Joe Ross | Festival Time Again

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Festival Time Again

by Joe Ross

All-original, eclectic bluegrass penned by Oregon multi-instrumentalist Joe Ross & performed w/ stellar musicians in Bluegrass/Americana genres (James King Band, Ron Stewart, Tim Crouch, Scott Vestal, Randy Kohrs, Radim Zenkl, Bryan Bowers & others)
Genre: Country: Bluegrass
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1. Festival Time Again - 2:57
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2. Blood Red Roses - 4:20
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3. Good Deeds - 3:24
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4. HotQua Nights - 2:57
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5. Pitch Black by the Ton - 5:24
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6. My Home in Old Virginia - 3:16
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7. Desert Grave - 5:28
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8. Goldfield - 2:51
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9. Old Dan and Little Ann - 4:39
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10. Many a Blue Moon - 3:11
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11. Philosophy - 4:30
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12. Through Heaven’s Gate - 3:12
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Joe Ross’ writing - and this project that so beautifully showcases that prolific talent — typifies the unique, wildly varied bluegrass from the Northwest. Take a glimpse at the pickers he’s gathered... The James King Band, Ron Stewart, Tim Crouch, Scott Vestal, Randy Kohrs, Bryan Bowers, Radim Zenkl & many others. They’re distinguished, top-notch players hailing from all over the geographical — & instrumental — map.

"Many A Blue Moon" sounds like it came straight from a lost 8-track under the grubby bus seat of Jimmy Martin. The girl is gone & the old boy is crying, all to the ultra-traditional drive of the great Ron Stewart’s fiddle & banjo... Four seconds later, equally great talent from the distant fringe of bluegrass — Radim Zenkl’s whistle & Bryan Bowers’ autoharp — are called together for a 5-minute ode to a half-dozen carefully enumerated academic philosophies. Bluegrass whiplash, you bet! Welcome to Oregon! What a trip!

Given Joe’s place at the center of Northwestern bluegrass, it’s little wonder that the common thread of his writing is its variety. The influences show. "Blood Red Roses" calls to mind the powerful war-time laments of the Stanleys or Louvins. Pure bluegrass. But "Pitch Black By The Ton," a topical masterpiece, owes more to Woody Guthrie than to Bill Monroe. So is Joe just a folksinger?

Hardly. Change gears again: the instrumental "HotQua Nights" tips its picker’s cap more pointedly to Django Reinhardt than to Earl Scruggs — but with a hammered dulcimer? Django and Earl would be puzzled but pleased. Joe’s children song "Good Deeds" would make John McCutcheon proud. Rounding toward the roots again, "My Home in Old Virginia," featuring guest vocalist James King, reminds us of exactly how solidly grounded Joe’s songs grow in traditional bluegrass.

A serious songwriter whose songs define his life writes for eternity - for the dream that somebody, somewhere, sometime, will keep singing his songs... Will Joe's songs gain such a life of their own? I'm certain of it. I like to imagine, sometime in 2106, some old-timey space child loading her banjo & cooler in the back of a hydrogen-powered jet, heading out into the stratosphere, whistling those old standards from a century before, from "Festival Time Again."

And I like to imagine you whistling them, too. -- Bill Jolliff, Newberg, Oregon

********

Joe writes and sings great songs. His stories put pictures in my mind. His bluegrass songs have that good drive.
-- Pete Goble, Rockwood, Michigan

The terrific musicians' imaginations flourish... delightful, enjoyable project worthy of any serious tunesmith. You’ll like this part of Joe's heart.
-- Barry R. Willis, author of "America's Music: Bluegrass"

Joe’s a truly inspired writer. His pieces are interesting, entertaining, enjoyable. Joe gets an A for this album.
-- Gracie Muldoon, Station Manager, WORLDWIDEBLUEGRASS.COM

Northwest bluegrass has a strong traditional strand. There's also easy comfort with new approaches, eclectic material, and wildly different influences.
-- Bill Jolliff, Nwbluegrass Yahoogroup

