Joe Ross | Thunderin' Bluegrass (cassette tape only available at present)

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Thunderin' Bluegrass (cassette tape only available at present)

by Joe Ross

Hard-hitting and rip-roaring bluegrass from the Pacific Northwest, featuring heartfelt musical drive and spirit. ON SALE NOW FOR ONLY $5
Genre: Country: Bluegrass
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  Song Share Time Download
1. She Has A Gypsy Heart (J. Ross)
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2. Those Memories of You (A. O'Bryant)
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3. Mandolin King Rag (arr. by J. Ross)
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4. Copenhagen, Beechnut and Skoal (C. Johnson)
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5. Mother's Songs (J. Ross)
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6. On Down The Line (P. Loveless)
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7. My Heart Remembers Yesterday (J. Ross)
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8. Wayfaring Stranger (trad.)
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9. Little Rabbit (trad.)
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10. Age (J. Croce)
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11. Why You Been Gone So Long (M. Newbury)
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12. Little White Washed Chimney (trad.)
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13. Battle of New Orleans (J. Driftwood)
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Album Notes
Oregon multi-instrumentalist Joe Ross and Cold Thunder released "Thunderin' Bluegrass" in 1999 to demonstrate their spirited and professional bluegrass. This album has received much acclaim for being "a high-energy recording that showcases the band's heartfelt drive and bluegrass spirit" (Julie Koehler, Associate Editor of Bluegrass Now Magazine). Available now only on cassette tape, this album features the fine picking and singing of Susan Blanton, Ted Grant, Chuck Holloway, Joe Ross and Johnny Schiller.

If you should ever find yourself in the Ozark Mountains during a bone-chillingly cold winter, you may hear an eerie sound as the frozen lakes and creeks slowly expand forcing the earth to move and groan with a thundering roar. Local folklore refers to this phenomenon as "cold thunder" and that is the term this band adopted to describe their enthusiastic, energetic and earthy bluegrass sounds.

Listening to Thunderin' Bluegrass is the next best thing to a live performance by this lively, fun-loving group. There was no overdubbing, editing, fancy recording tricks or second takes....just the band and a digital recorder. This gave them the opportunity to interact with one another much as they would onstage. It's that wonderfully spirited sense of fun and professionalism that endears them to their audiences. Wherever they perform, the feedback is always extremely positive.

Read what some of the critics have said about "Thunderin' Bluegrass"........

"This is one enjoyable album right from the first play, and one that is sure to grow on you the more you listen."
Bluegrass Now Magazine, July 1999

"This is a very tight, professional, well arranged, nicely produced cassette that captures the down-home feeling of bluegrass music....features great vocal harmonies, high energy and a nice authentic feeling."
Victory Music Review, January 1999


