August 13th, 2009, 5:17 pm by Greg

Being elite members of the Fourth Estate, we’ve grown accustomed to receiving music in advance of its official release. Sometimes waaaay in advance.

xmasWell, now we have a winner in the Nippertown.com Christmas-in-August sweepstakes. The first holiday album of 2009 arrived today, and it comes from country comedian Rodney Carrington.

Hmmmm, it sure is hilarious when those holiday albums start popping up in our mailbox in the heat of August.

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?


LIVE: Red Haired Strangers @ the Tang Museum, 7/31/09

August 3rd, 2009, 8:44 pm by Greg

Ryan Dunham

Ryan Dunham

The Red Haired Strangers started out more than a decade and a half ago as the acoustic duo of harmonicat-vocalist Ryan Dunham and guitarist-vocalist John Rice, playing a variety of country, blues and bluegrass.

In recent years, they’ve expanded into a full-fledged band that also includes ace fiddler Joe Gumpper, drummer Chris Scharl, bassist Mike McLean and veteran pedal steel guitarist Rick Morse.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ricky Skaggs, What Was the First Record You Ever Bought?

July 13th, 2009, 4:01 pm by Greg


“When I was growing up, we had some 45s and 78s around the house of Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers, and I used to play them all the time.

And my sister – who’s four or five years older than me – well, I know that the first album that she bought was the Beatles, their first album, and we used to listen to them a lot.

But the first album that I can remember actually going in and buying myself was a Flatt and Scruggs record. Of course, in the town in eastern Kentucky where I grew up, the stores where we bought groceries didn’t sell music. You had to go 25 or 30 miles to Grayson and Louise, Kentucky – the county seat of Lawrence County – to buy records.

But I also remember that I happened to be up there in Columbus, Ohio with my dad one time visiting some relatives or something, and we stopped into a music store downtown on High Street. I just went ballistic, totally nuts. I was just begging him, ‘Dad, can we buy this?’

At the time, albums were five or six dollars apiece, which was a pretty good little chunk. But I remember him buying me eight or ten Stanley Brothers albums. That’s all I bought. I didn’t buy anybody else’s records. Nothing but Carter and Ralph’s.”

Ricky Skaggs and his band Kentucky Thunder headline the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival at Walsh Farm in Oak Hill on Saturday, July 18. The fest runs from Thursday-Sunday, July 16-19 featuring such performers as Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, the David Bromberg Quartet, the Del McCoury Band, the Tim O’Brien Band, the Gibson Brothers, King Wilkie, Crooked Still and more.


June 25th, 2009, 3:53 pm by Greg

In the case of the new album from sublime roots singer-songwriter Jim Gaudet, “So Far So Good” just doesn’t cut it as a title. Really. He should re-name this sucker, “The Good Just Keeps Gettin’ Better.”

One of Nippertown’s very finest songwriters, Gaudet has a knack for crafting a mighty memorable melody – the kind that’ll get you singing along even on first listen. His delivery is wry and witty, often saying just as much with his pregnant pauses as he does with his lyrics. And lyrically, he’s poetic, literate and more than just clever.

After a string of excellent albums that culminated with “Give Up the Ghost” on the Prime CD label in 1998, Gaudet dropped out of the music scene for nearly a decade, but he came roaring back with with the sparkling “Re-Calling It Quits,” one of the best discs of 2007.

And fortunately we didn’t have to wait long for the follow-up, and this one is undoubtedly headed for the 2009 Nippertown Top 10.

While Gaudet fans will embrace the new CD with plenty of enthusiasm, “So Far So Good” is actually something of a departure from Gaudet’s earlier albums.

For one, this is a true band effort, and as befitting the first credited to Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys, the Boys – bassist Bob Ristau, mandolinist-lead guitarist Sten Isachsen and fiddler Tim Wechgelaer – get plenty of opportunity to shine in the spotlight.

Secondly, the album leans away from Gaudet’s usual folk-oriented approach and heads straight into high lonesome bluegrass territory. And these guys nail it. The vocal harmonies simply soar on original gems like “Get Up John” (not the bluegrass classic), “Jealous Heart” and the traditional “Hand Me Down My Walking Cane.”