"FESTIVAL TIME AGAIN" FEATURES:
** Joe Ross - Lead & harmony vocals, guitar, mandolin, hammered dulcimer, bass, keys
** Bryan Bowers - Autoharp
** Al Brinkerhoff - Resophonic guitar
** Tim Crouch - Fiddle
** Mitsuki Dazai - Koto
** Ben Greene - Banjo
** Adam Haynes - Fiddle
** Jason Heald - Bass
** James King - Guitar, lead vocal
** Randy Kohrs - Harmony vocals
** Jerry McNeely - Bass
** Kevin Prater - Mandolin, guitar
** Jesse Scriven - Guitar
** Ron Stewart - Banjo, fiddle
** Scott Vestal - Banjo
** Radim Zenkl – Pennywhistle

ABOUT THE ARTIST - Originally from Virginia, Joe Ross was raised a "military brat" overseas in Japan. Performing and recording on electronic organ in professional rock and soul bands during his school years, he eventually took up bluegrass music after hearing it on the Far East Network. His first bluegrass group, The High Mountain Ramblers, was formed during the 1970s at the University of Oregon. He then played and recorded with Sagegrass and Cold Thunder during the 1980s and 1990s.

Today, no one can resist the urge to tap their toes and sing along when multi-instrumentalist Joe Ross is "edu-taining" with his highly interactive and fast-paced solo Roots of Bluegrass musical show for all ages. The evolution of Celtic and Bluegrass music is traced from the British Isles to today as such instruments as banjo, mandolin, guitar, concertina, hammered dulcimer, and autoharp are demonstrated.

Joe and his wife Kathleen, a classical harpist, also perform at many weddings and special events. Joe is a member of Northwest on Tour, a juried artist roster. At present, The Joe Ross Band is a highly-charged and sought-after group that presents classic bluegrass, jazz, swing, gospel and original material. Their great diversity and innovation take them to many of the top music festivals and events throughout the west. Joe Ross' six albums cover many genres from bluegrass to Celtic, sea songs to children's music.

Besides music, Joe also offers a program called "Folk Tales of Old Japan," using a traditional Japanese storytelling technique with a wooden story box and large illustrated cards. He is also a noted music journalist with over 1,000 feature stories and reviews published by national periodicals and websites.


Reviews


to write a review

Lorraine Jordan

Some of Joe's songs will be bluegrass favorites for years to come
JOE ROSS has written some great songs here. I am sure some will go on to be bluegrass favorites for years to come.
How often is it that you see a project where the lead singer and lead instrumentalist has also written all the songs?

After hearing these selections I feel that I personally know the writer. He has included so many of his life experiences in the lyrics of 12 outstanding songs. My very favorite is "Festival Time Again." I believe that this could be a tune that could be used on many radio stations to begin the festival season. Another favorite of mine is "Many A Blue Moon." This song captures the feel of what I believe bluegrass is meant to sound like.

Joe has a list of musicians on this project that anyone would be proud to be associated with. I was especially impressed to see the names of James King, Ben Greene and Ron Stewart on the featured list. Other great musicians like Bryan Bowers, Al Brinkerhoff, Tim Crouch, Mitsuki Dazai, Adam Haynes, Randy Kohrs, Jerry McNeely, Kevin Prater, Jesse Scriven, Scott Vestal and Radim Zenkl.Wow! What a line up.

