New Release Rack: Lost Radio Rounders’ “Heaven’s Radio”
Longtime Albany music scene mainstays Tom Lindsay and Michael Eck first started playing together more than a quarter century ago – back in the early ’80s days as founding members of the roots-rock-and-beyond combo the Chefs of the Future, still one of the best Nippertown band names of all-time.
Years later, they re-connected musically as an acoustic duo with a mutual love of old-time gospel music. They called themselves Gospel Train, focusing their repertoire on a century’s worth of American spiritual and religious songs that spanned the Civil War to the Civil Rights era.
But then they started branching out. They put together a program of Civil War-era songs that they titled “Lincoln and Liberty.” They developed another theme program, “American Favorite Ballads: The Songs of Pete Seeger,” Then they assembled an evening of Carter Family classics, “Wildwood Flower: Songs of the Original Carter Family.”
So the three years ago, Lindsay and Eck decided to change the name of the duo to Lost Radio Rounders in order to encompass their broadening range of vintage acoustic music, which these days includes dipping into the musical legacies culled from the songbags of such iconic troubadours as Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Uncle Dave Macon, Pete Seeger, Grandpa Jones and countless others.
But the twosome has retained a particularly strong affinity for the classic songs of the Carter Family. Last year, they released The Sunny Side, an album of Carter Family songs that featured such nuggets as “I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes,” “I Can’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,” “Worried Man Blues” and, of course, “Keep On the Sunny Side.”
Now they’ve dipped back into the vast Carter Family catalog again for their new album, Heaven’s Radio, which will be officially issued on Friday (October 19) with a CD release party and concert at the Steamer No. 10 Theatre in Albany. But this time around LRR are once again focusing on their gospel roots, and, in fact, the disc is subtitled “Lost Radio Rounders & Friends Sing Gospel Songs of the Carter Family.” The whopping, 15-song collection includes “No Depression,” “On the Rock Where Moses Stood,” “Gospel Ship” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” just to name a few.
The always righteous, sometimes rousing album was recorded live at the Old Chapel at the McKownville United Methodist Church earlier this year during LRR’s annual series of charity benefit concerts. As befitting the plain-spoken, nothin’-fancy music of a simpler time, the musicians gathered around a single microphone, bobbing and weaving in and out for solos.
Between the two of them, Lindsay and Eck play more than a half dozen instruments on the disc, but they’ve also buttressed their sound with contributions from a number of Nippertown’s finest roots musicians. M.R. Poulopoulos takes over lead vocal chores on a perfectly subdued rendition of “No Depression” that wraps up with a heavenly, hushed a cappella coda. Kim Kilby (formerly of the Tern Rounders) steps up to the microphone to deliver the goods on “The Poor Orphan Child” and “On the Sea of Galilee.” The Red Haired Strangers’ Ryan Dunham spikes the procedings with harmonica – sometimes haunting, sometimes howling – and Ramblin Jug Stompers’ Steven “Cousin” Clyde lays down a rock solid foundation on upright bass and harmony vocals.
Yes, Lost Radio Rounders’ Heaven’s Radio harkens back to a simpler time. No overdubs, no studio sweetening, no trickery. It’s about honesty, not irony. Listen closely, and you might hear a stage floorboard creak or the rumble of a truck on Western Avenue outside the church. It’s real music, played by real musicians in real time. That’s all too rare these days, and it’s something to be cherished…
Lost Radio Rounders & Friends celebrate the release of “Heaven’s Radio” with a concert at the Steamer No. 10 Theatre in Albany at 8pm on Friday (October 19). Lindsay and Eck will be joined by Poulopoulos, Kilby and Dunham, as well as Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys’ Bob Ristau on bass and Mat Kane on fiddle. Tix are $13 in advance; $15 at the door.
BUT WAIT… we’re giving away a pair of FREE TIX for Friday’s Lost Radio Rounders concert to a lucky Nippertown reader! Just go here to enter…