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Review: Laurie Lewis: Hazel and Alice Sessions

voyager 14 Feb 16 - 10:50 AM
GUEST,jp 14 Feb 16 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,Jerome Clark 15 Feb 16 - 09:23 AM
GUEST,jp 15 Feb 16 - 01:39 PM
GUEST,Jerome Clark 15 Feb 16 - 03:02 PM
GUEST,jp 16 Feb 16 - 04:53 AM
GUEST 16 Feb 16 - 08:45 AM
GUEST,Jerome Clark 16 Feb 16 - 08:48 AM
voyager 16 Feb 16 - 07:30 PM
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Subject: Review: Laurie Lewise: Hazel and Alice Sessions
From: voyager
Date: 14 Feb 16 - 10:50 AM

Caught the Laurie Lewis/Tom Rozum and Mollie O'Brien/Rich Moore tour here in Denver - Valentine's Day concert at Swallow Hill. What a treat.
Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands have recorded this new CD paying tribute to Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerard. From the Laurie Lewis Website -

When I was in my early 20s, I became obsessed with bluegrass music. I particulary loved the singing of Bill Monroe, Ralph and Carter Stanley, Lester Flatt, and other first-generation practioners of the bluegrass arts. As I delved deeper, I began to notice the paucity of recorded women role models, especially ones who sang in the more hard-edged, gritty style of their male counterparts (as opposed to sounding high, warble-y and sweet). Then someone gave me a copy of the then-decade-old Who's That Knocking?, the first LP by Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerard. Hazel and Alice became, for me, instant mentors, a deep well of inspiration and, I'm Happy to say, good friends.


In true bluegrass tradition, Hazel and Alice's repertoire drew from Carter Family songs ("Who's That Knocking?," "Darling Nellie,""Let That Liar Alone") and other early string band classics ("Train on the Island," "Walking in My Sleep"), mixed with their own original compositions. In 1989, I toured with Cris Williamson and Teresa Trull. They opened the show each night with a beautiful duet version of "Pretty Bird," which inspired the version included here. Linda Ronstadt and I recorded it as part of a Rounder Records benefit CD for Hazel over 10 years ago. As of this writing that record remains unreleased.
~ Laurie Lewis, from the liner notes


Song Titles

Cowboy Jim * James Alley Blues * Who's That Knocking? * Walking in My Sleep * Mama's Gonna Stay * Won't You Come and Sing for Me? * Darling Nellie * Farewell My Home * Let That Liar Alone * You'll Get No More of Me * Train on the Island * working Girl Blues * I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling * Pretty Bird

Pretty Bird recording is a recent session with Linda Ronstadt (great).

Check it out.
voyager


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Subject: RE: Review: Laurie Lewise: Hazel and Alice Sessions
From: GUEST,jp
Date: 14 Feb 16 - 11:25 AM

Hazel Dickens and Molly O'Day - the two finest female voices in Bluegrass.
Maybe that 'mountain ' style sounds too strange now - compared to the Bluegrass-lite of Alison Krauss, Rhondda Vincent etc.


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Subject: RE: Review: Laurie Lewise: Hazel and Alice Sessions
From: GUEST,Jerome Clark
Date: 15 Feb 16 - 09:23 AM

I don't think most would consider Molly O'Day (d. 1987) a bluegrass singer. A deeply traditional country artist, yes, but a disciple of Bill Monroe, no.

As a music reviewer at the receiving end of a fair number of current releases, I can attest that there is no shortage of current bluegrass far poppier than what Rhonda Vincent and Alison Krauss (at least when she's with her BG band Union Station) put out.

At the moment I'm finishing up a review of the new Laurie Lewis disc for Rambles.Net. Great stuff, in terms of both performance and material.
Lewis and her occasional musical partner Kathy Kallick are the Hazel & Alice of our time.


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Subject: RE: Review: Laurie Lewise: Hazel and Alice Sessions
From: GUEST,jp
Date: 15 Feb 16 - 01:39 PM

Of course you are correct about Molly O'Day. I was just to lazy to type Bluegrass/Mountain/Old Timey. All these labels, as well as country, were not used in the 1940s and 'hillbilly' is now disrespectful.
I think that Hazel was influenced by Molly O'Day with some similarities in a distinctive style - and, of course, Bluegrass did not appear out of nowhere.
Rhonnda Vincent and Alison Krauss both have a vocal style a little too 'sweet' to impress.


