After this release Bob Dylan’s son may be better known for his own name. Having a famous father never hurts, but most of the songs on SEEING THINGS carry their own weight. And they are all very acoustic, mostly solo, or with a 2nd guitar playing subtle leads. Three songs offer sort of a roots based quartet – very catchy.
Jakob also covers a lot of ground. The first song emphasizes the existence of evil, but by the 8th song he is full of hope. He sings of war and children and about working the night shift. He identifies easily with the everyday person’s troubles and triumphs making these songs engaging to listeners who secretly struggle to deal with their own problems.
The young Dylan has the same sense of observation as his father; the last song focuses on “the other end of the telescope.” After all, that’s where most of us are.
It’s hard not to become excited when you hear from Liz Meyer. She’s been working for years – 10 years – to promote Bluegrass in Europe. Meyer’s efforts have culminated in the release of this live 2 CD collection. You’ll hear groups from Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, and the Slovak Republic, among many other countries. It’s both strange and delightful to hear all the different accents on southern gospel quartets or on songs about missing the Blue Ridge Mountains. A few American performers who happened to be overseas are also included (Bill Clifton, Claire Lynch, and the Chapmans).
Not every arrangement of well know songs is original, and in fact, the groups with their own songs excel, and those are the ones Folk Alley will play (Meantime, Carmel Sheerin, Hickory Project) Overall, this is a solid release, and the result of a lot of love and hard work, especially considering Liz’s personal struggles with her own health.
I will never forget standing behind Bill Monroe backstage at a festival years ago watching him watch a bluegrass band from the former Soviet Union (Kukuruza). I couldn’t tell if it was sinking in what a huge impact this man had on so many people from around the world. To make sure he knew – I tapped him on the shoulder and told him.
Along with The Pine Leaf Boys, Feufollet represents Cajun youth. Since we’re seeing so many young Bluegrass bands, Americana/roots groups, Celtic and French Canadian ensembles there’s no reason to be surprised. You’ll hear Cajun tradition all right with fiddle and accordion, but Feufollet (“fuf fah lay”) adds almost a rock energy and a jazz like approach in their arrangements. For example, you’ll often hear the fiddle, accordion and guitar players splitting breaks and taking solos instead of the more traditional ensemble playing. It’s still dance music, but it’s fun to listen to it even when you’re not dancing.
There are several different singers, but the standout is Anna Laura Edmiston. A female lead singer in this genre is not common. But then, nothing this group brings to the table is what you’ve had before. Try “Femme L’A Dit” which fuses Cajun with New Orleans Jazz. What a hoot. I would have seen this group at Merlefest last year, but they were playing in the student center to a restricted crowd of 18 and under. 18 and under? Usually my fake ID works to my advantage. Darn!
Despite some changes over the years, Donna the Buffalo continues to rage on. Tara Nevins, on fiddle & accordion, and Jeb Puryear on guitar and the cool hat are the original members still remaining. Kathy Ziegler now plays organ to keep the original sound, and she doubles on piano on several of the songs on SILVERLINED. Guitar whiz Tyler Grant is a special guest as is Bela Fleck on two numbers.
Like Feufollet above, it’s fun to dance, groove, or simply drive a car with Donna the Buffalo – it’s great road music. The group has also always offered, however, social or philosophical motifs. That’s what makes the songs worth hearing over and over. “Beauty Within,” by Tara, warns of fading youth; “The Call,” featuring Jeb, reminds us of how precious and temporary life is. The group is getting older, and if you are too, it’s nice to know that you are still invited to keep dancing with Donna.