Once upon a time, Norah Jones won five Grammy Awards for her debut album, Come Away With Me. That initial success has allowed her to work on a variety of lower-profile, and at same time very interesting, projects. The Little Willies consists of Jones and Lee Alexander, Jim Campilongo, Richard Julian and Dan Rieser – five friends who were hanging out together and one day decided to start a band. Of course, when your girl singer is Norah Jones doing a cover of "Jolene," you have a leg up. Check out For the Good Times and hear for yourself.
Barnstar! calls themselves a "bluegrass band for people that hate bluegrass." This point of view (as evidenced on their new CD, C’MON!) may have something to do with the group’s construction. Jake Armerding, Taylor Armerding, Mark Erelli, Zachariah Hickman and Charlie Rose may play bluegrass instrumentation, but the mix is all theirs. Most of the Barnstar! members are already established solo artists and the blend is confident – and really, really fast!
Speaking of solo artists looking for new experiences, The Goat Rodeo Sessions redefines the term "supergroup" by bringing together Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile (with friends like Aoife O’Donovan) for a collection of songs that can only be described as a new experience in traditional music styles. Their collaboration proved so successful that you can now watch Goat Rodeo Sessions concerts live in HD at movie theaters throughout the U.S.
Sometimes, bad things happen to good CDs. A staff member who shall remain nameless suggested that I profile Hold on Me, the latest from Colorado-based Spring Creek, because Taylor Sims, Alex Johnstone, Chris Elliott and Danny Booth’s mix of original bluegrass songs made it one of his top picks for the month. But, it seems that it’s being added a few months late. Why? Because one of his dogs really loved it, too – in fact, she loved it so much that she grabbed the CD and hid it under the couch. Don’t let this happen to you (a digital download can’t be shoved under the sofa)!
Other CDs making their way across the great divide: