The local nonprofit JAMinc doesn’t just bring musical offerings, lessons and workshops to central Virginia schools, it also co-sponsors an ongoing live concert series in the intimate (and state-of-the-art) confines of In Your Ear studio that brings an incredible assortment of folk, bluegrass and blues performers to town.
The organization’s first CD compilation, culled from these (usually sold-out) live dates, offers up national performers that traffic in traditional music as well as home-state musicians keeping alive regional traditions — the likes of old-time guitarist Wayne Henderson, autoharpist Bryan Bowers and, on the standout “Prison Blues,” the late Piedmont bluesman John Cephas. The disc also allows space for more contemporary takes on acoustica, such as former Old School Freight Train leader Jesse Harper’s Jason Mrazish “So You’re Down” and chameleonic harp master Howard Levy’s fusion-folk set closer, “Fade to Black.”
The pristine sound captures the intimacy of the occasions; the cherry-picked performances are spot-tight, and the only real complaint is that the JAMinc compilers could’ve squeezed in a few more cuts. But if you’re a fan of Americana music, you’ll find much to cherish here, such as Tony Furtado’s spooky “Thirteen Below” or Mike Epping’s harmonica tour-de-force, “Twelve Gates to the City.” **** — Don Harrison, Style Magazine.