to write a review

Kim Loftis

Album chalked with great tunes and talent!
Thunderin’ Bluegrass is an album chalked with talent, variety and a whole lot of fun. The first thing that I noticed was the really creative way in which this record was produced… because of the fact that there were no overdubs or second takes, it feels as if the band is in the room with you as you listen to this album. It’s a really delightful touch to a delightful project.
As somebody who was born and raised in the southern US, with a father who has always cherished a “story song”, I couldn’t help gaining his love for “story songs” myself over the years. Maybe that’s another reason this album is so endearing to me. It’s packed with a variety of such songs.
The album begins with Joe’s original, “She Has a Gypsy Heart”, a sad but equally danceable little song about lost love. Next is “Those Memories of You”, a melancholy piece on which Susan delivers a very memorable vocal performance. Joe’s spirited arrangement of “Mandolin King Rag” follows, exuding a bit of a ragtime feel and some terrific solos! “Copenhagen, Beechnut and Skoal” is a lot of fun to listen to, and as on every other cut, it sounds like the musicians were having a grand ol’ time recording this one. Next is Joe’s touching “Mother’s Songs”, a beautiful little number that I think many mothers’ children can relate to in some way. Side one ends with “On Down the Line”, a song I’ve always loved, and which, like all the other pieces found here, is given a really delightful treatment by Cold Thunder.
Side two opens with Joe’s lovely “My Heart Remembers Yesterday.” This song is one of my favorites on the album. The chord progression and lyrics caught my attention immediately on listening, and the wistful nature of this piece pulls at my heartstrings each time I hear it. The band’s take on “wayfaring Stranger” is beautiful, and the tune “Little Rabbit” is delivered here with tons of energy and talent.
I must give special attention to their cover of Jim Croce’s timeless song “Age.” Again, I must think of my dad when listening to this song, as Croce is one of his heroes, and subsequently became one of mine as well. This is such a nice and different take on a classic song, and I applaud the band for adding this one to the album. But I’m biased. Terrific job with this one!
“Why You Been Gone So Long” has an irresistible chorus that tends to stick in my head and leave me singing it for hours, while “Little Whitewashed Chimney” is likely to bring a tear to the eye. The final cut, “Battle of New Orleans”, is a song I’ve always enjoyed, and this is an entirely unique spin on it. You can distinctly hear the broad smile in Joe’s voice as he delivers the verses. What fun!
To conclude, this is a delightful, very well done and fun-filled album. There are wonderful originals here, and some great arrangements of classics as well. I enjoy listening to it often, and am sure others, whether they are bluegrass fans or not, will as well! Definitely give this one a try! Very highly recommended!

R. D. MacKenzie

Mostly bluegrass with a modern feel & cosmopolitan air
The music is mostly bluegrass with a modern feel to it. This is old-time music that doesn't have an old-timey feel to it. While always keeping bluegrass at the centre of its sound, this band wanders into folk, country, and even jazz stylings. The result is an eclectic set held together by its bluegrass underpinnings.

The choice of songs here reflects and influences the eclectic sound. Four of the songs are written by Joe Ross and maintain a folkish bluegrass style. Several songs are arrangements of traditional folk songs. Then there are songs by writers as disparate as Jim Croce, Mickey Newberry, and Patty Loveless. There's even a version of Johnny Horton's pop novelty hit, "The Battle of New Orleans."

The musicians of Cold Thunder are talented and are clearly very comfortable playing with one another. The instruments weave their sounds together like finely woven cloth. It's clear that Ross has been with this group a long time. The credits on the CD are a bit misleading as Ross is not with Cold Thunder but is actually an integral part of the group.

It's hard to tell from the credits who is the vocalist on any specific song. Multi-instrumentalist Chuck Holloway and Joe Ross sing on different songs. No nasal Mac Wiseman bluegrass vocals here, but full-bodied contemporary country sounds. Whichever man is singing on any specific song, the vocals are strong and effective. Susan Blanton has a powerful voice that fits equally well with folk or country style singing.

As performed by this group, Jim Croce's "Age" sounds like a traditional Irish song as such songs were updated in mid-century by artists such as The Clancy Brothers. What brings it home to the U.S.A. is the unmistakable American accent on the vocals. This is a bright, spritely piece that's perhaps one of the more interesting in this set.

Susan Blanton brings to "Those Memories of You" a sound that is at once hard-edged and plaintive. This is a powerful interpretation that immediately catches the ear and holds the listener until the song ends.

Blanton's interpretation of "Wayfaring Stranger" is soulful and moving. This traditional folk song and its melancholy mood seems timesless and eternal. My first recollection of this song is listening to my parents' recording by Burl Ives when I was a child. Since then, I've heard many versions by a variety of artists. Blanton makes an interesting addition to the canon.

While Susan Blanton is listed as playing Cajun and blues-flavoured fiddle, her style is often closer to the type of violin work heard in old jazz and ragtime songs. Her excursions away from purely country fiddling add an element of interest and sometimes tension to music that could at times seem run-of-the-mill.

