Bluegrass has been described as having a high, lonesome sound, though that phrase was actually coined by the late John Cohen to describe the music of Roscoe Holcombe. The Kathy Kallick Band‘s new CD is full of lonesome, in fact the word “lonesome” appears in six of the fourteen titles. Three of those are originals by Kathy, and there are three additional Kathy Kallick originals. Band members Greg Booth and Tom Bekeny also contributed originals, one each.
This band has been together long enough to produce wonderfully arranged music. Everyone sings. Kathy plays guitar. Greg plays banjo and dobro. Tom plays mandolin. Annie Staninec plays high energy fiddle. And Cary Black plays bass.
Kathy composed “It’s Lonesome Everywhere I Go” in the style of the Delmore Brothers and thus, in Kathy’s words, it is “upbeat and bluesy.” Annie adds some cajun-sounding fiddle. “Just Lonesome Ol’ Me and the Radio” is about Kathy listening to her husband’s bluegrass radio show with her old friend, Gene Tortora. It’s a powerful song. “A Lonesome Feeling” was written by Billy Henson and recorded by the Osborne Brothers. Annie sings lead. Greg composed the instrumental “Lonesome Dobro Blues” for this album. “This Old Lonesome Song” is another of Kathy’s new compositions and was informed by so many people lost during the pandemic, including Tony Rice. “Never Been So Lonesome” comes from Ted Lundy and cowriters with additional lyrics by Kathy and Tom. Tom sings lead. I recall the late James King singing a great version, too. Annie learned the swingy “Roscoe Got the Rabbit” from southern California fiddler Dennis Fetchet. The Rabbit in the title is a VW. “25 Chickens” derives from a visit by Kathy to her daughter, Jenny, who is mentioned in the lyrics. Kathy’s “The Weather Song” is about the vagaries of the weather. “A Beautiful Life” was written by William Golden and has become a bluegrass standard. “Foggy Mountain Chimes” is an Earl Scruggs banjo tune which Greg moved to the dobro. It’s full of gorgeous harmonics. I once heard the late John Prine explain that he wrote “Souvenirs” in a taxi on his way to his first gig because he had only written three other songs at the time. It turned out great, and this is a great cover. “I’m Gonna Miss This House” is about Kathy’s affection for her house, and Kathy says no, she is not moving. Tom wrote the closing instrumental “Reunion” to mark “the end of all that loneliness” and it does not sound lonesome at all.
Loneliness has rarely been portrayed in such an enjoyable way. This is a wonderful recording. You can order it here.