On my personal list of bluegrass artists who rarely get the exposure and credit they deserve, songwriter Chris Stuart’s name is always prominent. Songwriters generally toil in the shadows, and folks in the business are among the few who keep up with who has written what.
Chris currently has two songs on the Bluegrass Unlimited National Bluegrass Survey in September, both recorded by notable bluegrass artists – Larry Cordle’s version of First Train Robbery, and the Danny Paisley cut of Don’t Throw Mama’s Flowers Away, co-written with Ivan Rosenberg.
There is also a Stuart song, Farewell for a Little While, on the new Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper CD.
He also records and performs with his band, Chris Stuart & Backcountry, and they have a new CD which features 10 of his new compositions. Crooked Man is their first release in several years, with Chris on guitar and vocals, Janet Beazley on banjo and vocals, Austin Ward on bass, Christian Ward on fiddle and Eric Uglum on guitar and mandolin.
Chris shared a few words about the new CD…
“Originally, we were going to just do digital singles, but as we got into writing the songs and recording, we realized that there was a unifying theme. The band decided that we would release a full album project of thirteen songs, and sell it as an album for a few weeks until it shows up on iTunes and the other digital download sites.
The theme is about aging, which I guess is ironic since we have a couple of teenagers in the band. But hey, I turned fifty this year!”
Bandmates Beazley and Ward also have original songs on Crooked Man. All of the material is tuneful, with lyrics that stand out for their maturity and thoughtfulness. The performances are top flight as well, with both the singers and the pickers shining in turn on music that runs from modern bluegrass to Celtic, with plenty of authentic American acoustic music in between.
Audio samples, lyrics and photos from the sessions can be found on Chris’ web site, along with online ordering.