I know that after you listen to this project you will want to meet the man behind the words. I do.
Lorraine Jordan, Carolina Road and The Daughters of Bluegrass carolinaroad@bellsouth.net

Bill Clifton

splendid album – impressive package, fine vocals, excellent musicianship and rec
First of all, let me say how impressive the ‘package’ is ... with truly superb notes by Bill Jolliff that give us a real insight into the development of bluegrass/old-time music in the northwest. Not mentioned was the influence of North Carolinan apple folks who brought their musical culture to that part of the world. A friend of mine was sent to Washington State to learn about apple culture – and after 3 years, he came home picking 5-string banjo (and with very little understanding of apple culture)... Some nice kudos from Barry Willis and Pete Goble certainly enhance the package ... as do the disc photos ... a ‘blue’ moon, and I’m not sure what the other photo is, as well as the photo(s) that give us such strong reinforcement to Joe’s inspiration for “Desert Grave” – my very favorite song in the album ... some lovely poetry from Joe’s prolific pen set to a very beautiful tune! “My Home in Old Virginia” runs a close second with it’s memorable refrain “Every time I see a rainbow I wish that I could go to my home in old Virginia and my friends of long ago.”

“Good Deeds”... complete w/ calypso rhythm is bound to be a winner with all ages, but most especially with the elementary-school crowd that Joe particularly wants to reach.

Joe’s “Pitch Black by the Ton” about the Sago mine disaster is both timely and well-written in the first person. When Paul Clayton, Lonny Pembroke and I wrote “Springhill Mine Disaster” almost 50 years ago we originally wrote it ‘from the outside looking in.’ Then we received Maurice Ruddick’s telegram with his words all written in the first-person, and we did a quick re-write.

Overall, it’s a splendid album – fine vocals and excellent musicianship and recording quality (I was particularly impressed with how well Jason Heald’s bass solos stand out... and with Al Brinkerhoff’s dobro). In the song “Philosophy,” Radim Zenkl’s pennywhistle is a really nice touch.

Frank Gutch Jr.

Joe Ross is a craftsman
Review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange - Joe Ross is a craftsman. Intrigued by the history of the music as well as the music itself, he puts that craft to use by marrying each song to the genre and era which best suits it. Take, for instance, the combination of bluegrass instruments with calypso to present a child-oriented Good Deeds, a simple look at the pay-it-forward philosophy. Or the use of hammered dulcimer of Hotqua Nights, giving a bit of light dawg jazz what he calls that "gypsy" feel. The straight gospel bluegrass of Desert Grave strikes deep, inspired by an old deserted desert gravesite in Nevada, the chorus using classic harmonies and fiddle. Goldfield has a Flatt & Scruggs ramble to it, banjo giving way to mandolin giving way to fiddle in '50s and '60s breakdown style. Philosophy rides the fence between the original Kingston Trio and amalgamation of American folk and Irish/Scottish folk music, thanks to the apt and well-done pennywhistle of Radim Zenkl and the very much-in-the-background autoharp of Bryan Bowers. Yes, Joe Ross does know his craft.

To put it together, he brought in the likes of James King, whose understated vocal performance on My Home In Old Virginia is a highlight. Al Brinkerhoff's resophonic guitar (which seems to be replacing dobro, maybe, in the modern world of bluegrass?) is a delight throughout, and three different fiddle players (Tim Crouch, Adam Haynes and Ron Stewart) provide stylings all over the country and bluegrass map. Want banjo? Ross grabbed three different players there as well--- Ben Greene, Ron Stewart and Scott Vestal--- each doing standup work. Like any smart musician, Ross surrounded himself with some of the best. And Ross's own guitar and mandolin ain't too shabby, either, to fall into the backwoods vernacular.

There is a little piece of Joe Ross in each song presented here and he gives background on each in the liner notes, much like the old folkies used to do with their spoken word lead-ins in the '40s and '50s. Ross is smart enough to know that knowing the heart of a song can many times make the song. Just another piece of the craft.

If we were giving stars here, I would give Ross seven out of ten. The musicianship is top flight as are the majority of songs. The recording is very well done also. If there be a problem here it is in "my" ear, for I hear a style of recording more like Bill Monroe with lead vocal way out front rather than the Jimmy Martin style where it is equal with the music. Now, when you compare recording techniques of musicians of that caliber, that is hardly a bad thing.

