Sugar Hill Records is releasing more sets in the Americana Master Series today (7/10/07), among them four bluegrass albums. These will comprise anthologies by Peter Rowan, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the Lonesome River Band and the Nashville Bluegrass Band.
This series presents the award-winning music of Sugar Hill’s Americana Masters. Researched and compiled from the artist’s body of work on Sugar Hill Records, these tracks were culled from radio chart toppers, fan mail, downloads, and songs and tunes that are recurrent favorites at live performances. The series is designed to provide longstanding fans with a collection of favourites. For new fans, this series offers concise entry into the artistic output of these seminal artists‚Äîwith liner notes that can help them to discover more and to delve more deeply into the artist’s catalogue.
Not surprisingly, the Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver collection features all Gospel material, 18 songs spread across the many years that the group has been associated with Sugar Hill Records. The opening track is He Put A Rainbow In The Clouds For Me from the eponymous first album released in 1979, followed by On The Sea Of Life from the classic Rock My Soul album. Other highlights include The Little Mountain Church House and Let Us Travel On. Both feature Lawson singing close harmony with the exceptional Russell Moore. Other great vocal partners appearing here include Lou Reid, Steve Gulley, Barry Abernathy, Jimmy Haley, Terry Baucom and Jamie Dailey.
The Lonesome River Band anthology comprises 16 songs, culled from just four albums, the tracks presented in chronological order. The first band here features founder and rhythm guitarist Tim Austin, Dan Tyminski (mandolin), Ronnie Bowman (bass) and Sammy Shelor (banjo). They are heard on four cuts including Old Country Town and Highway Paved With Pain. The second edition of this high-energy group is that comprising Kenny Smith (guitar), Don Rigsby (mandolin) and the aforementioned Ronnie Bowman and Sammy Shelor. Their contributions are taken from two albums, One Step Forward from 1996 and Finding The Way released in 1998. On the last four cuts Rickie Simpkins is included, playing fiddle. Overall there’s some great original material and a superb mix of excellent voices – trademark Lonesome River Band material.
As befits the eclectic character of the music for which Peter Rowan is known, the 15 songs on this first anthology from Rowan come from the various phases of his time on the Sugar Hill roster. There are three songs done in collaboration with the Nashville Bluegrass Band; starting with The High Lonesome Sound followed with Memories of You and Meadow Green. There are a couple with Jerry Douglas; Girl in the Blue Velvet Band and You Taught Me How to Lose. Then there’s the solo effort, Dust Bowl Children, and two career songs, Walls of Time and Hiroshima Mon Amour.
The best of the Sugar Hill years as far as the Nashville Bluegrass Band is concerned stretches from their first album on the label, The Boys Are Back In Town. The song of the same name is the second track of this 16 cut anthology. The set concludes with Rockin’ Chair Money from their 2004 CD release Twenty Year Blues. At the heart of the Nashville Bluegrass Band sound is Pat Enright’s complex voice, a beacon of the blues. His solo take here on Biggest Liars In Town is ripe with tension and pathos. Enright’s vocal collaborations with Alan O’Bryant are equally haunting as can be heard on Waitin’ For The Hard Times To Go. Other equally important participants are Stuart Duncan (fiddle and vocals), Roland White and Mike Compton (both playing mandolin) and Gene Libbea (bass and vocals) and Dennis Crouch (bass). The Nashville Bluegrass Band has taken their music to many parts of the world and won accolades for their work. This set from the twice voted IBMA ‘Entertainer of the Year’ band includes Grammy winning material. Recommendation enough?
The Sugar Hill web site is currently under reconstruction, and links to only two of the compilations mentioned above are showing up as of 9:00 am. on 7/10. I’m sure they will all appear shortly as site revisions are completed.