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Slide into Catmull's 'Slippery Hill'

Good to great

ARTIST: Tom Catmull Band

RECORDING: "Slippery Hill"

Sometimes musicians, each possessing something good, come together to make a group sound that is great. This magic has just happened with the Tom Catmull Band. Their new album "Slippery Hill" is like a big blanket; warm, encompassing, and only complete with all four corners.

Each of these four corners - Tom Catmull, Larry Hirshberg, Richie Reinholdt and Bruce Threlkeld - is a professional and accomplished musician. Each has mastered his instrument, each is a songwriter, and each adds a melodious voice to the music. The fact that any one of these musicians could take center stage makes this album solid as steel.

As usual, Tom Catmull's voice is clear and poignant and the other voices follow suit. The lyrics are fun and unique, and the music, as a whole, is delicious. Harmonies lilt and fall with ease. The musicians triumph through the music with an obvious amount of fun, and Reinholdt lets it fly on those guitar solos.

I can tell you from experience that this is a great driving album - fun to sing along with as the wheels turn. It would also fit in well at a barbecue, or for a little extra spice on a day off at home. Don't pass this one by.

-"Slippery Hill" is available at Rockin Rudy's and Budget Tapes and CDs.

Countrified rollicking fun

ARTISTS: Montana Rockies Bluegrass Association's Third Annual Bluegrass Festival

RECORDING: "Live from Victor, Montana"

Hey all you "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" fans - you want the real deal? I know just where to find some of that old-time bluegrass music from heel kickin' days: the Montana Rockies Bluegrass Association's Third Annual Oldtime Bluegrass Festival, which took place in Victor on April 13. It is the real thing.

All 19 tracks off this well-recorded, live album are countrified, rollicking fun. I didn't even know so many good bluegrass bands existed in this part of the world. From the Salmon Valley String Band to Mike and Tari Conroy, these musicians have figured out their music. Banjo and mandolin strings fly, harmonies and melodies soar.

Dedicated to the late Clay Lewis, a longtime bluegrass musician who died in March, every song on this album was obviously played with great care and appreciation. The tunes are full of variety, easy-going and fun at the same time.

- The M.R.B.A. "Live" album is available at Rockin Rudy's and Budget Tapes and CDs.

Musical storytelling

ARTIST: Shaughnessy Hill

RECORDING: "Months

of the Year"

Before even listening to the music of Shaughnessy Hill's seventh Celtic album, "Months of the Year," I thought it might be a nice listen. Every one of the musicians on the album cover is grinning from ear to ear. If nothing else, they seem to enjoy what they do. And what they do is lovely.

From a chirping, wind-tossing flute portraying a January storm, to a soothing piano tune about undying love in December, "Months of the Year" is a scenic musical tour through Montana's seasons. A mournful flute captures February's darkness, March slides in with sly bagpipes, April and May trickle melodiously through, and June dances joyously like Pan with his pipes. Each month is given a story and a sound. These musicians use their instruments and Celtic magic to light imaginations.

This album is well-done and enjoyable. Newcomers to Celtic music will find it a fun exploration of music with some description; give it a test listen at the music library.

- Shaughnessy Hill's "Months of the Year" is available at Rockin Rudy's and Budget Tapes and CDs.

Erica Parfit is a free-lance writer who reviews music for the Missoulian. She can be reached at ehhoshlag@aol.com.

Send your recording to Erica, c/o the Missoulian, P.O. Box 8029, Missoula MT 59807.

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