35 Years of Stony Plain
This small Alberta, Canada, label recently celebrated its 35th anniversary with this two-CD, one-DVD package that features 41 audio tracks and 10 videos of some of the label’s roster of artists. Like the assorted chocolates found in a Whitman’s Sampler box, this collection invites you to sample the work of more than 40 musicians working in a variety of genres in the hopes that you’ll want to acquire the CDs on which the songs were originally issued; it also showcases the label’s breadth. While some, such as the Canadian country singers Ian Tyson, Corb Lund and Tim Hus, are better known north of the border, there are plenty of stateside musicians (e.g., Ronnie Earl, Joe Louis Walker, Duke Robillard, Maria Muldaur) who have CDs out on the label. Disc 1, subtitled “Singers, songwriters and much, much more …” has songs by Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris and Amos Garrett, while Disc 2’s focus on “Blues, R&B, swing, jazz and even more …” features Rory Block, Sonny Rhodes and Rosco Gordon—who liven things up admirably—and four 1965 tracks (his last recordings) by the seminal Arkansas bluesman Robert Nighthawk. The most unusual track is Ellen McIlwaine’s unearthly rendition of John Lee Hooker’s “Crawling King Snake.” The DVD’s best moments are provided by Ronnie Earl.