Ray Chesna,
Every Day Above
Ground is a Good One

(Echo Lake, 1995)

Ray Chesna's Every Day Above Ground is a Good One is a neat, smoothly put together package of swing, blues and bluegrass that also provides pretty good words to live by.

Chesna plays four different guitars and is variously backed by Sherwood Mobley (drums), Bob Shaw (archtop, flattop guitars), Neil Starkey (bass), Tom Wolf (harmonica), Tom Gray (dobro, lap steel), Risˇ Payne (fiddle, backing vocals), Paul Carpenter (bass, backing vocals), Jim Tolles (fiddle) and Pete Cameron (fiddle).

The first and title track is a swing-style song, and the jaunty melody complements the upbeat lyrics. "Viola Lee Blues" rolls along at a moderate clip and features a harmonica and fiddle call and response that shimmies, bumps and grinds. Chesna also plays traditional blues with "Evening Sun Blues" and "Early Morning Blues."

He touches on bluegrass as well with "Make Your Own Music," a mellow and appealing song about the joys of jamming with friends and family, and "Hi'a Cynth," a reeling bluegrass instrumental. "Bar Song" is pure country complete with lap steel guitar and sobbing fiddle.

Chesna's voice is smooth and velvety, subtly changing to suit the style of the song. His guitar-picking is precise and passionate, and the backup performers shine yet maintain the balance. An excellent example of this good mesh is present in the jazzy "One More Bar."

There's a little something for everyone in Every Day Above Ground is a Good One. Let it make your day.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 25 August 2001