James Reams & The Barnstormers | One Foot in the Honky Tonk

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Country: Bluegrass World: World Traditions Moods: Type: Acoustic
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One Foot in the Honky Tonk

by James Reams & The Barnstormers

Noted freelance writer Donald Teplyske said it best in the liner notes of this new project; "With One Foot In The Honky Tonk, James Reams further defines his bluegrass, blending the varied elements of the roadhouse with sounds from the hills of Kentucky and her neighbors. One foot in the honky tonk indeed, but the rest of the Barnstormers' bodies and their souls are deep in the bluegrass."
Genre: Country: Bluegrass
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. One Foot In The Honky Tonk
2:26 album only
2. Cornbread, Molasses & Sassafras Tea
1:39 album only
3. Almost Hear The Blues
3:54 album only
4. Susquehanna Getaway
2:53 album only
5. City That Lies Foursquare
3:57 album only
6. Bailing Again
3:03 album only
7. Goin' Home
2:05 album only
8. Snake Eyes
3:06 album only
9. Florida Blues
2:49 album only
10. I Can't Settle Down
2:02 album only
11. In The Corner At The Table By The Jukebox
3:45 album only
12. Rocky Creek
2:10 album only
13. River Rising
3:01 album only
14. King O The Blues
4:12 album only
15. Passamaquoddy
3:16 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
If you are new to the music of James Reams & the Barnstormers, I trust you’ll find- as I have- that there are few bluegrass singers who match the lithe and masculine timbre Reams brings to the songs he is called to perform.
Those of you familiar with James know what to expect. With One Foot in the Honky Tonk, James Reams further defines his bluegrass, blending the varied elements of the roadhouse with sounds from the hills of Kentucky and her neighbors. One foot in the honky tonk indeed, but the rest of the Barnstormers’ bodies and their souls are deep in the bluegrass.
Signifying a period of growing esteem and prominence within the bluegrass world, this album also marks a series of transitions for James and his band mates. Joined again by long-time compatriot Mark Farrell, a multi-instrumentalist whose fiddle and mandolin excellence have highlighted four previous Reams’ projects, the line-up on this album is as strong as ever. Circumstances and good fortune have brought the newest Barnstormers- Doug Nicolaisen and Nick Sullivan- into the fold while frequent collaborators Barry Mitterhoff and Kenny Kosek again make significant contributions. What remains the same is the passion and precision with which their music is shared.
From barroom corners to the road home and failing levees, from raising a family to playing the blues that is country music, hear and live the journeys you’ll go on with James and see if- by the time you’ve listened to the entire disc- if you don’t consider James Reams & the Barnstormers friends.



to write a review

Joe Ross

Lively, spirited, soulful, no-frills-added bluegrass
Originally from SE Kentucky, James Reams has been a New Yorker for about 25 years. His 1993 album was appropriately titled "The Kentucky Songbird." More recently called "The Father of Brooklyn Bluegrass," Reams began playing guitar at age 12. From 1992-1998, he played and recorded with "The Mysterious Redbirds" that included Tom Paley and Bill Christophersen. That stint was followed by a number of albums with The Barnstormers, as well as some in collaboration with Walter Hensley and The Barons of Bluegrass, a group nominated for IBMA’s 2003 Emerging Artist of the Year. Reams’ confident band still includes Mark Farrell (fiddle, mandolin, harmony vocals), along with a couple of relative newcomers – Doug Nicolaisen (banjo) and Nick Sullivan (bass, harmony vocals). As with some previous projects, Kenny Kosek (fiddle) and Barry Mitterhoff (mandolin) appear as guests. Depending on which instrument Mark Farrell is picking, the guest plays the fifth bluegrass instrument to round out the band’s cohesive traditional mountain roots sound.

James Reams and the Barnstormers have built a solid reputation for lively, spirited, soulful, no-frills-added bluegrass with a nice mix of traditional numbers, covers and originals. Fronted by his rustic and rural lead vocals, they dish up exciting bluegrass in a classic old-school style of yesteryear. Whether a traditional or original song, a few occasional rough edges in their vocals and harmonies (e.g. “Cornbread, Molasses & Sassafras Tea” and “Snake Eyes”) actually add to the band’s overall unpretentious and amiable appeal. Their presentation emphasizes authenticity, individualism and a copious amount of raw excitement. Reams has shown an affinity for Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith on past projects, and their instrumental “Florida Blues” is always a crowd-pleaser. “Rocky Creek,” “Susquehanna Getaway,” and “Passamaquoddy” are similarly zestful instrumental pieces with engaging melodic lines.

A honky tonk is a tawdry bar, nightclub or dance hall, and this album has plenty of songs that belong on today’s jukeboxes and ipods. Harlan Howard once defined a good country song as “three chords and the truth,” and Reams does a fine job singing Howard’s “Goin’ Home” in classic country style. The recurring theme is prevalent throughout the CD. Stonewall Jackson’s “Almost Hear the Blues” features plenty of bluesy mandolin and wailing fiddle, but it’s the walking bass line that reinforces the theme a few tracks later in “King of the Blues.” An eclectic set, there’s also plenty of driving bluegrass. If Reams has “One Foot in the Honky Tonk,” then he also has the other firmly planted at the bluegrass festival…certainly not the “grave” as he poignantly sings in the opening cut. (Joe Ross, Roseburg, Or.)