Former Apricot Jam co-frontman Lewi Longmire's debut solo album is as much a revelation as it is a blast from the past. Longmire's songwriting has grown leaps and bounds since the AJ days, encompassing classic country music that's steeped in Jerry Jeff Walker and full of that good ol' Charley Pride. And with a band that includes the immense—and sorely missed—talents of Caleb Miles (A Murder of Crows) and Chris Hutton (Venus Diablo), Longmire's significant gains in the composition department are brought to vibrant, soulful, epic and oft times heartwrenching fruition. Albuquerque's painful loss is once again Portland's gain.
For the most part, the CDs in Columbia's “Legacy” series are the only major label releases I don't use as drink coasters or Christmas decorations. There have certainly been a few stinkers in the bunch, but most, like this collection of Gene Autry classics, have been welcome additions to the listening shelf. The fact that Autry basically defined country music for a couple of generations was no fluke: He had the looks, the voice, the ear and the smarts to flesh out the entire package. So do you need this two-disc set? If you truly love music, you do.
So far, it's been a great month for local and once-local music. And while there have long been fantastical groupings of phenomenal guitarists—McLaughlin, DiMeola and De Lucia, G3, Guitar Summit, etc.—the pairing of blues phenom Stan Hirsch and his one-time student and bona-fide virtuoso Eric McFadden holds a special significance for Burque folk. The duo often performed acoustic blues in local joints, but this serving of (mostly) jazz tunes is somehow even more intimate and familial. Hearing the two of them together in this context is an absolute delight and further proof that masters grow everywhere.