Hi, there... This page is part of the Slipcue guide to various bluegrass artists, which is part of a much larger Hick Music website. This "guide" is not meant to be comprehensive or authoritative, just a quick look at a few records I've heard recently, as well as some old favorites. Comments or corrections are invited... and recommendations are always welcome!
This is the second page covering the letter "L"
The Lilly Brothers & Don Stover "On The Radio: 1952-1953" (Rounder, 2002)
Well, maybe the Lilly Brothers, Everett and Bea, never got placed up in the bluegrass pantheon alongside Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs and all those other fellers, but it sure wasn't because they lacked talent. These early 'Fifties airshots prove that the Lilly Brothers were as full of fire and crackerjack showmanship as any of their Golden Age contemporaries, and Don Stover (one of my all-time favorite truegrassers) sure tore things up on the banjo. These are great performances -- a consistently lively, engaging album, and a real must-have for fans of old-fashioned, for-real mountain music. Recommended!
The Lilly Brothers & Don Stover "What Will I Leave Behind" (County/Rebel, 1973)
A sublime gospel album recorded fairly late in the Lilly Brothers' career, a couple of years after they had all-but disbanded in 1970. This is one of those wonderful cases where the older the wine, the sweeter the music -- the vocals are notably low-key and geezerly, but the picking is simply divine. By now the Lillys had perfected the cross-cutting, intertwined lead mandolin-and-guitar style pioneered by Jim & Jesse, and from start to finish this album is packed with gorgeous, ringing melodies and solid, soulful instrumental work. A lovely, heartfelt album that hearkens back to the Carter Family as well, with its simplicity and plainspoken reverence. Nice stuff!
Randy Littlefield "On My Way" (Sail Away, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Carl Jackson)
Very nice set of instrumentals featuring banjo whizkid Randy Littlefield, with sympathetic backing from producer Carl Jackson (playing guitar) along with Jerry Douglas on dobro, some sweet mandolin picking by Tommy Burrows and fiddling by Burrows and Craig Duncan. An Oregon native, Littlefield was just eighteen when he cut this album at Carl Jackson's studio in Tennessee; apparently he returned home rather than try his luck in Nashville... As far as I know, this was his only album, but it's a doozy. Plenty of fancy picking on standards such as "Orange Blossom Special," "Ghost Riders In The Sky," "Blackberry Blossom" and even a 'grassed-up version of the flamenco standard, "Malaguena." Plus it's a chance to hear some little-known performances by Jackson and Douglas!
Little Grasscals "Nashville's Superpickers" (Naxos, 2002)
A pleasant, though workmanlike, set by a group of studio superpickers with a love of traditional bluegrass. The material is all standards -- "John Henry," "Nine Pound Hammer," that kinda thing -- and the performances are all quite good, though not necessarily super-distinctive. The group includes Jason Carter on fiddle, guitar whiz Rob Ickes and mandolin picker Mike Compton, who was privileged to be among the O Brother, Where Art Thou house band. Good stuff; doesn't blaze any new trails, but it sure sounds sweet.
Loafer's Glory "Loafer's Glory" (Arhoolie, 2012)
(Produced by Loafer's Glory)
If you like cool, confident, no-muss, no-fuss traditional bluegrass music, you'll dig this gloriously relaxed session from the top-flight Loafer's Glory ensemble, featuring singer Herb Pedersen and his longtime collaborator, bassist Bill Bryson, along with their pals, Tom and Patrick Sauber, all long-time veterans of the bluegrass and twang scenes. This is a sweet, low-key set packed with old favorites and flawless harmonies and picking... The ensemble vocals remind me of the Osborne Brothers in their mellower moments -- I'm sure you'll find favorable comparisons as well. This is truegrass music the way I like it, tapping into the soulfulness rather than the drag-racing speed-trials aspects. Recommended!
Lonesone Pine Fiddlers "Windy Mountain" (Bear Family, 1992)
One of the first string bands to switch over to Bill Monroe's new bluegrass style, the Fiddlers featured Curly Ray Cline and Ray Goins... Many of these early 1950s recordings also feature vocals from Paul Williams (who has recently reeemerged for some top-notch bluegrass gospel sessions on Rounder...) Not as eerie or evocative as Bill Monroe or Flatt&Scruggs, but still pretty great.
