What does New Caledonian bluegrass sound like? How would you know.
The small island nation in the south Pacific isn’t a particular hotbed of bluegrass activity, but the French-speaking residents are learning to love it, thanks to the efforts of Jean-Luc Leroux, a popular radio host and stage performer in the region. His Route 66 program airs every Saturday afternoon, where he airs a varied sampling of Americana sounds, with explanations and introductions for his listeners who may be uninitiated.
Leroux plays mandolin and sings a mix of country and bluegrass standards, along with his original songs, in both English and French. His previous albums have usually blended those styles, but for his next record, it’s all mandolin, and all bluegrass.
Mandologie is set for a November 15 release, 10 new mandolin compositions with Jean-Luc out front. Recorded during his regular visits to the US and France, the project includes guest appearances by a bevy of international bluegrass stars. Rob Ickes adds his reso-guitar, Mike Bub his bass, and their are contributions from Butch Robins on banjo, and Buddy Spicher on fiddle. Another dozen or more pickers participate, including French banjoist Jean-Marie Redon, and his fellow countryman Thiery Massoubre on guitar.
For a first single from the album, Jean-Luc has released one called Brewsky, which I suspect means the same thing in any language. He’s assisted by Redon on banjo, with Orville Grant on bass, Francois Vola on guitar, Aaron Till on fiddle, and Thierry Loyer on reso-guitar.
Here’s a taste…
The album won’t drop to consumers until later this month, but radio hosts can grab the track now from AirPlay Direct.