"4 & 1/2 stars...a wide and inviting spectrum of music...a first class album" -Maverick Magazine
"Widow Maker fall somewhere between the Nashville Bluegrass Band and the Bad Livers. A Canadian five piece, Widow Maker have in Julie Kerr and Will White two excellent lead vocalists. White is also featured on banjo (Just One More Drink) and slide guitar (Water’s Rising), the latter also boasting slap bass, guitjo (guitar/banjo), fiddle and first class harmony vocals to aid the hugely impressive Kerr as energy and quality burst from the seams of the song. Their music is a mix of old-timey, bluegrass, gospel and country with a hint or two of blues, and old-school country, delicious and yes, something that isn’t listed as a genre -- good old-fashioned honest endeavour and, a genuine love for the music. The title song, The Awful Truth, boasts a Gram Parsons pained feel via White’s broken edged vocals, coupled with the harmonies of Kerr -- it takes little imagination to hear Parsons and Harris singing the song. Likewise One More Cup Of Coffee, with its breakneck banjo licks and choppy mandolin coupled with fine vocal harmonies has a 1970s feel. This time it is in comparison to the music and vocals of Mary Kay Place (see an excellent compilation release of the singer-actress’ work released on Raven), such is the bounce and intonations of the omnipresent Kerr. The real strength of Widow Maker lies in the effortless fashion the music slots together, and the manner they deftly change tempo and intonation in material. A wide and inviting spectrum of music is covered, all from the band, with White being the main source. For hard-driving bluegrass inspired fare, I Fear My Brothers Have Forsaken Me boasting some smart guitar picking (Craig Korth), the banjo/fiddle plied Get Up There Mule and the have no fear She Should Know stand out on their own. Followed closely in the noteworthy stakes by the classic old country ode Please Don’t Say That You Love Me Again, and with a touch of rockabilly, You’ve Mistaken Me. With lots of echo, it might have been recorded in the hall of the Korth-Kerr home, since the whole album was made in their living room. Deal Breaker Baby has more than a little I’ll Go Stepping Too to it, and with some smart upright bass, banjo, fiddle and more commendable vocals from White/Kerr the listener has few, if any cause for concern on what is a first-class album."
"Close country harmonies, tight bluegrass musicianship and actual cleverly written songs!" -KWUR 90.3 FM Blog: The Official Blog of St. Louis Underground Radio...
"WIDOW MAKER - THE AWFUL TRUTH: I wish we got sent more CD\'s like this one - contemporary songwriting consistent with traditional music, but not too concerned with aping it or "reviving" it. These folks mostly play some particularly tuneful (not just precise and austere) bluegrass, with some bluesy numbers and slower, more trad. country-oriented stuff. Close country harmonies, tight bluegrass musicianship and actual cleverly written songs! RECOMMENDED: most are bluegrassy (1*, 7***, 12*), 2*** is bluesier (so is 5), 3 & 6 & 10 are more country, 13 - weird rockabilly with delay vox"
"I know why y\'all are the Widow Maker, because you knock 'em dead." -Uncle Billy Dunbar, Country Unplugged Bluegrass Radio, WWB - worldwidebluegrass.com
"The Awful Truth is that this album is Awful Good! From the cover to the production and mixing the product is as good as any I have heard from bands here in the States. Will White is a awesome song writer as well as the others on the album. I like the mixture of songs from traditional to contemporary with a little swing. And gospel too. I know why y'all are the Widow Maker, because you knock 'em dead. Great job, keep it up!"
"Very original stylings and intriguing work! You folks are on it!" -Jeff DeFord, WWB - worldwidebluegrass.com
"Y'all just hot!" -Gracie Muldoon, WWB - worldwidebluegrass.com
"Sharp-tongued lyrics and dexterous arrangements push Widow Maker to the forefront of bluegrass music" -Calgary Folk Music Festival
"Raw edge, rooted in tradition…a sound Widow Maker can truly call its own."