Lonesome River Band "I Guess Heartaches Are in Style This Year" (Shar-Lynn, 1985)
The debut album of this long-lived band...
Lonesome River Band "Looking For Yourself" (Rebel, 1989)
Lonesome River Band "Carrying The Tradition" (Rebel, 1991)
Lonesome River Band "Old Country Town" (Sugar Hill, 1994)
Lonesome River Band "One Step Forward" (Sugar Hill, 1996)
Lonesome River Band "Finding The Way" (Sugar Hill, 1998)
Lonesome River Band "Talkin' To Myself" (Sugar Hill, 2000)
Old-school melodic bluegrass, with songs that tell stories and tunes that break hearts. This is a real crackerjack outfit, although they place the emphasis on the vocals rather than flashy picking... which is just fine by me! Lead tenor Don Rigsby put out a gospel album a few years back which knocked my socks off... This mostly-secular album is also a delight, especially how Rigsby's soothingly sweet vocals mix with the baritone lead, Ronnie Bowman. This is bluegrass like they used to make it, and it's mighty, mighty fine stuff!!
Lonesome River Band "The Window Of Time" (Doobie Shea, 2002)
Lonesome River Band "Heading On Into Heartache" (Mountain Home, 2005)
Lonesome River Band "The Road With No End" (Mountain Home, 2006)
Lonesome River Band "No Turning Back" (Rural Rhythm, 2008)
(Produced by Lonesome River Band)
Progressive bluegrass that mixes poetical lyrics and atypical arrangements... The current LRB lineup lacks some of the firepower of years gone by -- Don Rigsby, Ronnie Bowman and other heavy-hitters have long since moved on -- but the band still has plenty of roots and soul. There's some fine picking on here, particularly with longtime banjo man Sammy Shelor anchoring the band, but the main emphasis is on the songwriting, which runs a gamut from straight-ahead truegrass to folkier material, and a bit of gospel as well. There are country-style metaphors ("Like A Train Needs A Track") and high-lonesome harmonies, as well as funky instrumentals ("Struttin' To Ferrum") that have a tinge of Bela Fleck-style pop crossover. The song selection draws on the work of some old pros such as Ginger Boatwright and Larry Cordle (including a nice version of his "Wires And Wood") while LRB guitarist-singer Brandon Rickman penned about half the songs on here. One of his songs is an album highlight, the too-timely "We Couldn't Tell," about a backwoods family who weather out a financial depression and hardly bat a lash: since they didn't have any money to begin with, they hardly notice it "when the mighty dollar fell." Are you listening, Ben Bernanke? All in all, this is a nice record, although it may be too "soft" musically for the fans of slash-and-burn hot pickin' bluegrass.
Lonesome River Band "Chronology, Volume One" (Rural Rhythm, 2012)
An exceptionally sweet set from these stellar bluegrass traditionalists, although a slightly misleading repackaging of their classic material... The Lonesome River Band celebrates its thirtieth anniversary and looks back at an admirable legacy, and like many long-lived bluegrass acts, their lineup has changed constantly through the years: this edition of the band features singer-guitarist Brandon Rickman and banjo whiz Sammy Shelor, although no original members have been in the group for several years. This eight-song album (the first of three discs celebrating their anniversary) reprises fans favorites from the '80s, although it's actually a set of re-recordings by the current lineup of the band. So, even though it's not quite what you might expect, it's still really, really nice music, with elegant high harmonies and one great tune after another. Keep 'em coming, fellas: we'll look forward to more great stuff in years to come.
Lonesome River Band "Chronology, Volume Two" (Rural Rhythm, 2012)
(Produced by The Lonesome River Band)
Celebrating their thirtieth anniversary, bluegrass music's Lonesome River Band has rerecorded a bunch of their classic songs, with a new lineup that features singer-guitarist Brandon Rickman and banjo whiz Sammy Shelor (although no original members have been in the group for several years...) As with the first volume, this is a sharp set of traditionally-oriented old-style bluegrass, with plenty of sweet harmonies and nice, strong picking. Not quite the "best of" collection the album title implies, but good stuff nonetheless.
