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Album Review

Country's relationship with bluegrass is a lot like the relationships between reggae and ska, soca and calypso, or zydeco and Cajun music — they aren't identical, but they're quite similar and share a common heritage. Country and bluegrass are both descendants of the Irish, British, and Scottish traditions that immigrants brought to the United States from the British Isles in the 19th and 20th centuries; thus, some country artists can fit right in at a bluegrass festival if they're rootsy enough, and many bluegrass-oriented artists include a lot of country in their repertoire. At bluegrass festivals, it isn't uncommon for someone to play Bill Monroe one minute and Ernest Tubb or Hank Williams Sr. the next. Teaming up with longtime ally Kathy Kallick, Laurie Lewis provides a healthy blend of bluegrass and old-time country on Together. At times, it is hard to tell where the bluegrass ends and the old-time country begins. But, however one might choose to categorize a particular performance, this is a rewarding album. When Lewis and Kallick recorded Together in 1991, they had been working together for 17 years — the singer/musicians first joined forces in 1974. So, not surprisingly, they enjoy a strong rapport whether they're embracing original material like Kallick's "Count Your Blessings" (which borders on country gospel) or putting their spin on the Carter Family's "Little Annie" and the traditional "Going up on the Mountain." Lewis and Kallick share the lead and background vocals, and both of them play acoustic instruments — Lewis is heard on fiddle, upright bass, and banjo, while Kallick sticks to the guitar. Together isn't among Lewis or Kallick's essential releases, but it's a solid and pleasing example of the Northern Californians' bluegrass/country collaborations.


Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

An eclectic mixture of roots music has been incorporated into the music of Oakland, CA-based vocalist/acoustic guitarist Kathy Kallick. As a founding member (and still active after two decades) of gender-bending string band the Good Ol' Persons, a duet partner of Laurie Lewis, and the leader of her own group, the Little Big Band, Kallick has performed everything from traditional folk music and gospel to bluegrass and country music. Kallick's second solo album, Call Me a Taxi, marked her first attempt...
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