Penguin Eggs – Canada\'s Folk, Roots and World Music Magazine, Summer 2008 feature article by Robert Remington
“As their name Widow Maker suggests, this Calgary combo fly close to the edge, combining blues and old-time to forge their… erm… killer bluegrass. Robert Remington discusses Jimmy Martin’s hemorrhoids and Widow Maker’s fine first album. His mother wanted him to take piano lessons. But growing up in Virginia and North Carolina surrounded by bluegrass music, Will White had different ideas. To him, the piano was stilted and formal, whereas bluegrass was alive, organic and social. So, White took up the banjo. It was fun, energetic and much easier to bring to a jam session. Skip forward a few decades to Calgary, where White meets up with another banjo player, Craig Korth of the well-known Alberta bluegrass band Jerusalem Ridge. They have a casual conversation at a concert and later bump into each other while picking up their kids from the same day care. The two start getting together for fun and, before long, a band emerges with the addition of Korth’s wife, Julie Kerr, bass player Dale Ulan and Korth’s longtime Jerusalem Ridge fiddle player, Byron Myhre. Naming the band was problematic, as anyone who has ever been in one can attest. A number of horrible suggestions emerged before they settled on Widow Maker, the name of a song by the late Jimmy Martin, the coon-hunting “King of Bluegrass,” who also used it as the name for his tour bus. White and Korth both have a fascination with Martin, a self-acknowledged heavy drinker with a mercurial personality. Despite his volatile mood swings, Martin’s domineering stage presence, flamboyant dress and powerful voice made him a major force in bluegrass for decades. Korth even visited Martin at his home in Tennessee just before Martin died in 2005, where the often-blunt bluegrass legend described in detail his hemorrhoid operation while watching NASCAR races on television. As far as we know, nobody in the band has a hemorrhoid problem, hunts coon, drinks to excess or is unpredictably moody. But, like Martin, Widow Maker has a raw edge, rooted in tradition. Their sound has a bit of a bluesy feel mixed with the old-time style White heard as a kid. With the recent release of The Awful Truth, a debut CD of all-original material, it is a sound Widow Maker can truly call its own. Unlike so many modern bands striving to be clones of the Lonesome River Band, Widow Maker is playing bluegrass the way they feel it and hear it, rather than trying to fit a pre-defined style. Eleven of the CD’s 13 songs were penned by White, several in collaboration with Korth, with another two added by Kerr. It is one of three CDs produced last year by Korth in his living room – an outpouring of creativity that also resulted in Suspicious Minds, Korth’s second solo CD, and Deeper Still, another collection of original material from Kerr. Unlike his wedded bandmates, writing original material was new territory for White, and he thanks Korth for freeing the muse within. “We had been getting together playing all these covers and one day Craig says to me, ‘Will, you should try writing a song.’ I had never written a song before. I didn’t even know where to start.” One day at his wife’s family cottage, White decided to take up Korth’s challenge. Three songs emerged, including the title track for the band’s CD. “It actually came pretty easy and the songs just kept coming. Before I knew it, I was fully addicted to songwriting,” says White. He credits Korth’s musical creativity with bringing many of his songs to life. Korth, a respected banjo player and guitarist who has also become adept on mandolin, “is probably the most musical person I’ve ever had a personal relationship with,” White says. “It is just oozing out of him. He is a walking encyclopedia of musical instruments and certain veins of Americana music, especially bluegrass and Gypsy jazz. I haven’t plumbed the depths of his knowledge of jazz. I just try to use his knowledge for what I like. I’m first and foremost, I think, a lyricist. I’m better with words and Craig, he’s way more creative with music. I have these fairly conventional music ideas that I think are very basic and somewhat primitive, like old-time music and the blues. They come from the heart and are not affected in any way. But Craig often has these twists and turns. I’ve heard him say often that he likes to write music that is interesting and different but not so much that it’s weird, I think he strikes that balance.” Korth comes from a progressive bluegrass background. White is a traditionalist. Yet it’s a collaboration that works. “We want to make a name for us based on our own sound and our own stuff,” White says. “The original material is the most fun to play. When I write something, to have Craig and Byron breathe life into it, it’s incredible.” That approach also suits Korth, who’s been playing bluegrass since he was a teenager. “We don’t want to be just another cover band. I really don’t want to hear Footprints in the Snow again,” says Korth, whose progressive banjo style is more Bela Fleck than Earl Scruggs. His two solo CDs – the newly released Suspicious Minds and Bankview, done six years ago – are quality recordings of mainly original material that are both highly melodic. “I like writing tunes that have melodies you can actually hum,” says Korth. “I find that with some of the more progressive stuff, so many notes go by that you wonder, ‘Where is the melody in there?’ For me, the melody has always been a strong influence.” Korth will appear in a banjo workshop with Fleck this summer at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, which is pretty heady company for any banjo player. Korth studied with Fleck and has a style that emulates sophisticated players like Fleck and Tony Trischka. Yet, like his Widow Maker co-founder White, Korth has always had a love for traditional bluegrass. “I think the name Widow Maker reflects both our love and respect for that traditional style,” says Korth. “I think we have our own sound, which is kind of unusual these days in bluegrass. We didn’t set out trying to define our own sound, it just kind of happened. We’re just playing the music the way we hear it.” Jimmy Martin, bless his coon-hunting heart, would probably approve.”
