Odds and ends: New releases, concerts and construction

Here are a few odds and ends for the new year.

The two top selling CDs at Triple Play Records this past holiday season were Darden Smith’s outstanding “Marathon” and local favorites Stray Grass with their wonderful debut CD “Written In the Stars.”

Both of those recordings were self-produced and self-promoted by the respective artists.

One other thing they have in common is both Smith and Stray Grass have performed “in-store” at Triple Play.

Smith played in the store when he was here in 1997 to promote his “Deep Fantastic Blue” CD. We plan to have him back on April 2 before his show at the Roper Ballroom that same day. Stay tuned for details.

Stray Grass has played in the store on the Friday after Thanksgiving both of the past two years and we would like to make that a tradition. We also plan to have Stray Grass play sometime between now and next November because everybody has a great time, including the band.

There are some interesting new releases coming starting Jan. 18 when Rounder Records releases “Low Country Blues” from Gregg Allman, his first solo album in 14 years.

Allman, a Grammy Award winner and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee, happens to be one of the great blues singers of our time. He chose another legend, T-Bone Burnett, to produce this new CD.

The band features Dr. John on piano, guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, Burnett’s exceptional rhythm section, bassist Dennis Crouch and drummer Jay Bellerose.

There are 11 covers from artists such as Skip James, Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Bobby Bland, B.B. King and Muddy Waters plus one song Allman co-wrote with Warren Haynes.

Another release that has piqued my interest is Paul Simon’s upcoming “So Beautiful or So What.”

Simon, whose last great album was, in my opinion, 1990’s “Rhythm of the Saints,” said this is his best work in 20 years. I sure hope he is right!

But one thing I have learned about most, if not all, of the great songwriters from Simon’s generation is that you can never count them out as far as the songwriting part goes, and Simon still has a great voice.

The reports that the music has a stripped down, American roots/bluegrass feel to it makes it even more appealing to me.

Look for new releases from Iron and Wine, Pearl Jam, Drive-By Truckers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Strokes, Radiohead and U2.

Finally, construction has started downtown, but it is definitely different than last year.

Currently, the 400 block is the only part of Main Street you can’t drive down, but the sidewalks are wide open. Access to the stores is easy and there is ample parking.

If you need a little more incentive, there is a drawing every Saturday at noon at Tangle, 525 Main St., for $50 in gift certificates from 31 different downtown merchants.

Each week, six winners will receive five $10 gift certificates from five participating businesses. All you have to do to register for the drawing is to visit one of the participating merchants.

The drawings will last as long as the construction does.

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Rock Cesario owns Triple Play Records, 530 Main St., and hosts “Acoustic Sunday” from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday on Drive 105.3 FM. E-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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