Troubled Times – 2005

Troubled Times

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Also includes DVD “Rollin’ On” and preview of the documentary “Making History with Pioneers of Bluegrass” released in 2013

In a January, 2014 interview with Bluegrass Today, Donald Teplyske (a freelance roots and bluegrass music writer with reviews appearing regularly at The Lonesome Road Review and Country Standard Time, which also hosts Fervor Coulee Bluegrass, a roots music blog with additional reviews online) responded to the question “What is your favorite bluegrass project of all time and why?” by choosing Troubled Times by James Reams & The Barnstormers. Here’s what he had to say, “Just one? If I could listen to only one album I guess I would choose James Reams & the Barnstormers ‘Troubled Times’ for several reasons. First, and most importantly, I think it is a terrific album – it has drive, something I always appreciate. Superb songs. It was the first album of James’ I encountered, and as such, is memorable as he has become a great long distance bluegrass friend. Secondly, until her death, I regularly corresponded with James’ partner Tina Aridas, and I truly appreciated her critical, insightful viewpoints on music and, most importantly for me, writing. Whenever I listen to Troubled Times, I can’t help but recall our many and varied e-mails on all matter of topics. Thirdly, the songs that James and Tina wrote for this album – The Hills of My County and Eye of the Storm, as well as James’ title track – are some of my favorites – while I’ve never lived the things they write about, I can feel those experiences through their songs. Finally, the album contains a Robby Fulks song (Cold Statesville Ground) which is just too cool.”

The CD includes three original songs (including Hills of My County, an original song written by James Reams and featured in the film “Wake Up! West Virginia” about mountaintop removal), two original banjo tunes, and some under-recorded gems that the band has taken off the shelf and made their own. “… delightfully unadorned 1950s-style bluegrass that draws heavily on, yet doesn’t mimic, the best-loved bands of that era,… a 14-track playlist that never gets boring,… a sixty-minute DVD film entitled ‘Rollin’ On,’ which documents the band as they serve as engaging bluegrass ambassadors in such venues as a Lincoln Center music festival and a community square dance.” ~ Aaron K. Harris, Bluegrass Unlimited

“It is evident that James Reams & The Barnstormers not only love bluegrass music, but they have a healthy respect for those that have come before them. The Barnstormers can lay it down with the best of them, yet never seem to compete for the spotlight, holding their place and propelling the music forward. Reams has a great voice for the old time songs and is right in line with his musical heroes such as Red Foley and Carter Stanley. It is groups like James Reams & The Barnstormers who will not only tow the line of authentic bluegrass, but will provide the next generation of bluegrass musicians a watermark for authenticity.” ~ C. Eric Banister, AmericanaRoots.com

  • James Reams – guitar, lead vocals
  • Mark Farrell – mandolin, fiddle, baritone vocals
  • Carl Hayano – upright bass, tenor vocals
  • Mickey Maguire – banjo
  • Kenny Kosek – fiddle
  • Barry Mitterhoff – mandolin

Packaged with the CD is a two-feature DVD:

  • Rollin’ On ~ Take a ride on the Redbird Express with James Reams & The Barnstormers as the band criss-crosses the northeast playing at Lincoln Center, on radio programs, at bluegrass festivals and even for a square dance. This film provides a behind the scenes look at life on the road with the band. (Directed by Joe Coppa and James Reams). “Rollin’ On” was selected for screening at the 6th Annual NCBS and International Bluegrass Music Museum’s Bluegrass on Broadway Film Festival in Redwood City, CA (2013).
  • Pioneers of Bluegrass Teaser ~ This preview version of the longer documentary, released in 2013, includes members of the “first generation” of bluegrass as they talk frankly about the early days of the music and life on the road, in interviews conducted at the opening of the International Bluegrass Music Museum, backstage at festivals and on the buses of these pioneers. (Preview directed by Joe Coppa, David Fasano and James Reams; full-length documentary available from CDBaby)