Album Reviews

"Notes From Home"

 

Bluegrass Unlimited Highlight Review

Bluegrass Now

California Bluegrass Association

Pow'r Pickin'

Tennessee Grassroots Music

 

Bluegrass Unlimited

Highlight Review

February 2000 - Volume 32, Number 8

The Chapmans - Notes From Home - Pinecastle PRC 1093

When I first encountered the Chapmans at an IBMA showcase in 1998, I was impressed enough to hope that they would develop into something more than just another family band.  They were green and excited but there was something in their presentation that showed an immense potential.  Now a year has passed and with this, their debut release, the family is still there, but the group has developed into a solid, cohesive unit of four very talented musicians and singers.  Father Bill Chapman and his three sons, John, Jeremy and Jason have produced what I feel is one of the most exciting new projects for 1999 and beyond.

John sings all the lead and his smoky, soulful delivery is especially suited for this music, whether it is a bluegrass kicker like "Lonesome Hearted Blues," a country ballad like Lefty Frizzell's "Mom And Dad's Waltz" or the beautiful and thought-provoking title song, "Notes From Home."  Jeremy's tenor and Jason's baritone blend with John's lead in ways that only siblings can and is best reflected on the Louvin Brothers' classic "You're Running Wild."  John also shines on Vince Gill's, "Jenny Dreamed Of Trains" and the robber-gone-bad ballad, "Out Among The Stars."  "Panhandle Rag" gives the lads a chance to stretch out and show their instrumental prowess, which is considerable given their relative youth.  John is a crackerjack guitarist and Jeremy's mandolin work demonstrates how these two guys are destined to be major contenders in the coming years.   Aubrey Haynie and Rob Ickes contribute fiddle and resonator guitar respectively and Bill's understated banjo and Jason's solid bass keep it all together.

The songs have been rearranged to suit their style and there is plenty of balance between tow-tappers and tear-rendering ballads.  The studio quality is excellent, recorded in Nashville and mastered by the folks at NRP, Inc.  The informative booklet contains photos, songs information and liner notes by Jon Weisberger.  An excellent CD.  (Pinecastle Records, P.O. Box 456, Orlando, FL 32802, Web: www.pinecastle.com  

~ Bill Foster  

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Bluegrass Now

January 2000 - Volume 10, Number 1

The Chapmans - Notes From Home - PRC 1093 - Playing Time 40:10

The Chapmans are a family band consisting of dad Bill on banjo and sons Jeremy on mandolin, John on guitar and Jason on bass.  John and Jeremy handle the lead vocals.  They're joined here by Rob Ickes on resonator and Aubrey Haynie on fiddle.  Originally from Colorado, they've recently moved to Missouri for a more central touring location.  The move is gaining them a larger fan base which is well deserved, as you'll find out when you get this CD.  While many younger family bands lean more toward a contemporary sound, the Chapmans put out hard-driving bluegrass.  Picking-wise, they're as good as anyone, with an impeccable sense of taste that puts the song before individual show-boating.   Vocally, there's a trace of their youth but not much.  John in particular has a great voice that will only get better as he matures.  And harmonically, they blend like you'd expect from a family band.

The songs they've picked range from the classic country "Mom and Dad's Waltz" to classic bluegrass "Out in the Could World" to contemporary bluegrass "Blue Dixie Dreamer."  They're all given a good bluegrass workout, though.   "Panhandle Rag" is the CD's sole instrumental, giving dad and sons a chance to flex their chops in a swinging setting.

With every song carrying its weight, there are no real standouts here, and if I have one criticism it's that I've heard all these songs before.  A few more originals or lesser known songs would strengthen the Chapman's next CD.  On the whole, though, I recommend Notes From Home.  It's an excellent album, the Chapmans are a great band, and they've got a bright future.

~Bryan Kimsey   

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California Bluegrass Association

THE CHAPMANS - "Notes From Home"

PINECASTLE RECORDS - PRC 1093  P.O. Box 456  Orlando, FL 32802

Songs: You Can Run But You Can’t Hide - Mom And Dad’s Waltz - Raining In My Heart - Notes From Home - Panhandle Rag - You’re Running Wild - Lonesome Hearted Blues - Jenny Dreamed Of Trains - Blue Dixie Dreamer - Out Among The Stars - Out In The Cold World - Fool’s Castle

Personnel: John Chapman - guitar, lead and tenor vocals; Jeremy Chapman - mandolin, lead, baritone and tenor vocals; Jason Chapman - bass, baritone vocals; Bill Chapman - banjo, low tenor vocals

By Ken Reynolds

Notes From Home is the latest release by the talented Chapman family on the Pinecastle label. This group based out of Springfield, Missouri, consists of a dad and his three sons. Daddy Bill plays the banjo and sings. John is the lead singer and player while Jeremy plays mandolin for the group and does vocals, while Jason (who is only 14 years of age) adds vocals, and has recently become the bass player for the group. I had heard of this group prior to receiving this CD, but had never heard any of their music.
 

