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Author Archives: Rich Kienzle

Bob’s Playboy Pickers

 
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Bob Wills was, first and foremost, a fiddler. But he began his career in childhood, strumming guitar and mandolin chords at rural Texas parties and dances behind his father, ace fiddler Uncle John Wills. As leader of the Texas Playboys from 1934 to ’64, Wills not only helped define the guitar’s role in western swing, […]

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Red Allen, Frank Wakefield, and the Kentuckians

The WDON Recordings 1963
 
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Washington, D.C. and vicinity, known for forward-thinking bluegrass bands like the Country Gentlemen and the Seldom Scene, also had staunch traditionalists, among them the team of mandolin virtuoso Frank Wakefield (a one-time Stanley Brothers and Jimmy Martin sideman) and former Osborne Brothers singer-guitarist Red Allen. In 1963, (more…)

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Bryan Sutton

Into My Own
 
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Bryan Sutton’s roots-music pedigree is flawless. His award-winning work as an accompanist and soloist spans bluegrass, Americana, and contemporary country, all proof of his versatility and virtuosity. A gifted guitar educator, he earned two Grammys as part of Ricky Skaggs’s Kentucky Thunder, another for “Whiskey (more…)

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Eric Johnson and Mike Stern

Eclectic
 
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Two iconic players joining forces can soar or falter depending on material, the players’ adaptability, the number of guest performers, and many other factors. Eric Johnson and Mike Stern certainly arrived at the table with their ducks in line, toting a blend of (more…)

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Corb Lund

Counterfeit Blues
 
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Corb Lund may not be well-known to American audiences, but he’s been around 30 years in Canada. As a solo act, he developed a simple, in-your-face country and roots sound with his longtime band, the Hurtin’ Albertans: guitarist Grant Siemens, upright bass player Kurt Ciesla, (more…)

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Bobby Black

Steel Before and After Commander Cody
 
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When he got the invitation, Bobby Black wasn’t sure. The pedal-steel virtuoso, a 20-plus-year veteran of San Francisco’s music scene, had just been asked to join the long-hairs in Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. It was the fall of 1971, and Black was in a comfortable situation – he owned a recording studio […]

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Brad Paisley

Moonshine In The Trunk
 
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After a slew of excellent albums earlier in the decade, Brad Paisley’s work has taken a more uneven turn. His vocals and flair for guitar pyrotechnics remain flawless even if the material on recent albums has been less-consistent. Moonshine In The Trunk continues this trend. (more…)

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Marty Stuart

Saturday Night And Sunday Morning
Rocking From Barstool to Pew
 
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The title of Marty Stuart’s two-disc album originates in a longstanding Southern paradox: the notion of raising hell, boozing, and partying on a Saturday night, usually in a barroom or dancehall – then shaking it off for a worshipful Sunday of church and fellowship. Working with (more…)

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Bill Kirchen

Seeds, Stems, and a Tele-fied Legacy
 
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There’s ample revisiting in Seeds and Stems, Telecaster slinger Bill Kirchen’s third album for Proper America. Five of the 13 songs hearken back to his late-’60s/mid-’70s days with pioneer country-rockers Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen. “Flip Flop,” “Womb To The Tomb” and “Rockabilly Funeral,” are longstanding favorites of his solo repertoire, as is […]

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Billy Joe Shaver

Long In the Tooth
 
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Since he first emerged as a songwriter more than 40 years ago, Billy Joe Shaver has remained an authentic country rebel, a far cry from contemporary Nashville’s bogus, self-proclaimed young “outlaws” who use the term as a marketing hook. As a recording artist, Shaver found (more…)

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