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CD Review: Randall Franks – Americana Youth of Southern Appalachia – by Bob Everhart for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

RANDALL FRANKS

Americana Youth of Southern Appalachia

It’s a Hard Road to Make Love Easy (Ryan Stinson)
– Baby’s Coming Home (Caleb Lewis) – Been Gone A Long Time (Wally
O’Donald) – Piano Man (Colton Brown) – How Could I Go (Emerald Butler) –
What About All These American Flags? (Randall Franks) – The Star
Spangled Banner (SingAkadamie featuring Nicholas Hickman and Kiersten
Suttles) – Wash Day (Landon Wall) – Old Spinning Wheel (Landon
Fitzpatrick) – Time For The Blues (King Spring Road) – Traveler’s
Lantern (Wally O’Donald) – Midnight Train (Phillip Cross) – Filling The
River With Tears (Randall Franks with Mountain Cove Bluegrass Band) – 
Someone Greater Than I (Ryan Stinson) – I Believe He Spoke To Me
(Nicholas Hickman) – When We All Get To Heaven and Blessed Assurance
(Colton Brown) – Farther Along (Isaac Moore) – I Want To Be Ready
(Mountain Cove Bluegrass Band

Whew, this is a massive undertaking by Randall
Franks.  Randall gave me this CD when he was with us for America’s Old
Time Country Music Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Fremont,
Nebraska in 2019.  Randall is an incredible fiddler if you did not know
that.  More likely you know Randall for his work as an actor….a deputy
sheriff in “In The Heat of the Night” with Carrol Conners.  Music
however is Randall’s ‘gift,’ and he directs it gallantly and extremely
well.  This project, a massive one indeed, features young artists from
Appalachia that Randall has met along his way in life.  With a little
help from the Share America Foundation Inc., he was able to produce and
promote this wonderful project.  Randall is on it too, his first spot is
“What About All Those American Flags?”  We get to hear Randall narrate
this wonderful story, we also get to hear him playing the ‘fiddle’ in
the background, both done extremely well.  As a story teller Randall
reminds me of Walter Brennan, the feeling and the ‘truth’ so obviously
present in the presentation.  We get to hear Randall again on “Filling
The River With Tears” along with his super fiddle work, and a good
bluegrass band backing him. The young ones he produced all have a very
different sound.  My ‘bag’ is old-timey early rural music, and that’s
well represented.  There’s also a small adventure into the rock and roll
direction, but for absolute ‘originality’ I’d have to go with “Been
Gone A Long Time” by Wally O’Donald.  This young voice excels in ‘style’
and ‘presentation.’  Super interesting and at the same time kind of
old-timey bluesy early rural music.  He also presents a kind of Ralph
Stanley “Rank Stranger” sound in an interesting original, “Traveler’s
Lantern.”  What a remarkable recording this is.  Really enjoyed the
‘traditional’ sound in “Old Spinning Wheel” by Landon Fitzpatrick.  I’m
assuming maybe he plays the banjo (first ‘lead’ out at the beginning),
but he’s joined by Randall’s fine fiddle playing and a mandolin picker
also well done.  King Springs Road also turns in some delightful early
bluegrass sounds, super great to listen to. As you can see I enjoy the
‘traditional’ sound, however every single artist on this album is
remarkably good.  I believe it is Randall that opens the song “I Want To
Be Ready” with the Mountain Cove Bluegrass Band.  “Walking in Jerusalem
Just Like John” is not listed on the album cover but it’s a wallop of a
good bluegrass gospel song.  What is exceptionally important to me is,
these young players know Jesus Christ.  They ‘know’ where their soul is,
they ‘know’ they will eventually be welcomed into Jesus’s mansion. 
They KNOW we are living in strange times right now.  God Bless each and
every participant in this wonderful production.  I’m especially proud of
what Randall Franks does with his ‘gift’ of music.  He’s also one of
Jesus’s special folks.  He too knows, in this time of trial and
temptation, we all must remain ‘firm’ in our beliefs. 

RECORD REVIEW BY BOB EVERHART, President National Traditional Country Music Assn., www.music-savers.com  for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

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