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Reviews

From Doc Watson:

“I’ve listened to the music the Lazybirds play and I think it is a good variety of blues, jazz and that good old ragtime sound and you will hear the flavor of that in anything they play. If you want some good music, have these boys come out and play for you. I guarantee you will enjoy what they do.”

From David Innes, R2, Rock n’ Reel Magazine (UK); May 2011

“Broken Wing is dedicated to Lazybirds’ founding member Andy Christopher whose career has been curtailed by illness but who, despite his debility, still makes a telling contribution to their third album.

Avowedly and stubbornly acoustic and generously marbled with swing, blues, jazz and Appalachian influences, this release mixes traditional and more-contemporary material and respectfully covers, among others, Bob Dylan’s Forever Young’ and , believe it if you will, Sly Stone’s ‘Life, the slashing Californian funk replaced effortlessly by Christopher’s rhythmic banjo pulse.

This cornucopia is bookended between the upbeat opener, ‘Good Morning Blues’ and a scintillating dual-tempo sign-off, ‘Blue Moon Of Kentucky’, a song I honestly didn’t think I needed to hear covered again until now.

Although sometimes the singing lacks the depth needed to make the best of the bluesier tracks, this is more than outweighed by the astonishing instrumental prowess displayed, never better than on the startling interplay of ‘Champagne Polka’, where even the eight-bar drum solo raises a smile.  And if there is a more inventive country blues harpist currently recording than Jay Brown, I need and Introduction.”

From Sandy Semeonoff, Celtic Music Radio (UK); February 2011:

“Terrific! Just unpretentious good time music. Fabulous taste in material and honest singing and playing that is tight and tasty without being at all technoflash. The sort of group you want to join!…or at the very least see live”

From Frank Hennessy, BBC Radio Wales; February 2011:

“I absolutely love it – terrific”

From Allan Wilkinson, Northern Sky; March 5, 2011(http://www.allanwilkinson.co.uk/node/1392):

“Third album for North Carolina retro-funsters Lazybirds, who once again trawl the roots of Americana with fourteen selections made up primarily of traditional material with one or two additional surprises. Covering a broad variety of styles encompassing a good eighty years of music, songs likely to have been heard around the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lazybirds confidently showcase their capacity for authenticity, with vibrant renditions of songs covering anything from the goodtime feel of Good Morning Blues to the sweeping bluegrass of Blue Moon of Kentucky.

From the Appalachian old-time feel of Travelin’ Man to the lilting merriment of Champagne Polka, both featuring some authentically rendered fiddle, courtesy of Alfred Michels, the band also consisting of Mitch Johnston on upright bass, Jay Brown on guitar and James T Browne on drums, are joined once again by founding member Andy Christopher on a bit of tenor guitar and banjo, to whom the album is dedicated.

Pulling out the bag a couple of choice covers, Lazybirds offer an almost sing-along version of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young, a banjo-led take on Sly Stone’s late 1960s celebratory Life and an almost jug band version of The Slickers’ reggae classic Johnny Too Bad, each song fitting in perfectly well against the more traditional fare.

With the one original song, Jay Brown’s heartfelt Broken Wing from which the album’s title derives, Lazybirds third record offers an eclectic treasure trove of enduring musical gems.”

From Ketch Secor, Old Crow Medicine Show; Nashville, Tennessee; September 5th, 2010:

“From our earliest days bumming around Boone, the Old Crow boys knew it was the Lazybirds who were the best musicians on the scene. Why after all it was the Lazybirds who played those infectious country blues and that feverish hillbilly swing which got all the girls going down on King Street. Back then the ‘Birds played the downbeat for every picking party in town; we listened on in awe to their incredible syncopation, ears pricked to hear the deep body of songs they played, all of us Old Crow boys new in town and hearing for the first time in a long time that familiar tongue of musical kin. It was the Lazybirds–Mitch and Jamey, Jay and Andy– who welcomed us in and got us our first gigs in the High Country; who taught us dozens of songs, and how to play ‘em with finesse because if Old Crow was down home, Lazybirds were uptown.

For more than a decade Lazybirds have been carrying on North Carolina’s long time tradition of exceptional roots music making. That’s why it should come as no surprise that Lazybirds’ “Broken Wing” is quite possibly the best album to come out of Carolina in 2010. Continuing to mine the rich terrain where fiery old-time country partners up with smoking jazz and blues (and sets the dance floor ablaze), this collection contains gems and rarities sure to delight any pair ears with a penchant for Pan-American music. With the title track, Jay Brown confirms my suspicion that he may be North Carolina’s best undiscovered songwriter. “Broken Wing” is a soul stirring classic, standing equal alongside Dylan’s Forever Young (Lazybirds recorded version of which is even more gorgeous than the original). Newest member and Ashe County muleskinner Alfred Michels plays some of the best High Country fiddle I’ve heard since Frank Blevins of the Tarheel Rattlers. All in all “Broken Wing” is a beautifully fluid record from the first song to the last. With their laid-back style, reverence for the roots, stellar harmonies, and the chops of seasoned pros, Lazybirds’ music continues to grow in scope and depth. We in OCMS continue be inspired by this band who, hearing first nearly 12 years ago, knocked our socks off. They still do.”

Peter McGee, Bluesbunny Music Reviews; Glasgow, Scotland; March 2011 (http://www.bluesbunny.com/tabid/122/xmmid/474/xmid/3063/xmview/2/default.aspx):

“Broken Wing” is the long-awaited third release from North Carolina’s roots act Lazybirds, who capture the finer aspects of “bluesgrass” (to borrow the term from a forgotten person) at its most caricatured. Boasting fourteen tracks of sheer Appalachian splendour (though mostly interpretations of traditional songs), this album could only be improved if it came with cowboy boots in tow.

