Songs of Heart & Home - Debut Album from Greg Blake!

Image635768827315090161You’ll hear it in his voice immediately, the original strain of Appalachian mountain music that lies at the heart of all great modern bluegrass and country.

Greg Blake grew up in the mountains of southwest West Virginia, and when he sings, you can hear a voice that connects to the great old generations of mountain singers, invested with a rich twang and the kind of eerily powerful cry that first inspired the ‘high, lonesome sound.’

On his new album, SONGS OF HEART AND HOME, he’s joined by some of the best bluegrass talents today, not least members of the band he leads as vocalist, Jeff Scroggins and Colorado, plus guests like 3-Image635768835049192526time IBMA Vocalist of the Year; Claire Lynch, K.C. Groves (Uncle Earl), bluegrass icon Laurie Lewis, mandolinist John Reischman, fiddler Blaine Sprouse, and dobro master Sally Van Meter (who also produced the album).

But it’s his voice that rings out above them all, earnestly delivering songs of family, love, and life in the hills. These days he’s traded the low, rolling mountains of his West Virginia homeland for the sky-scraping peaks of Colorado, and he’s moved his lifelong calling as a minister to the full-time bluegrass music scene, but he still keeps his faith close and his family closer.

On a song like “Dreaming of a Little Cabin,” you can hear the gentle guidance of a pastor and a devout family man reflecting on the good path.

While bluegrass gospel may be one of Greg Blake’s signature talents, he’s certainly not averse to a little rough-and-tumble country singing, and his new album feature a blazing bluegrass version of Johnny Cash’s “Hey Porter” that shows off Blake’s razor-sharp and lightning-fast guitar picking abilities.

Drawing from a wide variety of song sources, from Cash to 80s country (Joe Diffie), to Canadian folk (Ian Tyson), to the original source himself, Big Mon, Greg Blake has a far ranging set of influences but a powerful Appalachian base to his music that resets these vocal gems in new ways.

Image635768838066025079Growing up in West Virginia, Greg Blake was immersed in the sounds of old country, mountain bluegrass, and gospel harmonies from a young age.

Moving to Kansas City, he started playing in multiple bands, eventually recording on 12 albums for groups like the Bluegrass Missourians, Mountain Holler, The Harvest Quartet and more.

He’s twice been nominated for the SPBGMA’s Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year and five times won the SPBGMA’s Guitarist of the Year, not to mention the Kansas State Flatpicking championship.

After moving to Conifer, Colorado, a small town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountain Front Range just a few miles southwest of Denver, Greg joined all-star progressive bluegrass band Jeff Scroggins & Colorado as the lead vocalist.

With both Jeff and his son Tristan breaking new ground instrumentally on the banjo and mandolin, Greg stepped up to the plate as a guitarist, and crafted the band’s sound around his signature vocals.

Now after cutting two albums with Jeff Scroggins & Colorado (and a third on the way), touring North America, and raising a family, he’s poised to come into his own as one of the true Appalachian stars of modern bluegrass.

This debut solo album, SONGS OF HEART AND HOME, measures Greg Blake spreading his wings as a vocalist and bandleader, crafting genre crossing music that appeals to Bluegrass, Folk, Country, and Gospel fans alike.

It’s no small thing that Greg Blake was able to gather some of the best musicians and vocalists in bluegrass to join him on his debut solo album. A big man with an even bigger heart, he brings an uplifting joy to the music he knows and loves. Unfettered by genre divisions, he just follows his heart to find the deep mountain roots of the music, infusing everything he sings with a powerful, soaring spirit.

Track List

  • 1. Sweetest Love (Carter Stanley) Hard Driving Traditional bluegrass featuring Jeff Brown on Harmony.
  • 2. Dreaming of a Little Cabin (Albert E. Brumley) Bluegrass Gospel Blake’s original and poignant duet arrangement features three-time IBMA Vocalist of the year Claire Lynch.
  • 3. Hey Porter- On this smoking version of Johnny Cash’s classic country tune, Mark Schatz’ unique and dynamic bass line grabs you and pulls you onto that train barreling down the track.
  • 4. I Still Miss Someone (Johnny Cash / Roy Cash Jr.) Country - This tribute to one of Blake’s earliest musical influences demonstrates his versatility across genres, featuring K.C. Groves (harmony) and Sally Van Meter (Dobro, Harmony).
  • 5. The Hills of My Home (Laurie Lewis) Bluegrass - Describes the feelings of mountain folks across the USA. Possibly the only cover of Laurie Lewis’s popular tune, it features Laurie herself singing harmony.
  • 6. Thinking About You (Bill Monroe, Lee Fikes) Bluegrass - Tells the story of lost love from the perspective of a Widow or Widower recalling the love shared while their companion was still alive, featuring Jeff Brown on harmony.
  • 7. Cruisin’ Timber (Dorsey & David Harvey) Bluegrass - This rarely recorded tune displays the lightning fast licks that earned Blake the title of “Bluegrass Guitar Performer if the year for 5 consecutive years by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America.
  • 8. Summer Wages - Progessive Bluegrass - Blake’s re-interpretation of Ian Tyson’s contemporary folk song, which reminds the listener that true love can be fragile and fleeting.
  • 9. Home (Fred Lehner / Andy Spooner) - Greg Blake’s take on Joe Diffie’s classic country hit from the late 1980’s has a country feel, but with strictly acoustic instruments. Nostalgic memories of home can lighten your current, perhaps not so pleasant situation. With Claire Lynch on harmony vocals.
  • 10. 50 Miles from Nowhere (Greg Blake / Lyla Carder) - Bluegrass - Many folks from small towns across this country describe where they live as being “Fifty Miles from Nowhere” and although those places may be as different as night and day, they are still beloved homes to somebody. Features Jeff Brown on harmony.
  • 11. Where I Live - The picturesque scenes of home conjured up by the lyrics to this folk tune by Bill Staines evokes deep emotion and incorporates the themes of Heart and Home. This flowing version with subtle instrumentation pulls at the heartstrings and showcases Blake’s smooth Baritone and his ability to cross the genres.
  • 12. Home is Where the Heart Is (Connie Gately / John Talley) Bluegrass – one of the handful of songs on the album that incorporates both the themes of heart and home, with blistering instrumental breaks and harmonies by Jeff Brown that will peel paint off the walls!
  • 13. Turn Your Heart Toward Home (Steve and Annie Chapman) Slow / Southern Gospel with a Progressive Bluegrass twist.  A modern interpretation of the biblical story of the prodigal son, this song provided motivation for the theme of the entire album. It is also the song most requested by Blake’s fans at his public appearances. With Claire Lynch on harmony vocals.

Source: Hearth Music Press Release

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