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Subject: RE: Review: Laurie Lewise: Hazel and Alice Sessions
From: GUEST,Jerome Clark
Date: 15 Feb 16 - 03:02 PM

Personally -- all a matter of taste, naturally -- I think Rhonda Vincent is a splendid singer. The bluegrass audience agrees; in that context, she's a superstar. My problem is with some of her choice of material, by which I mean the country-pop stuff. On the other side, I've heard some moving and memorable performances, e.g., her interpretation of my favorite Hank Williams song, "My Sweet Love Ain't Around."

If you're looking for mountain-style vocalizing among women who sing bluegrass these days (as opposed to folk revivalists such as Anna & Elizabeth trafficking in pure Appalachian balladry), you'll need to look long and hard if you're going beyond Laurie Lewis and Kathy Kallick, whose style in fact is a smoother, modernist iteration of the original. Much of the younger bluegrass that passes for traditional today is so only in a relative sense. And even that approach is less in the genre mainstream than it was formerly.

This is lamentable to those of us who prefer the old sounds, but as the Percy Mayfield song reminds us, nothing stays the same forever.


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Subject: RE: Review: Laurie Lewise: Hazel and Alice Sessions
From: GUEST,jp
Date: 16 Feb 16 - 04:53 AM

Thought I may be missing something , so I unearthed my Rhonda cd.s and listened to ' Back Home Again' one of her Bluegrass. Nope.
Her voice is country plus a few added inflexions and doesn't take the material into Bluegrass.
Thing is -I would rather listen to a woman singing than a man - but they rarely got the chance and distinctive and effective styles didn't evolve.
However- Gillian Welch has done it for her material - and somewhere in Bluegrass it may be happening.


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Subject: RE: Review: Laurie Lewis: Hazel and Alice Sessions
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Feb 16 - 08:45 AM

Again, purely a matter of taste. The bluegrass audience decides what bluegrass is, and it has decided emphatically in favor Rhonda Vincent. It doesn't follow that you have to like what she's doing if you're disinclined to do so.

I'm not sure, however, that calling Vincent's singing "country" amounts to more than an observation. It certainly isn't a criticism, since bluegrass owes a great deal to country music, and not just in repertoire. Bluegrass began decades ago as a form of commercial country music, and country vocalists have influenced bluegrass singing, and sometimes vice versa. Bluegrass was certainly influenced by the Appalachian stringband tradition, but it is not itself a form of traditional music.

I suspect that you're coming to bluegrass commentary from a position outside the genre, as opposed to that of someone immersed in the music. Your right, of course. But I do think that as a consequence you're missing the nuances and complexities, both historic and current, of the genre. In this instance it's the tangled relationship between bluegrass and mainstream country music. To your statement that Vincent sounds country, the response has to be, "Well, of course she does." It isn't "Gillian Welch," who has more in common with early Bob Dylan than with Bill Monroe.


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Subject: RE: Review: Laurie Lewise: Hazel and Alice Sessions
From: GUEST,Jerome Clark
Date: 16 Feb 16 - 08:48 AM

Er, I wrote the posting above, somehow neglecting to type my name into the bar.


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Subject: RE: Review: Laurie Lewise: Hazel and Alice Sessions
From: voyager
Date: 16 Feb 16 - 07:30 PM

1st set list from Laurie Lewis/Tom Rozum concert @ Swallow Hill (Denver)

Burley Coulter's Song for Kate Helen Branch (Wendall Berry)
Ghosts of the Good Old Days - Si Kahn
Barstow - Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands
How Many Times Must We Fight (Vern and Ray)

Joke (Tom Rozum) - "I kissed her on the right cheek. I kissed her on
the left cheek. And I left her behind for you. :^D

Down to Tampa
Pretty Bird (w/ Linda Ronstadt) - Gorgeous

Encore
Working Girl Blues

voyager


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