Gifted local Bluegrass singer/mandolin player Missy Werner’s latest album, Turn This Heart Around, was released July 1 through iTunes, Amazon and most other online stores. The album — which has already been garnering airplay and positive reviews nationally — gets the hometown release party treatment this Saturday at the Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center (620 Greenup St., Covington, 859-431-0020). Werner and her band perform at 7 p.m. More info and advance tickets ($15) are available at bakerhunt.org. Remaining tickets will be $25 at the door day of show and it’s expected to be a sell-out, so if you’re interested in attending, don’t procrastinate.
While Turn This Heart Around heavily features Werner’s regular band — husband and bassist Artie Werner, banjo specialist Jeff Roberts and guitarist Tim Strong — the album is the result of numerous outside collaborations. Award-winning producer/songwriter/bassist Jon Weisberger (who was at one time a big part of the Greater Cincinnati Bluegrass scene, before he moved to Nashville) helmed the project and curated the “mostly new” songs, which were crafted by notable songwriters Bob Morrison, Eric Gibson, Marc Simos, Gretchen Peters, Weisberger and several others. Turn This Heart Around also includes several guest musicians and vocalists, including young Rounder Records recording artist Sierra Hull, Sarah Siskind (who has collaborated with Alison Krauss and Bon Iver) and Jeremy Garrett of The Infamous Stringdusters, who sings lead on the harmony-laden Gospel number “Travelin’ Light.”
While having so many “chefs in the kitchen” might have turned the album into a messy hodgepodge in lesser hands, Werner and Weisberger guide the project gracefully, with Werner’s vocals and mandolin providing the cohesive glue. The album is impressively dynamic, though. While there is plenty of great Bluegrass to be found on Turn This Heart Around (like the rollicking “The Heart You Break,” Roberts’ strong instrumental “Snake in the Grass” and a great run through The Stanley Brothers’ “I Just Got Wise”), it’s not strictly a Bluegrass album. Omnivorous Roots music fans will find the entire album a treat, as Werner and Co. touch on Country, contemporary Folk Pop and other Americana forms.
Other Turn This Heart Around highlights include “Wish I Was,” a lilting, heartbroken-but-hopeful (a theme of the album as a whole) ballad; “You’ll Never Care,” which has a great traditional Country vibe; the somber “Dead Man Walking,” a song about losing someone to alcoholism; and the album’s percolating first single, “Rocks in the River,” which brings many of the album’s strengths and influences together on one track.
Werner’s previous two albums, particularly 2011’s Three Kinds of Lonesome, earned some nice praise from the Bluegrass world, but the accomplished Turn This Heart Around feels like a career-changer, the kind of recording that should put the singer/mandolinist and her band in an even bigger spotlight.
For more on Werner, visit missywerner.com.
Locals at Bunbury
If you’re attending this weekend’s Bunbury Music Festival at Sawyer Point/Yeatman’s Cove along Cincinnati’s riverfront, be sure to check out some of the great local acts booked for the third annual event. Whether you are an out-of-towner or just new to local, original music, it’s a good chance to check out a few of the area’s finest, mostly from the Rock/Indie/Alternative worlds (though you’ll also find some Americana and even a little Blues).
On Friday, catch Greater Cincinnati bands The Upset Victory (2 p.m.; Amphitheater Stage), Among the Mountains (2:45 p.m.; Acoustic Stage), Let It Happen (3:30 p.m.; Amphitheater Stage), 500 Miles to Memphis (4:15 p.m.; Lawn Stage), Black Owls (7:15 p.m.; Lawn Stage) and local Pop Rock legends psychodots (8 p.m.; Amphitheater Stage). And though they relocated to Austin, Texas a few years ago, the widely acclaimed Heartless Bastards are Dayton/Cincinnati-spawned. And awesome. The band plays Friday at 9:15 p.m. on the Warsteiner Stage.
On Saturday, your local music choices include Brent James & the Vintage Youth (2 p.m.; Amphitheater Stage), G. Miles & the Hitmen (3:30 p.m.; Amphitheater Stage), Northern Kentucky-based newcomer Eva Ross (4:15 p.m.; Acoustic Stage), Jesse Thomas (5 p.m.; Amphitheater Stage), Austin Livingood (5:45 p.m.; Acoustic Stage), Pluto Revolts (6:30 p.m.; Amphitheater Stage), Jane Decker (7:15 p.m.; Lawn Stage) and Molly Sullivan (7:30 p.m.; Acoustic Stage). The nationally beloved Foxy Shazam, the highest-billed Cincinnati band on the Bunbury roster, plays at 9 p.m. Saturday on the River Stage (see interview, page 19).
Sunday at Bunbury, you can see and hear area acts Daniel in Stereo (2 p.m.; Acoustic Stage), Kim Taylor (2:45 p.m.; Warsteiner Stage), Young Heirlooms (2:45 p.m.; Amphitheater Stage), Lamps & Voids (4:15 p.m.; Amphitheater Stage), Kelly Thomas (4:45 p.m.; Acoustic Stage), The Yugos (5 p.m.; Lawn Stage) and Harbour (5:45 p.m.; Amphitheater Stage).
Be sure to check out the full schedule and find complete Bunbury info at bunburyfestival.com.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected] or @CityBeatMusic