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Dream Reel
  • Artist: Evergreen
  • Label: CD Baby
  • UPC: 660654846920
  • Item #: 233412X
  • Genre: Folk
  • Release Date: 7/18/2006
  • This product is a special order
  • Rank: 1000000000
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Dream Reel on CD

Evergreen has been entertaining New England audiences since 1991. Our eclectic style blends elements of bluegrass, folk, blues, old-time, country, swing and jazz into a seamless mix of upbeat, energizing music that appeals to a wide range of listeners. Smooth, tight harmonies, solid instrumentation, original interpretations and strong songwriting all combine to make this group of seasoned performers worthwhile listening. We pride ourselves on creating a fun, relaxed atmosphere onstage. It's easy to see that we enjoy what we do! We choreograph our show around a single microphone, taking turns fronting the band and giving the audience a chance to get acquainted with each of us. Ever-changing instrumental and vocal blends and good-natured banter onstage keep our performances engaging and fast paced, and a constantly evolving repertoire keeps the material new and fresh, year after year. . Steve Chiasson, the 'founding father' of the group, is a veteran of the club scene, and has been singing, playing guitar and honing his songwriting craft since starting his first garage band in 1965. He has won a number of songwriting awards, and several of his songs have been recorded and released by various independent artists. Steve also plays bass and runs Forest Audio Services in his hometown of Wellington, Maine. Chris Prickitt is an accomplished banjo player with a flair for both Scruggs-style and good old-fashioned clawhammer. He has appeared with The Kennebec Valley Boys, The Northern Valley Boys, The Pleasin' Keys, and The Reely Clever Good As Ever Band. Chris plays guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and accordion and can call a fine contra dance in a pinch. He also mentors the Abbott Hill Ramblers, a highly-acclaimed youth bluegrass group out of MSAD #46 in Dexter. Nellie Kennedy, who plays bass, guitar, mandolin, and autoharp, cut her musical teeth on bluegrass, folk, and country-rock. She spent a good bit of her early career with the well-known Misty Mountaineers. She recorded three albums with the Mistys, as well as one with her husband, Joe, as a member of the band Breakneck Mountain. Nellie also sings and plays mandolin with the all-women group, Sweetgrass. Joe Kennedy, harmonica player extraordinaire (who also plays bass, as well), first picked up the harp around 1968. He recorded with the Bluegrass Supply Company in 1982, and has since played, sung and recorded with The Kennebec Valley Boys and Breakneck Mountain. He and his wife Nellie produced and promoted the Breakneck Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Crawford, Maine, from 1984 to 1995. Joe is a charter member of the Bluegrass Music Association of Maine (BMAM), an organization he helped form. He currently acts as BMAM historian, archiving and cataloging a wide variety of materials related to the history and development of bluegrass music in the state of Maine. A single musical instrument has been known to dominate an entire album before with it's precision and powerful presence. Think Carlos Santana's searing Spanish-style guitar on albums like Abraxas, or John Bonham's thunderous drum roars straight from the clouds on Led Zeppelin II. But harmonica? It's usually an afterthought in musical groups, a small contribution that the lead vocalist sometimes picks up in their spare time. Not so with Joe Kennedy and his bluegrass band Evergreen on their latest album, Dream Reel. Kennedy's masterful harp work helps the band overcome some small shortcomings to produce a fine piece of material. This is not to say that the rest of the band is a bunch of slouches. Chris Prickitt plays a fine banjo, and when vocalists Steve Chiasson and Nellie Kennedy combine their voices, the melodies ooze into one, resulting in a near perfect compliment of pitch and tone. Songs such as 'Bad Case of Loving You,' and 'Lonesome Pine' are picture perfect examples of bluegrass at it's finest. Prickitt's artful strumming of the banjo and Chiasson and Nellie Kennedy's interplay of vocals make these upbeat romparounds fun to listen to, helping to bring an innocent smile to your face as the music goes off. However, what makes Evergreen so unique is Kennedy and his superior harp playing. No other band comprised of members like this has really incorporated harmonica into their music, let alone features it. Evergreen is at it's best when Kennedy's strong, riffy harmonica is in the lead, as is the case in the wonderfully blue 'Wayfaring Stranger.' Kennedy blows the harp in a manner of classic bluesmen Son House and Slim Harpo, transforming the music from an airy hillbilly sound to a stirring, soulful throbbing that weighs upon the listener. In 'Liza Brown,' Kennedy wheezes eloquently to the tempo and beat set by Prickitt's banjo. Kennedy's contribution steadies and strengthens the reverb, enough so to offset some typically loopy lyrics. Sometimes Evergreen seems to take a page straight out of the Phish and Strangefolk songwriting book, in that nothing is too gooey. An example from 'River and Rain,' a particularly disarming lyric: 'You and I are like the water to the sea / What would one with out the other be?' Makes you want to hold hands and say Kumbaya. Regardless, when you're listening to 'River and Rain,' it's quite easy to lose the lyrics amid the twang and rumble of Kennedy's rambling harp, which is indeed a very good thing. Dream Reel is a commendable bluegrass effort thanks to a dazzling display of blues in the background, courtesy of Mr. Joe Kennedy on harmonica. Face magazine, Portland, ME Making a go of an acoustic band in one of the least densely populated states in the country can be a challenge. As a fellow Maine musician, I can attest to the long drives, the varied tastes and influences, and the cold winters, all of which have an impact on homemade music in northern New England. The results can be more than worth the effort, however, for the travails can be the source of new sounds, new interpretations, and new mile markers on the road of roots music. Evergreen is just such a band, their music has bluegrass, folk, country, jazz, and old tyme influences. Bluegrass is the primary cornerstone here, and I suspect much of the Maine audience doesn't think twice about them being bluegrass, but for hardcore, traditional fans, the harmonica, clawhammer banjo, autoharp, and piano will put Dream Reel on 'the edge', as Bluegrass Unlimited characterizes it. But for those with ears for new sounds, Evergreen dances down the same path of innovation that gave birth to bluegrass itself. Dream Reel, the group's third recording, is a collection of five original numbers and nine covers. The originals come from Steve Chiasson (guitar) and Chris Prickitt (banjo) and provide some of the collection's strongest numbers. The opening track, 'Let's Talk About Love,' is a Chiasson number, and makes the most of Steve's fine voice, the group's solid rhythm and their smooth harmony vocals. Prickitt's 'Ossipee Run' is a strong instrumental featuring nice work by Chris on the clawhammer banjo and good band dynamics. It also is a great example of Joe Kennedy's gift for adapting the harmonica to the ensemble format, as he provides the rhythmic 'chuck' that would normally come from the mandolin. The group also covers some strong material from relatively recent releases including 'Lonesome Pine' from Blue Highway's Wayne Taylor, a song that spent time at the top of the bluegrass charts. Bob Coombs sits in on dobro, and helps out ably on this tune that has made inroads as a favorite among field pickers. With John Daly's 'River and the Rain' they draw from the repertoire of Salamander Crossing, a band that epitomizes the creative potential northern New England can sometimes foster. Nellie Kennedy (bass) adds autoharp to the mix for the ear-catching 'Down a Winding Road,' written by Dave Allen and recorded by The Nashville Bluegrass Band on their last release, American Beauty. From much farther back in the tradition comes a very effective treatment of 'Wayfaring Stranger,' which the group gives a haunting, spooky flavor, and includes unusual textures from Joe's rhythm haromica. One thing I miss from Dream Reel and their website is more detailed credits. Most of the band are multi-instrumentalists - Joe also plays bass, Chris fiddle, guitar and accordion, and Nellie guitar, mandolin and autoharp - but it's not entirely clear where they have taken advantage of this. The group's website makes it clear that live performances are a major focus for the group. They work a single mic and maintain a diverse and changing repertoire to keep the performances fresh and energized. Dream Reel is a recommended recording