"Energy, irreverence and downright mayhem: Band To Watch - Widow Maker of Calgary, Alberta"
Bluegrass Now, June 2008 feature article by Dave Higgs
"Widow Maker's promo materials pull no punches: Strong Coffee with a shot of Moonshine. Pig Meat & Heartbreak. All original 21st century bluegrass. Not from Nash Vegas. Indeed, it takes a vivid imagination, literary license and a wickedly off-center sense of humor to do justice to the energy, irreverence and downright mayhem that fuel the musical antics of this Calgary band. "I think I came up with the coffee-and-moonshine image watching Craig pour Baileys into his coffee one morning," laughs Widow Maker's lead singer Will White, who penned those descriptive words. "I think it's a great description because there's not a lot about poppies and fairies in our kind of music," banjoist and guitarist Craig Korth, the instigator of all this imagery, adds. "A lot of it is stark reality. I think the coffee wakes you up and the moonshine sets you in the direction that a lot of the music goes." The band's musical direction--and name--were inspired by the immortal King of Bluegrass, Jimmy Martin, whom both Craig and Will revere. "I flew from Calgary to Nashville to visit Jimmy [when he was sick] just because I loved him so much," Craig reveals. "He was at home convalescing, but even Jimmy Martin sitting on the couch is kind of like riding on a 1949 Case tractor with one cylinder not firing and the rest just bopping around. It was a pretty crazy ride. The coolest thing was that he had this big picture of Bill Monroe and him on stage about 1951. I asked Jimmy, 'What was it like to sing with Bill?' Jimmy said to me, 'It was like standing at the feet of God.' He still had tears in his eyes when he talked about Bill Monroe." As a band, Widow Maker approaches its music with similar emotion and passion, striving to retain the "rough edges" that gave early bluegrass much of its intensity and grit. "I think of what the music machine in Nashville can do to music in terms of commercializing and homogenizing it," Will sadly observes. "I want to keep the rough edges on it, because I think that's part of what makes it real." Besides rough edge retention, Widow Maker has another secret weapon: vocalist Julie Kerr, who, with Will and Craig, writes most of the band's original material. "I come from a folkie background and bring kind of a 'chickfolk' thing to the band," she says. "Kind of a contrast between the sweet and the sour." Will teasingly dangles the bait. "Sweet and innocent, versus . . ." ". . . Dark and dirty!" Julie, laughing, completes the thought. That dark side rears its head on the CD cover, which features a 1914 publicity photo of notorious Hollywood vamp Theda Bara, sitting provocatively next to a skeleton of her latest victim. It's also plain in the hard-hitting title track, "The Awful Truth," written by Will and Craig:
The awful truth broke through like pale sunlight harsh and cold
Into the empty place you left within my heart
The awful truth broke through when I saw through those lies you told
And I knew that your love for me had died
"I write the words, and then Craig has a way of making the music part interesting and different without being strange," Will says of their collaborative process. The album also includes gems like Will's "Hog Killin' Time," which describes the butchering process in exacting detail; Julie's "Water's Rising," a chronicle of the flood that swept through Calgary in June 2005; Will and Craig's ultra-bluegrassy "Get Up There Mule"; and one of the quintet's most requested tunes, "Deal Breaker Baby," which Craig arranged as a sixties pop tune, paying homage to the stacks of 45s all over the house during his formative years. Surprisingly, pig meat was actually the catalyst that brought the band into existence (Byron Myhre and Dale Ulan complete the quintet on fiddle and bass, respectively). "I invited Will over to my house [to pick] and he brought over a thing of prosciutto ham and two pairs of chopsticks, so we wouldn\'t get grease all over our fingers when we were playing," Craig grins at the recollection. "It was love from there on out," Julie says playfully. "It's fun going out to breakfast with Will," Craig says, revealing the wonderful chemistry in the group. "Will's a reformed vegetarian. Julie and I look at him dumbfounded when he comes back from [the buffet line] with a teaspoon full of eggs, maybe a corner of a strawberry and fifty pieces of bacon and eight sausages, and just tears into it!" "My wife's a vegetarian, so the only time I get bacon is when I go out with you guys," Will raises a halfhearted defense. Craig, Julie and Will are ecstatic in the praise of Byron, whom the group courted unmercifully until he agreed to ply his fiddling pyrotechnics with Widow Maker. Craig and Julie met Dale, an electrical engineer who builds microphones, at a gig. "He's a really quiet guy," Craig says of Dale's subdued demeanor. "He'll matter-of-factly say things like, 'If you take two ions of that, put the cadmium with the proton, you'll be able to make a catalytic converter with the match head and a piece of lettuce.' When he gets his bass out, however, he just attacks it and jumps around on stage. He's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Julie was the final piece of the puzzle to fall into place, but no one remembers exactly how that happened. "I think it must have been osmosis," she laughs. "I think I might have been serving [the four of them] pig meat at some point. They needed a high harmony part and, all of a sudden, I was in the band.""
"Undoubtedly the finest CD to cross my desk this year": The Awful Truth CD Review
Dan Joseph, Blueridge Express, CKWR-FM, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, June 2008
“Widow Maker's "The Awful Truth" is an excellent blend of bluegrass and old-time country. It reminds me of Tony Rice and the Osborne Brothers in their heyday. The songwriting on this project is original and incredibly strong. The harmonies are melodic, the playing is masterful, and the production is flawless. It's obvious that the band had a lot of fun putting this album together. If cold winter nights in a prairie town inspire this kind of music, I\'m heading to Portage and Main! You'll be humming these tunes to yourself long after you\'ve finished listening. This is great, pure music done as it should be done. "The Awful Truth" is undoubtedly the finest CD to cross my desk this year.”
