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Author Archives: Rich Kienzle

Pokey LaFarge


Pokey LaFarge’s retro vision – rooted in bluegrass, blues, jazz, jug band, pre-World War II country (especially Jimmie Rodgers) and ’30s Western swing – was gaining attention before he played mandolin on Jack White’s Blunderbuss album. The St. Louis-based LaFarge and His South City Three opened for White on his subsequent tour. Now he’s back […]

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Alan Jackson

The Bluegrass Album

When Alan Jackson announced a bluegrass album produced by Alison Krauss in 2006, the result was Like Red On A Rose. On it, Jackson sang not straight-ahead bluegrass, but the sorts of dark – and sometimes pretentious – Americana ballads that are Krauss’ specialty. It was a rare miss for Jackson. Instead of earning usual […]

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Vince Gill and Paul Franklin


Vince Gill emerged in the mid ’80s as part of country’s New Traditionalist movement. The style was partly built on Bakersfield’s twang-heavy honkytonk, especially the music of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Coincidentally, 2013 marks anniversaries for both. Owens, who died in ’06, had his first #1 single with “Act Naturally” in 1963; later that […]

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Vince Gill, Duane Eddy, Steve Fishell, and others

The Big E: A Salute to Steel Guitarist Buddy Emmons

Buddy Gene Emmons stands as one of a handful of pedal steel players who truly advanced the instrument. His innovations as the “Bud” half of Sho-Bud guitars with partner Shot Jackson are just part of it. Emmons was the first pedal steeler to explore bebop and hard bop on his groundbreaking 1963 Steel Guitar Jazz […]

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Dwight Yoakam

3 Pears

Dwight Yoakam’s 1986 Guitars, Cadillacs… etc. etc. infused Bakersfieldstyle twang into the New Traditionalist trend then sweeping a country scene weary of frothy country pop. Two years later, he revived the career of long-time hero Buck Owens with their hit duet on “Streets Of Bakersfield.” 3 Pears, his first album of new material since 2005, […]

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Jamey Johnson

Livin’ for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran
Mercury Nashville

Like earlier country outlaws, Jamey Johnson forges his own paths while never forgetting his forebears. One is singer-composer Hank Cochran, who died in 2010. A giant among Nashville writers, Cochran wrote many tunes over nearly half a century, some now country standards. Having worked with a prerocking Eddie Cochran (no relation) in the early ’50s, […]

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Lee Ritenour

Rhythm Sections
Concord Records

Ritenour’s previous album, 6 String Theory, featured collaborations with guitar peers John Scofield, B.B. King, Slash, and George Benson, among others. Here, he’s working with virtuoso rhythm section players – and a few newcomers. Bassists on these 12 numbers include Stanley Clarke, Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, Chuck Berghofer, Nathan East, and Tal Wilkenfeld. On keyboards: […]

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Jerrod Niemann

Free the Music
Arista Nashville

Jerrod Niemann is a successful songwriter whose tunes have been recorded by Garth Brooks, Jamey Johnson, and Blake Shelton. His 2010 Arista debut Judge Jerrod and the Hung Jury yielded a #1 single with “Lover, Lover” that earned Platinum status. The album’s understated, irreverent, and quirky approach totally rejected Nashville’s usual sound-alike assembly line production […]

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Easton Corbin

All Over The Road
Mercury Nashville

Florida native Easton Corbin earned justified acclaim for his 2009 debut album Roll With It, revealing his twangy traditional voice and obvious debts to George Jones, Merle Haggard, and the late Keith Whitley. Carson Chamberlain’s spare, economical production accentuated those assets. All Over the Road retains the sound, with Brent Mason and James Mitchell handling […]

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Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale

Buddy & Jim
New West

In addition to his sterling reputation as a singer/songwriter, both alone and with wife, Julie, Buddy Miller’s guitar bonafides speak for themselves, including his work with Emmylou Harris and Robert Plant’s Band of Joy. Lauderdale, whose first album appeared back in 1991, has earned repeated acclaim for his solo efforts and individual collaborations with both […]

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