All posts tagged: The SteelDrivers

Real Country

There was one upside of being stuck in traffic – and then stuck in the car wash line – on a February day with 60+ degree weather. The Bluegrass Junction station on Sirius XM radio was featuring a live concert of The SteelDrivers – a band I highlighted in my Favorite Roots Music Albums of 2015 post last December.  (Oh yeah, it was also the winner of the “Best Bluegrass Album” in that other little year-end list – The Grammy’s.) After playing “If it Hadn’t Been for Love” from their first project (the black album), fiddler Tammy Rogers mentioned that “some singer you might have heard of – named Adele” – had covered that song earlier this decade and featured it in her Live at the Royal Albert Hall DVD.  I knew Andrew would love this. So I returned home and told Andrew the story.  I mentioned that Chris Stapleton – who wrote and sang on the original SteelDrivers version – just won Country Album of the Year for both the CMA and Grammy’s, which …

Favorite Roots Music Albums of 2015

I’m not going to pretend that this is a “best of” list for roots music in 2015.  With so many things thrown on my plate this year, I  haven’t had the time to sample as widely as I would like.  (Come to think of it, the last time I felt comfortable enough to publish a “best of list” was 2013!) But I’m very comfortable with a favorites list that just says, “Hey, I like these and I hope you will too.” So with that caveat, let’s see what’s made the cut. The SteelDrivers:  The Muscle Shoals Recordings – I’ve loved this Nashville-based bluegrass band for years, even as they have moved through personnel changes that included their lead singer and main songwriter.  (More on that later.)  The Muscle Shoals Recordings is really the first album where Gary Nichols stepped out on his own as the lead voice for The SteelDrivers – no longer in Chris Stapelton’s shadow. Singer-songwriter Peter Cooper describes it this way: Right there, at two minutes and ten seconds into the first …

Best Bluegrass of 2013

This year brought us some very good bluegrass music – much of it coming out of Alison Brown’s Compass Records in Nashville. In looking at the different albums that came to my attention in 2013, three of my top five bluegrass releases of the year came from this eclectic roots music label which has been stretching boundaries and introducing the world to exciting new artists for almost two decades. First up in the More to Come… “Best of Bluegrass 2013” list is the wonderful Claire Lynch and her Dear Sister project (and not just because she signed my CD cover).  This is a great group of songs that include tunes I began writing about almost two years ago.  The title track comes from letters written before the Civil War battle of Stones River – fought near my hometown of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I’ll Be Alright Tomorrow is a new working of the Osborne Brothers classic, that sounds just right in the hands of the newly minted 2013 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Female Vocalist of the Year. …

The SteelDrivers: Rockin’ the Rams Head

Last Thursday evening, Candice and I made the trek to the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis to catch The SteelDrivers – one of the more innovative and energetic bands in bluegrass today.  It was my introduction to their live music and we weren’t disappointed. First of all, this is not your father’s bluegrass.  There are equal parts Nashville, soul, bluegrass, great songwriting, and strong instrumental chops.  I’ve seen Tammy Rogers when she played with Patty Loveless, but her work with the SteelDrivers goes to another level.  On Thursday, she gave the band the energy that had the crowd roaring from the opening notes.  Banjo player Richard Bailey was understated but beyond solid, Gary Nichols has a terrific voice out of the Muscle Shoals tradition and bassist Mike Flemming provided the band’s foundation  both instrumentally and vocally.  I especially liked the addition of Mike Henderson’s metal body National guitar, with the slide taking the place of the more traditional bluegrass Dobro.  A great sound. The real surprise for me was that the songwriting of this band …

Bright Morning Stars

Every day at breakfast before heading off to MerleFest, I’ve sat down and planned how I’m going to negotiate the day and the 14 stages.  This morning I had penciled in some old favorites, but when I arrived at the festival site I had a change of heart and decided to spend my morning listening to new bands.  You could call them the bright morning stars of the Americana music world. Saturday is the longest day of the festival, so I’m just back into my hotel room after midnight and have downloaded my pictures.  Rather than write a long, involved review, I’m just going to hit some of the highlights of the day for me: Hearing the young band Bearfoot from Alaska.  They sing beautifully and write interesting songs such as Drank Up All the Whiskey and Good in the Kitchen.  Angela Oudean is a promising young fiddler and Odessa Jorgensen is a fine songwriter and singer. I love the energy of the New Generation Super Jam on the Watson (main) stage.  The SteelDrivers played great straight-ahead …