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5 Bluegrass albums we're loving right now

Bluegrass albums

I was recently able to showcase five new album releases on Bluegrass Signal. Representing some of the stylistic variations that are common in bluegrass and old-time music, all five immediately made it into my favorites of 2022.

Pharis & Jason Romero: Tell 'em You Were Gold (Smithsonian-Folkways)

Pharis & Jason Romero live in Horsefly, British Columbia, where Jason is a renowned builder of banjos. Their eighth album features many of his uniquely crafted instruments on some truly original tunes and timeless songs.

Kathy Kallick: What Are They Doing In Heaven Today? (Live Oak)

In 2002, Oakland’s Kathy Kallick released a collection of songs learned from her folk-singing mother, Dodi Kallick. A newly-discovered recording of Dodi on Chicago radio in the ‘60s has inspired a sequel, combining Kathy’s new recordings with musical pals and selections from those radio shows. One highlight is Kathy’s first recording with her daughters.

Peter Rowan: Calling You From My Mountain (Rebel)

Based in Marin Country, Peter Rowan’s music has encompassed an extraordinary variety of styles. He continues the bluegrass focus of his most recent albums with his latest, recorded with his current band, about whom he says, “They’re in their years of inspiration. Their ears are wide open because this generation is built on everything we did, dare I say, all those years ago.”

Tray Wellington: Black Banjo (Mountain Home)

A native of western North Carolina, Trajan “Tray” Wellington went all in on the banjo as a teenager, and now picks in multiple genres, including jazz, blues, and rock, as well as several styles of bluegrass. He’s just released his first full-length album, and acknowledges “a big thank you to the Black artists in roots music and beyond who have laid the groundwork so people like me can know that the possibilities are endless.”

The Local Honeys: The Local Honeys (La Honda)

Kentucky’s Linda Jean Stokley and Montana Hobbs are known as The Local Honeys and they’ve augmented their powerful duo with a full band on their latest album. Their songs are personal reflections of experiences and themes unique to Central Appalachia, adding to, rather than simply restating, the traditions.

Listen to Bluegrass Signal with Peter Thompson Saturdays from 5 p.m. - 6 p.m.