Saravanan Sankaran — Back to Bassics
As its puntastic title suggests, Back to Bassics is a collection of solid, no-frills bluegrass, something that’s not as effortless to make as it sounds. Saravanan “Sav” Sankaran, the boyishly-voiced bass player for The Dixie Bee-Liners, leads a sharp band—with Adam Steffey on mandolin and Ron Stewart pulling double duty on banjo and fiddle—through eleven tracks that include a pair of excellent Bill Monroe covers (hear a clip of “Old Dangerfield” in the video below).
With such a talented group of musicians, it’d be a sin to not show them off on a few instrumentals, the aforementioned “Old Dangerfield” being one of them. Steffey, in particular, shines on a sprightly version of “New Camptown Races.” Original material from other contemporary bluegrass songwriters like Zach Bevill (The Farewell Drifters), Andy Hall (Infamous Stringdusters) and Jon Weisberger (Chris Jones & The Night Drivers) makes up the bulk of the album, but the two Sav-penned songs are the record’s best, revealing a mature songwriting talent that we’ll hopefully get to hear more of on future albums. “Alleghenies” pays tribute to his rural Pennsylvania roots while “Miner’s Lament” is a moving ballad told from the perspective of a broken down Pennsylvania coal digger whose heart has turned “as cold as the hard anthracite” he mines.
Back to Bassics is a strong album, and the fact that it’s Sankaran’s first solo record makes it even more impressive. It’s not currently available for purchase online; but it’s definitely worth tracking down a copy at a Dixie Bee-Liners show or festival appearance.
- luckyoldsun: "The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia" seems to be about a lynching--even if there's something about a judge …
- Arlene: Sorry. I meant to give the link for "Supper Time." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZ58Kfe41kI
- Arlene: Another song sung by Ethel Waters: Irving Berlin's "Supper Time"
- bob: Powerful songs. I read the book "A Lynching in the Heartland" by James H. Madison about a dozen years ago. …
- Ron: Sky Above, Mud Below by Tom Russell is another.
- Jack Williams: Another Othis Taylor song from White African is "My Soul's in Louisiana."
- Jack Williams: Lynch Blues - Corey Harris Countrycide (The Ballad of Ed and Charlie Brown) - Alvin Youngblood Hart Divine Object of Hatred - …
- TexasVet: Marty Robbins - The Hanging Tree https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xczpRc6_yBA
- Janice Brooks: Nice lineup I think I read today was the Emmett Till incident.
- Juli Thanki: For $2,000, I'd want to ride a unicorn in Central Park with Chely.