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SteelDrivers head to "Muscle Shoals"

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 – The SteelDrivers' will dish out its fourth album of driving bluegrass, "The Muscle Shoals Recordings," on June 16 on Rounder.

Rolling Stone Country is offering an exclusive premiere of "Brother John," which features slide guitar by Jason Isbell, who also co-produced the track.

The album is largely inspired by Muscle Shoals, Ala. with its musical history of soulful music. Muscle Shoals also is the hometown of the SteelDrivers' lead vocalist and guitarist Gary Nichols, whose bandmates - fiddler and vocalist Tammy Rogers, banjoist Richard Bailey, mandolinist Brent Truitt and bassist and singer Mike Fleming - made the two-and-a-half hour trek from Nashville to Sheffield, Ala., to the NuttHouse Recording Studio to record 11 new original tunes, mostly written by Rogers and Nichols.

The music mixes soul, blues, bluegrass, R&B, country and rock. Isbell, Nichols' friend and musical compatriot since childhood, co-produced two of the 11 tracks and contributed slide guitar to two ("Brother John " and "Ashes of Yesterday").

Nichols wrote or co-wrote five of Shoals Recordings' songs, including the plaintive "Here She Goes," and the dark ballad "Brother John." Rogers has credits on five songs, including the waltz "Ashes of Yesterday" and the somber closer, "River Runs Red," a meditation on the Civil War. Richard Bailey composed the lone instrumental, "California Chainsaw." The one outlier on The Muscle Shoals Recordings is "Drinkin' Alone," a romp penned by Jay Knowles and former SteelDriver singer Chris Stapleton.

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The Muscle Shoals Recordings CD review - The Muscle Shoals Recordings
The SteelDrivers are a dynamic, driving bluegrass band, a five-piece with a sound and an approach completely their own. "The Muscle Shoals Recordings" is their fourth album and second featuring expressive lead vocalist Gary Nichols and mandolinist Brent Truitt alongside group founders Tammy Rodgers (fiddle), Richard Bailey (five-string banjo), and Mike Fleming (bass). Given Nichols' roots in the Alabama community, it is hardly a surprise that The SteelDrivers chose to record at »»»
Hammer Down CD review - Hammer Down
While you wouldn't know it from reading their press, there are many bluegrass bands with as good a back-story as The SteelDrivers, and as advanced songwriting and musicianship prowess, while having deeper professional bluegrass roots and longer track records with more significant lineup alterations over a relatively brief period of time. Not to begrudge The SteelDrivers notice they receive, sometimes it feels a bit over the top. But darn it, they know how to produce a mighty inspiring bluegrass album. »»»
Reckless CD review - Reckless
The soph CD from the appropriately named driving bluegrass band The SteelDrivers is a swan song of sorts. No, the band is not heading towards oblivion, but this is the last disc with lead singer Chris Stapleton because he has decided to go back to songwriting (perhaps with good reason as he penned Never Wanted Nothing More for Kenny Chesney, Swing for Trace Adkins, Your Man for Josh Turner, Keep On Lovin' You for Steel Magnolia and Come Back Song for Darius Rucker). That's too bad for »»»
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Concert Review: There's a lot to be said about The Felice Brothers – The Felice Brothers have soldiered on, occupying the fringes of the musical world with ups and downs. After not knowing whether the group would even continue following the departure of half of the band a few years ago, The Felice Brothers continued with a new rhythm section and a new album, "Undressed," that is heavily political.... »»»
Concert Review: Sara Evans comes around again with Barker Family Band, and that's just fine – What goes around comes around for Sara Evans. Back about four decades ago, she was singing weekends with her family band in Missouri. Now, she's back on the road on a very short tour including two of her children and three siblings. For now, Evans, at 49, has lost absolutely none of her vocal super powers, and her offspring can handle their own at... »»»
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