23 March 2022

New music from the Special C. - and more

Thanks to John Lawless on Bluegrass Today for the news that the Special Consensus will release this coming Friday (25 Mar.) the first recording with their current lineup (above, l-r: Dan Eubanks, Greg Cahill, Greg Blake, Michael Prewitt). The single on the Compass label is 'Blackbird', with Greg Blake singing lead, Dale Ann Bradley and Amanda Smith singing harmony, Rob Ickes guesting on dobro, and Alison Brown on second banjo. It can be heard on Bluegrass Today (where there's a characteristically upbeat quote from Greg Cahill) and on YouTube.
Thanks to East Public Relations for a reminder of the Bluegrass Music Hall Of Fame and Museum's 'My Bluegrass Story' series of video interviews, in which the latest, featuring Joe Mullins, will be shown on Friday 25 Mar. on RFD TV. A thirty-second trailer can be seen on YouTube. More details are on the East PR press release.
A month ago the BIB mentioned mandolin master Mike Compton and his new album, Rare & fine: uncommon tunes of Bill Monroe, on which he plays Monroe instrumentals, some of which were never released on a record label. No Depression has now published a substantial and rewarding article by Compton, in which he describes how he came to the music of the Father of Bluegrass, and his reasons for selecting the tunes, the musicians, and the sound engineer for the recording. He writes that the album

... is not meant as a solo mandolin recording. The point is to illustrate Monroe’s use of single, duo, and triple fiddle formats and to celebrate that sound. All I attempted to do with the mandolin is to play the melodies straight as I could get them off the source material so that people will know how they go and players will have a fair chance at learning them, not to see how many notes I can get on the head of a pin. This is an album primarily dedicated to Monroe’s love of fiddle music, not my Mississippi-influenced interpretation of his mandolin style.
Also on No Depression, Stephen Winick marks Women's History Month and Irish American Heritage Month with his article 'Roots in the archive: two Irish American women who carried songs across time'. The first is Carrie Grover (1879-1959), born in Nova Scotia, who lived in Maine, USA, from the age of 12; was recorded by Alan Lomax singing and playing music learned from her family; and later published a book, A heritage of songs, which was the source for 'Arthur McBride' as sung by Paul Brady. Carrie Grover's 1941 recording of the song can be heard in this article. The second is Maggie Hammons Parker (1899-1987) of the famous West Virginia Hammons family, whose singing of 'Ireland's green shore' can also be heard here. Stephen Winick has missed the distinction between 'conscription' and 'enlistment', but otherwise the article is well worth reading.
The IBMA sends a reminder of its Zoom discussion on the theme 'The Bluegrass Global Village' - in which Uri Kohen of the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival is on the panel - which will take place this coming Saturday (26 Mar.) at 6.00 p.m. GMT (see the BIB for 11 Mar.).
The Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby, NC, announces that the inaugural Earl Scruggs Music Festival, postponed for two years by the pandemic, will be held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, Mill Spring, NC, with a constellation of bluegrass acts, on 2-4 Sept. 2022. More details are on the Festival website.
Ken Perlman, master of 'melodic clawhammer' banjo, announces that the next two online live instructional banjo workshops in his 'Clawhammer Clinic' series will be 'Playing in the key of D from open G tuning (gDGBD)' on Mon. 11 Apr., and 'Arranging a song or simple melody for performance, clawhammer style' on Mon. 2 May. Ken's 72-minute appearance as featured artist and interviewee on Deering Live in January can be seen on YouTube.

© Richard Hawkins

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