"A tight, dynamic, and powerful listening experience...one for the ages": The Awful Truth CD Review by Donald Teplyske
Bluegrass Breakdown, newsletter of the Foothills Bluegrass Music Society, Summer 2008
"As we all know, bluegrass has a rich lexicon of lyrics – many original, others adapted from other genres, and those liberated from British folk songs. Some appeal to us because they are poignant, touch a nerve, or elicit a memory. The lyrics that are important to us might be a line, a verse or chorus, perhaps a creative turn of phrase; we remember the words because they impact us in some manner. Some of our favourites would be well-known, and instantly familiar – maybe "Nine pound hammer, it\'s a little to heavy, for my size..." or “The lonesome sound of a train going by, makes me want to stop and cry.” Others might be less familiar, but as powerful or memorable: "I shot him in Virginia and he died in Tennessee" or "The strip mines that take off the tops of these mountains, leave scars that won\'t heal and make God turn his eyes" This one always gets me: “I’m like a John Deere tractor in a half-acre field, trying to plough a furrow where the soil is made of steel.” Well, get ready to add to the list of bluegrass lyrics that are, once heard, never forgotten: "Fatten up pig, fatten up now, don\'t you be mistaken. Come a-hard frost, hog killin\' time, good sausage, ham, and bacon!" The tune is "Hog Killin' Time," and it kicks off the recent and surprisingly strong album from Alberta's Widow Maker band. Having seen the band on a couple of less than stellar occasions, I was prepared to be under-whelmed by The Awful Truth. I should have trusted that this band of veteran bluegrassers would deliver a tight, dynamic, and powerful listening experience on disc. Foothills members will be well familiar with the five principals of Widow Maker. Banjoist Craig Korth and vocalist Julie Kerr have been mainstays of the Calgary bluegrass and acoustic scenes for years, and Edmonton’s Byron Myhre has fiddled in these parts as a member of various bands, most prominently with Korth in Jerusalem Ridge. Dale Ulan can be spotted at almost every bluegrass event and plays bass with Widow Maker. For some, the least known member of Widow Maker is Will White. White is a doctor who just happens to be a son of the South who followed love to settle in Calgary. Raised in North Carolina, Dr. Will comes to bluegrass naturally. He writes and sings the majority of the songs on this debut recording, bringing to each his deft touch. Especially impressive is the way several songs, but none so strongly as “Silver and Gold, Diamonds and Pearls,” sound like they could have been pulled off a Red Allen or Stanley Brothers album of forty years ago. Whether it is on the slightly-frivolous “Get Up There Mule” or on more subtle numbers such as “She Should Know” or “Believe Me,” White’s approach to the song leaves nothing in reserve. His voice is distinctive and true, and while the band is most assuredly an ensemble, it is White’s vocal contributions that resonate most with this reviewer. Both the title track and “Deal Breaker Baby,” with their sixties pop/country crossover overtones, delicately picked guitar breaks, and warm vocals sound closer to a Billy Cowsill outtake than Bill Monroe’s bluegrass, but they are among the album’s many highlights. The songs are two of a number that feature White and Kerr harmonizing to memorable effect. The reverb-heavy “You’ve Mistaken Me” is another number that brings the late Cowsill to mind. Listeners are advised that the album, while decidedly bluegrass, pushes at the edges of the music with a bit of swing influence apparent, as well as the previously mentioned country-pop reverberations. It is a challenging album, one that rewards listeners who take the time to allow the unfamiliar to become comfortable. Throughout the recording, the contributions of the individual members complement the offerings of others. Myhre’s sizzling fiddle playing is prominent on nearly every number, but never overwhelms the vocal space shared by White and Kerr. Instead, Myhre fiddles like Bill Anderson sang thirty-five years ago- effortlessly. Korth can ring tones from a banjo like no one else in this province, and his work is positively featured throughout the recording. Picking out individual banjo highlights is pure folly, but 5-string enthusiasts are advised to check out “Water’s Rising,” “One More Cup of Coffee,” as well as White’s banjo on “Just One More Drink.” Beyond this, Korth has worked to become one of the area’s finest acoustic guitar players, and he does the heavy lifting in that regard on all parts of this album. Meanwhile, White’s slide guitar on “Water’s Rising” is quite unlike anything I’ve heard recently. The production qualities of this album are admirable. The Korth-Kerr living room is obviously a nice sounding space, and this release surpasses other ‘home recordings’ encountered. The disc has a natural sound, one that makes it appear as if the band is performing in the room with the listener. One will leave The Awful Truth humming half a dozen of the melodies, and these will linger until the next opportunity for a listen occurs. I've been listening to it for weeks, and on more than one occasion have thought, “That's one for the ages." I think you’ll agree, or grits ain’t groceries."
