Review: 35 Years Of Stony Plain (2CD / DVD)

  |   Comments

35 Years Of Stony Plain feat. Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl, Robert Nighthawk35 Years Of Stony Plain is more than a compilation of music that has been distributed by the Canadian blues/roots independent label. It goes beyond merely chronicling the artists who have crossed their path to make a record here and there. It tells a story and presents the music in a context for listeners who may not have ever paid attention to the name of the label on the spine of a CD. It illustrates all that is magic about maverick artists making music on their terms and an independent label willing to not only allow it but in some cases encourage it. 

There are 41 songs spread across 2 CDs in this package (as well as a bonus DVD). The discs are broken down thematically, with an acknowledgement that great roots music like this can't often be easily pigeonholed. The first disc is devoted to singer/songwriters and roots artists that have recorded with SP while the second is devoted to the label's enduring love of blues, R&B, and swing. 

The blues disc registered stronger with me than the singer/songwriter set but they're both excellent. That first disc has cuts from Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris, and they're both excellent. The Harris cut is a live performance of "Wheels," written by former Byrds Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman. Asleep At The Wheel's "That's Your Red Wagon" is another standout track on that first disc as is Harry Manx and Kevin Breit's "Looking For A Brand New World."

The blues disc has the fingerprints of the amazing Duke Robillard all over it. He has recorded a dozen albums for the label and also served as a producer and almost an unofficial talent scout. "Stomp The Blues Tonight" is the title track from his Blues Music Award-winning album. He also served as producer for the cuts by Chicago great Billy Boy Arnold and piano legend Jay McShann. Robillard's friend Ronnie Earl, another of the label's veteran artists, is also here. "Miracle" is part of a suite of songs that represents the heart of his career-best record Spread The Love, released last year. Joe Louis Walker won Album Of The Year in 2010 for Between A Rock And The Blues, and that album is represented here by "Black Widow Spider." Sonny Rhoades won his first BMA this year and his "Honey Do Woman" is a great representation of what makes this steel guitar master great.

Most of the 41 songs were released on Stony Plain albums as you would expect but there are a few rarities seeing their first ever release from the "vaults," most notable of these are four previously unreleased songs from slide guitar master Robert Nighthawk.

The bonus DVD has some nice goodies. The package wouldn't feel slight without it but it's interesting to hear from label founder Holger Petersen as he tells a few stories about the labels past, present, and outlook for the future. There are also video clips from Earl, Robillard, Long John Baldry, Ian Tyson, and more. You may not watch it repeatedly but it's worth checking out a time or two. 35 Years of Stony Plain is more than a stuffy biography or a label vanity project, it's a love letter to music lovers all around the world.

CD 1 Singers, Songwriters And Much, Much, More…

  1. Maria Muldaur The Diplomat
  2. Jeff Healey The Wildcat
  3. Harry Manx & Kevin Breit Looking For A Brand New World
  4. Corb Lund Horse Soldier, Horse Soldier
  5. Steve Earle Ben Mcculloch
  6. Ian Tyson Blaino’s Song
  7. Tim Hus Country Music Lament
  8. Valdy & Gary Fjellgaard Still In The Running
  9. Ray Bonneville Canary Yellow Car
  10. Asleep At The Wheel That’s Your Red Wagon
  11. Sunny & Her Joy Boys Strictly From Dixie
  12. Amos Garrett Get Way Back
  13. David Wilcox Bend A Little
  14. New Guitar Summit Shivers
  15. Spirit Of The West Our Station
  16. Emmylou Harris Wheels
  17. Blue Rodeo Four Strong Winds
  18. Rodney Crowell Closer To Heaven
  19. Bob Carpenter Dreaming
  20. Bob Carpenter Magdelana
  21. Bob Carpenter Chameleon Man

CD 2 Blues, R&B, Swing, Jazz And Even More…

  1. Duke Robillard Stomp The Blues Tonight
  2. Joe Louis Walker Black Widow Spider
  3. Jay Mcshann & The Duke Robillard Band Moten Swing
  4. Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne Heaven Send Me An Angel
  5. Doug James & Sugar Ray Norcia Dirty, Dirty People
  6. Jeff Healey I’m Torn Down
  7. Rosco Gordon No More Doggin’
  8. Amos Garrett, Doug Sahm, Gene Taylor Band Teardrops On Your Letter
  9. Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters Miracle
  10. Rory Block Mississippi Man
  11. Big Dave Mclean Police And High Sheriff
  12. Long John Baldry Gallows Pole
  13. Sonny Rhodes Honey Do Woman
  14. Ellen Mcilwaine Crawling King Snake
  15. Billy Boy Arnold Hello Stranger
  16. King Biscuit Boy Ain’t Broke And Ain’t Hungry
  17. Robert Nighthawk Nighthawk Boogie
  18. Robert Nighthawk I’m Gonna Murder My Baby
  19. Robert Nighthawk You Missed A Good Man
  20. Robert Nighthawk Backwater Blues

Bonus DVD

  1. A Tour Of The Stony Plain Offices
  2. Jeff Healey Like A Hurricane
  3. Jay Mcshann & Johnnie Johnson Going To Kansas City
  4. Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters Bobby’s Bop
  5. Duke Robillard Workin’ Hard For My Uncle
  6. Corb Lund The Truth Comes Out
  7. Ian Tyson Springtime In Alberta
  8. Downchild Bop ‘Til I Drop
  9. Long John Baldry Shake That Thing
  10. Jr. Gone Wild I’m So Glad
  11. The Paperboys After The First Time