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Blue Grass


A Dotted Line

A Dotted Line Lowest new price: $11.35
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The Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum selling trio Nickel Creek Chris Thile (mandolin/vocals), Sara Watkins (fiddle/vocals), and Sean Watkins (guitar/vocals) officially reunites for the first time since its 2007 self-described "indefinite hiatus" with the album A Dotted Line, followed by a tour of the US in support of the Eric Valentine-produced album, which includes the 2014 Telluride Bluegrass and Newport Folk Festivals.

As Nickel Creek's 25th anniversary approached, the band members decided they ought to mark it in some way, so they got together to write music in Chris Thile's apartment last year. They ended up with six new co-written songs, which they eventually took to a Los Angeles studio, along with one tune by Thile, one by Sean Watkins, and two covers: Sam Phillips' "Where Is Love Now" and Mother Mother's "Hayloft. " There they worked with Valentine (Queens of the Stone Age, Smash Mouth), who had produced Nickel Creek's previous album, Why Should the Fire Die?.

"We were excited every day to be there," Sara Watkins says. "Having grown up singing together, there is something natural about our voices and it's really fun to harmonize. Our voices have come to match each other's really well. Sean and I are siblings, and Chris is about as close to a sibling as you could get. " Sean Watkins continues: "It feels more natural and easy than it ever did, by far. Getting to spend time alone with our own musical personalities has helped us mature. "

"There's a joyful aspect to Nickel Creek no matter what we're doing. Things just steer themselves into that sort of place, " concurs Thile. "We will go poke around in the dark corners but always with a heavy dose of optimism. "

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Reasons Why: The Very Best (CD + DVD)

Reasons Why: The Very Best (CD + DVD) Lowest new price: $7.00
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Brand: NICKEL CREEK

1. The Lighthouse's Tale (5:00) Composed by Chris Thile 2. Out of the Woods (5:20) 3. When in Rome (4:15) Composed by Chris Thile 4. Helena (4:40) Composed by Chris Thile 5. Smoothie Song (3:19) Composed by Chris Thile 6. Somebody More Like You (2:58) Composed by Sean Watkins 7. Reasons Why (4:07) Composed by Sean Watkins 8. Can't Complain (5:31) Composed by Chris Thile 9. I Should've Known Better (4:26) Composed by Carrie Newcomer 10. This Side (3:34) Composed by Sean Watkins 11. Jealous of the Moon (4:40) Composed by Gary Louris 12. When You Come Back Down (3:52) Composed by Tim O'Brien 13. You Don't Have to Move That Mountain (Live) (3:51) Composed by Keith Whitley 14. The Fox (Live) (9:19) Composed by Bob Dylan 15. Reasons Why (DVD) () Composed by Sean Watkins 16. When You Come Back Down (DVD) () Composed by Tim O'Brien 17. Lighthouse's Tale (DVD) () Composed by Chris Thile 18. This Side (DVD) () Composed by Sean Watkins 19. Speak (DVD) () Composed by Sean Watkins 20. Smoothie Song (DVD) () Composed by Chris Thile 21. When in Rome (DVD) () Composed by Chris Thile

While "progressive bluegrass" might sound like an oxymoron, it's a good description of this dynamic acoustic trio's approach. Fans of traditional string-band music might flinch at Nickel Creek's experimentation, but there is little doubt that the threesome has attracted the largest crossover audience to the genre since Jerry Garcia. Still, the rigors of working together since they were teens have prompted an open-ended sabbatical at the end of their 2007 tour. Cue the Christmas 2006 hits package--it's the perfect time to cash in on the catalog with the band still hot as an active unit. Since Nickel Creek has recorded just three albums for Sugar Hill, it does seem a bit premature for this recap. But the label has done an admirable job by adding a bonus DVD of the act's seven videos and arranging the audio tracks in non-chronological order to enhance the flow. If anyone had any doubts that these youngsters were the future of bluegrass, Reasons Why should erase them. They never let their instrumental virtuosity on guitar, fiddle, and mandolin get in the way of writing terrific material such as "When in Rome"--a should-have-been hit on the order of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion"--and they also deliver the goods in concert. A nine-minute live version of "The Fox"--one of two previously unreleased performances that close this collection--proves they can mash up Bach, Bill Monroe, and Dylan with such cool aplomb, one can only imagine what the future holds. Until then, we have this compact reminder of Nickel Creek's strengths and potential--a superb collection that is as classy and challenging as the group itself, and leaves the listener wanting more. --Hal Horowitz

