Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Gypsy Runaway Train" - The Roys - A Review

The Roy's had a brilliant idea for their third CD on Rural Rhythm Records. They decided to pick several cover songs that they had been playing for several years with their road band, they had had fans ask them where they can find some of the songs on CD that they had been playing in shows for years. So they decide on this CD, they would take their road band and record the cover songs with them, and their new original material they would continue to let Andy Leftwich and members of Kentucky Thunder, (Ricky Skagg's Band) play the music for the their own songs. This makes for more work ,but it gives the Roy's fans an opportunity to hear what the Roys sound like with their road band.

The Roys road band has Elaine on guitar, Lee on mandolin. On bass, they have Royal Masat, their fiddle player is Clint White and they have an excellent banjo picker in Matthew Downing who can do some great Scrugg's like banjo playing. The songs recorded with their own band have a more intimate sparse sound with the vocals being the highlights. Lee is a very good mandolin player, and so also Clint White is a good Fiddler. My favorite cover songs they do are "Blue Moon of Kentucky" (Monroe), "He Took your Place" (Flatt and Scruggs) and "What Gives You The Right" (Adam Steffey).

For their original songs, it is basically the same musicians from Kentucky Thunder with Andy Leftwich producing this part with the Roy's. Let me say something about Andy Leftwich, He is Ricky Skaggs' fiddle player and this guy is dynamite, I saw him recently with Ricky Skaggs at Sellersville Theater up here in Pa., and I did not expect the show I got from that group, every player is excellent,and they just nail everything they do, I see why a lot of them do so much studio work. I talked to Andy briefly after their two hour show, and He is a very brilliant young man with a long future ahead of him. He really lit up when I brought up the Roys. I also met Justin Moses who plays banjo on the Roys original songs. He is another great banjo player from Skaggs' band. Cody Kilby plays guitar on the Roys original songs. Then you have Mark Fain on bass and Randy Kohrs playing some great Dobro. My favorite song on the CD is Elaine's heartbreak song about her divorce "Half Of Me", it is so powerful, I'm glad I got to hear her say a few words about it on a video today. Another favorite is the very upbeat "Gypsy Runaway Train", the title track of the CD. It is a song for the fans. Another song I like a lot is "Workin' On It" Their harmonies are great on this one. I love the lyrics too. The artwork on the Cd is excellent, simple, but beautiful.


Monday, May 13, 2013

"Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder" - Live At Sellersville Theatre, 5/11/13 - A Review

Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder put on a show to remember before a packed house at the Sellersville Theatre, Saturday night, They played material from all over the place, including their most recent CD. The Crowd was definitely into the show, Skaggs is a real icon in the Bluegrass scene. But, I like how he has experimented with different styles over the years, like the CD that He did with Bruce Hornsby years ago, unlikely ,yet a great listen. He mixed some slow ballads with a lot of uptempo pickers, with the help of Andy Leftwich on fiddle, Cody Kilby on lead guitar, and Justin Moses on banjo. His band is filled with sessions musicians, plus an excellent bassist in Scott Mulvahill, who was playing all over the place, plus you could hear his upright bass in the mix. He also had a couple of excellent backup singers who also played rhythm guitar in Paul Brewster and Eddie Faris.

This band plays like a well oiled machine, they are tight, the mix is just right and the sound is lush, Skaggs uses studio quality condenser mikes for his mandolin and guitar, Leftwich's fiddle has a real musical tone, not scratchy, Moses gets great tone from his banjo, mandolin and dobro using the same type mike as Ricky, and Mulvahill gets a nice punchy tone from his standup bass.

They played a lot of songs from their latest CD, "Music To My Ears", which came out at the end of last year, a really well done CD with excellent material. Most of the musicians in the band had done solo CDs. Ricky let them do a song from their new material, which usually was done with the help of the rest of the band. Then they also did some material from Skaggs earlier albums ,a couple from "Mosaic". The show lasted a little over 2 hours with a brief intermission. This bluegrass band puts on a show which will leave you with a song in your heart and a smile on your face.

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