“Retroviews” Lefty’s Old Guitar

Review of “Lefty’s Old Guitar”

(J.D. Crow & The New South)

 

Lefty's Old Guitar (JDC & TNS) CoverIntroduction:   

Banjo icon J.D. Crowe seems to have had nothing but success in recorded music through the years with his band The New South. While much of their music has reached a truly iconic status, The New South has not been hugely prolific throughout their recording career. J.D. Crowe’s fans were certainly treated to some of The New South’s finest work after a long wait when Lefty’s Old Guitar was released in 2006. I am very excited to share my thoughts about this very fine album in this first installment of “Retroviews”!

Details:

Album: Lefty’s Old Guitar

Band: J.D Crowe & The New South

Label: Rounder

Number: 11661-0512-2

Release Date: October 10, 2006

Producer: J.D. Crowe & The New South

Band Members:

  • J.D. Crowe: Banjo, Vocals
  • Ron Stewart: Fiddle
  • Harold Nixon: Bass
  • Rickey Wasson: Guitar, Vocals
  • Dwight McCall: Mandolin, Vocals

Guests:

  • Doug Jernigan: Steel Guitar
  • Cia Cherryholmes: Harmony Vocal

Track Listing:

  • MISSISSIPPI RIVER RAFT
  • LEFTY’S OLD GUITAR (Feat: Doug Jernigan)
  • JUST LOVING YOU
  • ROVIN’ GAMBLER
  • IN MY NEXT LIFE
  • YOU CAN BE A MILLIONAIRE WITH ME
  • I ONLY WISH YOU KNEW
  • LONELINESS
  • I’M A HOBO
  • TOO OFTEN LEFT ALONE
  • BLUE BONNET LANE
  • SHE KNOWS WHEN YOU’RE ON MY MIND AGAIN (Feat: Doug Jernigan & Cia Cherryholmes)

Review:

Lefty’s Old Guitar presents, in my opinion, some of the strongest work from J.D. Crowe and The New South since their now classic self-titled first album (often affectionately referred to simply as “Rounder 0044”). One of the albums great strengths is that songs blend extremely well with the instrumental and vocal styles of the band members.   It is always important (to me) that musicians completely “embrace” the songs they are singing/playing and that is just what J.D. and his band have done here.  The album is very traditional without sounding fake or copied. You can tell that the band let this music come from within them. Classic songs include “Rovin’ Gambler” (a personal favorite), “You Can Be A Millionaire With Me” and “Blue Bonnet Lane.” These are blended with great new songs like “Mississippi River Raft,” and “I’m A Hobo.” The overall tone of the album is slightly country/swingy with a good dose of classic Flatt & Scruggs. The vocals are especially rich with Rickey Wasson and Dwight McCall providing some great vocals. Instrumental work is all spot on with the Wasson’s guitar and the fiddling of Ron Stewart standing out as great performances. Steel guitar was added to two tracks which might upset some “purists” and while I don’t consider steel guitar to be a Bluegrass instrument it does add a nice touch to these tracks. Overall Lefty’s Old Guitar is a truly great album that I believe will take its place among the classics. Leave your thoughts about this recording in the comments!

Lefty’s Old Guitar Live

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“Retroviews”

We live in a world full of disposable items. Things are used and tossed aside. This is actually a great thing in many ways (think disposable gloves, paper towels, paper cups etc. – very handy) but how has this impacted the music industry and more specifically Bluegrass recordings? It seems like the flow of new music is enormous these days! This is actually very exciting and I think the quality of the Bluegrass music being created by modern day bands and artists is excellent! However, does the fact that a song or album is a few years old mean it is no longer a quality, relevant, talent filled artistic expression? I think back through a few of my favorite albums – Kenny and Amanda Smith’s House Down The Block , Dan Tyminski’s Carry Me Across The Mountain , or Ricky Skaggs’ Live at Charleston – all great music that you don’t really hear too much about now. Obviously, there is always great excitement over new music and I am very much a part of it! I just think music should continue to be enjoyed even if it’s a few years old. This thought has been the impetus behind my idea to create Retroviews  – a series of  reviews of albums that are at least 5 years old and not yet considered “classics.” Maybe this series will introduce you to some music or artists you hadn’t previously heard about. There’s a lot of great music out there – new, old, and in between. I believe that if it’s good, it deserves attention. Keep an eye out for the first “Retroview.” Thanks for reading!