But this isn’t just strictly a bluegrass album – not by any means. You’ll also find some whiskey-soaked roadhouse honky-tonkers (“Drive” and the love-gone-wrong nugget “Mind Over Matter”), a couple of chuggin’ train songs (the opening “Born to Be Lonesome” and the closing “Railroad Kill Bill”), some country twang (“Callin’ My Name”), a bit of finger-picking folk (“This Time”) and even some heavenly gospel (Gillian Welch’s “By the Mark,” the only cover song on the album).

In short, Gaudet has never sounded better or more confident. His voice is strong, and he takes more chances with it. Compare the title track with the version that Gaudet recorded for his 1994 album, “It’s a Colorful Life,” for example.

Much of the album was recorded live in Bender Studios in Delmar – the musicians playing all together at the same time, rather than layering on the one-at-a-time overdubs. And it shows. The proof is in the rich, warm, organic sound, which brings out the best in these stellar songs.

Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys celebrate the release of “So Far So Good” with a party and performance at the Ancient Order of Hibernians Hall (375 Ontario St., Albany) at 8pm on Saturday, June 27. Admission is free. Jim and his band will also be serving up another free performance at 1pm Sunday, June 28 in Shepard Park on Canada St., Lake George as part of the 22nd annual Lake George Summerfest weekend.

At either place, expect a seriously good time, some great music and a few of Gaudet’s deadly jokes, too.

LIVE: The Outlaws @ Alive at Five, 6/18

June 19th, 2009, 3:44 pm by Greg
(Photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

(Photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

Even though the Marshall Tucker Band was forced to cancel their Alive at Five appearance, it’s good to see that the Guitar Army – southern rock division – is still alive, as last-minute replacement headliners the Outlaws rode through downtown Albany on Thursday, June 18.

BUDDY AND JULIE MILLER’s “Written in Chalk”

June 16th, 2009, 12:18 pm by Greg

(New West, 2009):
They’ve been making great music individually for more than two decades, but surprisingly enough, this is only the second collaborative effort from the king and queen of the Americana prom. They channel the Band on the nostalgic, opening “Ellis County” and then branch out to the dangerous blues rumble of “Gasoline and Matches,” the heartbroken balladry of Don’t Say Goodbye and much, much more – all of which is simply first rate. Guest vocalists by an A-list of fans and friends including Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant and Patty Griffin.

Buddy and Julie Miller: Written In Chalk


May 10th, 2009, 5:00 pm by Greg

(no label, 2009): OK, this one threw me. I was expecting some crazed hoedowns or at least some rough, ragged backporch romps from a group with a name like this.

cover_ghostsAh, but no.

Instead, 25-year-old Gypsy Dave Washousky serves up a restrained brand of country-tinged folk made for pondering rather than do-si-do-ing. The Stumpjumpers (classically trained fiddler Lisa Joseph and bassist-harmony vocalist Ryan Nageotte) do just fine on these twelve original songs, and co-producer Will Kimbrough manages to beef up their sound just a bit on this, the band’s sophomore album.

Still I wish they’d really just cut loose once in a while. Either that, or change the name of the band.

Gypsy Dave Washousky and the Stumpjumpers

Nippertown Goes Hollywood

May 6th, 2009, 4:01 pm by Sara

First, Angelina Jolie rides around downtown Albany on top of a truck. Then, Kevin Costner rides into Clifton Park.

Yup, but Mr. Dances With Wolves won’t be shooting a new movie. Instead he’ll be standing in the spotlight with his band Modern West at Northern Lights, churning their way through an evening of such country-rock tunes as “5 Minutes from America” and “90 Miles an Hour,” from their recently released CD, “Untold Truths.”

The band’s Myspace page lists some unexpected influences (Daniel Lanois, Beck, Beth Orton, Nirvana, Modest Mouse) as well as the usual suspects (Dylan, Beatles, Springsteen). But mostly it kinda sounds like the meat ‘n’ potatoes heartland rock of Mellencamp. The two-time Oscar winner’s latest movie was last year’s “Swing Vote,” which featured several songs that he wrote.

Costner and Modern West are slated to arrive at Northern Lights on Tuesday, July 21. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale at 10 am Saturday, May 16, priced at $20.

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