Joe Ross | The Spirit of St. Louis

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The Spirit of St. Louis

by Joe Ross

Original Bluegrass & Americana from Oregon multi-instrumentalist Joe Ross. With Bryan Bowers * Al Brinkerhoff * Tim Crouch * Mitsuki Dazai * Jason Heald * Randy Kohrs * Ron Stewart * Scott Vestal * Radim Zenkl * Cedar Hill * James King Band
Genre: Country: Bluegrass
Release Date: 

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1. The Logger's Song - 3:47
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2. The Homefire - 4:09
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3. One Legged Turkey - 3:13
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4. The River in Oregon - 3:14
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5. Mother's Songs - 4:25
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6. The Church Bell No One Hears - 2:43
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7. The Spirit of St. Louis - 3:18
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8. My Heart Remembers Yesterday - 3:03
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9. St. Anne's Reel - 3:20
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10. Streamliner - 2:57
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11. Somewhere Down the Road - 3:07
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12. His Hand is Divine - 2:33
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Like his 2006 release of originals called “Festival Time Again,” Joe Ross’ "Spirit of St. Louis" is a work of art … carefully sculpted with a variety of musical styles, great attention to detail, and extraordinary craft. Joe is a great musician who I appreciate tremendously for not only this aforementioned craft, but also his utter and total sincerity in his musical presentation. Spirit of St. Louis is a passionate testament to the precious beauty and majesty of Joe’s native Oregon. It speaks sweetly of wonderful days gone by, family values, American history, and the love of God. Each song is a unique portrait painted on a canvas of skillful and gorgeous instrumentation. The lyrics are lovingly wrought, and every note is a triumph.

From the opening tale of “The Logger’s Song,” with its highly singable and poignant lyrics, to the tender and bitter-sweet “Mother’s Songs,” to the reverent closing track, “His Hand is Divine,” each piece tells a remarkable story in vivid detail that will tug at your heart strings and give you new appreciation for Joe’s subject matter. The title cut speaks of modern marvels and innovation, and the courage and fortitude of one man’s historic journey across the Atlantic. “The Church Bell No One Hears” is the heartbreaking account of the loss of spiritual heritage within our everyday lives. And “Somewhere Down The Road” is simply irresistible, with its uplifting message of hope and happiness to come.

As always, Joe has included some marvelous instrumental tracks… the delightful “One Legged Turkey” includes some fantastic chromatic elements, which add a wonderful element of surprise. And the achingly lovely “Saint Anne’s Reel,” takes me back to the Renaissance in all its magic.

I have so often heard it said that a musician’s music conveys his heart and soul. It’s something I always try to express in my own compositions, and something that many musicians do extremely well. Joe Ross, in this splendid album, not only gives us twelve exceptionally poignant story songs to cherish, but he provides us an accurate portrait of his own sincerity and passion. In listening to, and enjoying Spirit of St. Louis, we also get to enjoy the spirit of Joe himself, and the finished portrait is a truly beautiful piece of art to behold. --- Kim Loftis,
Burnsville, N.C.

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Joe has written songs for this project that are straight and true right from the soul. These songs are the "real deal!” Whether picturing a beautiful river in Oregon, re-living Lindy's solo flight across the Atlantic or being touched by his mother’s beautiful songs, Joe's pen has found the mark straight to the heart! Mark "Brink" Brinkman, Songwriter/Publisher - Brinksongs
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This album by Joe Ross is one that I liked from the start, but sort of grew on me even more. It's a fine piece of work and worthy of mention as one of the best bluegrass CDs of 2007. Joe writes good original material, has a knack for just good sounding arrangements and fitting song selection. I enjoy his music as much as I do his writing. This album is great. Johnny Pearce, The BABA Bulletin Vol. 21, No. 11, November 2007
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BIO INFO: Originally from Virginia, Joe Ross was raised a "military brat" overseas in Japan. Performing on electronic organ in pro rock, soul and blues 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.

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 classical harp playing wife, Kathleen, also perform at weddings and special events. Joe is a member of Northwest on Tour, a juried artist roster. 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. Ross' seven 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 large illustrated cards. He is also a noted music journalist with hundreds of feature stories and reviews published by national periodicals and websites.


Reviews


to write a review

Graham Hassall

Great singing and high quality music on all tracks
CDbaby - Thanks for kindly sending a super new album. It's a fine original bluegrass album from a very talented singer/songwriter who wrote or co-wrote all tracks except St. Anne's Reel. Joe is a great story teller and his unique style of accurately putting portraits of life into his songs with both sincerity and heartfelt feeling makes his songs stand out and really appealing. A pleasure to listen to. All songs have top class musical scores which increase the listener's enjoyment. Great singing and high quality music on all tracks. This is a really appealing top class bluegrass album and will be an extremely popular release. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. Joe Ross has a winner with this fine album and it will receive plenty of airplay from me. GRAHAM HASSALL, COUNTRY MUSIC BROADCASTER, Radio Nightingale, Sheffield Road, Blyth, Nr. Worksop, Notts. S81 8HF

Dorothy Liles

Joe Ross is a great musician whose songs will be remembered
This CD is filled with wonderful songs that touch the heart and spirit. Of particular poignancy is Joe's Mother's Songs, which took me back to my own childhood, and My Heart Remembers Yesterday, which is filled with beautiful music. I enjoy both his lively numbers and his slower, sad stories. All are worth listening to again and again.

