Short Reviews for the Independent 1997

FOR PLAYLIST DUE March 5, 1997

By Art Menius for The Independent Weekly

Playlist July 23 1997

Woody Guthrie, This Land is Your Land: The Asch Recordings Vol. 1 (Smithsonian/Folkways SF CD 40100)

Between 1940 and 1952 Woody Guthrie recorded a vast amount of material – some 5000 acetate discs — for Folkways Recordings founder Moe Asch. This CD marks the first of four releases drawn from those sessions. Featuring Woody solo and with Cisco Houston or Sonny Terry, This Land Is Your Land offers some of his most enduring songs including three versions of the title track, “Do Re Mi,” “Jesus Christ,” and “Pastures of Plenty.” If you only own one CD by this seminal artist, this is the one to have.

J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers, Run Mountain (Arhoolie CD 456)

Brothers J.E. and Wade Mainer ranked among North Carolina’s most popular hillbilly radio and recording artists during the 1930s, receiving tons of fan mail at such stations as WPTF and making classic records like “Maple on the Hill.” In 1963 Chris Strachwitz visited J.E. at his Concord home and recorded these twenty-three tracks of J.E. and his mostly family band. Run Mountain provides us with more than a hour of outstanding old-time music including secular vocal numbers, instrumentals, and gospel songs.

Pamela Morgan, On A Wing and A Prayer (Sleeping Giant/A&M Canada 77771 7001-2)

While with the extraordinary band Figgy Duff Newfoundland’s Pamela Morgan convinced me that she was the best female vocalist in the world. Her new solo CD, On A Wing and A Prayer, only reinforces that conviction. Powerful or subtle in approach as befits the material, Morgan turns in one exceptional performance after another on eleven songs written by herself or Figgy Duff’s late leader Noel Dinn. You may have to hunt for this contemporary Canadian Celtic music project, but it’s worth every bit of the effort and more.

Seldom Scene, Dream Scene (Sugar Hill SHCD-3858)

Seldom Scene founder John Duffey made this one last album with the revamped Scene line-up before his death last December. With Dream Scene Duffey went out on top, for the new line-up featuring lead vocalist Dudley Connell, formerly of the Johnson Mountain Boys, Dobroist Fred Travers, and bassman Ronnie Simpkins along with original banjo player Ben Eldridge, clicked beautifully. Dream Scene proves the most fun and engaging Scene project in several years filled with contemporary bluegrass with an edge.