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Long Time: Seldom Scene

Long Time: Seldom Scene Lowest new price: $9.98
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For more than four decades, profoundly influential bluegrass band The Seldom Scene has shared its undeniable talent, progressive repertoire, and creative spirit both in the studio and on stage. Long Time: Seldom Scene features fresh interpretations of 16 oft-requested tunes and is the band's first studio album since the GRAMMY-nominated album Scenechronized in 2007. It's a family reunion in all the best ways, featuring the current and longest-running lineup, joined by founding members Tom Gray and John Starling and guests Chris Eldridge, Emmylou Harris, and Rickie Simpkins.

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Nickel Creek

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San Diego is not exactly known as a hotbed of contemporary bluegrass music, but then again, Nickel Creek are a far cry from most bluegrass bands you've ever heard. On their Alison Krauss-produced debut, they serve up a lilting, ethereal fusion of bluegrass, Celtic, modern folk, and even classical influences, offering exquisite harmonies that would be more at home at a Crosby, Stills & Nash tribute than at a musical salute to the late Bill Monroe. Yet it makes for delightful listening, all the same. The three principals (Sara Watkins on fiddle and vocals; her brother Sean Watkins on guitar, mandolin, and vocals; and Chris Thile on mandolin, banjo, bouzouki, and vocals) are either barely out of their teens or still in them. Individually and as a band, they've already won a slew of awards and notoriety on their respective instruments. The three prodigies (joined by Thile's dad, Scott, on bass) really strut their eclectic hot licks on a few soaring, skittering instrumentals, but even more impressive are Nickel Creek's graceful, heartfelt harmonies on the many lovely ballads. Hot licks, when you get right down to it, are a dime a dozen; this sort of pluperfect tunefulness is a much rarer thing. --Bob Allen

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Love Has Come For You

Love Has Come For You Lowest new price: $9.00
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Steve Martin is currently in the fifth decade of a varied and accomplished career as a comedian, actor, author and playwright, and as a Grammy®-winning, boundary-pushing bluegrass banjoist and songwriter. His fellow Texas native Edie Brickell initially burst onto the national scene in the late 80s fronting the New Bohemians, and has since carved out an iconoclastic solo career that's solidified her reputation as compelling singer and a songwriter of rare insight. Although these new musical partners have already built widely-respected individual bodies of work, their inaugural duo effort is a substantial departure, as a well as a creative milestone, for both artists. Love Has Come for You offers 13 eloquently rootsy Martin/Brickell compositions that combine the former's inventive, expressive five-string banjo work with the latter's heart-tugging vocals and vivid, detail-rich lyrics. Produced by legendary musician and producer, Peter Asher, and featuring the guest stylings of Esperanza Spalding, Waddy Wachtel, Nickel Creek alumni Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins, as well as the Steep Canyon Rangers, Love Has Come For You is playful, spacious, and irresistibly accessible.

Features:

  • Record Label: Rounder
  • Catalog#: 00116 6191502
  • Country Of Release: NLD
  • Year Of Release: 2013

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Live at the Boarding House

Live at the Boarding House Lowest new price: $27.92
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Forty years ago on a Monday night, a bluegrass band calling themselves Old & in the Way featuring Jerry Garcia on banjo, David Grisman on mandolin, Peter Rowan on guitar, Vassar Clements on fiddle and John Kahn on bass walked on to the stage at The Boarding House in San Francisco.

They played again a week later and recorded what ould become one of the most influential albums in Bluegrass history. Now, forty years later, both
shows are being released on 4 compact discs. This will be the first release of those historic shows with s 55 tracks, 14 of which have never been released in any format.

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Why Should the Fire Die

Why Should the Fire Die Lowest new price: $1.75
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Why Should the Fire Die? is Nickel Creek's first album without Alison Krauss in the producer's chair, and on it, the trio's genre-expanding acoustic music has shifted even farther away from its bluegrass origins. The opening 'When in Rome' perfectly encapsulates the aggressive approach the band favors, and features poetic lyrics far more obtuse than those of most groups with similar roots. The disc's first half stays rooted in a fairly conventional folk mode, with a lovely cover of Bob Dylan's 'Tomorrow Is a Long Time' (one of the few solo vocal turns from fiddler Sara Watkins) and 'Jealous of the Moon' (cowritten with the Jayhawks' Gary Louris). Sugar Hill. 2005.

