Bluegrass DISClaimer (10/2/09)

AleciaNugent-hillbillygoddessThe best part of the bluegrass-music week starts today.

Up until now it has been mostly panel discussions, showcases, a trade show and last night’s awards gala. Today begins the Bluegrass Fan Fest part of the IBMA’s convention. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday you get nothing but music, music, music on the lower level of the Nashville Convention Center.

Friday’s 21-act lineup includes The Grascals, Dan Tyminski, The SteelDrivers, Cherryholmes, Del McCoury and our Disc of the Day winner, Alecia Nugent.

On Saturday, you can hear such greats as Dale Ann Bradley, Dailey & Vincent, Joe Diffie, The Infamous Stringdusters and The Lonesome River Band among the 22 performers.

It’s bluegrass gospel on Sunday morning, featuring Union Station’s Ron Block, plus Kenny & Amanda Smith and more. Have fun, music lovers.

ALECIA NUGENT/Don’t Tell Me
Writer: Buddy Miller/Julie Miller; Producer: Carl Jackson; Publisher: Bughouse/Music of Windswept/Bug, ASCAP; Rounder (track) (www.alecianugent.com)
—Alecia is rare as a bluegrass star with a music video. This gorgeous, heartbreaking ballad is like a rose petal floating on an icy lake. She is one of the greatest country singers alive, and shimmers on every track of her current Hillbilly Goddess CD. On its title tune and on “Nugent Family Band” she emerges as a songwriter for the first time. The all-star cast includes Rob Ickes, J.D. Crowe, Sonya Isaacs, Bradley Walker and Andy Leftwich, as well as her brilliant producer, Carl Jackson. An essential record. I wrote the liner notes, but don’t let that keep you from buying it.

RICKY SKAGGS/Foggy River
Writer: Fred Rose; Producer: Ricky Skaggs; Publisher: Sony-ATV, ASCAP; Skaggs Family  (track) (www.skaggsfamilyrecords.com)
—Ricky’s latest is called Solo: Songs My Dad Loved. It leads off with this dazzlingly melodic Carl Smith goldie. Ricky’s nimble guitar work on it is as stellar as his vocal. I’ll say one thing: Hobart Skaggs had excellent taste. The set also includes “This World Is Not My Home,” “What Is a Home Without Love,” “Branded Wherever I Go,” and a very cool, overdubbed Ricky-and-Ricky performance of “God Holds the Future in His Hands.”

DALE ANN BRADLEY/Don’t Turn Your Back
Writer: Louisa Branscomb; Producer: Alison Brown; Publisher: Millwheel, BMI; Compass (track) (www.compassrecords.com)
—Don’t Turn Your Back is Kentuckian Dale Ann’s first album since moving to Nashville last year. Appropriately, the title tune is a high, lonesome, wistful song about making a journey by train. She sings with the delicacy of bird in flight. The CD’s repertoire casts its net wide, from Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” to The Carter Family’s “50 Miles of Elbow Room,” from Fleetwood Mac’s “Over My Head” to Dale Ann’s own “Music City Queen.” This is the finest work of her career to date.

DAILEY & VINCENT/Years Ago
Writer: Donald Reid; Producer: Jamie Dailey & Darrin Vincent; Publisher: Songs of Universal, BMI; Rounder (track) (www.daileyvincent.com)
—Darrin and Jamie have always had a thing for The Statler Brothers, so it’s no surprise to find a revival of that group’s 1982 hit on their superb Brothers From Different Mothers CD. It remains a delightful, bitter-funny song, and no one sings with as much thrilling timbre as these two do. The bluegrass vocal treatment they apply to Roger Miller’s “You Oughta Be Here with Me” made the hairs on my arms tingle. They are particularly exciting on “Your Love Is Like a Flower” on the gospel tunes and in their twin-guitar and vocal duet of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings’ “Winter’s Come and Gone.” Oh what am I saying, every track is a minor masterpiece.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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