeth July 10.

Red Deer’s Central Music Festival features blues, roots, and rock from Odds, David Essig, Souljah Fyah, David Vest, the Jack Semple Trio, and Jonas and the Massive Attraction alongside local performers. Ticket information for the August 12-14 event is available at www.CentralMusicFest.com.

This week’s disc review:

Alison Krauss & Union Station

Paper Airplane

Rounder

It has been six years since we’ve heard new music from this top-drawing bluegrass band and while such a stretch might prove commercial suicide for some, the hiatus has allowed the band members to take care of themselves and rejuvenate while exploring side projects.

The quintet returns with an impressive collection of 11 songs, most of which will sound familiar to those who appreciate their uplifting sound.

Krauss and her Union Station mates — and AKUS is truly a band, not a backing unit for a featured performer — further refine the acoustiblue parameters that they have established and explored over the past 15 years since So Long, So Wrong. The acoustic instrumentation is, as expected, exemplary in its tone and execution and while some of the songs- it could be argued- have a similar calm and sedate sound, there are enough lively moments to maintain momentum.

My Love Follows You Where You Go and Lay My Burden Down are the most dynamic pieces on which Krauss sings lead; the band pushes things a little, allowing Krauss to sing in a fuller voice than she does elsewhere. Krauss’s signature is the plaintive, yearnsome qualities she conveys vocally in romantic and decidedly anti-romantic settings and these are always appreciated.

The album’s cornerstone song may be an evocative rendering of Richard Thompson’s Dimming of the Day on which Krauss’s breathlessly communicates the love that grows with absence.

While much of the music of Paper Airplane is only distantly related to traditional bluegrass, the album does have its share of unrestrained moments. Dust Bowl Children is one of three songs to feature the aggressive tenor of Dan Tyminski in the lead position, and each of these songs is better than the one that came before.

Beyond their instrumental and vocal harmony mastery, what is remarkable about Union Station is that they can take an album’s worth of songs from outside writers — only bassist Barry Bales shares a co-writing credit on the album — and make them completely their own.

You hear and feel their anguish, their questioning, and their hopes in every note.

Singularly, the songs are arrestingly enjoyable. Collectively, the cohesive flow of Paper Airplane amounts to one majestic performance.

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