"Contemporary bluegrass music that brims with excitement and originality..."The Awful Truth" is one recording that\'s sure to be in heavy demand." -Bluegrass Unlimited, May 2008 Issue
"Widow Maker is a contemporary bluegrass band that\'s been wowing audiences in western Canada. The band consists of Craig Korth (banjo, guitar, and vocals), Julie Kerr (vocals), Will White (banjo, slide guitar, and vocals), Byron Myhre (fiddle), and Dale Ulan (bass). \"The Awful Truth\" is the band\'s latest project of entirely original material written by various bandmembers. The 13 titles cover subjects ranging from \"Hog Killin Time\" to life on the farm (\"Get Up There Mule\") to overindulging in spirits (\"Just One More Drink\"). Other highlights include the title song, \"Water\'s Rising,\" and \"I Fear My Brothers Have Forsaken Me.\" Widow Maker has created contemporary bluegrass music that brims with excitement and originality, and \"The Awful Truth\" is one recording that\'s sure to be in heavy demand.\"
“…one of the most exciting albums of 2008”: The Awful Truth CD Review by Geoff Morris, producer and host, WALL-TO-WALL BLUEGRASS at www.worldwidebluegrass.com
\"How you define the new Widow Maker album \"The Awful Truth\" really depends on which track you choose to play first. It is not just a bluegrass album (though it features some brilliant bluegrass tracks); it is not a late \'fifties basic rock album (though if you begin at the final track you may have cause to wonder); it\'s not a blues, jazz or western swing album ... it\'s all or none of these all rolled into one remarkable and highly original album. Then again, why do you need to try to define the album at all? Just enjoy and savour every exciting, often challenging and powerful, but always thoroughly enjoyable track. The sheer originality and high quality musicianship demonstrates the not-so \"Awful Truth\" that here is one of the most exciting albums of 2008.\"
Heart-breakin\', mule-drivin\', hog-killin\', and booze-swillin\': The Awful Truth CD Review by Scott Lingley, Penguin Eggs – Canada\'s Folk, Roots and World Music Magazine, Spring 2008
\"There are few things more joyous than the sound of friends getting together to play music and that spirit infuses every track of Widow Maker\'s debut disc. Of course these (mostly) Albertans are no bluegrass dilettantes – Jerusalem Ridgers Craig Korth (banjo/guitar) and Byron Myhre (fiddle) bring their well-honed chops to the table to buoy up the skillfully twinned vocals of Julie Kerr and Will White (the band\'s token Virginian), while Dale Ulan holds down the low end. The tunes are all originals but the sound is as old as the hills, especially in the lyrical fixation on heart-breakin\', mule-drivin\', hog-killin\', and booze-swillin\'. Despite the considerable musical expertise brought to bear, The Awful Truth has a breezy, laid-back energy that might come from being recorded in the Korth-Kerr living room \"with a crackling fire and sleeping dogs.\" Hard to believe that the excitement this quintet musters didn\'t keep those dogs wide awake and baying along with the high lonesome sound.\"
This is killer bluegrass! The Awful Truth CD Review by Bob Cherry, Editor, CYBERGRASS The Internet Bluegrass Music News Magazine, March 15, 2008
\"Canada\'s Widow Maker Presents \'The Awful Truth\': From north of the border comes Widow Maker and from Widow Maker comes The Awful Truth. Widow Maker may be an odd name for a band but, with this group, it seems fitting as their songs are the songs of bluegrass music filled with mules, riches won and lost, loss from love, cheating and broken hearts, and even some hog killin\'. The album has songs of love that died and, yes, \"The Awful Truth.\" Here is a group that can nail traditional bluegrass and yet, their music would be just as comfortable as traditional country. Sweet harmonies and tight instrumentals put together with a great mix of original song material are what you can expect from Widow Maker. Calgary Alberta\'s Widow Maker is impressive in numerous ways. Starting off with original songs that are as unique as the rest of the band. Songwriting is spread among members of the band with Will White, Julie Kerr, Craig Korth providing the material for The Awful Truth. Songs that speak the language of hurtin\' and life that is bluegrass today. The five member band is comprised of just as wide a variety of talent as their songs convey that gives the band its unique sound. Craig Korth sets the pace with his flatpicking guitar work. Byron Myhre\'s hot fiddle work weaves its thread throughout the album in a tasteful level -- never too much or too little. Byron also plays mandolin and guitar. The bass of Dale Ulan is different than what you\'d expect on bluegrass and is a bit honky-tonk in style with its own style and personality. Then, we find Will White on banjo but, he can also be heard flatpicking a guitar. Vocally we find Widow Maker sharing the duties gracefully. Julie Kerr provides the female vocals while Craig Korth, Will White and others provide the mix of male vocals. When they all mix, you get a new dimension of Widow Maker. The best of this album is their harmony vocals. In any combination, the harmonies just work here. Don\'t let the last track, \"You\'ve Mistaken Me\" take you by surprise. It\'s on the right track but definitely on the left rail. It runs counter to the rest of the album but, give it a chance. It\'s not bluegrass and keep that frame of mind when you hear it. It\'s got reverb, echo, and all that other stuff that\'s foreign to bluegrass. Will tells me that \"We knew it would rattle some people\'s cages, expecting a bluegrass song. But hey, someone out there will like it just like we do, and them\'s our kind of peoples. Bill Monroe wasn\'t just following the established conventions of the day when he invented the music we all love so much! He was pushing the limits and breaking new ground, lucky for us.\"
One can\'t ignore the cover of this album. It just catches you and it\'s so fitting for Widow Maker. The liner notes tell us that this is Theda Bara Brabin from a 1914 publicity photo for the film A Fool There Was. The term \"Vamp\" was coined to reflect Bara\'s portrayal of a sexually predatory woman who used men up before casting them aside. There is more to the story about the image but it all started from this image taped to a guitar... I had to ask and Will shared this story about the image with us...