for those looking for honest, personal interpretations of roots music. And if by chance you find yourself down east, make sure to check their schedule and catch Evergreen's musical innovation in action. Gregg TeHennepe, Bluegrassworks.com ----- Portland bands like Jerks of Grass and the Muddy Marsh Ramblers need a kick in the pants when it comes to releasing an album, they should take a listen to what their fellows from the north, Evergreen, put out in late-August. Dream Reel, Evergreen's third album in the past six years, is proof that the band have a sound in mind and know how to get it on record without sacrificing their authentic, live, one-mic sound. (When you consider High Range's New Hampshire release earlier this year, one would think the Portland bands might feel a bit buffeted, even.) Dream Reel, like 2001's Common Place, features the band working in traditional bluegrass frameworks, but, like their contemporaries the Mammals and the Red Stick Ramblers, infusing a pop or folk sympathy into the songs. The result is New Grass Revival without the flashiness, which is pretty darn good. They're also a bit hokey. 'Let's Talk about Love' is a quaint little ditty. 'Bad Case of Loving You' is a bit of that western progressive bluegrass purveyed by Leftover Salmon or even Bela, but not that progressive. It sounds a lot like 'Make a Profit' from the Mammals, but, hey, are you really going to reference Moon Martin/Robert Palmer/Koko Taylor? 'You Put the Blue in Me' is one of two songs to feature Nellie Kennedy on lead vocals, which you don't hear often enough in bluegrass, and contains lyrics like 'you put the gold in the morning sunlight . . . but you put the blue in me.' And 'Come Play the Fiddle with Me' sort of works as one of the best songs here, with some really great fiddle playing by Chris Prickitt, but, whoa, make sure you leave your cynicism at the door. No, I don't think Evergreen will ever be a hip bar band, but that's obviously not the point. The fact is, they write great songs, are expert musicians, and know their audience well. Nothing can take away from the awesome banjo lead on the Prickitt-penned 'Ossipee Run,' it's clean Celtic sound also lending great back support during the harmonica lead. Steve Chiasson's 'Liza Brown,' too, is excellent, not only giving a nod to Gordon Lightfoot, but also contributing to the rich history of bluegrass tunes named after women - 'Little Maggie,' 'Cindy,' and 'Ellen Smith' among them. And they even manage to give the old 'Wayfaring Stranger' a Newgrass feel. It's a thoughtful approach the song deserves. Dream Reel stands as a bluegrass education for the beginner and a worthy addition to any enthusiast's collection. Sam Pfeifle, Portland Phoenix There's a lot to like about this New England band. Their recording contains a great selection of music with lots of energy powered by Joe Kennedy's harmonica throughout, which adds a very enjoyable touch to this fine group's 'bluegrass and more' sound. Chris Prickitt, a very accomplished Scruggs' and clawhammer style banjoist likewise adds spice to the project. Steve Chiasson does a fine job on baritone vocals and Nellie Kennedy's lovely mountain voice absolutely shines on songs like 'Lonesome Pine,' 'You Put The Blue In Me' and the very thoughtful, 'We Should Only Have Time For Love.' There's a lovely arrangement of 'Wayfaring Stranger' featuring a captivating vocal blend of Steve, Nellie, and Joe. Chris and Joe follow up nicely on 'New Camptown Races,' with Chris showing off his skills on both banjo styles. Dream Reel is a tasty collection of folk and bluegrass, some swing, and even a dash of Cajun, with an accordion thrown in. This band even has a flair for composing. Chris penned three of the songs and Steve contributed the toetapping opening cut, 'Let's Talk About Love.' Accordion? Banjo? These folks will make you forget about the non-traditional instruments as you repeatedly enjoy the good music. In fact, about the only thing missing is a listing of who's playing which instrument for those of us who are unfamiliar with the band. It would be nice to credit the artist providing the excellent guitar licks throughout. Evergreen's music is 'a melting pot of styles and influences,' and as Paul Woodfin of Face Magazine writes in the liner notes, 'It's just good, period.' I concur. Joe Falleta, Bluegrass Now Evergreen effectively blends bluegrass with other musical genres to create it's own unique personality. Dream Reel is an