Blues Bytes


September 2016

Various Artists
40 Years of Stony Plain
Stony Plain Records

Stony Plain Records

Canada’s foremost roots music label, Stony Plain Records, recently issued a 3-CD set, 40 Years of Stony Plain. This collection consists of a pair of discs with songs taken from their impressive catalog of blues, R&B, rock, soul, jazz, country, and folk music, plus a third disc that includes a dozen previously unreleased or extremely rare selections. That’s a total of 47 songs on three CDs, which should be guaranteed musical nirvana for any self-respecting music fan.

The first disc is subtitled “Singers, Songwriters, and Much More.” Most of this disc focuses on country, folk, and roots, but there are several blues-related selections included. Colin Linden, who recently returned to Stony Plain, is represented well by “No More Cheap Wine,” a cut from his recent release, Rich In Love. The guitar-playing quartet of James Burton, Albert Lee, Amos Garrett, and David Wilcox cover Big Boy Crudup’s “That’s All Right (Mama),” from their 2015 Guitar Heroes release.

Three more guitarists, label mainstay Duke Robillard, Jay Geils, and Gerry Beaudoin (recording as New Guitar Summit), are represented by Lionel Hampton’s “Flying Home,” from their Shivers collaboration in 2008. Another longtime Stony Plain artist, Eric Bibb, appears with Taj Mahal, Ruthie Foster, and the Blind Boys of Alabama on “Needed Time,” from his Blues People release of 2014. The other artists on Disc One include Emmylou Harris, Colin Linden, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Ian Tyson, and Jennifer Warnes.

Disc Two is subtitled “Blues, R&B, Gospel, Swing, Jazz, and Even More,” and will certainly satisfy Blues Bytes readers with a whopping 19 tracks with songs from current (Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, Ronnie Earl, Maria Muldaur (with Taj Mahal), Paul Reddick, MonkeyJunk, Rory Block, and Amos Garrett) and past (Joe Louis Walker, Rosco Gordon, Long John Baldry, Jay McShann, Jeff Healey, Billy Boy Arnold, Ruthie Foster, Sonny Rhodes, Jim Byrnes, Ellen McIlwaine, and King Biscuit Boy) Stony Plain artists.

As the title indicates, Disc Two covers a lot of ground and clocks in at nearly 75 minutes. Wayne’s rollicking “Bankrupted Blues” is a highlight, as well as Walker’s “Eye’s Like A Cat,” Muldaur’s stripped-down gospel duet with Mahal (“Soul of a Man”), Reddick’s ethereal “Mourning Dove,” Healey’s old-timey jazz number (“Hong Kong Blues”), Arnold’s “Bad Luck Blues,” Byrne’s “Wrapped Up, Tied Up,” and Rhodes’ “Meet Me at the 10th Street Inn” (“where they do blues and chicken right”).

The third disc is subtitled “Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material,” and will be of the most interest to blues fans, because it includes a dozen tracks from Stony Plain artists that have either seen limited release or were not used on the intended album. That is not an indication that these tracks are substandard by any means. Instead, it will make listeners wonder why they didn’t make the original album or why they had limited release.

There are two splendid tracks from Robillard, the jumping “Ain’t Gonna Do It,” an out-take from his 2002 Living With The Blues CD and an interesting instrumental take on the Amy Winehouse tune, “Rehab,” that was only available via download previously. Bibb is featured on two 2014 songs previously available only in Europe, his own “Shingle By Shingle,” and the traditional “Wayfaring Stranger.” There are also two lively tracks by Maria Muldaur taken from Stony Plain’s 2001 concert celebrating their 25th anniversary, “In My Girlish Days” and Rev. Gary Davis’ “I Belong To The Band.”

Wilcox’s guitar skills are on display in the previously unissued Piedmont instrumental “Uptown Bump,” and Big Walter Horton has a stirring instrumental with the Canadian band Hot Cottage called “Shakey’s Edmonton Blues.” Stony Plain has also unearthed a pair of tunes (one a never-before-heard out-take) from a long unavailable album released in 1980 on the Flying Fish label that features former Mississippi Sheik Sam Chatmon with a pair of then-teenagers – Colin Linden and Doc MacLean. Chatmon was 83 at the time of these recordings but sounds great. There are also two fine previously unreleased tracks from the late Canadian folk musician Bob Carpenter.

40 years ago, label head Holger Petersen started Stony Plain Records at his kitchen table. Today, the label continues to thrive, having released over 400 albums of music during that time. 40 Years of Stony Plain gives listeners a taste of the diverse range of musical genres the label had recorded over the years. There is plenty here for blues fans to enjoy, but anyone who listens to music will find something to like on any of these three discs.

--- Graham Clarke
Read Graham's blog



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