Why Should the Fire Die? is Nickel Creek's first album without Alison Krauss in the producer's chair, and on it, the trio's genre-expanding acoustic music has shifted even farther away from its bluegrass origins. The opening "When in Rome" perfectly encapsulates the aggressive approach the band favors, and features poetic lyrics far more obtuse than those of most groups with similar roots. The disc's first half stays rooted in a fairly conventional folk mode, with a lovely cover of Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" (one of the few solo vocal turns from fiddler Sara Watkins) and "Jealous of the Moon" (cowritten with the Jayhawks' Gary Louris) obvious highlights.

But the album gradually grows darker. The songs take unexpected twists that are challenging and unconventional, while still emphasizing those angelic vocal harmonies that float and sting. Chris Thile's peppy instrumental "Stumptown" leads into the menacing "Best of Luck," with its edgy minor-key chorus echoed by Watkins's deceptively sweet voice spitting out lyrics of an obsessive high-school love affair gone wrong. And the drums of "Helena," one of the group's most radical compositions, bring out Nickel Creek's inner Coldplay. Not a complete break with their bluegrass beginnings, Why Should the Fire Die? is certainly the trio's boldest and most creative album, albeit one that might not appeal to their earliest fans. --Hal Horowitz

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Only Me

Only Me Lowest new price: $9.46
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Five-time Grammy nominee Rhonda Vincent, the New Queen of Bluegrass as deemed by the Wall Street Journal, is clearing the lane for this 2-Disc combination release that includes six-songs each of Bluegrass and Country. The project, appropriately titled Only Me, serves as a reminder why Rhonda Vincent & The Rage is the most awarded band in bluegrass music.
Sticking with her musical roots, Rhonda is joined by Daryle Singletary on We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds, while Willie Nelson adds vocals and a guitar solo to the title track.

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Bright Side of Down

Bright Side of Down Lowest new price: $11.47
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John Gorka is back with Bright Side of Down! The record is a rich listening experience with that classic "Gorka-esque" sound that's witty, insightful, and universal. Featuring 11 new originals and one cover, it also includes guest vocals by Eliza Gilkyson, Claudia Schmidt, Lucy Kaplansky, and Michael Johnson, rounding out this masterpiece.
 
If you've ever driven I-35 during the winter you'll be able to relate to the fun opener "Holed Up Mason City. The song is the true-story adventures Gorka had while trying to get home during a blizzard. This is the keen insight that resonates throughout the record. 

Profound, bluesy, and full of energy, Bright Side of Down is the perfect soundtrack to lead you through the winter and into the spring.

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Alison Krauss & Union Station - Live

Alison Krauss & Union Station - Live Lowest new price: $9.48
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Brand: KRAUSS,ALISON

This two-CD, 25-song set, recorded in Louisville on two nights in the spring of 2002, finds bluegrass's most celebrated crossover band at the top of its game. Krauss's warm, feathery vocals, capable of conveying complex emotions in a single note, appear more full-bodied than in studio recordings, yet lose none of their sensual appeal or dramatic tension. She's perfect, for example, as the melancholy temptress on "Let Me Touch You for Awhile," coming across as both savior and seductress, while Jerry Douglas's Dobro echoes the searing strains of passion and pain. With banjoist-guitarist Ron Block, bassist Barry Bales, and guest drummer Larry Atamanuik anchoring the rhythm, the ensemble deftly blends bluegrass with jazz, rock, and folk, combining lightning speed (though rushing through "Forget About It") with sophisticated chops, tangible emotion, and thrilling vocal blends. The crowd, more spellbound with every note, doesn't even breathe on "Ghost in This House" and nearly tears the place down on Dan Tyminski's voice-of-George Clooney showcase, "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow." But who could blame them? It's only one highlight on an album of uncommon artistry, a moving testament to how good live music can be in the hands of world-class players. --Alanna Nash

Features:

  • Record Label: Rounder
  • Catalog#: 00116 6105152
  • Country Of Release: NLD
  • Year Of Release: 2008
  • Notes: ...Station

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