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Cedar Hill Releases Long Awaited Dixie & Tom T. Hall Album

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Cedar Hill - Miss Dixie, Tom T, and MeCedar Hill has just released a project of songs by Miss Dixie and Tom T. Hall on the Hall's Blue Circle Records. With the recent passing of Miss Dixie and Tom T's current health issues, this is a timely release to showcase the talent of the Halls songwring ability. Frank Ray spoke with the Halls for two years and the band's result is Miss Dixie, Tom T, and Me released today.

After listening to this release, I can assure you that Cedar Hill gives a great performance on these tracks. This is hot traditional bluegrass with the the Hall's bluegrass touch. From the fast paced opening track of "This Ain't No Way To Run A Railroad" to the storyteller styled song of "Hound Dog From Harlan" -- to a Mountain Music styled "Aunt Penny" and all the way through a journey ending on "Hillbilly Highway" back at one's roots. The album is definitely another winner from Cedar Hill.

Frank commented on his latest project, "This project was such an enjoyable one for all of us and a somewhat therapeutic one for me, as you will see. The opportunity to work with 2 of the most prolific songwriters in Country and bluegrass music history and, not to mention absolutely wonderful people who I have been so fortunate to call my friends for a number of years, has proven to be one of the most memorable experiences in my musical career."

Tom T. Hall commented on the album cover, "This is a project Miss Dixie wanted to do for a long time. She wanted to find someone she and I could work with to collaborate on an album called Miss Dixie, Tom T. and Me. Frank Ray turned out to be the prefect person. After working with Frank on several different little projects, Miss Dixie fell in love with him, his knowledge of music, his love of music and their mutual love of tradition. We have had hours and hours of fun sitting around the kitchen table working on this project and Miss Dixie and I couldn't be happier with it."

Frank wrote, "In my forty eighty years since the beginning of Cedar Hill, I never remember having such a diversity of emotions about making a recording. I would first like you to know that I am a most blessed man. I feel I have more blessings in one day than I could list here without even considering 48 years worth. Thank you Lord. I owe more thanks than ever could be repaid. Two years ago I lost what just could have been my two best fans. My Son Scott who at thirty nine, succumbed to a life long illness and my Dad, Dallas, who lived a wonderful, full life at ninety one. Out of my four children, Scott was always the one who would ask Daddy to sing to him. He took up mandolin and loved to play bluegrass. He, along with my Dad, were always quick to have a genuine swelled chest and joy, with every mention of any accomplishment I might have had. Never did I receive more encouragement to play my music than from these two. When they died within 2 months of each other, I honestly felt my music had died as well."

He continues, "As some may know, I wrote a large portion of my own material. As hard as I tried, I have not been able to complete a song since losing them. The current line up of Cedar Hill has some of the dearest and most talented people I have ever been privileged to play with. It was for them that I made a desperate effort to try to write and record but it just wasn't happening. It was at that point that two of the dearest people God has ever placed in my path stepped in. Ms Dixie and Tom T. Hall. I have had a wonderful relationship with them for several years and have recorded several recordings on Ms Dixie's Blue Circle record label. During these day's Ms Dixie would contact me or I her and the things that remained constant in every conversation were first her encouragement and then her telling me she was praying for me. She would always say, “Frank, you have to get your song back”. I knew she was right but just didn't quite know how to do it. I would tell her I just couldn't seem to write anymore. One day she called to tell me she had a proposition for me. As I listened, she told me that she and Tom T. had talked and had written a number of songs lately that she considered good songs and would like for me to record an entire project of their work. I was overwhelmed with warmth and joy. You see, I knew it was not as simple as them wanting me only, to record their songs. Why, they could get nearly anyone they asked to do a project like that. It was that they wanted to help encourage a friend to “get his song back”. That's the kind of people they are."

Frank is a talented songwriter on his own. Frank has been playing in bluegrass bands since 1964. Mandolin player for the group, he sings tenor, low baritone and lead. A veteran songwriter, he has written many outstanding songs and instrumentals over the years that have earned him several Song Writer of the Year Awards and in August of 2008, Frank was inducted into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame. He first formed Cedar Hill in 1967.

