Monday, December 29, 2008


On Dec. 28 Ron Olesko and I jointly hosted TRADITIONS and presented, among other things, our individual picks for "favorite" CDs for the year. Many would have been joint picks I am sure.

It has to be said that time constraints precluded presenting more than the 10 each we had time for. Here you will see my picks and some mention of those that there was not time enough to play.

I have to say that, while "favorites", "meaningful", "best of" are nice year end things to present it is certainly subjective and it is nice to present older recordings along with the new ones during the course of the year. Some of the artists we present are timeless and have thoughts and music that, like classical music, can be heard over and over again.

It was a delight to be back with the program after an almost 2 month absence and again my thanks for all the kind thoughts, messages, and all the "welcome back" calls on the 12/28/ program.

Now for the 10 that I chose for the show---and the "honorable mentions" that we did not have time to present:

From Southern History to meaningful insights into life and from light hearted Country to Gospel each album --and this is the latest of some 12 now--is never like another and always pleases and surprises. This album has plenty of surprises with some great guest artists including John Prine and Nanci Griffith

Just as Kate Campbell so many recordings over the years and none disappoints. I, personally, felt this the best one yet---insights and metaphors to be appreciated and can be personally related to. The closing track sums up in a most nostalgic way a long and on-going career.

Andrew Calhoun was my guest earlier in the year and this recording is a true gem. Melodic and historical along with some great liner notes in a well produced booklet make this a "must have". The picture on the cover (on the left) alone is worth the price of admission---it should be framed.

Daddy's Little Girl is the name of the CD and from a touching opening track about fatherhood and relationship to the last track of Tikun Olam you will be moved by the thoughts and musicianship

Kate Long's voice is haunting and Robin Kessinger's musicianship is awesome.
You may recall her from an earlier album with two particular tracks that have haunted me for a few years---Corinthians and McNamara's Tear. This CD has a whole new dimension. It is a live performance and features that haunting voice in not only music but some wonderful story telling by Kate and both their interactions with a most enthused audience.

Jewell Ridge Coal tells some wonderful stories of life in Appalachia and done with such wonderful harmony you just want to listen to this work over and over

It is also a CD with such great cover art it should be on display on your coffee table with the music playing on your CD player.


This 3 CD set which has been released through Time/Life is a set of unreleased recording that were being thrown out by WSM some time ago and now finally see the light of day. Hank Williams, as many of the other Grand Ole Opry performers had week-day radio shows which were more lucrative than the GOO and also allowed them to be more well known. Many of the programs were pre-recorded so the artists could tour during the week. WSM had not rights to re-air or distribute the recordings which was the reason for their disposal.

If you are Hank Williams aficionados you will revel in these recordings. Unlike the MGM recordings with their production values these are live un-enhanced performances of some popular songs and some you will not have heard on recordings before.

In all honesty it has to be added that if you are not a real aficionado you may not find this to your liking.

Another piece of work from one of the great poets who can translate inner feelings about life and life stories into the most beautiful music. Taking some of the most simple thoughts and feelings we all have had this CD, as all the past ones, capture things we all have felt and could not express as lyrically as this artist.

A number of years ago I interviewed Jack Williams and was in awe at his guitar fingering when he played just a few inches away from me. Now I am awe struck by his latest CD. He captures the feelings of "folk", "pop", "jazz" and any stops in between with great renditions of such pieces as ---The Heart of Saturday Night, Biloxi, That Lucky Old Sun, Lovesick Blues, and a lot more in this great mix of genres. The best description is---eclectic music by a master.

Another winner from an artist that is making---actually has made a wonderful name for himself already. A master of many different guitar styles (and guitars) with a wonderful and versatile voice this CD has some really wonderful and thoughtful songs. Highly recommended are "Whiskey Vacation" and his interpretation of the Phil Ochs' classic "Changes".

Both Ron Olesko and I picked this as one of the CDs not to be missed this year. Produced by someone who is close to Pete Seeger (and a person I feel real kinship with) David Bernz (also a founder of Work O The Weavers) he has created a work that can be listened to from beginning to end as a story of a still on-going life with more tales and interests to come. It features appearances by The Sloop Singers, Work O The Weavers and more.

As I said on the air---"...Pete Seeger is someone who shows us all that doing what you believe in will create your following----or as the line in "Field of Dreams" says--''build it and they will come". They have come for Pete many times and this CD is a perfect example what "they" came for.

NOW for the names of a few CDs we did not have time for and a few comments:

RED ROCK RONDO It just came in too late to include on the air but you will be hearing it for certainty on Jan. 11. A wonderful piece of work that captures the feeling of Zion Canyon

GATHERING TIME --SONGS OF HOPE AND FREEDOM also late entry due to my not being available for a time and also one you will be hearing this year. Harmonies that are reminiscent of an early Peter Paul and Mary but transcend them in a later style.
EMILY KURN---I'm Just Like You Emily has a voice that will just grab you and you will not be able to turn off the music in your mind for quite some time

THE YELLOW ROOM GANG--Happy New Day This came in after the show was mapped out but I am sorry we were not able to play something from it. As said before---you will hear this nice piece of work. What a wonderful feeling to have the sense of sitting around with old friends and hearing some great songs---which is what this CD does. The Yellow Room Gang is a group of artists that we have played individually on the program and some that have been in for interviews---David Tamulevich, Michael Hough, Kitty Donahoe, Matt Watroba, Annie Capps, Jan Krist, David Barret, Jim Bizer.

1 comment:

Ellen said...

Happy New Year. Glad you are feeling well.