Los Angeles-based CMH RECORDS is digging into their storied vaults and reissuing several of their classic bluegrass titles in digital format for the first time ever. The first wave of releases, out March 16, includes A Touch of Bryant from Felice & Boudleaux Bryant, Dim Lights, Thick Smoke from Joe Maphis w/ Rose Lee & Dale, and Sing Away the Pain from Josh Graves.
Available now in digital format after being out of print for over 30 years, A Touch of Bryant is the only album ever recorded by the legendary husband and wife songwriting team Felice & Boudleaux Bryant. The Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees gave us such classics as "Rocky Top," "I Can Hear Kentucky Calling Me," "Love Hurts" and many more. With over 6,000 songs written--1,500 of which were recorded by artists such as The Everly Brothers, Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris, and The Osborne Brothers--the 12 tracks on this collection are a mere glimpse of the astounding talent of the Bryants.
Dubbed one of the flashiest country guitarists of the 1950s and 1960s, capable of playing numerous stringed instruments with great facility, Joe Maphis was known as The King of the Strings. His hit song "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)," co-written with his wife Rose Lee and Max Fidler, has become a honky-tonk standard with countless artists recording versions of the tune, including Flatt & Scruggs, Dwight Yoakam, John Prine, Marty Stuart, Vern Gosdin, and Daryle Singletary, among others. Joe and Rose Lee often collaborated, and their son Dale is also featured on this album of the same name, Dim Lights, Thick Smoke, in keeping with Maphis' tradition of making his records a family affair. It's no surprise that Maphis was also close with the Carter family (and Johnny Cash), and this album features the song "Mother Maybelle," written in honor of the family matriarch, Maybelle Carter.
Considered the first player to bring dobro into bluegrass, Josh Graves' raw, blues-based style would prove a major influence on later masters such as Mike Auldridge and Jerry Douglas. His dobro is featured prominently on legendary records by Foggy Mountain Boys--including Songs of Glory, Songs of the Famous Carter Family, Flatt and Scruggs at Carnegie Hall, Town and Country, and Hear the Whistle Blow--and his sound was an integral part of the famous quartet, The Masters, as well as Flatt's Nashville Grass. On Sing Away the Pain, Graves' dobro style is a defining feature of the bluegrass sound. He played fast and loud, while also creating extremely sensitive melodic backing to bluesy ballads and slower gospel numbers. The album, produced by and featuring guitar contribution from Graves' son Billy Troy, also features legendary fiddler Vassar Clements, the father of hillbilly jazz.
CMH Records was founded in 1975 by Martin Haerle and was dedicated to presenting the finest Bluegrass and roots music, making a home for classic artists and their material, as well as stellar recordings from then new voices. The label remains a proud family business, run by Martin's son David. Described recently by the Los Angeles Times as a "stubborn, curious Silver Lake music company," the label has been a strong proponent for honest music, and has found success with its classic catalogue and its ongoing "Pickin' On" series, which features bluegrass interpretations of contemporary artists, including recent hit albums dedicated to the music of Nirvana and Metallica. The Times piece added that CMH "meets unsung needs in the music industry" and cited its "creative diversification."