The upbeat nature of the album is captured early on, with “Good Morning Blues” and “Travelin’ Man” being good-natured revisiting of traditional blues and country music. “Alabama BBQ” hints at jazz inclinations (as does “Keep Away From My Doorstep”) while it’d take a bold individual to resist the urge to dance to the “Champagne Polka”.

Attempting to play the music of Bob Dylan is a task that bands should always approach with caution and reverence. However, the songs preceding “Forever Young” gave me little cause for concern, if any. True enough, the Lazybirds version is one that Dylan himself would be proud of. A strangely effective rendition of Sly Stone’s “Life” is also executed with vigour.

Perhaps surprising is that “Broken Wing” is the only original track on the album. However, the quality of the rest of the album – regardless of who penned what – is enough to make this album a must-have. The album is seen out in appropriate fashion on “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” If that doesn’t have you pouring a glass of bourbon, see a doctor.

Longtime fans will not be let down by this release, though they may have wished for a few more songs penned by the band. However, the overall strength of this album lies in the ability of the band’s members, not only as individuals but also as a unit. This is a truly delightful album.”

 

Maurice Hope, Flyinshoes Review; U.K.; March 29th 2011 (http://flyinshoes.ning.com/profiles/blogs/lazybirds-broken-wing):

The Lazybirds have now been going for 15 years and hail from North Carolina, a State that has a long tradition of string band music and who can count on The Old Crow Medicine Show as fans among a host more bands and like-minded musicians. In combining mountain folk country, blues, jazz and ragtime the band of Andy Christopher to whom the album is dedicated after he suffered a heart attack that left him in wheelchair plus James T. Browne, Jay Brown, Mitchell Johnson and Alfred Michels they deliver a sparkling mixture of country blues, jazz, ragtime, folk and bluegrass.   In seamless fashion the boys pluck out of the sky a collection of traditional songs to go with sterling covers of Bob Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’, Sly Stone’s ‘Life’ (the least impressive of them all) and The Slickers’ ‘Johnny Too Bad’. What an innovative job they do on the song —as kazoo, harmonica etc are superbly utilised. Brown, who performs lead on the Dylan evergreen also donates his own song, the title-cut ‘Broken Wing’ as the band’s one and only original song. An intelligent affair it goes a long way to help underline the band’s all round dexterity as guitar, harmonica, bass fiddle, tenor guitar, drums and fine vocal harmonies. The song speak of how things don’t feel right with Andy no longer playing with them on stage, as it likens him to a bird with a broken wing. Of how there’s a hole where his banjo should be. Just how great an influence he is with the band can be heard through the banjo he contributes on the record. While Michels’ fiddle coupled with the strong vocal partnership of Brown (lead) and the harmony vocals of Browne and rousing harmonica of the lead act and slap bass and guitar play the hell out of ‘Blue Moon Of Kentucky’. Bill Monroe would like what they have done to his song. I am sure of that.  There are other songs of note, too. Blues gem ‘Good Morning Blues’ on given an inspired, hard driven acoustic treatment swings merrily again as the boys bring a feel not dissimilar to Canned Heat to the table. ‘Travelin’ Man’ with smart guitar picking and wonderful fiddle, Brown’s easy on the ear lead vocals and a good ol’ rambling feel music of the roving kind steeped in more shades than hard wood trees in autumn the unit produce an album full of welcome surprises. Upbeat funky blues tune ‘Can’t Call Her Sugar’ like with ‘Honky Tonkin’ Days’ that has Andy on both banjo and lead vocals bring the listener top class entertainment. Could we see them over here in the near future I ask. For more details you had best watch this space.                                                            Maurice Hope

Freddy Celis, Rootstime.be; Belgium; March 16, 2011 (www.rootstime.be):

“Vanuit North Carolina bereikte ons de cd “Broken Wing” van het olijke kwartet ‘Lazybirds’. Het is de derde plaat die deze zelfverklaarde experten in het zogeheten genre ‘Western Swing’ op de markt brengen en het album volgt na een te lange periode van stilte die vier jaar duurde.

Hun handelsmerk bestaat uit liedjes die gebracht worden in een opgewekte mix van jazz, ragtime, bluegrass en blues. De 14 songs op “Broken Wing” zijn een verzameling van meestal meer dan 50 jaar oude traditionals die ze op hun typerende wijze hebben gemoderniseerd en van een arrangement hebben voorzien dat geschikt is voor deze 21e eeuw.

Wat breder bekende nummers daarbij zijn “Travelin’ Man”, het jazzy “Keep Away From My Doorstep”, de instrumentale “Champagne Polka” en meezinger “Blue Moon Of Kentucky”. Eén liedje – de titeltrack “Broken Wing” – is een eigen compositie van Jay Brown. En dan zijn er ook nog drie coverversies te horen: de reggaeklassieker “Johnny Too Bad” van ‘The Slickers’, Bob Dylan’s hit “Forever Young” en het nummer “Life” uit het rijkgevulde repertoire van ‘Sly And The Family Stone’.

De vier ‘Lazybirds’-bandleden zijn Jay Brown op gitaar en mondharmonica, violist Alfred Michels, Mitchell Johnston op staande bas en drummer James T. Browne, die als enige niet participeert in de harmonieuze samenzang die de formatie in zowat elke song blijkt te hanteren.

Wij houden wel van de retrostijl die dit viertal op deze cd presenteert omdat je er zo’n warme ‘feel good’-ervaring door krijgt en zelfs een beetje vrolijk van wordt. Zelfs met een “Broken Wing” vliegt de tijd als je naar de opgewekte sound van ‘Lazybirds’ aan het luisteren bent. Lekker swingend meedansen op deze liedjes is trouwens ook van ganser harte toegestaan, ja zelfs aan te raden.”


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