Compact Capsules for February 17, 2010
by Dan Ferguson
Face a Frowning World: An E.C. Ball Memorial Album
Tompkins Square Records TSQ2288
He made his living driving a school bus and running a service station, but it was as traditional country artist that Estil "E.C." Ball is renowned. Picking guitar and singing, Ball and wife Orna hosted a radio program near their Southwest Virginia home where they'd tell stories and sing gospel, country and the occasional comic song. Face a Frowning World is a winning leftfield tribute to the wonderment of Ball. It features a wide array of artists from The Handsome Family to Michael Hurley to Jolie Holland with the material ranging from stark reinterpretations to amped-up ones. Visit www.tompkinssquare.com
He's probably best known as Rodney Crowell's right hand man, to the point Crowell won't play a date if guitarist Will Kimbrough is unavailable. An esteemed Nashville-based sideman, Kimbrough has also forged a solo career as singer and songwriter. His new release Wings is right up there with the best of his work. The common denominator is its groove, some subtle like the bluegrassy "Three Angels" and others downright soulful like "Big Big Love". Kimbrough calls it Country & Eastern. Sounds right, not to mention real good to these ears. Visit www.willkimbrough.com.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 - 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)