CD Reviews for 01/16/08 – Dayton & Leigh, The SteelDrivers

Compact Capsules for 01/16/08
by Dan Ferguson

Jesse Dayton & Brennen Leigh
Holdin’ Our Own
Stag Records STAG-011

In the tradition of such revered duos as George & Tammy, Conway & Loretta, and even Johnny & June, the Austin-based pairing of Jesse Dayton and Brennan Leigh deliver fully-loaded guy-gal country gold with Texafied swagger and twang to spare on Holdin’ Our Own. Mixing half-dozen spry originals with five dandy covers including the Webb Pierce classic “Back Street Affair”, a kick-ass rehashing of “Something to Brag About” which Charlie Louvin and Melba Montgomery struck gold with, and “Brand New Heartache” which recalls Gram and Emmylou as much as it does classic Nashville, there’s nothing not to like about Holdin’ Our Own. It’s old school and recommended. (Visit

The SteelDrivers
Rounder Records 0598

Go back over the last decade or so and all too many bluegrass band have a sterile quality to them; lots of slick picking and pristine singing, but completely devoid of soul. Nashville-based collective The SteelDrivers on their debut recording spit in the face of perfection when it comes to bluegrass offering up 11 tunes chock full of grit and soul. Comprised of a collection of Music City vets (Chris Stapleton, Mike Henderson, Tammy, Richard Bailey and Mike Fleming) who’ve earned their respective stripes in everything from hard and alt country to blues and rock, The SteelDrivers’ frills-free, lunch bucket approach to bluegrass results in an album as satisfyingly soulful as a shot of the finest Kentucky bourbon. (Visit

The SteelDrivers appear at the 23rd annual Joe Val Bluegrass Festival on February 16. The festival takes place at the Sheraton-Framingham in Framingham, MA. The SteelDrivers are scheduled to come on at 3 PM. Visit for details.

(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at [email protected].)