Formed by its patriarch and mandolin player Frank Ray some 40 years ago, Cedar Hill is a traditional Bluegrass band made up of five accomplished musicians and singers who have stayed true to their Ozark roots. With Jim Bunch on banjo and vocals, Pete Brown on fiddle and vocals, Patti LaFleur on bass and vocals and Britt McGarity on guitar and lead vocals, you will be hard pressed to find a better traditional bluegrass band anywhere. Now settled into their own in the mainstream of the National bluegrass scene, Cedar Hill has been pleasing audiences everywhere with their original, emotional, exciting brand of traditional Bluegrass! Friends joining in on this project include Tim Crouch, Danny Lee Allison, Ron Pennington, and Billy McGarity.

Frank notes after this recording, "I might just write a few more and do another recording." We certainly hope he does!

The songs in order on the CD are as follows:

  1. "This Ain't No Way To Run A Railroad" Tom T. Hall, Dixie Hall
  2. "Love Is A Gamble" Tom T. Hall, Dixie Hall
  3. "Hound Dog From Harlan" Tom T. Hall, Dixie Hall
  4. "I'll Not Stand In Your Way" Dixie Hall
  5. "Aunt Penny" Dixie Hall, Tom T. Hall, Billy Smith
  6. "The Face In The Window" Dixie Hall, Tom T. Hall
  7. "They Don't Make Girls Like Ruby Anymore" Keith Bilbrey, Dixie Hall, Tom T. Hall
  8. "Let's Go Walking Again" Tom T. Hall, Dixie Hall, Troy Engle
  9. "Burning Down The Barn" Tom T. Hall, Dixie Hall
  10. "Hillbilly Highway" Dixie Hall, Tom T. Hall

Frank gives us further comments on some of the tracks saying, "A few subjects that come to mind are":

"Hound Dog From Harlan"
This is about an old hound dog whose owner has died and the the person in the song finds him. I won't tell more than that so as not to ruin the story line for you but as usual, Tom T. takes the listener on a heart warming journey.
"Aunt Penny"
Aunt Penny turns out to be the unknown sister of Uncle Pen. She plays old time frailin' banjo. An exciting old time song.
"The Face In The Window"
This is a literal ghostly song from the American Civil War period.
"They Don't Make Girls Like Ruby Anymore"
A song about the virtues of the pure Country culture of an earlier rural America.
"Let's Go Walking Again"
It is very difficult for me to pick a favorite on this CD but this song would have to be near the top. It stirs a vivid picture for me of my own parents as my mother became more and more feeble. Dad would ask her to take a walk around their place in the rural Ozarks they loved so dearly. It turns out this was very similar to Tom T. and Miss Dixie as they would walk around their beloved Fox Hollow farm. The things they would do such as stop to check the flowers and visit their neighbor conjures up a very endearing time. This song often brings a tear to my eye.
"Burning Down The Barn"
This is another, oh so typical Tom T. Style song. A somewhat comical but all to real scenario. The bank is about to foreclose on the family farm but Dad gets the last laugh.
"Hillbilly Highway"
Mr Tom T. Told me he lived this song. The song of a country boy who goes to the city and returns to his roots.

This is a Miss Dixie and Tom T. Hall album. Frank did not contribute to the writing other than a couple changed lines here and there. The exciting contribution for him and Cedar Hill was bringing these wonderful songs to life through the arrangements and production.

Worth noting is the song "I'll Not Stand In Your Way". This song was written solely by Miss Dixie. Most all of the songs were a collaboration of Miss Dixie and Tom T Hall with the occasional third writer but Miss Dixie or Tom T would sometimes be a solo writer. This was rare in their later years. This song was one of those for Miss Dixie and certainly one of, if not the last solo song she wrote before keeping her eternal, heavenly appointment.

After listening to this album, the first thing you do is, you want to listen to it again. And, Again. And, yet again! A great tribute to the Halls produced and performed by a class act like Cedar Hill. If you like your bluegrass traditional and the songwriting of the Halls, then you need this album.

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