The Front Blog

Conversations from the Four Rivers Region

07-31-2010 Notes From the Porch

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Another hot and steamy summer Saturday here in Murray. Nothing like a cup of joe on the porch with the Front Porch rolling in the background. This is the way many of you share Saturdays with mark and I. OR… like Barry Combs, you’re on your tractor with your headphones on. Hey, whatever you do while listening, it’s nice to share the morning.

We featured some Front Porch debuts in the first hour including Darrell Webb‘s new release Bloodline. Out on Rural Rhythm Records, this release from Webb features plenty of great traditional bluegrass spread across 12 tracks from the 5-piece band. Darrell Webb has been performing on the bluegrass circuit for over 20 years with the likes of the Lonesome River Band, J.D. Crowe, Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, lead vocalist and front man for Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper. Webb has surrounded himself with a great band for his debut solo release including Jeremy Arrowood on bass, Asa Gravley on guitar, Jim Van Cleve plays fiddle, Chris Wade on banjo and Darrell Webb lends guitar and mandolin to the release. The band is out on the road with a bit of a different lineup sans Jim Van Cleve but adding Tyler Kirkpatrick on resophonic guitar. I offered up the second track from the release, “Poor Ramblin Boy”.

Another new album I spun in the first hour was from Steve Gulley and Tim Stafford titled Dogwood Winter. 14 original tracks from this songwriting duo that Gulley says “with one exception–hadn’t been previously recorded. We picked 14 of our best tunes that we felt would be a good cross-section of our work, and the record, from the beginning was going to be all about the song.” The album hits the streets August 24th and is released on Rural Rhythm Records.

The Rockridge Brothers check in from Stockholm, Sweden in the second hour. Their album Rockridge Hollerin’ was released last year and remains high on my rotation at home. This is a great album packed with traditional/folk/bluegrass type tunes that are sure to please most of our Front Porch listeners. The album spun up from work the band was doing to record the soundtrack for their friends animated movie. Once they dipped their toes into Appalachian music they were hooked. I’m spinning “Lazy John” this morning.

Truckstop Honeymoon debuts on the Porch this morning with the title cut from their album Homemade Haircut. Truckstop Honeymoon self-describes their music as “tough, funny, hi-octane songs about interstates, pinball arcades and true love.” The band is headed up by bassist Katie Euliss and banjo-man Mike West. The band once was based out of New Orleans but were displaced by hurricane Katrina. They now claim Lawrence, KS as their hometown however, they spend more time on the road than in Kansas so home is a bit of variable experience.

I’m still trying to adjust to the “Americana” version of Robert Plant. I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, I still listen to Led Zeppelin and I will always be a fan of Led Zeppelin. Plant’s release with Alison Krauss “Raising Sand” left me less fulfilled than the critics and fans of Americana music. I’m not sure if it was the shock of hearing Plant without the boisterous surroundings of his Zeppelin-mates or that I was shocked to hear Krauss and her tender vocals intertwined with Plants rock-hardened front man grovels.

Apparently I’m not alone in my conflict. Plant himself says on his website in response to those who still feel a bit confused by his new sound, “That’s all right. It’s been a great run… If we can’t have fun now, the game’s over, isn’t it?”

Band of Joy seems to be more comfortable for me and I truly think it’s because I hear Led Zeppelin at times. There is just something in the song featured this morning, “Central Two-O-Nine” that reminds me of my days under the headphones with  Houses of the Holy rattling my eardrum. Guess you can be the judge when the album hits the shelves September 13.

See ya in two weeks!

~ John McMillen

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