New to the `Grass
Carry Me Across The Mountain (Doobie Shea Records)
In 1988 The Grasshoppers drove from Idaho to Louisville to take part in the Bluegrass Showdown, a national talent search. Several days later they drove back to Idaho as the Showdown winners. Unfortunately, I missed their performance but, fortunately, Doobie Shea has released a recording that captures an energetic set of tunes from this talented group of relative newcomers.
The project provides pleasant listening with a "down-home" feeling. And Grasshoppers is a perfect name for this quartet for two reasons: their music is rooted in the traditional sound of Bluegrass and their uptempo arrangements are guaranteed to get you hopping. Each member of this foursome is an accomplished musician, but the outstanding member is bassist, songwriter and vocalist Honi Green. This woman definitely knows how to write and sing. In fact, she wrote seven of the twelve tracks and sings lead or harmony on nine of them. Green is at her best on a hard driving "Cold Dark Night," a lovely waltz "Hold On My Heart" (written on the way to IBMA in Louisville) and a rocking gospel cut "I'm Callin' Jesus."
Throughout the release Jeremy Garrett provides outstanding vocals and fiddle work. His original instrumental "Y2K" is just plain fun. Another cut, "On My Way Home" is a masterful showcase of the group's arranging skills. Randy Glenn's banjo and Glen Garrett's guitar are rock solid.
Co-producer, engineer, and mandolinist/singer Dan Tyminski, provides some stellar back up for The Grasshoppers. And his own recent solo recording demonstrates his talent as a front man in Carry Me Back.
Tyminski is joined by Allison Krauss, Union Station and Jerry Douglas, who get things rolling with a lonesome title track, "Stuck In The Middle of Nowhere." It is a clever vocal that zips right along in no small part due to Jim Mills's banjo and Adam Steffy's mandolin. "Greens Fees" is a vibrant romping instrumental that lets Dan take a lead guitar ride. There is also a well-done cover of Jimmy Martin's "Sunny Side of the Mountain." And, finally, in keeping with Bluegrass tradition, Tyminski includes a gospel number, "Praise The Lord."
Until this release, I was not familiar with Tyminski, but I sure like him and the musicians he surrounds himself with. Ron Stewart and Aubrey Hanye deserve high praise for their splendid fiddle work. Jim Mills and Ron Block provide extraordinary driving five string banjos. Tony Rice more than adequately fills the guest guitar chair.
With a few more releases like this, Tyminski could become a fixture on the bluegrass scene. This is a thoroughly entertaining project that deserves a place in your CD rack.
To learn more about or to obtain a copy of either the Grasshoppers or Tyminski CDs, call toll-free 1-877-262-7432 or visit www.doobieshea.com.