adeptly produced, varied assortment of melodies that are delivered in a laid back but distinctive style. Five of the fourteen selections were composed by band members Steve Chiasson and Chris Prickitt, with such titles as 'Liza Brown,' 'Let's Talk About Love,' 'You Can't Bring Us Down Tonight,' and the spirited instrumental, 'Ossipee Run.' Other entries include 'You Put The Blue In Me,' 'Bad Case Of Loving You,' and Frank Wakefield's 'New Camptown Races.' The presence of piano, accordion, and harmonica on the tracks does move the music out of the realm of pure bluegrass, but Dream Reel remains a tantalizing adventure that can appeal to a myriad of musical tastes. Les McIntyre, Bluegrass Unlimited One of Maine's premier bluegrass bands is in fine form on it's third album in six years. Whether it's Joe Kennedy's engrossing harmonica playing, Chris Prickitt's meticulous banjo picking, or Steve Chiasson and Nellie Kennedy's harmonious vocals, there's something here for any music fan, as there's hints of folk, roots, and country as well. Evergreen presents five originals by Prickitt and Chiasson, but the quartet makes all 14 songs on the album their own. Here's four people who enjoy playing together, and that shows in the album's quality. It's got that four-people-around-one-mic approach, which makes the listener feel like he or she is at a live show by the group. The members of Evergreen have been together since 1991, and that's apparent in their seamless playing. Dream Reel does an admirable job of capturing a band in it's prime. Dale McGarrigle, Bangor Daily News Dream Reel is the latest release from the fine Maine band, Evergreen. The band continues to be adept at selecting and arranging material. Steve Chiasson and Chris Prickitt each contribute some original material. Prickitt's 'Come Play The Fiddle With Me' works in some nice New England style fiddle/piano music in between verses. Nellie Kennedy provides solid rhythm and vocals. Joe Kennedy's harmonica leads on the Frank Wakefield standard 'New Camptown Races' serves as an example of how Evergreen is able to add their own spin to the familiar. Those who enjoyed their 2001 release Common Place will enjoy this set of tunes as well. The same winning elements are present: well blended vocals, interesting instrumentation, and an unmistakable sense that the band enjoys the music they are making. Tim Fitzpatrick, Bluegrass Breakdown An eclectic style of music blending bluegrass, folk, blues, old-time country, swing and jazz -- that's Evergreen. Evergreen, since forming in 1991, has stayed true to their music, as their new release Dream Reel proves. Their musicianship is strong and harmonies sweet -- a strong combination on it's own, but even stronger when you add their original material. I especially enjoyed 'Ossipee Run,' an instrumental written by Chris Prickitt, and I also enjoyed 'Liza Brown,' written by Steve Chiasson. Nellie's lead vocals on 'We Should Only Have Time For Love' are honest and sincere, and Joe's harmonica seems to dance on 'New Camptown Races.' Overall the singing and playing on this CD is excellent, and it's a good choice of material for the band. A traditional bluegrass album? Nope. A progressive bluegrass recording? No. This is all their own, and it's good! Seth Sawyer, Bluegrass Guide ----- A Brief History of the Band In the summer of 1986, Steve and his family were enjoying a concert at the Hill Country Hoedown in Wellington when Ron Warren (a stranger at the time) approached him with a proposal. 'Someone told me you're a guitar player. Well, I'm a bass player, and I've got this great mandolin player (Joachim 'Jake' Maier) lined up. Would you be interested in playing some music together?' And just like that, 'The Greens' were born. The band took it's name from an old country song - the political party of the same name was unknown at the time - and began performing at coffeehouses and such around the area. In the fall of 1989 Steve, who was working on his teaching degree at the time, began a student teaching assignment in Chris Prickitt's 8th grade classroom at the Dexter Middle School. It didn't take long for them to discover their musical common ground, and shortly thereafter Chris became a member of The Greens. In 1991, when Ron left the band to pursue other interests, the hunt for a new bass player led to Nellie Kennedy's doorstep. As luck would have it, Nel came as a package deal - her husband Joe jumped right in with both feet. Ron's departure also prompted the search for a new name for the band. We wanted it to be different, and yet retain some link to the past. 