Between them, these minor leaguers have ties to such major leaguers as The Bellamy Brothers, George Jones, Jason & The Scorchers, former Georgia Satellite Dan Baird, Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker and Charlie Daniels. Plus, there’s a surprising amount of class on display.
The Atlanta-based foursome Ponderosa wins a DisCovery Award with its rootsy, rocking “Old Gin Road,” a preview of its CD dropping in January. Recorded in Nashville, this disc appears on New West Records, a label that last made news by releasing the soundtrack to Crazy Heart with its Oscar winning “The Weary Kind” track.
Rehab tours with the afore-mentioned Kid Rock and Uncle Kracker and has also collaborated with Hank Williams Jr. I’m not sure what to call the band’s sound, but whatever it is, it wins Disc of the Day. And, yes, the group’s roots were planted in a rehab facility.
JESSE BREWSTER/I’m Not Broken
Writer: Jesse Brewster; Producer: Jesse Brewster; Publisher: none listed; Crokked Prairie (track) (www.jessebrewster.com)
—His voice is somewhat lightweight for the heavy, rocking chorus instrumentation. He does get points for whistling the bridge.
COLDWATER CANYON BAND/Nobody Knows
Writer: Gary H. Fisher; Producer: Sean “CT” Thomas; Publisher: none listed, BMI; KountreeBoyZ Entertainment (track) (www.dehtyme.com)
—It has a mellow, west-coasty, breezy thing going on. The Eagles-derived harmonies, heartache lyric, whispered organ and meaty melody are all mighty easy on the ears. Absolutely lend these guys your time.
ERIC LEE BEDDINGFIELD & GEORGE JONES/The Gospel According To Jones
Writer: Barber/Beddingfield/Fears; Producer: Kent Wells; Publisher: Rebel Dawg/Bar Frog/Faverett Tracks, BMI; Rebel Dawg (track)
—The packaging is sensational, a multi-fold-out concept I’ve never seen before. The album is titled This Life Ain’t For Everybody. On this stand-out ballad, Eric is an existential honky-tonker addressing his barroom congregation by moaning and quoting the Possum’s song titles. The boy can definitely sing it country. George’s cameo vocal occurs at the finale.
Writer: D. Alexander/M. Hartnett/W. Scheiner; Producer: Ed Rowland; Publisher: Warner Robbins/M. Hartnett/Wayne Scheiner, BMI/ASCAP; Universal Republic (track)
—The singing and beats are so rapid-fire that it is almost like rap. But the lyric is loaded with hillbilly heart, the harmonies are straight from church and the sentiments are as country as all get out. A very creative sonic adventure.
BRUCE BROWN/Off The Edge
Writer: Bruce Brown; Producer: Bruce Brown & Casey Wood; Publisher: Brass Crab, BMI; BB (track) (www.brucebrownmusic.com)
—Bruce has been in the Charlie Daniels Band for more than 20 years. He’s a guitarist with a deft touch who’s also handy with a hooky melody. On this instrumental title tune to his new CD, he makes his axe “talk” almost like a human voice. It’s a really cool listening experience. Elsewhere on the album, he sings in a jazzy, groove-soaked kinda tone. Recommended.
PONDEROSA/Old Gin Road
Writer: Kalen Nash/Jonathan Thomas Hall; Producer: Joe Chiccarelli; Publisher: FSMGI/Chrysalis One/West Bay, IMRO/BMI; New West (track) (www.popnderosamusic.com)
—The debut single from the band’s Moonlight Revival CD is a grinding, soulful, melodic country rocker, very much in the footsteps of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Which is to say it is very, very excellent, indeed.
STACIE COLLINS/Hey Mister
Writer: Collins/Collins/Hodges; Producer: Dan Baird; Publisher: Collinsville/Nashville Flash/Bug, SESAC/BMI; Rev (track) (www.staciecollins.com)
—I hear she burned the house down at her album-release party last week. She’s a harp-blowing rocker with attitude to spare. On this lead track to her Sometimes Ya Gotta CD, she wails with a funky backbeat and snarling electric guitars (thank you Warner Hodges and Dan Baird) behind her. Excitement on plastic.
JESSE AND NOAH /First Call After Last Call
Writer: Jesse Bellamy/Danny E. Simpson; Producer: Jesse Bellamy & Noah Bellamy; Publisher: Skunk Ape/Dancin’ Dawg/Paramount, ASCAP/BMI; Luna Chica (track) (www.jesseandnoah.com)
—With a title like this, you expect a little humor or maybe some honky-tonk guilt. Instead, it’s a romantic swoon about a musician who can’t wait to go home to his sweetie. Jesse’s lead vocal is strikingly reminiscent of their famous father David Bellamy’s croon.
THE LAWS/Try Love
Writer: John Lee/Michelle Lee/A.J. Master; Producer: J.P. Cormier; Publisher: SWITR/Can of Words/Moo Ka Moo, SOCAN/BMI; JML (track) (www.thelaws.com)
—The title tune to this Canadian husband-wife duo’s CD is rather underproduced. John’s lead vocal is expressive and soulful, but all that backs him are an acoustic guitar and mandolin. Folk hootenanny, anyone?
CASEY DILWORTH/Keepn’ It Simple
Writer: Darrell Hincks/Richard Fagan; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Broadminded, BMI; CD (track)
—The title tune to Casey’s CD is a gently strummed romantic ballad. He sings well, but I nodded off.
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