This week's column features recordings from The Del McCoury Band and Darryl Purpose sandwiched around a concert DVD from Alan Jackson. Enjoy!
'Del and Woody,' The Del McCoury Band (McCoury Music, HHHHH)
This April 15 release presents lyrics by folk forefather Woody Guthrie set to music by Del McCoury. Del was recruited for the project by Woody's granddaughter, Nora Guthrie, who is in charge of his legacy, including notebooks filled with lyrics to be paired with new music played and sung by Del, lead and harmony vocals/guitar; Ronnie McCoury, lead/harmony vocals and mandolin; Rob McCoury, harmony vocals and banjo; Jason Carter, harmony vocals and fiddle, and Alan Bartram, harmony vocals and upright bass. Del is somewhat of an elder statesman among bluegrass singers, but he's still one of the best.
My favorite songs are "Wimmen's Hats" (reminds me of the Kentucky Derby), the rousing "Ain't A Gonna Do," the sad waltz "Left In This World Alone" and the up-tempo "Hoecake Fritters."
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Both McCoury and Woody fans will enjoy this somewhat less-political presentation.
'Keepin' It County-Live At Red Rocks,' Alan Jackson (Eagle Vision, HHHH)
This May 6 DVD/digital release captures Alan Jackson filmed in mid-May 2015 at the legendary amphitheater. There are 26 tunes from the 25th Anniversary tour, which means a career-spanning mountain of music. Vocalist/acoustic guitarist Alan fronts an excellent eight-piece band with drummer/band leader Bruce Rutherford, pedal steel/slide guitarist Robbie Flint and other skilled players, as evidenced by the early pickers showcase "I Don't Even Know Your Name."
Other favorites include "Livin' On Love," "Small Town Southern Man," "The Blues Man," his 9/11 tune "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)," short pieces of "Here in The Real World," "Wanted," "It Must Be Love," "Song For The Life" and "Pop a Top," the rockabilly-flavored "You Never Know" and the reminiscent-for-me "Chattahoochee."
This concert is a greatest-hits package for those who don't have one and very entertaining for longtime fans and new ones.
'Still the Birds,' Darryl Purpose (Blue Rock Records, HHHH)
This May 6 CD is the seventh solo album from singer/songwriter/guitarist Darryl Purpose, and if it's available on vinyl, the astounding cover and insert art will be even more impressive. The songs were written by Daryl and lyricist Paul Zollo. Musical support is provided by bassist Roscoe Beck, percussionist Eric Darken, electric guitarist Daran DeShazo, keyboard/accordionist Joel Guzman, many vocalists and producer Billy Crockett.
My favorites among these literate, mellow tunes are "Prince Of The Apple Towns," "When Buddha Smiled At The Elephant," "The Meaning Of My Love" (with Eliza Gilkyson) and "Sheena's Dog."
Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org