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.