Skaggs, Vassar, Mavericks Release New Albums

4-CD Bluegrass Box Set Also Released

With autumn upon us, a colorful spectrum of CDs will fall into record bins on Tuesday (Sept. 28). Rascal Flatts’ Feels Like Today (Lyric Street) is certainly the biggest pumpkin in the patch, but country fans will find more pickings than that.

Speaking of picking, Ricky Skaggs returns with Brand New Strings, the follow-up to last year’s Grammy-winning live album. Guests on Brand New Strings include Stuart Duncan, Bryan Sutton, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Jamie Dailey (of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver) and guitarist Johnny Hiland. Top-notch songwriters such as Harley Allen, Guy Clark, Shawn Camp, Shawn Lane, Keith Sewell and Doug Kershaw contributed material as well. Skaggs and his band Kentucky Thunder will perform at the Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco on Sunday (Oct. 3).

Phil Vassar’s third studio album, Shaken Not Stirred (Arista), features the hit “In a Real Love.” He celebrated the release date with an acoustic show in Philadelphia. On Wednesday, he will visit G. Gordon Liddy’s radio show in Washington, D.C., followed by a performance at his alma mater, Brookville High School, in Lynchburg, Va. He’ll also appear in Chicago on Thursday night, Atlanta on Friday night and New York City on Monday and Tuesday. Vassar recently filmed a video for “I’ll Take That as a Yes (The Hot Tub Song).”

One of the most innovative bands of the 1990s, the Mavericks mix their country hits along with new material for Live in Austin Texas (Sanctuary), released separately on CD and DVD. Recorded with a full horn section at the outdoor venue Stubb’s, the sensational set list includes “Dance the Night Away,” “Here Comes the Rain” and “I Want to Know.”

The 4-CD box set Can’t You Hear Me Callin’; Bluegrass: 80 Years of American Music (Columbia/Legacy) precedes the genre by offering music from the 1920s, yet keeps it current with contributions from the Dixie Chicks, Alison Krauss, Patty Loveless and Rhonda Vincent. Those with more than one track on the compilation include the Carter Family, Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs, Carl Story, Arthur Smith, the Osborne Brothers, Jim & Jesse, Jimmy Martin, the Byrds, Herb Pedersen and Skaggs. Billy Altman wrote the liner notes, and Dr. Ralph Stanley provided the introduction.

Other new releases include singer-songwriter Stacy Dean Campbell’s Cottonwood (also the title of his accompanying novel, both on Blue Quill), Dobro player Randy Kohrs’ I’m Torn (Lonesome Day), alt.country band Split Lip Rayfield’s Should Have Seen It Coming (Bloodshot), acoustic pals Peter Rowan and Tony Rice’s You Were There for Me (Rounder) and swamp-rocker Tony Joe White’s The Heroines (Sanctuary), with guests Emmylou Harris, Shelby Lynne and Lucinda Williams. In addition, Moody Bluegrass: A Nashville Tribute to the Moody Blues (Rounder) features guest appearances by Alison Krauss, Tim O’Brien, Alison Brown, Sam Bush and Stuart Duncan.