Rick Jamison: Time for Goodbye
When California-based bluegrass musician Rick Jamison released his 2005 killer solo debut album “The Magic Hour,” it was nice to hear that his original bluegrass wasn’t constrained by traditional stylings of that genre. Rather, Jamison incorporates melodies, tempos and chord progressions that work well with his folksy and amiable voice. He tells tales, expresses emotions, and perhaps most importantly paints pictures with his lyrics and melodies. It’s an approach that characterizes quite a bit of West Coast bluegrass music. Is it because musicians out here simply don’t feel compelled or obliged to limit offerings to the styles of Kentucky’s Bill Monroe or Virginia’s Stanley Brothers? Regardless of the reason for its lack of inhibition, it’s nice to hear II, VII and various minor chords along with the I, IV, and V that more typically characterize traditional bluegrass.
Jamison is a senior writer and editor with a Silicon Valley software company. Who says a technical writer doesn’t also know how to work the lyrics in a song to convey emotional messages and feelings? With his band Copper Canyon, Jamison released an album per year during 2003-2004 (“Open Spaces” and “Tales from the Canyon”), and the reason that he's so prolific may be best captured in his sentiments of "Time Marches On." Seizing the moment to plug his material, Rick expresses, "Once this day is done it's gone forever, to join a thousand years of yesterdays, memories are the keepsakes and the treasures." Thus, an hour's worth of originals on "The Magic Hour" is a musical gift to us
In a more serious and emotive vein, Jamison's love songs ("The Best In Me" and "Time For Goodbye") may actually convey the best of his songcrafting artistry from a man who also is a renown painter. Sung by Erik Thomas as a duet with Megan Lynch, “Time For Goodbye” asks the inevitable questions "Is it time to start all over? Is it time to say goodbye?" Mandolinist Erik Thomas, a founding member of the group Due West, has played with an eclectic bunch including Mickey Gilley, Elvin Bishop, David Grisman, Rob Ickes and Tony Trischka. Raised in Redding, Ca., fiddler Megan Lynch has won many national and state fiddle contests. Now based in Nashville, her personalized fiddling can be heard with 3 Fox Drive, Blue Moon Rising, Chris Jones, Chris Stuart, Copper Canyon and others. Rick Jamison plays guitar and sings most lead vocals on his solo album from 2005. Besides Thomas and Lynch, he also assembled other crackerjack collaborators with California connections -- Dave Richardson (banjo), Rob Ickes (Dobro), and Cindy Browne (bass).
Don’t assume that all of Jamison’s material is serious love-gone-wrong fare. The musical tone painter also has a witty side as his "Bugged & Bothered" speaks to various insect infestations (ants in my pantry, bedbugs in the bed, a moth that ate my sweater, and gnats around my head) that lead to infatuation for another. A more traditional bluegrass band might want to consider covering his songs like "A Bank Too Far" and "Not Tonight" that keep the lyrics straightforward, honest and conversational.
While some of Jamison’s songs have more appeal than others, a true bluegrass fan can't bemoan his album’s title cut that exclaims "The music makes us smile and clap our hands, In the company of other bluegrass fans, The music carries all of us away, In the magic hour that ends a perfect day." Rick Jamison’s songs are every bit as vivid and impressionistic as his oil on canvas (Where the Mountains Meet the Sky) that graces the inside of his CD’s jacket.
Guest post by Joe Ross