Brenda Barbee – Roots Music Report Staff Reviewer

impressive album of very good bluegrass music
When you listen to the newest CD by Joe Ross “Festival Time Again”, you will actually feel like you are at the bluegrass festival. The CD is an impressive compilation of some very good bluegrass music. The twelve original tracks are what bluegrass and folk music is all about. Ross also has the support of some other first class musicians (15 to be exact) which makes a great piece of work even better.
The real beauty is that if you like bluegrass music, you will love this CD and if you like folk music, you will also love this CD. So if you like variety in both, you are in for a treat.
The styles you will find in the CD cover the spectrum and as you tune in to the lyrics, you will discover that Ross has a real gift for folksy story-telling. He and his company of extraordinary musicians masterfully accompany the lyrics and they even throw in a couple of awesome instrumentals, for your enjoyment.
Brenda Barbee – Roots Music Report Staff Reviewer

Marie Asner

Will have your toes tapping even before you open the CD
Joe Ross has an album with 30 years of original music on it. This bluegrass music will have your toes tapping even before you open the CD. Ross has a rich background in music and plays multiple instruments. Musicians who joined him in this collaboration are many and the blend and lyrics are fine. It is an exemplary example of musicianship.

What I appreciate is the fact that I can understand the lyrics. Backgrounds are just the right blend so that the listener can appreciate everything. For example, “Pitch Black by the Ton” is a song about coal miners and what is important is that you know where they live and work, “…living in darkness who needs the sun…” tells it all about making a living. “Good Deeds” is an learning lesson for children about showing kindness that comes from the heart. “Many A Blue Moon” says “…my poor heart just can’t say good-bye” while “Philosophy” is a parody on different world philosophies, punctuated by a penny whistle.

Not only are there good lyrics, but the instrumentalists have a chance to shine, also. An example is “HotQua Nights” with banjo and fiddle raising the roof. Joe Ross, I hope we don’t have to wait another 30 years for an album of original music. Time’s a’wastin’.

Hilary West

Joe puts his entire self into his music
Having just finished listening to Festival Time Again there is no doubt in my mind how entwined Joe Ross' life is with his writing and how passionate he is about his music; he's put his entire self in it. Drawing material from his travels, history and the headlines, Joe's songs vary in tempo and structure yet revolve around a similar theme. Joe expresses this theme and that of the recording in his notes for "Philosophy" asking: "Want a philosophy that's right for you?" then answering: "These feel-good-isms help us cope and might even get you smiling." Just listening to the CD you can easily imagine Joe's smiling while he's playing and singing - especially in the track "Good Deeds", a song with a very clear message straight from Joe to his family, friends and fans. There are two instrumentals included on the twelve tracks. "Hotqua Nights" is a very cool number which gives Joe a chance to air out his hammered dulcimer skills. There's also "Goldfield", a tune with a sparkly banjo intro courtesy of Ben Greene and some wonderful mandolin accents by Kevin Prater. The recording boasts an impressive number of session players including Radim Zenkl on penny whistle, celebrated musicians Scott Vestal and Ronnie Stewart on banjo - Ronnie also does some fiddling - while Randy Kohrs lends his voice to harmonies. It would likely be hard to find a musician more enthusiastic than Joe Ross, Festival Time Again is the proof. (Hilary West, staff writer for Bluegrass Now magazine)

Les McIntyre

This CD clearly establishes Joe Ross as one of the more prolific composers in co
Many readers will recognize Joe Ross for his numerous articles penned for bluegrass publications. This latest CD release clearly establishes him as one of the more prolific composers in contemporary bluegrass music. Accompanying himself on guitar, bass, and mandolin, he is joined by several guest musicians including Randy Kohrs (resonator guitar and vocals), Ron Stewart (banjo and fiddle), and Bryan Bowers (autoharp). With the exception of "My Home In Old Virginia" (sung by James King), Joe sings lead on the seven other vocals featured in this collection. The title song captures the ambiance and spirit of a typical bluegrass festival. Some of the eleven other numbers are "Good Deeds," "Philosophy," and "Blood Red Roses," dedicated to America's armed forces. One of the more emotional moments occurs on "Pitch Black By The Ton," which is about the recent Sago Mine disaster in West Virginia. Anyone who encounters "Festival Time Again," should not be surprised when other bluegrass musicians clamor to record the compositions of Joe Ross. (Les McIntyre, Bluegrass Unlimited magazine)

