Dale Ford: Ain't That Skippin' and Flyin' 10th Planet
Records 10-003 Reviewed August, 1999
This CD of original songs shares stories, wisdom, and the philosophy of Robin Dale Ford. And it’s presented with such grace, you may find a message without looking for it. “Where I’m Bound” presents a concern for wilderness without the preachiness that often accompanies songs on that subject. Many of the stories are written like abstract poetry, letting your imagination fill in the details. The instrumentation is uncluttered, never getting in the way of the words—which is appropriate for a song-writer’s recording. Robin’s rock solid old-timey banjo is present, but not always prominent, in most songs. She also covers bass, accordion, piano and various percussive instruments. Pat Fitzgerald (who engineered the recording at 10th Planet Studios) plays tasteful percussion and electric guitar. Alex Clarke’s soulful slide guitar poignantly answers the lyrical phrases in “Strange News”. He also sits in on dobro for the almost-bluegrass “He Can’t Wish on a Star”. Eric Graves and Forrest Gibson alternate on guitar and mandolin throughout the CD injecting contagious, percussive energy. Grant Dermody adds harmonica on the rhythmic, rolling “Signs of Life”. Most importantly, Robin’s vocals are right where they should be.. up front and crystalline. At the end of the CD, she appears to leave us with the tender “Light in the Morning” and then the extra unannounced title cut kicks in, feeling just like a live performance from one of Robin’s one-woman-one-banjo shows. For info contact Robin or check out their web site at www.10thplanet.com.
County: One Wheel in the Ditch. Reviewed July, 1999
Recording live with no overdubbing is a rare thing in this high tech world, but almost the only way to have a CD sound like the real live thing. Local Fairbanks group, Clark County captured their ‘live’ energy on this CD with one mike on bass, and one for the rest of the band. And as Nathan says on the back of the CD, “It was also recorded in mono, so if one of the speakers in your truck goes out you can still hear the mandolin break.” 10th Planet did a superb job of getting a clear, full sound and the band was playing at their best. Clark County band members on this CD include Nathan Swartz (guitar and mandolin), Jeremy Kane (banjo), George Gianakopoulos (bass), Holland Sands (mandolin), Danny Berberich (dobro), and Dan Ison (guitar). It would be nice if the liner notes credited the song-writers of these tunes and songs, and listed who is singing lead on each (all but George credited on “vocals”). Indicative of the enthusiasm of Clark County, there are an amazing 22 songs on the CD. My personal taste leans towards original songs and tunes and the one original tune (written by Jeremy Kane) was a fresh sound and definitely one of my favorites on the CD. There are certainly plenty of standards for the traditional bluegrass fan, including Ralph Stanley’s “Little Maggie” with some great instrumental breaks. The introduction liner notes written by Carl Hoffman (to whom the boys dedicate this CD) are enlightening and well written. Catch Clark County performing around the state and pick up one of these fun CDs! Or contact Jeremy.