\"As you mentioned, it\'s a real eye-catcher, and my reaction was just \"WHOA!\" It really grabbed me. Obviously from a bygone era, but also very very edgy and so provocative. Macabre and sexy at the same time; sex and death. I took a photo of it and I could not let it rest until I found out who and what it was. I got on the internet and started Google-imaging \"nude woman with skeleton\", etc. You probably don\'t want to know some of the stuff I found, but I eventually found the image and several others like it and I was able to discover the story behind it. As it says in our liner notes, it\'s a publicity still of the famous silent-movie actress Theda Bara promoting her 1914 film \"A Fool There Was\". Her character in that movie became the prototype for what later became known as a \'vamp\', a woman who uses men up then casts them aside. I\'d say she used up the guy in the photo pretty well! It was also the movie that coined the phrase \"Kiss me, my fool!\" I realized pretty early on that this had to be an album cover. It absolutely grabs your attention and provokes curiosity. It also fits well with \'Widow Maker\', i.e. either she\'s a widow or she\'s made someone else one.\"
So, here\'s a group as unique as their name and their album cover. Lots to like, original new songwriting, great harmonies, and a style that covers a broad domain of bluegrass music with even a little bit more. If you are looking for tear-jerking heartbreaking songs, you have come to the Widow Maker. The ones who will share \"The Awful Truth\" with you. Be careful though, this is killer bluegrass!\"
Wow! WOW! The Awful Truth CD Review by Deborah Nichols, Program Director, KRZA-FM Community Radio, Alamosa, Colorado, March 7, 2008
\"As Program and Music Director for KRZA-FM, I sometimes preview 100 CDs a week, in genres as diverse as goth rock, Delta blues, progressive jazz, Americana, traditional Celtic and everything in between. I don\'t spend much time listening to individual CDs because I have too many other things to do. Usually I just sample four or five tracks so I can categorize the music and get a general feel for the caliber of the performance. That\'s usually what I do, but as soon as I heard the opening notes of Widow Maker\'s The Awful Truth, they had me. I sat and listened to the whole CD, start to finish, thoroughly enjoyed it, and considered the time to be well spent. I\'m not an expert in bluegrass or any other kind of music, but I know what I like when I hear it. I like music that sounds authentic and is well performed. In the bluegrass and \"folk\" categories, I\'ve heard a lot of CDs by independent artists who come up short on one or both of those criteria. Not Widow Maker. My testament to their authenticity is that I listened to several tunes, thinking, \"This is good material. I wonder where they found these songs.\" Then I checked the composer credits and realized that all the songs are originals. You want authenticity? Listen to the first two tracks. These people know about butchering hogs and living through a flood. They also know how to express through memorable lyrics what they know about human nature. To wit: You talk sweet to me to put me in the mood, but I don\'t want no gum somebody else has chewed. Or: One more cup of coffee and I\'ll be on my way. Some liquid motivation to help me with my day. I\'ll be speeding down the highway of the things that I have planned. I think I see my inspiration right around the bend. While several of Widow Maker\'s songs are straightforward expressions of love, loss and/or betrayal, others serve up satisfying portions of sarcasm and irony. These are two of my favorite literary dishes. I was pleased to find them on Widow Maker\'s bill of fare. The musical settings for their lyrics are also refreshingly diverse. \"Toe tappers,\" story songs and laments are here, but so are honky-tonk, country blues and even rockabilly, all performed with equal facility. Some of the solos are truly masterful. The vocal harmonies are tight and at times quite captivating. I was already impressed with the quality of the musicianship when I read the sentence that told me the recording was done in a living room over the course of \"a few very cold days\" in Calgary. I said it aloud then and I will repeat it in writing here. Wow! WOW! I\'m going to classify The Awful Truth as bluegrass, but that label is inadequate to encompass the breadth and depth of this CD. I will, therefore, recommend it to every KRZA DJ who has expressed any interest whatsoever in acoustic music: folk, bluegrass, country or blues.\"
Powerful: The Awful Truth, from Dave Higgs, Nashville Public Radio / Bluegrass Breakdown / Bluegrass Now magazine, January 2008
\"I have indeed received a copy of \"The Awful Truth\" and have been enjoying the same very much. Your originals are powerful, interesting and well arranged. Plus, you all have taken a few chances and have a really distinct sound and flavor all your own. I especially enjoyed \"Water\'s Rising,\" the title track, \"Get Up There Mule,\" \"Please Don\'t Say That You Love Me Again\" and \"Hog Killin\' Time.\" In fact, I\'m so enamored with the project, I\'d love to feature you all in my monthly \"Band to Watch\" column in Bluegrass Now magazine [June 2008 edition]. I already had a copy of \"Bankview\" [Craig\'s 2002 solo project], but I hadn\'t heard it in awhile and it was good to be reminded at just how great a musician Craig is. I had neither of Julie\'s projects [Mornings Like These, 2002 & Deeper Still, 2007] and I\'m now totally smitten. The maturity in her songs, the memorable melodies and that timeless voice made for some mesmerizing listening. You guys are absolutely right--she doesn\'t sound like anyone else on the planet. I stand in awe!\"
