The sleevenotes proclaim “No varmits or critters were harmed in the making of this album”, and that’s reassuring, because this here’s some serious footstompin’ music, and it’d be all too easy to stamp on a muskrat or such mid-hootenanny. No 6 is the sound of bluegrass artisans at work, playing up a storm while demonstrating that their chosen genre is not only alive and well, but that its traditional songwriting tenets and instrumental framework can support vital new music. Central to the folk tradition is the art of storytelling, and The Coal Porters’ three vocalists spin some captivating yarns here; Sid Griffin (The Long Ryders) provides vivid snapshots of his US homeland, from the old West on Train No 10 0 5 through to more contemporary scenes in The Day The Last Ramone Died, Kerenza Peacock recalls her intertwined musical and family roots (Play A Tune), and Neil Robert Heard offers reflective numbers (Unhappy Anywhere) and old-school Americana observed from this side of the pond (The Old Style Prison Break).
The Upshot: Hey-ho, let’s go – hear some bluegrass, that is, from Sid Griffin (Long Ryders) and his British compatriots, serving up everything from traditionally-styled twang to a left-field power pop cover to a pointedly non-traditional tribute. Quick, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “bluegrass”? If you answered “the Ramones” you’re lyin’ through yer teeth, bub. In the case of England’s Coal Porters, however, the ‘grass/‘mones intersection is as sharp a fit as those tailored suits they sport when performing onstage.
Henry Yates on the latest releases from Joe Bonamassa, Devon Allman, The Coal Porters, Sari Schorr and Aynsley Lister Joe Bonamassa - Live At The Greek Theatre Like death and taxes – albeit more enjoyable than either – there’s a relentless inevitability about Joe Bonamassa’s output that means Live At The Greek Theatre risks being greeted with shrugged shoulders. To his credit, the blues man is perhaps wary of saturation, and here he arrives armed with a tantalising premise: saluting the ‘three Kings’ (that’s Albert, Freddie and BB) live in Los Angeles. The man has some brass neck, of course.