Lonesome Standard Time "Lonesome Standard Time" (Sugar Hill, 1992)
Lonesome Standard Time "Mighty Lonesome" (Sugar Hill, 1993)
Songwriter Larry Cordle and his pickin' pals take a country-tinged approach that has its uneven moments, and I can see how certain sections of the bluegrass purist camp might not care for it... But it also sounds very heartfelt and emotive, with some mighty fine picking... And plenty of new songs made in the old mode. Sometimes the more progressive elements of their sound slows things down too much & breaks the band's momentum, but for the most part, this is well worth checkin' out. (See also: Larry Cordle.)
Lonesome Standard Time "Lonesome As It Gets" (Sugar Hill, 1995)
(Larry Cordle &) Lonesome Standard Time "Lonesome Skynyrd Time: A Bluegrass Tribute To Lynyrd Skynyrd" (CMH, 2004)
(Larry Cordle &) Lonesome Standard Time "Took Down And Put Up" (Lonesome Day, 2007)
Longview "Longview" (Rounder, 1997)
When this truegrass supergroup -- singer-guitarists James King and Dudley Connell, Glen Duncan on fiddle, with Joe Mullins on banjo, Don Rigsby strumming the mandolin, and bassist Marshall Wilborn holding down the low end -- first got togther, the bluegrass world must've taken a collective little gasp and did a little happy dance of pure joy. This is a fine, twangy debut, though their next couple of albums were so resonant and rich that, in retrospect, this one almost seems like a forgotten stepchild. But if you like your bluegrass with a little bite, this is a disc that's hard to beat!
Longview "High Lonesome" (Rounder, 1999)
Although they lay claim to the "high lonesome" sound, these fellas actually have a deeper, more bass-heavy sound than the Monroe reference would imply. And with personnel like James King, Connell, Rigsby, et al., this is a band that really can't be beat! Fourteen crisply recorded tracks, and each of them a gem. Their gospel harmonies are particularly nice.
Longview "Lessons In Stone" (Rebel, 2002)
Wow...! Just when you thought these guys had hit a peak, they take things up another notch and come up with an album like this... The harmonies are even richer, and with the sweet, sad fiddles brought up louder in the mix, their sound has really expanded and ripened into something extraordinary. For some of the finest harmony vocals (and the most tasteful accompaniment) you'll ever hear, this is an album not to be missed.
Longview "Deep In The Mountains" (Rounder, 2008)
One of several bluegrass "supergroups" that emerged in the 1990s, the tradition-oriented Longview showcased the twangy talents of James King, Don Rigsby, and Marshall Wilborn -- add to that J.D. Crowe, Lou Reid and fiddler Ron Stewart, and you've got one helluva strong lineup. As you might imagine, there's an emphasis on harmony vocals -- the leads are always nice, but when the whole group kicks in to harmonize, it's as sweet as the style can get. Plenty of flawless picking and fiddling as well, and none of it sounds like it was done by rote. These guys are playing soulful, heartfelt truegrass, and fans will respond in kind. You put this album on, and you're gonna be really happy. Pick up an instrument, and sing along -- you can't go wrong with this one!
Lost And Found "First Time Around" (Outlet Recordings, 1975)
Lost And Found "Second Time Around" (Outlet Recordings, 1976)
Lost And Found "Third Time Around" (Outlet Recordings, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Rod Shively)
Lost And Found "Hymn Time" (Rebel, 1993)
(Produced by The Lost & Found)
A solid, superior gospel set, with old-time quartet vocals matched by twangy, bouncy bluegrass picking. Great mix of styles and really great song selection, including some unusual entries. Great version of Dallas Frazier's "Baptism Of Jesse Taylor" and a sweet instrumental version of "When The Saints Go Marching In," with plenty of ringing banjo notes. Highly recommended!
Lost And Found "It's About Time" (Rebel, 2002)
Sweet, heartsong-heavy tradgrass, with several well-chosen cover tunes. These guys aren't the world's most dazzling or flashy musicians, but they hit the emotional content of these songs squarely on the head. The songs range from a straight cover of "Wreck of the Old 97" and Red Allen's "Teardrops In my Eyes" to country-based classics like Dallas Frazier's "Fourteen Carat Mind" and George Jones's "Window Up Above." A nice, unassuming album which has plenty of nice touches and solid picking throughout.
