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Keen, Giddens spearhead new releases

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 – Release day today was most busy with everything from a bluegrass disc from one of the foremost Texas singer songwriters to the first release in almost 20 years from an alt.-country band to the first solo disc from one of the mainstays of Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Robert Earl Keen is out with "Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions." He is best known for his Texas singer/songwriter efforts, but Keen wanted to be in a small room full of bluegrass picking as he says in the liner notes. Players included Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek on fiddle and Kym Warner of The Greencards on mandolin.

Rhiannon Giddens helped start Carolina Chocolate Drops, paying homage to black string band music sometimes going back to the 19th century. Here, she is out on her own with "Tomorrow Is My Turn," opting for a variety of styles. T Bone Burnett produced the music, which includes songs made famous by Patsy Cline, Odetta, Dolly Parton and Nina Simone.

Blackberry Smoke drops its fourth disc, "Holding All the Roses" and first on Rounder after being with Zac Brown Band's Southern Ground. The southern band has seen its career go in a steady upward arc.

6 String Drag is a Knoxville-based band that we last heard from 18 years ago. Kenny Roby wrote all of the songs for the band on "Roots Rock 'N' Roll." The band's last disc was "High Hat" in 1997.

Love and Theft is doing things a lot differently with "Whiskey on My Breath." The duo of Stephen Barker Lyles and Eric Gunderson go the acoustic route on a self-released disc after two albums. The group scored a number 1 hit in 2011 with "Angel Eyes," but were eventually dropped by Sony.

More news for Robert Earl Keen

CD reviews for Robert Earl Keen

Live Dinner Reunion CD review - Live Dinner Reunion
Talk about deja vu all over again, Robert Earl Keen's 'new' live album is a two-disc re-living, if you will, of the Texas singer-songwriter's "No. 2 Live Dinner," which was originally recorded in 1990. Performed again in front of an audience at John T. Floore Country Store in Helotes, Texas, "Live Dinner Reunion" includes many of Keen's best songs. It also features a few special guests, such as Lyle Lovett and Joe Ely. This guest list is a little »»»
Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions CD review - Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions
Texas songwriter Robert Earl Keen may be known for his storytelling style and rowdy country-folk, but with this new album he reveals his fondness for bluegrass jams while bringing along his usual band and adding special guests Danny Barnes, Sara Watkins, Lyle Lovett, Peter Rowan and Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks. If you're a contemporary bluegrass fan, prepare to be disappointed. Keen's voice isn't the typical smooth instrument of most genre stars, and the set list includes »»»
Ready for Confetti CD review - Ready for Confetti
If Robert Earl Keen had been noted for little more than being Lyle Lovett's neighbor/front porch jam pal at Texas A&M in the '70s and writing The Road Goes on Forever (from his 1989 sophomore album "West Textures") and Merry Xmas from the Family (from his 1994 album, "Gringo Honeymoon"), his status as a Lone Star legend would be well secured. Of course, those are mere bullet-point accomplishments at the top of a long and illustrious resume, and Keen is a Texas music »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Rising Appalachia buck the mainsteam, and that's fine with them – Rising Appalachia would not be accused of being in the musical mainstream. Not too many bands who combine folk and Appalachian sounds with new world music could possibly be. And that suits the sister-led duo of Chloe Smith and Leah Song just fine. In fact, at one point, Chloe made it clear she did not embrace radio play as a sign of success... »»»
Concert Review: Bingham plays with something to prove – Ryan Bingham mainly focused on songs from his sixth album "American Love Song," for this lively show. Backed by a supportive band that also included two female backup singers and a fiddler, Bingham's eclectic setlist touched upon country, singer/songwriter folk, rock and blues. Bingham reached for lively country sounds early on, with... »»»
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