Hi, there... This page is part of the Slipcue guide to various bluegrass artists, which is part of a much larger Hick Music website. This "guide" is not meant to be comprehensive or authoritative, just a quick look at a few records I've heard recently, as well as some old favorites. Comments or corrections are invited... and recommendations are always welcome!
This page covers the letter "G"
Italian flatpicker Beppe Gambetta whirls out a nice set of acoustic guitar instrumentals and pleasantly Gambetta-ized bluegrass oldies and adapted Genovan folk tunes. He starts off playing solo acoustic, then picks up several high-powered pals, including former member of the Byrds, Gene Parsons, and newgrass guitarist Dan Crary. Crary and Gambetta share a special wavelength, as heard on the dynamic duet, "Shenandoah Valley Breakdown." He drifts pretty decisively away from the bluegrass sound on most of this album, but the Italian material is also pretty interesting, and his melding of the two styles should get guitar fans all hot and bothered. Nice stuff... worth checking out!
Jimmy Gaudreau "The Gaudreau Mandolin Album" (Puritan, 1978)
A zippy, zingy, really fun set of mandolin-led instrumental numbers, with J.D. Crowe, Fred Pike, Bobby Sloane and others pitching in... Gaudreau takes center stage, though, and his mandolin work is some of the sweetest you'll ever hear. Plenty of traditional 'grass material here, but also some fine adaptations from elsewhere in the musical landscape, notably a boozy rendition of country's "Last Date" and a gorgeous, lighthearted take on "Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring," from the classical canon. Nice stuff... Recommended, if you can track it down!
The Gibson Brothers, Eric and Leigh -- who are not to be confused with the soul group of the same name -- have forged a distinctive sound that builds on the singer-songwriter inclinations of the '70s progressive 'grass scene, fitting as comfortably into the "Americana" label as into the truegrass category. Their vocals are pretty rough -- no classic harmonies or smooth solos here -- but the songwriting is high-calibre and their delivery is compelling, and the musicianship that buoys them is fairly top-notch, even if it's not particularly chopsy. When I first heard this disc, I was a little nonplussed, but revisiting it a few months later, I kinda got into it and am now of the opinion that this is one of the most original 'grass-oriented bands around.
One of the most refreshingly original and pleasant-sounding new albums in the Americana and bluegrass fields... The Gibsons place solid 'grassy picking inside a warm, good-natured country-folk fusion, refining the efforts made by progressive newgrassers in the 1970s, hitting the magical stride that folks like Earl Scruggs and New Grass Revival were looking for all those years. In addition to a tone of finely-crafted originals, they also have several well-chosen covers, such as a version of The Band's "Ophelia" and "Satan's Jeweled Crown," from the Louvin Brothers catalogue. Bluegrass purists in search of hot picking and drag-race instrumental pyrotechnics won't like this album, but for folks who are interested in hearing new, well-written material and who are open to singer-songwriter influences, this album will be a long-lived favorite. Highly recommended!
Another great record by this innovative, latter-day brother duo. Interestingly, while their previous album shone as a canny pop-bluegrass-country fusion, here the Gibsons have retraced their steps and dug back into the earthier side of the bluegrass tradition, with a raspier, more rugged sound that readily brings Del McCoury to mind. And that's just fine by me. But even while they're going old-school there's plenty of room for original material, as well as some funky covers of country oldies and rock/R&B numbers such as "Lonesome Number One," the Rolling Stones' "It's All Over Now," and "I Got A Woman," from the Ray Charles catalog. All in all, a pretty fine record... Worth checking out!
Nice stuff! These fellas mix the old-school, plaintive vocals with a crisp, low-key instrumental attack -- understated, but irresistible. This is a really fine set, well worth checking out. Some sweet, simple harmonies, too, and a nice mix of heart songs and gospel tunes. Recommended.
The Good Old Boys "Pistol Packin' Mama" (Round Records, 1976)
Longhaired hippie bluegrass at its finest... The presence of the Dreadful Grate's Jerry Garcia as the album's producer ensured a wide listenership among certain segments of the rock scene, and (at least up here in Northern California) fairly wide distribution of this 'Seventies classic... Good thing, too: this record's pretty damn satisfying. Pure, twangy, all-acoustic truegrass that stretches into country material such as Joe Maphis' "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke," Johnnie And Jack's "Ashes Of Love" and Al Dexter's "Pistol Packin' Mama," alongside bluegrass standards such as "Toy Heart" and new stuff like "Glendale Train." The picking is solid from start to finish -- mandolinist Frank Wakefield was well-liked by many on the bluegrass scene, but recorded only sparingly -- his duet with banjoist Don Reno, on "Banjo Signal," is a real scorcher, and the rest of the album, with some sweet licks on the fiddle from Chubby Wise, sizzles as well. Recommended!
A nice solid, bouncily melodic bluegrass set, with heavy country leanings. Lead singer Honi Glenn has a nice light snarl that places her in the general vicinity of Claire Lynch and Rhonda Vincent... The backing band, including several of her family members, is rock solid, too, with Dan Tyminski dropping in and out of several tracks. Nice stuff!
Well sure, maybe this isn't a proper "bluegrass" album, but what with Jerry Garcia's later involvement in Old & In The Way, and the overall backwoods vibe of this album, it's certainly a major link from the hippie rock scene into the world of country and folk. Plus, it's one of the Dead's best (and most accessible) albums, recorded when they were at their poppy peak. A classic album, with a big old Appalachian streak running right through it. Totally worth checking out.
A lovely reissue of two albums originally recorded for the Puritan record label, Something Different, from 1972, and 1973's Bucktime, pairing fiddler Kenny Baker up with dobro guru Josh Graves. These sessions are notable not only for the fluid, sympathetic interplay between two mellow-minded old-timers, but also for the chance to hear Baker playing guitar -- which he had to stop doing after an accident in 1977 that damaged the nerves in his left hand. And lemme tell you: it sure sounds sweet! A great mix of songs and rather adventurous instrumentals... well worth tracking this disc down!
The Greenbriar Boys -- featuring John Herald, Ralph Rinzler, Bob Yellin and Frank Wakefield -- were one of the most influential bands of the '60s bluegrass revival, helping bridge the gap between the semi-retired old-timers of the '40s and '50s and the eager young'uns of the early '60s folk boom, who wanted to soak up as much "authentic" hillbilly culture as they possibly could. In the early days of the Greenwich Village-based earnest folkie college/coffeehouse scene, what you knew was, quite frankly, more important than how well you could play it, and like many of the would-be bluegrassers of the time, the Greenbriar Boys did sound a bit ricketty from time to time. That was okay, though... their hearts were in the right place, and they had fun digging up material like the historically-oriented ballads such as "Amelia Earhart's Last Flight" and pop culture goofs like Wayne Raney's "We Need A Whole Lot More Of Jesus (And A Lot Less Rock and Roll)." This generously programmed 2-CD set collects material from their influential LPs on the Vanguard label, recorded between 1961-66, and charts the group's rapid progress from a somewhat awkward-sounding (but very enthusiastic) ensemble into a more, cohesive professional band. When Rinzler left the group in order to devote himself fulltime to booking shows and promoting events, hotshot mandolin whiz Frank Wakefield came in and added some extra instrumental ooompf. Fans of the New Lost City Ramblers and those interested in the history of the modern bluegrass scene should definitely check this collection out -- it's a nice glimpse into the innocent early years, and definitely shows these guys at their best.
More nice stuff from these sleek city slickers. If the Best Of set above piqued your interest, this disc is a nice follow-up, including a few album tracks left of the other set, as well as a bunch of previously unreleased material for the hardcore fans to savor.
A lovely, pretty-sounding set with contemporary folk overtones, ala Be Good Tanyas, along with some satisfying, straight-ahead bluegrass, and a bit of Celtic coloring thrown in for good measure. Bassist Carol Young has the strongest presence, adding fine vocals to some of the more less bluegrass-y tunes, although the guys kick in on vocals as well, and all the bandmembers contribute strong original material. You can draw comparisons to other contemporary style-stretchers: some of the gruffer male vocals evoke Dan Tyminski's work with Union Station, and there's a little bit of Nickel Creek in the folk-pop elements as well, although much to their credit, the Greencards are far less stagey and self-important than those chartmakers, and less anchored to the "adult pop" market. There's still a sense of spontaneity and joyful fun here that will be instantly appealing, and the group's diversity and mastery of styles makes this feel like a nice freeform folk radio show. This is a band that a lot of fans are going to latch onto over the next few years.
The sprightly debut of Greene's all-star, all-instrumental ensemble. This edition of the band features newgrass stalwarts such Bill Keith and David Grier, as well as a couple of talented young'uns (Kenny Blackwell on mandolin, Tim Emmons plunking the bass...) The overall vibe is cheerful and pleasantly melodic... A nice little record!
Richard Greene "The Wolves A'Howlin' " (Rebel, 1996)
Here Greene includes several vocal tunes in honor of the recently-departed Bill Monroe, with his old pal (and bandmate in the late-'60s edition of the Blue Grass Boys, and later in Earth Opera) Peter Rowan chiming in on guitar and vocals. Sonny Osborne, Tony Trischka, David Greir and Butch Baldassari are the heavyweights who round out this band; bassist Buell Neidlinger brings up the rear and rounds out the sound. It's another goodle.
David Grisman -- see artist discography
Super-sweet, melodic bluegrass from a former member of Doyle Lawson's Quicksilver, and former lead singer of Mountain Heart... SInger-guitarist Steve Gulley plays it pure and clear, with several new, original numbers and a bunch of classics from the canon... Some of his old buddies chime in here as well, including the fellas from Mountain Heart, Lawson, and Dale Ann Bradley, who adds some gorgeous harmony and duet vocals on a couple of tunes. This disc is solid from start to finish -- mostly traditional, mostly secular, though with some well-chosen gospel material, and fine pickin' throughout. If you want any proof of the strength of the independent bluegrass scene, look no further. Records like this give lots of hope for the future... Come to think of it... the present sounds mighty nice as well!
Bluegrass Albums - Letter "H"
Hick Music Index