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The End of the Line

Writing on this blog has been a hobby of mine for a number of years now, but I’m going to stop now to work on other projects. Thanks a lot to all of you who took the time to read, comment, etc.

Best Wishes and Merry Christmas!

Locomotive Book Review

Train Tuesdays

Locomotive by Brian Floca

Locomotive by Brian Floca

For my daughter’s birthday, one of her friends gave her a book entitled Locomotive (Caldecott Medal Book) by Brian Floca.

Locomotive is an excellent book that tells the story of the transcontinental railroad through a cross country journey. My four-year-old loved looking at the pictures and hearing the story each night for quite some time. The book would also be enjoyed by young readers as well.

This book would make an outstanding Christmas present for kids who like trains!

Bob & Dan Paisley and The Southern Grass

Music Mondays

Danny Paisley and The Southern Grass

Danny Paisley and The Southern Grass

First Dance with The Southern Grass

First Dance with Music Provided By The Southern Grass

A little over 10 years ago, my fiancee and I were planning our wedding. Neither of us really wanted to have a DJ at our wedding reception as we both love live music so we talked about what band we might be able to get to play our wedding.

I mentioned, half joking, that we could get Bob Paisley and The Southern Grass. We both assumed that they would definitely be more expensive to hire than our budget would allow. After all, they were a world class bluegrass band. Nevertheless, I went ahead and called to find out the price and was very happy to find out that we could actually hire our favorite bluegrass band.

Unfortunately, Bob Paisley was too ill to perform at our wedding but his son Danny led the rest of the Southern Grass and they did an awesome job. It was an honor to introduce them and all of our guests had a great time at the reception. Bob Paisley passed away shortly after our wedding in 2004. His son Danny continues to lead The Southern Grass today. If you’re not familiar with this bluegrass band, here are some tracks and albums that I highly recommend:

The Tradition Continues

The Tradition Continues is a great album available from Dan Paisley and The Southern Grass’s website via mail order. Favorite tracks include I’m Longing For A Love I’ll Never Know and My Old Kentucky Home.

The Room Over Mine

Room Over Mine is another great album that starts off with an incredible track entitled Don’t Throw Mama’s Flowers Away. The title track The Room Over Mine is also a really fine number along with several other songs.

Road Into Town

Dan and the band’s newest is entitled Road Into Town and continues The Southern Grass’s streak of really good traditional bluegrass albums. The title track, Road Into Town, is simply awesome. I Overlooked an Orchid; is another gem included on this album.

Live Albums

There are a couple of live albums with great performances, both of which feature both Bob and Dan Paisley. Check out Forty Years of Trouble and Live in Holland.  If I had to pick just one of the live albums, I would go with Forty Years of Trouble.

Other Recordings

Much of the earlier Bob Paisley and The Southern Grass material is currently out-of-print, but you might have some luck finding it used or at live shows:

  • Steeped in Tradition features great recordings of Cheap Love Affair and Does it Have to End This Way.
  • Back to the Blue Ridge is a really fine album with The Old Swinging Bridge, I Overlooked an Orchid, Somewhere Between, Silent Partner, and Kentucky Waltz.
  • Color of the Blues has really nice versions of Ragtime Annie and Kentucky Waltz.

Lastly, if you are ever so lucky to find the Ray Davis Radio Series CDs, buy them!  At one time the only way to get them was through a large donation to WAMU Bluegrass Radio. Now, I believe the only way to find them would be second-hand or possibly at a festival. Along with other great recordings of the Stanley Brothers and other groups, the albums feature the Southern Grass performing with James King with the most amazing harmonies:

  • Radio Series Volume 1 has outstanding renditions of I’m On My Way Back to the Old Home, Billy in the Lowground, Bring Me Back My Wandering Boy, Six More Miles, Our Darlin’s Gone, and Old Joe Clark.
  • Radio Series Volume 2 contains Armadillo Breakdown, Walk Softly, Does It Have To End This Way, Katy Hill, Last Old Shovel, and Traveling The Highway Home
  • Radio Series Volume 3 has great versions of Katy Hill, I Wonder Where You Are Tonight, and This Old Book of Mine, and more.
  • Radio Series Volume 4 excellent versions of Cheap Love Affair, Soldier’s Joy, and Bill Cheatham, and more.
  • Radio Series Volume 6 features the Southern Grass (without James King) with good recordings of Sweet Potato Rag and I’m Comin’ Back, and more.

Album Links

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Model Railroad Starter Train Sets

N Scale Model Trains

N Scale Model Trains

Train Tuesdays

With Christmas approaching, I thought it was a good time to remind readers about model trains. Model railroading is a wonderful American tradition that I fear is losing ground in today’s world of computers and video games.

One key value of model railroading is that it is very educational, teaching design, construction, electronics, history, art, and transportation operations. Additionally, building and operating a model railroad is a lot of fun. I recommend giving a model train set to someone you care about this year.

Which scale is best? The short answer is it depends. Here’s a little information to help make a decision:

Lionel O Gauge Train Sets

The best thing about O gauge train sets is the that they are generally more durable than smaller gauges which makes them more suitable for kids. Plus they are big, easy to see, and fun to operate! The Lionel Pennsylvania Flyer O-Gauge Remote Train Set would make a great O gauge Christmas present.

HO Scale Train Sets

HO Scale is the most popular gauge for model trains today and is generally chosen by folks with plenty of space. It is smaller than O gauge, but still big enough to easily see and work with. The Bachmann Trains Thoroughbred Ready-to-Run HO Scale Train Set would be a good choice for an inexpensive HO starter train set.

N Scale Train Sets

N Scale is smaller and a little more difficult to work with; however, the layouts can fit into small spaces and many modelers find that they can create more realistic displays with the smaller scale. The Bachmann Industries Super Chief – N Scale Ready to Run Electric Train Set would be a nice starter set for someone who wants to try N scale.

Ready-To-Run Starter Train Sets:

Go Tell It On The Mountain

Music Mondays

Today’s song of the week is Go Tell It On The Mountain by Ethan Luck. Check it out if you’re looking for some fun Christmas music this season: http://ethanluck.bandcamp.com/track/go-tell-it-on-the-mountain