Friday, May 18, 2012

The Plant Kingdom: Cedars and the Pines

Rick Jamison: Cedars and the Pines


California bluegrass musician Rick Jamison isn't compelled to constrain his contemporary offerings to only the genre’s more traditional stylings. Rather, he incorporates melodies, tempos and chords that work well with his folksy and amiable voice. It’s kind of nice to hear the II, VII and various minor chords along with the I, IV, and V progressions that more typically characterize bluegrass. The senior writer and editor with a Silicon Valley software company also knows how to work the lyrics in a song to convey emotional messages and feelings. Jamison released an album per year during 2003-2005, and he seized the moment to give us an hour's worth of originals on his latest called The Magic Hour. It’s a musical gift to us.

Jamison is also a painter. Much like the variety of colors used on his canvas, his original material is eclectic and covers many moods from traditional-sounding to contemporary. Rick Jamison plays guitar and sings most lead vocals. His collaborators with California connections included Dave Richardson (banjo), Erik Thomas (mandolin), Megan Lynch (fiddle), Rob Ickes (Dobro), and Cindy Browne (bass).

Jamison’s The Magic Hour album closes with "Cedars and the Pines." If you like your bluegrass with some folk flavorings, you'll enjoy Rick’s tales and the pictures he paints with his lyrics and melodies. His songs like “Cedars and the Pines” are every bit as vivid and impressionistic as Jamison's oil on canvas (Where the Mountains Meet the Sky) that graces the inside of the CD jacket. He mentions that specific location in the song -- a place that feels like home, out among the trees, where life is good, and where one is free.

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