Kevin Kerfoot, Bluegrass Music Profiles

Unique songwriting, husky vocals and vast musicianship. Enjoyable!
Roseburg, Oregon-based singer/multi-instrumentalist Joe Ross has assembled a project highlighting his unique songwriting skills, husky vocals and vast musicianship. The project ranges from fiddle-drenched ballads such as Mother’s Songs, recorded with Cedar Hill, to interesting instrumental like One-Legged Turkey and the Celtic St. Anne’s Reel, which features a Japanese koto and pennywhistle, to uptempo movers such as the descriptive Logger’s Song, which showcases Al Brinkerhoof’s Dobro, Scott Vestal’s banjo and Tim Crouch’s fiddle. Standout tracks include the grassy Somewhere Down The Road, which features Randy Kohrs harmonies as do seven other tracks. I also loved Ron Stewart’s banjo and fiddle work on Spirit Of St Louis, and the gospel-tinged Church Bell No One Hears, recorded with James King’s band. Enjoyable! BMP

Henry Koretzky

fresh array of undiscovered material with fundamental heartland values
A review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange - While this is a bluegrass album, it's also very much a songwriter's album. Joe Ross is an Oregonian and proud of it, and he has assembled a collection of eleven original songs and tunes (plus one traditional fiddle tune) that serve as a tribute to values near and dear to a bluegrass audience: family, home, religion, friends, and hard work.

Ross has brought in some impressive support on this project. The James King Band is his supporting cast on The Church Bell No One Hears, while autoharpist Bryan Bowers, along with mandolinist Radim Zenkl showcasing his skills on pennywhistle, take a turn on St. Anne's Reel. Other guest musicians of note include Randy Kohrs, Scott Vestal, Ronnie Stewart and Tim Crouch. Ross himself is versatile enough to cover mandolin, guitar, bass, keyboards and hammered dulcimer and sings lead on most tracks as well.

Although sometimes his songs are served better by a fresh voice, as on the recording of Mother's Songs by the Missouri-based Cedar Hill with lead vocalist Mel Besher, there is no doubting the direct sincerity of Ross's delivery both as a writer and singer. Bluegrass musicians and fans looking for a fresh array of undiscovered material with fundamental heartland values may want to check out this recording.

Mark Petteys

Joe’s songs meticulously traverse a new aspect of Oregon’s bluegrass terrain.
The Spirit of St. Louis (Joe Ross)


Joe Ross continues his legacy as a songwriter and musician with “The Spirit of St. Louis.” This newest batch of bluegrass originals is replete with quality musicians and rich lyrics. Drawing from images of Oregon’s backwoods and history and ranging to other nostalgic and inspirational lyrics, Joe’s songs meticulously traverse a new aspect of Oregon’s bluegrass terrain.

“The Logger’s Song,” a driving bluegrass tune, kicks-off this latest project and is followed by another up-tempo tune called “The Homefire,” a lament to homesickness. “One Legged Turkey” is a bouncy and interesting instrumental. The mood then shifts to Joe’s Calypso-like bluegrass sound in “The River in Oregon,” a tribute to the beautiful rivers of Oregon and is followed by “Mother’s Song,” a foot-tapping homespun waltz with poignant remembrances of childhood. “The Church Bell No One Hears” is a well-delivered gospel offering.

The title track, “The Spirit of St. Louis,” is an eloquently-worded account of Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic airplane flight of 1927 and serves well as testament to Joe’s proclivity to tell stories in song. The bluegrass saga continues with a soulful tune called “My Heart Remembers Yesterday.” “St. Anne’s Reel,” the only traditional tune on the album, is beautifully voiced with Bryan Bowers on autoharp and is followed by “Streamliner,” another original tale of the rails that is accompanied by the extraordinary resophonic guitar work of Al Brinkerhoff. Then, flowing into “Somewhere down the Road, the album closes with “His Hand is Devine,” a tight gospel with pretty changes and harmonies.

This new bluegrass album is a lyrical journey through diverse and evocative stories and moods. The instrumentalists are all great and the album, with Joe’s powerful lyrics, distinguishes his lyrical abilities as well as his skill as a singer and picker. Joe carves out a real niche as an Oregon singer and songwriter.


Mark Petteys

Bob Cherry -Cybergrass

up-beat, full of life and energy and thought provoking
Songwriter and musician Joe Ross has put together another fine collection of his original songs that span a nation and time as they reflect on life and living. From the logging of large timber in the Oregon range through the flight of the Spirit of St. Louis and just Somewhere Down the Road, The Spirit of St. Louis is a unique album that reflects the experiences and remembrances of the songwriter, Joe Ross.

