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The Spirit of St. Louis (Zephyr Records)
By Bob Mitchell
The Spirit of St. Louis is a 40-minute showcase of original tunes from the prolific Joe Ross, best known for his bluegrass feature articles and reviews in a wide range of national publications. His latest musical project features some of the industry's finest musicians including Ron Stewart and Tim Crouch (fiddle), Randy Kohrs (harmony vocals), Scott Vestal and Ron Stewart (banjo), James King (guitar) and Bryon Bowers (autoharp). Al Brinkerhoff, (Oregon State Dobro champion) also makes an admirable contribution. Ross, however, is the real work-horse not only because he wrote every song but also because he sings all but one lead vocal and plays guitar, mandolin, bass and hammered dulcimer.
The hard-driving title track is the story of Charles Lindbergh's historic flight across the Atlantic in 1927. Other highlights include a spirited instrumental, "One-Legged Turkey," two cuts reflecting Ross's love for his native state, "The Logger's Song," and The River In Oregon," the poignant "Mother's Song," (winner of the Portland Music Association Songwriters' contest), a lively "Saint Anne's Reel" (with the sound and feel of a previous Ross release, "The Harper's Reverie: Irish Music Of Turlough O'Carolan) and "His Hand Is Divine."
There are songs about trains, hobos, mothers and fathers, the home-place,
traveling and rambling, lost love and memories of childhood. Throughout all of it, Ross proves to be an able wordsmith and instrumentalist with the ability to create first-rate melodies that blend perfectly with his well-crafted lyrics.
For more information go to www.oregonbluegrass.org/Bands/joeross.htm.