Essence of true country form: The Awful Truth CD Review by David Blakney, Host & Producer, \"Daybreak In Dixie\", CJAM-FM Windsor-Detroit, January 2008
\"I once heard a Nashville music journalist refer to bluegrass as the only true country music form left. It\'s certainly one of the few genres still including lyrical references to hogs and mules, not that this alone lends it authenticity. Simplicity and soulful heartfelt musical renderings of the human condition are certainly at it\'s root. The late John Duffey emphatically stated, \"If it ain\'t got soul, it ain\'t got nothin\'\". Perhaps simplicity and soul, with an occasional comedic edge, defines it…at least in part. Bill Monroe\'s response to the question regarding its popularity and appeal was simply, \"It\'s just good music\". What ever it is, it tends to ignore the modern urban influenced sound of today\'s country. Widow Maker\'s release, \"The Awful Truth\", captures much of the essence of that \"true country form\". Most band releases of all original material leave you clicking the next track button looking for a good Flatt & Scruggs cover to save the day, but these folks have put together a good mix with a familiar sound, combined with originality, that will keep you listening. Will White put his pen to much of the material, along with Julie Kerr and some collaboration with Craig Korth. Songs like \"Hog Killin\' Time\" and \"Get Up There Mule\" lend the expected comedic authenticity. The title track, \"The Awful Truth\" and \"Please Don\'t Say That You Love Me Again\", with Byron Myhre\'s tasteful country fiddle intros and Will and Julie\'s male/female vocal duet arrangements, are indicative of what\'s good about the cross of old country and bluegrass. Make no mistake though, this is a bluegrass release, with all the musical elements that define the sound to those of us who have had our ears trained by countless hours of listening to the latest releases and selecting the best to showcase to our listeners. \"She Should Know\", \"One more Cup of Coffee\", \"Just One More Drink\" and \"I Fear My Brothers Have Forsaken Me\" confirm it. Some tracks have other influences. \"Water\'s Rising\", with slide guitar, adds an old bluesy feel, \"Deal Breaker Baby\", a little swing, and \"You\'ve Mistaken Me\" steps into an electric rockabilly sound. Join Julie, Will, Craig, Byron and Dale for a pleasurable musical experience.\"
Calgary Alberta\'s Widow Maker cranks out potent original music rooted deep in old-school bluegrass, country, blues, rockabilly, and gospel music of the \'40s, \'50s & \'60s. There\'s lovin\', leavin\', cheatin\', hurtin\', and even some killin\'. Craig Korth drives the band hard, settin\' the woods on fire with picking that Bluegrass Now magazine called \"impressive\". Native Virginian Will White delivers straight-ahead instrumentals, sharp-edged original songs, and vigorous soulful singing that is the real deal. Byron Myhre is a renowned championship fiddler whose playing is ferocious, tasteful and slippery smooth. Dale Ulan hops the band up with his energetic, rockabilly-heavy bass, and Julie Kerr is an inspired and accomplished singer/songwriter whose enticing voice ranges from high and plaintive to sassy, low and sultry.
Craig Korth is a driving force on the Western Canadian bluegrass scene, probably best known as the front man for Edmonton Alberta\'s long-running, ever popular Jerusalem Ridge. With JR Craig has achieved heights reached by few bluegrass musicians, performing his original tunes backed by symphony orchestras across Canada. Mostly playing guitar in Widow Maker, Craig is also a certified banjo monster and past Western Canadian Banjo and Guitar Champion. Bluegrass Now magazine called Craig\'s 2002 solo CD Bankview \"a massive undertaking replete with fortitude to challenge and defeat constraints and expectations\" (jeepers!) and his playing is \"tastefully restrained but can make a jaw drop in flat-out wonderment\". Craig first picked up the banjo at age 12 after his mother saw a TV episode of The Beverly Hillbillies and asked him if he\'d be interested in learning how to play. He did. Thirty years later, he\'s still playing. Craig is a much-sought-after session player and producer in and around Alberta. Craig has performed and toured with acts such as his wife, Julie Kerr, The Bills, Tom Phillips and the Men of Constant Sorrow, Maria Dunn, Billy Cowsill, Ronnie Hayward, David Francey, and numerous other artists across musical styles and genres. With Widow Maker, Craig uses his collection of vintage instruments to showcase his mighty fine picking. Craig co-writes many of Widow Maker\'s songs and sings the low harmonies. Besides music, Craig made his living for years as a machinist and later as an Edmonton firefighter. He gave all that up, moving to Calgary to be with his soulmate Julie Kerr, and now their two young daughters, Ella and Amy. These days Craig makes his living through music, writing, performing, producing, trading vintage instruments, and renting out vintage microphones. Craig hosts a weekly bluegrass show, Fire On The Mountain on CKUA radio.
