Following Festival Time Again (released in 2006) and Spirit of St. Louis (2007) albums, both featuring all-original songs, is a new CD entitled, Bluegrass Alphabet – officially released Saturday, January 12, 2008 on the Zephyr Records label. The 12-track album features original bluegrass and Americana songs written by Ross during the past three decades, as well as a novel arrangement of My Bonnie with autoharp, whistle, Japanese koto, among other instruments.
The title cut, which tells the complete story of bluegrass music from A to Z, was inspired by a sailors’ alphabet song that Ross plays on concertina in his solo shows.
As well as singing lead on most of the tracks, Ross plays guitar, mandolin, upright bass, and keyboard on the project. Most vocal harmonies are handled by Nashville-based musician Randy Kohrs, while noted local Roseburg, OR vocalist Jamie Kruse makes a cameo appearance on the song, The Loneliest Season. Other well-known artists working with Ross on Bluegrass Alphabet include Bryan Bowers (autoharp), Tim Crouch and Adam Haynes (fiddle), Mitsuki Dazai (koto), Ben Greene and Scott Vestal (banjo), Jason Heald and Jerry McNeely (bass), James King (guitar), Kevin Prater (mandolin and guitar), Ronnie Stewart (banjo and fiddle) and Radim Zenkl (pennywhistle).
Wayne Bledsoe, editor of Bluegrass Now magazine, speaks highly of Joe’s abilities ‚Ä¶‚Ä¶..
“A man of both deep feeling and deep thinking, Joe Ross has few peers as a singer and a songster. He epitomizes the ideal contained in the 19th century French philosopher/historian, Jean Jacques Rousseau’s observation that ‘‚Ä¶deep thinking is obtainable only by a person of deep feeling.’ The lyrics penned by the Oregon ‘songster’, Joe Ross, attest to his astute ability to evoke in his listeners an emotional response to the joys, mysteries, and sorrows of life.”
While Stephanie P. Ledgin, author of Homegrown Music: Discovering Bluegrass, observes,
“Joe’s words come alive. A novel kind of guy, Joe Ross is a songwriter for all seasons who has cultivated his craft, demonstrating his formula for creating bluegrass songs. A multi-year award winner in the Portland (Oregon) Music Association Songwriting Contest, he cleverly sums up many of the elements of bluegrass in the title cut. Carrying through on that theme, ‘Bluegrass Alphabet’ – the song and the entire recording – is a CD that expresses, many times over, the love, knowledge and passion Joe holds for bluegrass music. He takes us on a tour of emotions and places, exhibiting a multitude of influences that go into his song writing.”
Beginning January 26, Ross will be on an extended tour to promote the new album.