lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: carolina in the pines

2015-10-07: cd pick of the week: alison brown the song of the banjo (compass records), the chronicle herald:

but brown has kept busy since her last visit here in 2006, and her latest project is a love song to her favourite instrument, showing its versatility, as well as her own skills in settings ranging from folk and pop to jazz and soul.

highlights include guest spots by indigo girls on carolina in the pines and men at work's colin hay getting smooth with i'll never fall in love again, plus a groovy and moving what's going on with keb' mo' that would make marvin gaye proud .


2015-10-29: alison brown shows banjos aren't just for bluegrass, the charlotte observer:

"i had two goals with this record," says brown. "to really try to show the lyrical or more beautiful side of the banjo. i think people associate it with bluegrass music, bank robberies and car chases. for people who are new to banjo, it's hard to hear the melodies within the arpeggios.

"these songs also all had real popularity in the '70s and early '80s. they've been around long enough that if there was a second volume of 'the great american songbook,' they'd be a part of that."

brown, who plays neighborhood theatre thursday, has never been your typical banjo picker.

a native southern californian, she was a rare female in a male-dominated genre. a harvard-educated mba, she left behind a career as a banker to play banjo with alison krauss and michele shocked before starting her own label - compass records, in 1993 - back when artist-run independent labels were far from the norm.

she credits her west coast upbringing for her open-minded approach to bluegrass. "the song of the banjo," for instance, incorporates jazz, celtic and other styles with the help of non-bluegrass musicians like the indigo girls, jake shimabukuro and men at work's colin haye.

"in southern california, our concept of bluegrass was a little more broad. it was really common for bluegrass bands to play 'carolina in the pines' or 'dance with me,'" she says of two tracks she covers on "song." "this part of the country is really tied to tradition. i would guess traditional bluegrass in charlotte, n.c., was more centered around first- and second-generation players. a big influence on southern california bluegrass was the david grisman quintet - this cutting-edge string music that was related to bluegrass because the musicians had all played bluegrass music and were cutting a new path. that was as inspiring to me as earl scruggs and 'foggy mountain breakdown.' "

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