Friday, October 31, 2014

CD Review - Phil Leadbetter - THE NEXT MOVE

Image635503292774561616In 2005, The IBMA named Phil Leadbetter it’s Dobro Player of the Year, and his album, “Slide Effects” was the IBMA Instrumental Album Of The Year. 2005 was a very good year for Phil! Jump to the present, and the IBMA again voted Phil Dobro Player of the Year for 2014…. AND, from the sound of his newest release, “The Next Move,” Phil has another hit record on his hands!

I’ll bet if you could steal Phil’s cell phone, there wouldn’t be a major bluegrass or country star in Tennessee that you couldn’t call……. Just by going over the list of famous names who participated in the recording of this CD, you’ve got the cream of the crop all adding hot licks and memorable vocals to “The Next Move.” AND… the songwriters who threw their best tunes into this project is pretty astounding, too. I’ve been a Phil Leadbetter fan for a long time, and it’s pretty obvious that Phil has a lot of other fans that really do love the man. They all showed up for this party!

Monday, October 20, 2014


Image635494275651225377Sometimes it takes getting out and going to a LIVE concert for me to remember just how powerful music can be…..  I had not heard the new HOT RIZE release, “When I’m Free” when I had the chance to see them here in Durango, CO. at Fort Lewis College on September 24th. As each new song was introduced on stage, the impact these new songs had on me was immediate! The level of songwriting, the depth of the lyrics and the freshness of the performance of these new tunes stood out like a neon sign in a one horse town!

In my review of their concert, I made the statement that “HOT RIZE is back”, and after listening to this CD for days on end now, they are indeed back, and they are better than ever.  The band, Nick Forster on electric bass, Pete Wernick on banjo, Bryan Sutton on acoustic lead guitar and Tim O’Brien on mandolin, guitar and fiddle, plays with a precise musicianship and focused intensity that has only grown stronger with time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

CD Review - Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper - ON DOWN THE LINE

Image635489079294975735I've been around a lot of fiddle players in my time. Hundreds of jams, bands and listenings. I've heard my share of fiddle players.

I've “had” to sit through numerous fiddle contests featuring a category for virtually every age group and then some. Junior, Junior Junior, Teen, Adult, Senior, Senior Senior and Open. It's a great way to burn up a 3 day festival.

Having been exposed to this phenomenon, sometimes awe inspiring, sometimes excruciating, I have never heard or seen a fiddle player work a violin so hard as Michael Cleveland.

Yes, this is a good thing. If you've seen a live performance you know exactly what I am referring to. The quality of tone, precision, drive and innovation he pulls out of that delicate little instrument, and oh those chops, puts Michael in a class of his own.

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