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CD Review: PEN & INK, VOICE & STRINGS Echoes From The New Frontier

PEN & INK, VOICE & STRINGS
Echoes From The New Frontier
Still There (Juni Fisher); The Last Wild White Buffalo (Mike Blakely); The Vaquero Song (Dave Stamey); Texas is Burnin' (Jim Jones); Colorado (Chuck Pyle); Morning Star Moon (Jon Chandler); The Old Double Diamond (Gary McMahan; Hang-n-Rattle (Wyle & the Wild West); Sky Rock (Carol Markstrom); Ain't No Quit (Bill Barwick); Any Name Will Do (Mary Kaye); Lost Time on the Old Highway (Mark Jackson); Charlie & Evangeline (Doug Figgs); Western Writers of America (Bill Groneman)
 
What a marvelous adventure this is in such well written contemporary western songs.  The 'genre' stays true to the original intent, sharing stories and adventures in a 'western' style.  Wow, it doesn't get much better than this.  What a wonderful way to share so many different writers and performers.  Two of the participants have already won awards from the Rural Roots Music Commission.  Carol Markstrom in 2017, and Mary Kaye in 2016.  This particular genre of music is the softer side of country, and certainly the mainstay of 'storytelling' in a song.  Knowing how much the Rural Roots folks like this kind of musical presentation, it would be hard for us to 'honor' this particular project unless we invited all participants to 'share' in the award if that were to happen, and I believe that's exactly what will happen.  Every song is different on this album, and every performer is different on this album.  It's a complete anthology of the music itself.  It's easy to understand that the lovers of cowboy music, western, folk, Americana, roots, and definitely country, found their 'roots' still alive and well, and from that a growth of new vegetation, and obviously the 'fruit' of the endeavor.  Sweet, storytelling, musical, inviting, interesting, definitely original and purposeful.  I really like the 'order' in which the songs are placed, it changes constantly yet stays within the 'genre' it is projecting.  The very first song utilizes a distinguishing Native American flute to compliment the lovely voice of Juni Fisher.  This is the very high standard maintained throughout the project by the Western Writers of America.  They certainly knew what they were doing when they added "Best Song" to their Spur Awards.  We're almost a 'hillbilly cousin' in music compared to the prestige of the Western Writers, and we're probably not taken very seriously, but we do know what is good and what is fantastic.  This particular project is both that and much much more.  The individual contributions are obviously the 'best' of the artist, and they are all extremely well done.  It was assembled and mixed by John Macy at Macy Sound Studios in Denver, Colorado, and John definitely knew what he was listening for.  His 'ear' is that magic ingredient that keeps the music at its highest level, and sounding the best it can sound, no matter who is listening.  Gary McMahan says it well, describing the 'music business' today and what happens to so many of the very distinguished and well-written and performed songs in a world of 'money only' in the entertainment world. I have to add that both the winners of our "CD of the Year" awards, Carol Markstrom and Mary Kaye do very well on this project.  I especially like the beginning 'eerieness' of Mary Kay's song "Any Name Will Do," and how she transcribes her lovely voice into the 'story' she is telling.  Wow, it doesn't get much better than this.  We've only been doing our "National Old Time Music Festival" for 42 years, but we'd immediately open our main stage with CD of the Year awards to each and every one of these artists that would make the trek for the honors. Who knows, it's America, and long live her bounty, especially in the creative artists that are 'blocked' from participating in the money world of entertainment the media controls today. It's very obvious that 'western' music is alive and well regardless of the discrimination.  From Bob Wills to Spade Cooley, and all those others that made music so much fun to listen to.  I reckon Bill Groneman ends this particular project with a well deserved 'thank you' to all the Western Writers of America.
RECORD REVIEW BY BOB EVERHART, President National Traditional Music Association (since 1976) - www.music-savers.com
for Country Music News International 

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