'Evergreen' floated to the top. Shortly after recording Roots & Branches in 1997, Jake Maier left the group. We really missed that mandolin 'chuck' helping to drive the rhythm, but there were no other players in the neighborhood. We made adjustments and, except for the occasional guest artist, have performed as a quartet ever since. -- from the 'Dream Reel' liner notes by Pati Crooker, T.P.B. Bluegrass Fest. Evergreen has succeeded in bringing together a collection of upbeat numbers mixed with lonesome blues that leads you on a wonderful musical journey to warm days and cool nights spent outdoors in the company of family and friends at your favorite festival, club or get-together. I love listening to Joe step up to the mike - his harmonica adds that little "spark" that makes the journey that much more interesting. The smooth harmonies stir your emotions and your spirit. There is some wonderful instrumental work throughout, showcased in Chris Prickitt's fiddle tune, "Come Play the Fiddle with Me". Previewing a project is always a privilege, but it is an honor when that project comes from the heart of dedicated and talented musicians from my home state of Maine. Listening to this band work together to create a fresh blend of musical numbers will make you want to listen again and again. Go ahead, play it again... Enjoy! -- from the 'Dream Reel' liner notes by Paul Woodfin, Face Magazine A lot of fuss has been made about just what kind of music this is. If it's bluegrass, what's with the harp? Isn't that a swing tune? How'd the folk songs get in there? Well, no more fussing I say. It's just good. Period. As Peter Schickele says, "If it sounds good, it is good." Evergreen's sound is a melting pot of styles and influences, of instruments and personalities, of the past and the here and now. And no better way to describe it than "distinctive". Joe's unmistakable harp, Steve's consummate songwriting and consoling voice, Nell's true-to-tradition song styling and harmonies, Chris's melodic, texturally intricate banjo picking - all members of this well-respected Maine ensemble contribute unique elements to the quartet's instantly recognizable sound. Bold harmonies permeate this recording. The depth of instrumentation is subtle but irresistible. Dream Reel is the latest in what we've grown to expect from Evergreen. -- from the 'Dream Reel' liner notes by Darwin Davidson, DJ at WERU Evergreen has style in abundance. In addition to being very adept instrumentalists, they are all very comfortable singing lead on a variety of tracks. Whether they are doing one of the half-dozen songs written by Chris Prickitt or Steve Chiasson, or one of the other eleven songs from either a high-profile songwriter or a local New England tunesmith, they treat all the songs with that great Evergreen style. ----- -- from Chris Darling, DJ on WMPG I'm not sure if it's the instrumentation, arrangements or the vocals which win me over, but all are of the exceptional kind! I'll be including tracks on my show, install the disc [Dream Reel] into the library, and 'heads-up' my associate DJs here @ WMPG. -- from Rick Lang, New England songwriter extraordinaire I've been listening to it [Dream Reel] all weekend - great job. Nice bunch of songs performed very tastefully - with creative arrangements - and overall very pleasant to listen to. I've always liked your band because you have a little different 'spin' to the music you play than other groups I've heard, that is distinctly your own. You should all feel very proud of what you have accomplished together. Ps Joe - your harmonica playing throughout the new recording was outstanding! -- from Zeke Buttons, DJ on WRFL, Lexington, KY I prefer 'traditional' bluegrass & old-time mountain music, but I also like and play contemporary bluegrass (IIIrd Time Out, Blue Highway, etc) on my show. I also play what I call 'Sophisticated Acoustic Roots Music.' And since my daddy, bless his heart, played the harmonica, that is acceptable too if done tastefully. There are several cuts on your CD [Common Place] that fit the criteria, so I am pleased to add it to my list of 'Sophisticated Acoustic Roots Music.' And I might add that it's all good music... Good job, guys and gal! ----- -- from Chris Teskey, DJ on WPKN I really like this album [Common Place]. A refreshing change from the sound-alike bluegrass bands.