Will White was born in the foothills of Virginia\'s Blue Ridge mountains, and raised on bluegrass in eastern North Carolina. He learned to sing and play from a young age at pig-pickin\'s and jam sessions in the rich tradition of the region. When Will and Craig met at their daughters\' daycare centre, they discovered a shared passion for the music and pig meat and decided to take it to the world; thus the birth of Widow Maker. Will\'s banjo is straight-ahead, along with flatpicking and even some National steel slide guitar. He writes many of Widow Maker\'s original songs with a sharp edge, and his strong, soulful singing is the real deal. Will made his home in Canada after marrying an Alberta girl in Richmond, Virginia. In his other life, Will is a doctor, teaches, and does research at the University of Calgary medical school.
Dale Ulan grew up on a farm outside Lloydminster, Alberta, and his energetic, tasteful, rockabilly-heavy style is at the pumpin\' heart of the Widow Maker sound. As he tells it, \"Like a lot of kids, I took piano lessons. Then I took bassoon in high school. That\'s where I fell in love with the bottom end (not girls... music).\" Early on Dale played rock and Ukrainian polka music (\"there is a big difference between Ukrainian and German-style polkas; the Ukrainian one gets played as fast as the players can do it, and the dancers try to keep up\"). After getting an upright bass, he took some classical training and started playing rockabilly and bluegrass. Dale eventually found himself in the all-girl band Nothin\' But Trouble. A few years later, he married the banjo player. His other projects have included the Crazy Bones String Band and Highwood Range/Highwood Pass. Besides just generally being a genius, Dale is a computer engineer by day, and operates his 10,000 Cows Recording Studio and builds microphones and other audio gear from scratch in his basement by night. He\'s also doing his part to combat global warming, building an electric car of his own design. Get him to tell you about his homemade vacuum chamber for gold-plating Mylar microphone diaphragms. It takes a special person to rise to the challenge of gold-plating Saran Wrap. Be sure to tease him because he hasn\'t figured out how to make one out of PVC…
Calgary, Alberta born Julie Kerr brings powerful original songs, lead vocals, high harmonies, and strong eco-feminist goddess energy to Widow Maker (and man, we need it). Violin in the high school orchestra transitioned to guitar when Julie found she loved singing and writing poetry and lyrics. Several summers as a bush cook for isolated mining crews in the North West Territories of Canada cemented her urge to create music. A degree in Fine Arts and work as a jeweler and caterer and lemonade maker (!), were always done with the backdrop of singing and playing. While in the now defunct alt-country band Great Uncle Bull, Julie met her husband and major musical collaborator Craig Korth. Together they record and play in various formations. Kerr\'s 2002 solo CD Mornings Like These (with bluegrass pros John Reischman and Jim Nunally among others) had considerable airplay on CKUA and CBC radio, paving the way for her 2007 release Deeper Still. An inspired singer and songwriter, Julie is the rose among Widow Maker\'s thorns.
Byron Myhre is a ferocious bluegrass fiddler, equally talented on mandolin and guitar, and a great singer. Son of Alfie Myhre, the western Canadian old-time fiddle legend, Byron grew up competing in old-time fiddle competitions. Byron became a nationally recognized, award-winning performer in his own right, winning 45 fiddle contests including the Western Canada Old Time Fiddle Championship twice. He\'s also a closet clotheshorse. As a member of Jerusalem Ridge, Byron has joined Craig in fronting symphony orchestras across Canada. Byron has appeared on record and on stage in North America and Europe with John Reischman & The Jaybirds, Keb Mo, Craig Young, The Craig Korth & Julie Kerr Band, Tammy Fassaert, Maria Dunn, and others, and is a sought after session player. And we think he just plain kicks butt. Byron also owns Myhre\'s Music in Edmonton, specializing in acoustic and bluegrass instruments (a family business with family values, for all your acoustic music needs…). Byron, his wife Kim, and their four children live in Sherwood Park, Alberta.
The Awful Truth, 2007 Sadiebird Records.
Craig Korth - Suspicious Minds, 2008 Sadiebird Records
Craig Korth - Bankview, 2002 Sadiebird Records
Julie Kerr - Deeper Still, 2007 Sadiebird Records
Julie Kerr - Mornings Like These, 2002 Sadiebird Records
Jerusalem Ridge (w/ Craig Korth & Byron Myhre) - Together: With Leroy Mack, 2001 Alberta Music Distribution
Jerusalem Ridge (w/ Craig Korth & Byron Myhre) - Beyond The Ridge, 1999 Alberta Music Distribution
Jerusalem Ridge (w/ Craig Korth & Byron Myhre) - Make A Joyful Noise, 1994 Alberta Music Distribution