The album features outstanding instrumentation with an array of top-talent bluegrass musicians. The variety of supporting artists including Scott Vestal, James King, Susan Blanton, Randy Kohrs, Ronnie Stewart, Lisa Ray and many others contribute to the fullness of this album. Ross plays various instruments including the typical guitar, you will also find him on the mandolin, bass, hammered dulcimer and even the keys. With both vocals and instrumentation working to build the theme of this album, it is no wonder why The Spirit of St. Louis is an enjoyable album to listen to.

The songs are generally up-beat, full of life and energy and thought provoking. They create dreams of yesterday and enlightenment for tomorrow. There is a bit here for everyone as Ross carries the listener from traditional and early-country sounds through a musical journey that encompass gospel and folk as well. This is a fine add on to the Joe Ross collection of songwriter albums providing fresh sounds and ideas in bluegrass and acoustic music today. (Bob Cherry, Cybergrass)

BENNY METTEN (Editor, Ctrl. Alt. Country e-zine) ctrlaltcountry@

sparkling bluegrass ditties
An album chockful of sparkling bluegrass ditties, immediately drawing one's attention by their strong melodies and a big, big country heart.

Barry Willis

Professional in every aspect
I find Joe’s writing and rhyming excellent and worthy of note. His band is excellent. I listen to the banjo licks, the Dobro licks and even Joe’s rhythm chop. Joe Ross’ music is solid and continues to present bluegrass and its derivatives quite well. I wish I had just a small fraction of his talent. Joe’s presentation is professional in every aspect. I don’t understand how he does it, but his rhyming is out of the world: imagine “York” and “Torque” in a phrase. That’s pretty original and worthy of note. Barry Willis, Author of “America’s Music: Bluegrass” barry@pinevalleymusic.com

Johnny Pearce (Bluegrass Now)

Varied songs, musicians, styles, tempos & passions...nothing stale here
Following his recent “Festival Time Again” album, Oregon bluegrass dynamo Joe Ross has once again assembled amazing musicians who are among the best in the business. Like his previous ones, this project includes songs, musical styles, tempos and passions as varied as the musicians. My favorite is the very traditional sounding spirited original gospel tune “The Church Bell No One Hears” about the moral decay so prevalent in today’s society. I especially enjoyed the old sounds of the split breaks shared by several instruments. Another great old sounding, yet new original, song is the ¾ time reflective “Mother’s Songs” that speak of childhood memories and mother’s love. “The Spirit of St. Louis” is a banjo driven vocal number that chronicles the spirit of our country and the courageous 1927 flight of Charles Lindbergh. Another highlight is the unmistakable sounds of Bryan Bowers’ autoharp leading into Joe’s delightful arrangement of “St. Anne’s Reel” complete with pennywhistle and Japanese koto. Joe sings of happiness and hope in his original “Somewhere Down The Road” with a turn more toward today’s neo-traditional sound Led by the fine fiddle work of Ronnie Stewart, “His Hand is Divine” centers Joe’s acknowledgement to the divine with this fine and complex song. A chord chart in the liner notes is a nice touch for anyone wanting to learn this fine song.
I especially enjoyed the variety on this fine CD. There’s nothing stale here with each song well arranged and with careful selection of musicians and instruments that fit very well. This album will surely please Joe’s many fans as well as anyone who enjoys new, original bluegrass music. (JP)

David M. Marks

highly recommended
Based on the name of this CD, you might think of speak easy and honkey tonk rhythms with a sophisticated urban feel, but the title refers to the title track, The Spirit of St. Louis, in which Balladeer Joe Ross recounts the events of the historic flight much as street minstrels have been doing for eons, bringing life, drama and melody into the lives of the working-class. "It was 1927...." The CD as a whole is traditional bluegrass tinged by the blues where lonely fellows bemoan lives ill spent and look for better times "somewhere down the road." The vocal harmonies are reminiscent of the finest bluegrass traditions. The CD as a whole is a tribute to Oregon's natural beauty, although the first track, The Logger's Song, is a contradiction in that it is a tribute to Oregon's vast forests from the perspective of a lumbar man, "the forest is my home," as he goes from camp to camp laying the ground bare. In The Home Fire, twangy strings and mellow fiddle back Ross's heart felt lament of ever-dimming memories of home fires no longer aflame. The track, One Legged Turkey, is right lively. Also known as the Idleyld Reel, if it doesn't stir your bones to tappin,' you might not be alive. The River in Oregon is an ode to ecology and river maintenance. Mother's Song is sung by Mel Besher, and is a sentimental recounting of mother and her sweet songs of Tennessee in an Appalachian meter. In My Heart Remembers Yesterday, banjo and strings change things up in this contradiction of forlorn lyrics and lively tempo. The instrumental, St. Anne's Reel, is simply lovely. As Joe Ross would say, Domo arigato! Streamliner is a trainman's blues strummed hard and sung with passion. And finishing things up, His Hand is Divine, is a cozy, traditional treatment of the divine presence we hope we're praying to, when we're praying.

I highly recommend this CD to anyone who loves bluegrass.
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