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Author Archives: Rich Kienzle

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

Django and Jimmie

Whatever’s changed in the 32 years since their duet album Pancho & Lefty, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard continue to share vast musical common ground. The proof lies in this blend of new originals, covers, and classics. The title song honors their common musical heroes: (more…)

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Arlen Roth

Slide Guitar Summit

Venerable slide guitar master-educator Arlen Roth collaborates with nine peers: Lee Roy Parnell, Jack Pearson, Sonny Landreth, Cindy Cashdollar, Jimmy Vivino, the Kentucky Headhunters’ Greg Martin, Rick Vito, David Lindley, and the late Johnny Winter (to whom the album’s dedicated). Most tunes, such as Pearson’s original (more…)

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Steve Earle


The title, inspired by Robert Johnson’s immortal “Terraplane Blues,” says it all. Here’s Earle’s homage to the blues: 11 original, personal songs bathed in honest, authentic arrangements inspired by various vintage styles. “Baby Baby Baby (Baby)” has the loping feel of a Jimmy Reed shuffle. The (more…)

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Pokey LaFarge

Something In the Water
Hamfats-Styled Hot Stuff

Pokey LaFarge’s Rounder Records debut continues his rich, well-established sound. Primarily acoustic, he offers another amalgam of jazz, blues, jug band, and Western swing. At different times, LaFarge and his expanded band conjure the sound and spirit of any number of 1930s jug bands, Western swing (more…)

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John Pizzarelli

John Pizzarelli Salutes Johnny Mercer (Live)

John Pizzarelli knows lyricist Johnny Mercer’s timeless compositions inside out. He’s recorded them on various albums and was a cast member of the 1997 Broadway musical Dream, which saluted Mercer’s music. Mercer Street, released digitally via Pizzarelli’s own Deluxe Sounds label, samples Mercer tunes, both standards and (more…)

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Eliane Elias

Made In Brazil

Eliane Elias came to New York City from Brazil in 1981 and since then, building an impeccable reputation as a singer, songwriter, arranger, and pianist, her recording projects never brought her home. This album, recorded in Sao Paulo, marks that homecoming. It blends six Elias (more…)

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Albert King, Little Milton, and more

The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 3: 1972-1975

This 10-disc set covers the final three years of Stax singles, a period when the iconic Memphis-based label was under new management and trying to broaden and expand too many directions at once, a disastrous move that led to financial ruin. By December ’75, (more…)

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Elana James

Black Beauty

For her second solo effort, Elana James, fiddler-vocalist for the western-swing trio Hot Club of Cowtown, ventures afield into other genres. This shouldn’t be surprising, given her 2006 touring work as part of Bob Dylan’s band. Along with original tunes, James covers material by Dylan, the Grateful (more…)

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The Mavericks

Lightning In A New Bottle

After their acclaimed 2014 comeback album In Time and a successful tour, the Mavericks wasted no time creating a followup effort continuing the eclectic sounds, original material, and powerful performances that began in ’91 with their self-released first album. Singer-songwriter Raul Malo, who recorded a number (more…)

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Neil LeVang

Six Strings Behind — and Beyond — Champagne Music
Neil LeVang

Neil LeVang was about to get a lecture. Days earlier, the A-list studio guitarist’s new boss, Lawrence Welk, had golfed with a couple well-known singers who mentioned that LeVang had played on their sessions. “Neil,” Welk implored in his famous German accent, “If you thought as much about this (band) as recording with all these […]

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