As I put this CD on and began to listen, I knew this was going to be a good one. These folks have a harmony blend that has to be listened to, to really be appreciated. It is smooth and clean. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you just can't beat family harmony, and this is especially true when it comes to the Chapmans.
 

These folks are not only good vocalists, they are outstanding musicians as well. To hear just how good they are on their instruments, just listen to their arrangement of "Panhandle Rag"  ( the only instrumental on the CD ) . These folks play crisp and clean and have a lot of drive to their music.
The songs presented here range from bluegrass to country. But even the country songs have a strong bluegrass feel to them, especially the way the Chapmans have arranged them.
I would be hard put to try to pick a favorite on this project. There is not a weak cut on this CD, in my opinion. I enjoyed every song.


If you want to hear some outstanding picking and singing, you really need to add this one to your collection.

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Pow'r Pickin'

Official Publication of the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society

Two Record Reviews by Berry R. Willis

The second project, which most Colorado bluegrass enthusiasts should have, is The Chapmans, Notes From Home PRC 1093.  You may remember this Denver band as The Chapmans Family, whom we watched grow up through the years here.  The boys are all grown up now and they've developed into a mature, creative bluegrass band.

The Past years brought several changes to the band:  They now live in Springfield, Missouri; they are a fulltime touring band; they are terrific.  Gone is John Chapman's squeaky little voice which is mature enough to do a very credible job with any bluegrass tune.  His Tony Rice guitar licks are as good as ever, though he's tempered them with his own style, which fits the band.

Jeremy, the next oldest son, is terrific not only in his time-keeping role as mandolin player in a bluegrass band, but picking tunes at any speed of rhythm.  He sings some of the tenor and lead vocals, too.

Youngest son Jason has grown up fast and is now a big, young man.  He handles the bass chores for the band since the matriarch of the family stepped out of the band.  He also handles some of the baritone chores for the band.  His bass playing is strong and, on some occasions such as "Raining in My Heart," resembles the rhythms of Alison Krauss' Union Station.

Bill Chapman, the patriarch of the Chapman kids, plays banjo well enough to provide that drive so peculiar to bluegrass music.  His good timing and tone come from many years of playing and teaching.  He and John are the emcees for the band, keeping the show lively and moving.

For this recording project, the Chapmans also invited Dobroist Rob Ickes and fiddler Aubrey Haynie to help.   Good move; their presence adds the variety necessary to fill this recording out.   The album was produced by Third Tyme Out's Ray Deaton.

As I was critical of the cover work for Country Duets, I feel the same way about this work.  There seems to be no connection between the cover photo and the music.  Additionally, the inside photo of the four men has serious contrast  problems and they look really board.   Oh well.  At least they play better then their CD cover lets on.  Jon Weisberger does a nice job on the liner notes, giving a biography of the individuals.

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Tennessee Grassroots Music

THE CHAPMANS - "Notes From Home"  Pinecastle 1093

This family band is terrific!  This new CD quickly rose to one of my favorite plays.  It has a Bluegrass and Americana music blend that will be sure to satisfy the Bluegrasser and the traditional country fan.

The family is from Colorado, but they now reside in Springfield, MO.  They keep a busy touring schedule.

The Chapmans consist of Bill, the father who plays banjo and guitar and sings.  He teaches banjo and owns a small recording studio.  Sons John, Jeremy and Jason Chapman round out the group.   John is the lead singer and contributes guitar.  Jeremy is the mandolin player.  Jason, who is 14, add vocals and plays bass.

Pinecastle has a very impressive roster of Americana music, and I predict the Chapmans will be one of the label's gold star artists.

The singing is great, and the music is superb.  They do a terrific job at acoustic country with a bit of tradition, and sing great bluegrass too.  Can you tell I really like these fellows?  I bet you will too.

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