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Blind Boys of Alabama change directions, go country (gospel)

Friday, February 18, 2011 – Five time Grammy Award and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winners The Blind Boys of Alabama will change directions and go country. Make that traditional country-gospel album for the first time in their 70-year career with a new CD out on May 3rd on Saguaro Road Records.

Jamey Johnson co-produced the album and performs on it along with Vince Gill, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr., Lee Ann Womack and The Oak Ridge Boys.

"There wasn't one person who didn't bawl like a baby or bust their heart open at least once," Johnson told the New York Times recently.

"It's been a dream of mine to do a country gospel album and we couldn't have found a better partner than Jamey" said Jimmy Carter, the last original Blind Boy still touring with the band. "This album beautifully combines two of the seminal roots of the American music tree, gospel and country music."

The concept started with Carter's longstanding love of country and his desire to do a traditional country-tinged gospel album. Last year, his idea started to take shape when the Blind Boys were asked to curate a series of shows at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York.

One of the sold-out nights featured Ralph Stanley, Ray Benson (Asleep At The Wheel) and Allison Moorer. Soon after, they met Johnson and asked him to join them in singing the traditional song Down By The Riverside at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

The band had already been planning to make a country record with their production collaborator Chris Goldsmith, who had enlisted the help of veteran Nashville drummer Chad Cromwell (Neil Young, Mark Knopfler). Johnson then brought in bassist Kevin 'Swine' Grantt (Brad Paisley, Daryl Worley) and guitarist Reggie Young.

Among the songs are Hank Jr.'s re-working of his father's I Saw the Light. The disc was recorded live in just a few days at Ben Folds' Javelina Studio.

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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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