Lost And Found "Love, Lost And Found" (Rebel, 2009)
(Produced by Lost & Found)
A splendid traditionally-oriented bluegrass album, with down-to-earth picking and vocals, with Scottie Sparks on guitar, Ronald Smith on banjo, and Scott Napier and the late Dempsey Young on mandolin. The singers, particularly bassist Allen Mills, have a rough-hewn, plainspoken style that reminds me of those great old Tony Rice records, where it's more about feeling and less about tone -- these guys feel the lyrics and deliver the lines so that you feel and believe them, too. The material is mostly secular, and you'd be hard pressed to find a finer batch of heartsongs. Good stuff, low-key, unhurried and quite satisfying.
Lost & Found "Down On Sawmill Road" (Rebel, 2010)
A superb collection of lively, intelligent, irresistible bluegrass, gathered from thirty years worth of albums by this fab outfit from Virginia. The song selection is top-notch, with many, many fine examples of what was once called "progressive" bluegrass, folk-tinged story-songs, along with some sentimental oldies and soulful gospel songs. The band really does have a distinctive feel, particularly founding member Allen Mills, who sings lead on almost all the tracks on here. Solid picking, but most of all a way of delivering songs like they really mean them... A great introduction to a fine, if little-known band. Recommended!
Lost Highway "Hard Road To Travel" (Lite, 1980) (LP)
Lost Highway "Memories Of The Past" (Lite, 1981) (LP)
Lost Highway "Lost Highway" (Ameritone, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Lost Highway)
A nice, sweet, independently released set of traditional bluegrass heartsongs in the country-friendly style of Jimmy Martin. The picking is solid but not flashy, with the most notable bandmember being a babyfaced Stuart Duncan, playing fiddle, mandolin and guitar; not long after this, Duncan would join the Nashville Bluegrass Band and become one of the most celebrated players in modern bluegrass. This Southern California-based band only lasted a few years in its first incarnation, but was restarted in the 1990s by lead singer Ken Orrick, who passed away in 2009.
Lost Highway "November Rain" (Lost Highway, 1998)
Lost Highway "Headin' Down That Lost Highway" (Hay Holler, 1999)
Lost Highway "A Lifetime Of Sorrow" (Hay Holler, 2001)
Lost Highway "A Bluegrass Gospel Collection" (Hay Holler, 2004)
Lost Highway "Bluegrass The Way You Like It" (Hay Holler, 2008)
Patty Loveless "Mountain Soul" (Sony/Epic, 2001)
An outstanding acoustic neotraditional album! Loveless is one of those folks inside Nashville's orbit who has always had just enough of an untamed edge to signal her enduring rural roots. Here, she lets her rough side drag, travelling the same backwoods path that Dolly Parton recently wandered, much to the delight of listeners who love old-style country and stringband music. Along on the ride are other neotrad types such as Alan O'Bryant, Ricky Skaggs and Emmylou's old pal, Emory Gordy, Jr., who helped produce the album. Several things stand out here: to start with, the material is all excellent, top-notch stuff, including bluegrass oldies by Don Reno and Ralph Stanley, as well as honkytonk songs like the old George Jones hit, "Just Someone I Used To Know" and a fine new-ish tune by Melba Montgomery. The music is also quite nice -- these are some of Loveless' most moving performances, perfectly framed by an understated, heartfelt band. Believe the hype on this one -- it's highly recommended! (NOTE: Other Loveless albums are reviewed in my discography page, linked to above...)
Sally Love & Gary Ferguson "Our Old Home" (Eureka, 2002)
Maybe more of a folkie-Americana outing than a straight-up bluegrass disc, nonetheless this has some nice picking on it, particularly the banjo and dobro work... At times the vocals get a little Mighty Wind, but there are some noteworthy songs -- their rattlesome cover of Nick Lowe's "Ride Me Down Easy," and the environmentally suspect "Take It Out Back," which paints a charmingly informal picture of rural life... Not earthshaking, but kinda likeable.
Claire Lynch -- see artist discography
Bluegrass Albums - Letter "M"
Hick Music Index