Author Archives: Rick Allen

The No Refund Band

The No Refund Band

Lead singer/guitarist Ricky Jackson sings with a brassiness and strength that doesn’t come along often in pop music. He’s also an impressive guitarist, partly in debt to the crotch-rock styles of Slash and Joe (more…)

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The Coal Men


The Coal Men – guitarist Dave Coleman and drummer Dave Ray – boast a cowboy romanticism that comes alive on their fourth album, Escalator. Coleman wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on Escalator with Ray, bassist Jay Hitchcock, or other collaborators, creating a definite (more…)

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The Northstar Session

Echoes From the Canyon

Sometimes it’s jaw-dropping incredible how some ensembles can make music together so well. Witness the acoustic guitar-and-piano trio of guitarists Matt Szlachetka and Kane McGee and keyboard man Dave Basaraba, who offer this double-CD collection recorded in an intimate live setting. With full harmonies and (more…)

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The Carper Family

Old-Fashioned Gal

Old-fashioned gals they may well be, but the Carper Family trio injects their traditional country and bluegrass music with some tasty modern vibes on their third disc. The Austin, Texas-based band comprises bassist and band namesake Melissa Carper, guitarist Beth Chrisman, and the brilliant fiddle (more…)

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Gustav Lundgren

Plays Django Reinhardt

Gustav Lundgren is boldly going where few other Gypsy jazz guitarists dare: the daunting and little-known world of Django Reinhardt’s later bebop music. Swede Lundgren is prolific in both the worlds of standard jazz guitar and Gypsy jazz, with seven previous releases to his name plus (more…)

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The Clutter Family

Freak It

A line in Bob Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding” goes, “If my thought dreams could be seen, they’d probably put my head in a guillotine.” Lyrics to Clutter Family songs like “I Love You, Jodie Foster” make one fear a similar fate (more…)

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Big James and the Chicago Playboys

The Big Payback
Blind Pig Records

With a frenetic, funky solo and smooth dependable rhythm on this disc’s first cut, co-producer James Montgomery’s “The Blues Will Never Die,” Mike “Money” Wheeler demonstrates right off the bat how he earned his nickname. Wheeler is obviously influenced by Ernie Isley, whose mixed rep (more…)

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Della Mae

Acoustic e.p.

The women of Della Mae kick off their latest with a version of the traditional “Bowling Green” followed by Lester Flatt’s “Head Over Heels,” firmly establishing their commitment to bluegrass and eliminating any doubt about whether they’re simply an all-girl gimmick band. The members of Della Mae are so well-matched it doesn’t matter if the […]

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Jerry Douglas and Various Artists

Southern Filibuster: A Tribute To Tut Taylor
E1 Entertainment

Tut Taylor is a self-taught virtuoso who plays his Model 27 square-neck Dobro with a flat pick. He first caught the public’s ear while playing with Vassar Clemens in the Dixie Gentleman, and the two later joined Norman Blake and Randy Scruggs to work (more…)

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Kelly Joe Phelps

Brother Sinner and the Whale
Black Hen

Heartfelt personal developments inspired Phelps to write 11 of these 12 biblically themed gospel/blues songs. Accompanied only by his brilliantly played slide acoustic, he helps expand appreciation of blues styles other than vintage Mississippi Delta and Chicago electric varieties. Those popular styles define the blues (more…)

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