Category Archives: Country

With a Little Help from Their Friends, Alabama Scores Big Time at the Ryman

All of us should hope we have aged, or will age, like the three original members of Alabama. The band was formed over 40 years ago, disbanded for a while, then charged back with the original founders – Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, and Jeff Cook. I was expecting some sort of reverent tribute, thinking that the young guest artists would sing and Alabama would back them. Wrong! The focus is on Alabama and darned if they don’t seem as young as their friends. There’s nothing old about this band unless you run the numbers. They are as vibrant and vital as any band out there. As virtuosic, too. The guesst are icing on the cake – Jason Aldean, Trisha Yearwood, Luke Bryan, Eli Young Band, Florida Georgia Line, and Jamey Johnson.

Alabama Live at the Ryman

The band performs, on its own and with friends, many of its hits – “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band),” “Dixieland Delight,” “Song of the South,” “Born Country,” “My Home’s in Alabama.” If they didn’t play all of them, that’s because there were so many – an embarrassment of riches.  The versions here are longer than the singles, so the guys jam and boy can they jam. Jeff Cook, in particular with his chartreuse violin and matching guitar. The band also involves the willing audience, which sings and claps when called on to do so. It’s one big high from beginning to end. If I gave star ratings here, I’d give it a five. It comes two ways – on two CDs, or two CDs and a DVD. Be sure to get the latter; it’s well shot and has excellent DTS surround sound. Play it loud, and don’t be embarrassed if you find yourself applauding and clapping along. Prices at Amazon are at bargain rates.

Environmental Christmas for Kids of All Ages

Jason Ringenberg might be known to some readers as the lead singer of Jason & the Scorchers, gre3at alternate rock,. i used to have one of their albums on my gym mix . Ringenberg has achieved far greater fame, however, using his alter ego – Farmer Jason.  As Farmer Jason, he’s won a Parents’ Choice Gold Award and had his own PBS show, which won an Emmy.  Now here he comes with a rockabilly-country set for the Christmas holiday, called, logically enough Christmas on the Farm with…Farmer Jason.

Christmas on the Farm

Jason’s originals have a lot to do with farming and the environment, “Santa Drove a Big John Deere” tells what happens when the reindeer take the night off; “The Animals Sang” reminds us that Jesus was born in a manger; and “Eat Your Fruitcake” is about saving landfills.  He sings more traditional songs like “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “Away in a Manger” with sincerity. Kids will delight in his funny antics and spoken introductions,  and parents will find some amusement as well. Perhaps the disc will bring back a childlike view of the holiday to those who are long past childhood. Well recorded, too. Complete texts to the new songs are included but you won’t need then. Farmer Jason has clear enunciation.