"Mandolin King Rag" is more 1920's jazz than bluegrass, a jumping tune that's made for dancing. It's easy to imagine the flappers and their beaux flying around some ballroom dance floor. Here, Blanton is much less a fiddler than a swinging violinist. One of the male vocalists even throws in a couple of oody ata tata's over the music. Over all, this is a playful tune that's just fun to hear.

Cold Thunder's version of "The Battle of New Orleans" falls down in a number of ways. For some reason, perhaps in an attempt to "modernize" the song, the group has changed a number of words in the lyric. The most garish is converting "wasn't nigh as many" to the much more ordinary and less interesting "wasn't quite as many" instead. Instrumentally and vocally, the song lopes along to a lame and repetitive rhythm that soon gets tired. It also strikes me that in changing this pop song to bluegrass, the group could have gone much further. Of course, my perception may be blurred by memories of Homer and Jethro's wonderful parody, "The Battle of Camp Kookamonga," with its lively bluegrass edge.

Cold Thunder is a more than competent group of musicians whose interests and influences clearly reach far beyond bluegrass music. These outside influences add to their bluegrass sound, bringing to it a certain cosmopolitan air. It's easy to understand why their live performances are popular in their home state of Oregon.

Ken Reynolds, The Bluegrass Breakdown

Solid Bluegrass
They play some pretty solid bluegrass. I especially enjoyed the guitar work of Chuck Holloway on this project. Some of you may recognize Chuck as the banjo player for another Oregon based bluegrass band, Blue River. Along with Chuck's guitar work, you're going to hear some nice mandolin picking by Joe and some smooth fiddle playing by Susan. Couple this with the driving banjo of Ted and solid bass of Johnny, and you've got the sound of Cold Thunder. -- Ken Reynolds, The Bluegrass Breakdown, February, 1999

Dave Higgs, Wpln, Brentwood, Tn.

A nice Program
It's a nice program of finely written originals and creatively interpreted old favorites. I have given airplay to "She Has A Gypsy Heart," "Mother's Songs," and "Battle of New Orleans."
--Dave Higgs, Host, Bluegrass Breakdown, WPLN, Brentwood, Tenn.

Cathy Levin

This music is a real treat!
The music is a real treat! I am so impressed with it. This bluegrass tape had me dancing around the kitchen as I was cooking and cleaning up. It's full of great energy. The "Mandolin King Rag" and "Little Rabbit" are especially fun and both show the band to very technically accomplished. How can their fingers move so fast? And I could just hear the fun in the background of "Battle of New Orleans." The originals are all very good too. I wonder if "Mother's Songs" is autobiographical. I am also always particularly drawn in by the sweet plaintive sound of slower songs like "Memories of You." Susan Blanton has a great voice for that sort of thing. This project really bowled me over.

Vick Mickunas

Excellent release!
Excellent release! I'm giving most of the cuts some airplay.
Vick Mickunas, WYSO, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio

Red Shipley

Nice mix of material, professional and worthy of airplay
I enjoyed the "Mother's Songs" cut and will make an effort to get that before my Sunday audience. I enjoyed the mixture of material and found the presentation to be professional and worthy of airplay.
Red Shipley, Host, Stained Glass Bluegrass, WPLN, PO Box 271, Orange, Va. 22960

Milo Mcintosh, The Bluegrass Gazette

Hard-hitting, timeless story songs
Joe Ross, from down Roseburg, Oregon way, has put together a diverse collection of musicians which has resulted in an audio tape of hard-hitting, timeless story-songs...Overall, I like Joe Ross' robust collection of tunes here, even though the mix had the harmony vocals out front a bit too much in places.

Jay Armsworthy

Nice production and presentation
"Thunderin' Bluegrass" is a nice production and presentation. I've aired the cut, "Why You Been Gone So Long."
Jay Armsworthy, Host, Bluegrass on the Bay, WMDM, California, Maryland.

Kathy Boyd

I like the "drive"
I like the "drive" on this. I liked the male vocals. Susan's voice isn't my favorite, but she does a nice job.