David Marks

Minstrel Man
Joe Ross brings the festival to wherever you and this CD happen to be. The infectious good-natured spirit of this compilation will raise any mood and brighten any day with its knee slappin' toe tappin' celebration of country blue grass. The songs run the gamut from traditional tales to songs that are uniquely Joe Ross, such as "Good Deeds" and "Philosophy." Joe's words paint an enduring picture in your mind. In Desert Grave, "A coyote on a hill howls a requiem for a man that's buried there. The winds provide a eulogy and I provide a prayer." Then there's the aching loss of a boy remembering the best coon dog ever in "Old Dan and Little Ann." This is well worth the price of admission, especially when you take into account the portability of this festival.

Tina Aridas

well-put-together package
I listened to Festival Time Again right after listening to some of Tom T & Dixie Hall's songs, and it struck me that Joe Ross' story songs could easily be compared to those of that well-respected songwriting team. That's quite an accomplishment! In addition, I know first-hand how difficult it is to write about topics that are very current and still fresh in our minds -- I've tried it and seem to always have to put the attempts aside -- yet Joe managed to do it with "Pitch Black by the Ton." And kids' songs? I hope "Good Deeds" becomes a standard on children's albums in the future. Altogether, a well-put-together package -- from recording quality, to the graphics and the song notes.
Tina Aridas, Mountain Redbird Music

Bob Cherry (Cybergrass)

This album touches many of the corners of the bluegrass continent
Festival Time Again is the latest album by Joe Ross. Ross in one of those acoustic musicians west of the Mississippi and north of the Mason Dixon Line that knows what bluegrass is. By west and north, I mean way west and far north. In the land of the Cascades in the southwest part of Oregon in America's northwest.

Being a part of a different region lends itself to different styles of acoustic and bluegrass music. This album touches many of the corners of the bluegrass continent. From hard-core traditional styles in "My Home in Old Virginia" and the lost-love tale of "Many a Blue Moon" to a Calypso beat in "Good Deeds," you will experience a world of music on Festival Time Again. If you're one who also enjoys a bit of rag-time Dixie with a 1890's western swing style, then "Goldfield" will also touch you with the masterful fiddle and mandolin blending their own story.

What makes this a unique album is that Ross is not only a wonderful guitar picker but an exciting songwriter as well. This album features a dozen songs written and co-written by Ross. The lyrics are profound and sing of life's pathways. "Pitch Black by the Ton" speaks of mining two miles down. "Desert Grave" weaves a story about an early unknown pioneer and the mystery of his tale in passing the grave on one of the west's Boot Hills. The stories on this collection speak of life in the past, present and possibly the future.

The guest musicians on this album all lend a bit of their own flair to the overall sound. Artists backing multi-instrumentalist Ross (guitar, keys, hammered dulcimer, mandolin) include James King (guitar), Kevin Prater (guitar, mandolin), Tim Crouch (fiddle), Adam Haynes (fiddle), Ron Stewart (banjo, fiddle), Scott Vestal (banjo), Ben Greene (banjo), Byran Bowers (autoharp), Al Brinkerhoff (resophonic guitar), Jason Heald (bass), Jerry McNeely (bass), Mitsuki Dazai (koto) and Radim Zenkl (pennywhistle). This album is as rich in variety as the artists noted, resulting in an album that is a pleasure to listen to.

The music is up-beat, fresh and unique. This well rounded album is emotional, entertaining and just plain fun. It's tales of life are full of life with lively instrumentation. Take a trip out to the northwest and experience a new world of acoustic and bluegrass music with Festival Time Again.
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