Peterson StroboClip Tuner Review

Peterson StroboClip Image

Tuning is one of the most fundamental and important parts of playing any musical instrument. Major advances in electronic tuner technology have been made even since I began playing fiddle at the age of seven. I have owned and used a variety of different electronic tuners and each has had its own set of strengths and weaknesses. I was first introduced to the Peterson StroboClip in 2009 by a fellow mandolin player at a bluegrass festival in Perrin, TX. He allowed me to try out the new (at the time) tuner and I was immediately impressed. After six years of using this tuner on the road myself, I am excited to share with you my thoughts about this excellent tool. When judging the effectiveness of a certain type of electronic tuner there are several different factors that must be taken into consideration. For the purposes of this review, we will examine the areas of accuracy, durability, and ease of use. Each of these factors will be rated on a scale of 1-10. I have also added some information about the StroboClip’s popularity among musicians. This outstanding tuner has some functions which I have never used such as a Sweetened Tunings function (I prefer to ear-sweeten my instruments) so this may not be considered a “complete” review but it should cover the basics for most Bluegrass/acoustic musicians. You can visit the Peterson Strobe Tuners website for more information about all of their fine products by clicking HERE.

Peterson StroboClip Promo Video

 

Peterson StroboClip Specs:

  • 1/10 Cent Accurate
  • Smooth, Real-Time Display
  • 28 Exclusive Peterson Sweeteners™/Temperaments
  • Alternate Temperament Presets (Including Buzz Feiten Tuning System®)
  • Drop/Capo/Key Setting
  • Adjustable Concert A Reference: 400Hz to 490Hz
  • Virtual Strobe™ Patented Technology

 

Accuracy: 10/10

Accuracy is the main strength of the Peterson StroboClip tuner. When I used the StroboClip tuner for the first time, the accuracy is what immediately stood out to me. After tuning with this tuner, my mandolin and fiddle sound perfectly in tune with very little ear sweetening. According to the specifications, the StroboClip is accurate to within 1/1,000 of a semitone. Of all the electronic tuners I have ever used, I believe the StroboClip is the most accurate.

Durability: 5/10

Durability is the category where the StroboClip wavers a bit. I have had to replace mine once and other members of the band I am with have had to replace theirs as well. The “clip” part of the tuner seems to break while the electronics of the tuner are still in perfect condition which is a frustrating problem. With a retail price around $100.00, this tuner really should last a little longer. I have had to make both of mine work using electrical tape on the clip. There are really two main ways that these tuners seem to break:

1)  The bottom pad can snap off.

Broken Peterson StroboClip

As seen in the picture, the bottom side pad can snap off of the StroboClip. Without this pad, instruments can be scarred (as my mandolin has been) by the brackets which act like claws. This is actually a simple problem to fix with electrical tape which can be layered over the “claws” to protect the finish. However, with the high price tag, this really shouldn’t happen.

 

 

 

 

2) The joint holding on the bottom half of the clip can snap.

Second Broken Peterson StroboClip

This problem is a little harder to remedy. When this joint breaks, the tuner is nearly worthless. I did find a way to continue using a tuner with this problem using (once again) an electrical tape fix but this is certainly not ideal. These joints are very flimsy as is the arm that connects the electronic part of the tuner to the clip.

 

 

 

Ease of Use: 9/10

The StroboClip features a strobe tuner type display that while very easy to use, is quite different from the “needle” or “arrow” displays that many other leading tuners have. The transition to this configuration may take some getting used to if you have been using another type of tuner. I have heard other musicians complain that it is harder to “speed tune” on stage with the StroboClip because the strobe display is harder to follow with the eye than needles or arrows are. I feel that the strobe display is actually superior but that is purely a matter of opinion.

"Strobe" Display

“Strobe” Display

"Arrow" Style Display

“Arrow” Style Display

 

 

 

 

 

The hinged design of the StroboClip makes it easy to adjust so that the screen can be seen when clipped on different places on a variety of instruments. The StroboClip also works well in loud environments and rarely gets “confused” by outside noises which is a major plus.

Popularity

Bluegrass Musician Testimonials Video

Between talking to StroboClip users, hearing endorsee testimonials, and reading music publications, I have gathered that the Peterson StroboClip is incredibly popular among musicians. The list of musicians who use this product is quite impressive. You can see a list of endorsees on the Peterson website by clicking HERE.

In Closing 

I hope this gives you a little more information about this fine product. I have been very happy with my Peterson StroboClip. Give me your thoughts about this tuner or any others that you like in the comments section. Thanks for reading!