We haven’t yet had a chance to comment on Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, the new CD from the band of the same name. It’s their first full length studio CD in five years, and their first with a record label since 2001 – though they did release a compilation project with a couple of new tracks for Rounder last year.
The band was a powerhouse in the early part of this decade, working a grueling tour schedule and selling an impressive number of CDs, both on the road and via retailers. They made the decision to form their own record company and produce new projects on their own.
The first release on Chateau Music Group was Singing on Streets of Gold in 2002, followed by The Best Durn Ride’ in ’04 and Round III at the MAC on both CD and DVD in 2007. When the label was formed, Russell Moore still had a number of partners to assist with the workload, but with both Mike Hartgrove and Ray Deaton having left IIIrd Tyme Out, Russell figured it was time once again to change horses.
“I decided to search for a label to work with when I realized that we (me and my wife, Carol) just didn’t have the hours each day that are needed to do a good job of running a record label. My workload for the band’s day to day operations have increased to the point that there’s just not enough time to run a band and a label both.”
He settled on Rural Rhythm Records, and together they have produced a stellar CD showing that IIIrd Tyme Out is still a powerhouse, and reminding us all that there are few bluegrass singers who can match Russell Moore in skill and dexterity. Moore also has a keen ear for a great song, and this new release features 12 fine examples of the sound that catapulted this band to the top of the bluegrass world when they first hit in 1991.
The current lineup contains a number of faces that will be familiar to longtime fans, and a couple of relative newcomers. Steve Dilling is on banjo, where he has been for 15 years, and Wayne Benson is back on mandolin after a 5 year absence. Edgar Loudermilk joined on bass in 2007 when Ray Deaton left the band, and Justen Haynes has been with them on fiddle this past few years.
The material is drawn from some of today’s top songwriters (Tim Stafford, Craig Market, Ronnie Bowman, Becky Buller) and Moore contributes two of his own compositions, along with a Wayne Benson instrumental. We asked Russell to comment on a couple of the tracks, which we present here along with a few audio samples from the CD.
Carolina’s Arms – Listen now: [http://media.libsyn.com/media/thegrasscast/carolinas_arms.mp3]
“This song was written by Jeff Hovis and it was pitched to me by Dee Gaskin, who has the publishing on it. It was originally titled ‘Lucky Carolina’ and had a slightly different chord progression than the version we recorded. I asked Dee and Jeff if I could ‘tweak’ it a bit so that it would fit our style of music a little better and they gave me the go ahead. After a slight change in the title, chord progression and changing the ‘hook’ line to ‘You’re in Carolina’s arms tonight’, we felt like it was ready for the new CD and it’s being received very well at our live shows.”
Little John, I Am – Listen now: [http://media.libsyn.com/media/thegrasscast/little_john.mp3]
“I have written a few songs over the past several years and it usually takes me several years to finish them. I had been working on this song for 3-4 years before we recorded it. I started writing this song one night during a bout of insomnia. It began with a chord progression that was running through my mind and then the subject matter came later. The thoughts of a sharecropper’s life and how the trade was often times handed down through generations was the inspiration for the lyrics.”
Another song from the CD, Me and Dad, has also been a crowd favorite at the band’s live show, and serves as the focal point for the IIIrd Tyme Out Father’s Day photo contest we are running here on Bluegrass Today. The song, by Ronnie Bowman and Kim Fox, tells the story of a young child’s admiration and love for their father, in a powerful and emotional song.
We are asking everyone to send in your favorite photos with your dad, and after the band picks their top five, our readers will choose the winner just in time for Father’s Day.
You can see all the contest details here.