Recording Review
Playing Our Respects / Pictures
New Coon Creek Girls

By Berk Bryant

This is going to be a two-for-the-price-of-one review: The New Coon Creek Girls' newest album, Playing Our Respects and one from not too long ago, Pictures. The ladies of New Coon Creek Girls are, as they say, paying dues and they are deservedly gaining friends and fans fast.

For the Playing Our Respects album, they took on the almost impossible task of selecting the songs to represent many of the pioneers and the early beginnings of bluegrass and country music, with focus on the great groups of the '40s, '50s and '60s.

For the two albums the very talented group consisted of Vickie Simmons, bass, claw-hammer banjo and vocals; Wanda Barnett, guitar and vocals; Annie Kaser, five-string banjo and vocals; and Deanie Richardson, fiddle, mandolin and vocals. (Deanie was replaced by Pam Perry Cox for the Pictures album.) A mixture of instrumental, traditional, bluegrass and gospel numbers was settled on and the fine Respects album was recorded. "Theme Time" and "Up Jumped the Devil" are the two very good instrumentals. The influence and reflections of the likes of Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass music and Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs are very evident throughout. Maybe it is because some of the selections, such as "Let the Light Shine Down On Me," are associated with them. The other gospel number, "Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown," is well done by Deanie Richardson. "Blue-Eyed Boy" features Vickie on the claw-hammer banjo. Not to lessen any of the other numbers, whose vocals were shared by the girls, there is "You Live In A World All Your Own," "Gonna Have Myself A Ball," "I Still Miss Someone," "Let Me Be the first to Know," a great Mac Wiseman-associated tune "I Saw Your Face In the Moon" and, finally, "Night Train to Memphis."

The Pictures album or, as they call it, the "Pink" album, is also tops. This album contains several original tunes by the talented ladies. Two that I am sure of are the title tune "Pictures" and "Charlie." "Pictures" refers to pictures of the mind and the way of things remembered. "Grandma painted pictures with her needle" conjures up a vision of a dear old lady making a quilt. Vicki Simmons wrote that one and that was just part of the story it was telling. Wanda is responsible for "Charlie."

I saw the ladies perform recently and Wanda did a beautiful job on "Charlie." There was expression and feeling in the live performance that somehow didn't get recorded. I knew Charlie had to be someone special and I asked. He was. An old friend who really gave Wanda a lot of encouragement, who was a bit brash on the outside and something else altogether on the inside. The "Pink" album has several very good gospel songs, "The Man Who Rode the Mule," "Stand Up and Shout Hallelujah," "My Burdens Have Been Lifted" and "Lord I'm Coming Home." Several up-beat tunes complete this very good package "Down, Down, Down," "I Can't Love You Anymore," "What Am I Doing Loving You Again" and "Goodby and So Long to You."

These two Turquoise albums by the New Coon Creek Girls are representative of a solid effort by four extremely talented young ladies. It could be a tough choice to make to decide which album to buy. I would say, "Get the Pic...," but Playing Our Respects is also very good. Aw, what the heck, get both; you can't go wrong that way.