PortFolio Weekly

PortFolio Weekly
October 4, 2005


by Jim Newsom

Chris Hillman
The Other Side

(Sovereign Artists)

Who: Country-rock pioneer who co-piloted The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas, Souther-Hillman-Furay, and the Desert Rose Band

Sounds like: the way contemporary acoustic music oughtta sound

Is it any good? Every once in a while, everyone needs a bluegrass fix, but not everyone can handle the hardcore, traditional stuff. For those folks, and even for those who don’t realize they need it, Chris Hillman stands ready to come to the rescue. This CD takes off with a cool harmony-laden violin/mandolin/guitar flight through The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High,” lands briefly on the Stephen Stills & Manassas hit, “It Doesn’t Matter” (both of which originals Hillman played on), alights on two Desert Rose remakes and sets down at ten other ports in the course of its too-brief 42 minutes. Hillman’s voice hasn’t aged a bit, and the vocal blend with longtime pal Herb Pedersen is mighty sweet. There’s a lot of Jesus in the lyrics and a lot of joy in the music, keeping the rock-and-roll hall of famer’s track record of excellence unblemished.


Buckwheat Zydeco
100% Fortified Zydeco

(Shout! Factory)

Who: zydeco’s most popular performer of the last 20 years

Sounds like: party time on the Louisiana bayou

Is it any good? With his native region dealt a double whammy this hurricane season, it seems like an appropriate time to revisit the best album by the Big Easy’s partyingest export. This remastered reissue of Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural’s 1983 classic just happened to come out the week after Katrina struck, one of those eerie coincidences that is mighty convenient for those looking for the real thing from southeastern Louisiana. There’s nothing progressive, intellectual or particularly original about the music here, but there’s a solid zydeco groove underneath the blues and R&B licks that transports you down to the French Quarter on Sugar Bowl weekend or Mardi Gras week. And didn’t you always want to hear Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime” accordioned up with Cajun spices and Creole seasonings?

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