Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet


We Could Be Beekeepers


FCC ALERT: "Clean as a mountain stream"

Biography PUTNAM SMITH "As quirky and genuine as the state from which he hails" - Dirty Linen Magazine Guest Musicians: Seth Yentes: cello Mariel Vandersteel: fiddle Putnam Smith, who hails from Portland, Maine, could be an old-world troubadour fresh from the 19th Century.  After all, he lives in a log cabin,  plays his Grandfather's banjo, and has printed up the jackets of his new CD on a 1901 Pearl Letterpress (hand set type, pedal powered!).  Yet this rootsy multi-instrumentalist songwriter (he also writes and performs on guitar, mandolin, fretless banjo, and piano), steeped as he is in old-time Appalachian traditions, is very much a storyteller for the modern age. "We Could Be Beekeepers," Putnam's soon-to-be released third studio album (June, 2011), was recorded with Mark Thayer at the Signature Sounds Studio, and features Mariel Vandersteel (of Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers) on fiddle, and Seth Yentes (of Whiffletree) on cello.  This new "Trio" sound explores new territory in 'modern roots' music: with original songs that sound straight out of the 19th Century, and traditional Appalachian tunes that sound surprisingly new and fresh. Nominated for "Best Folk Act" by the Portland Phoenix, and noted as "One To Watch" (Rob Reinhart of Acoustic Cafe), Putnam is a quickly rising star on the national folkscape. With his sophomore release, "Goldrush," reaching #5 on the national Folk DJ Charts (and making it on 6 "Favorite Albums of 2009" Lists) Putnam has met with critical acclaim -- both for his songwriting and his dynamic and engaging performances.  A nationally touring artist, Putnam has shared the stage with such folk notables as: Amy Speace, Mark Erelli, Madison Violet, Garnett Rogers, Richard Julian, and Bruce Molsky. Some favorite venues that Putnam has played, include: Club Passim (Boston), Johnny D's (Boston), Rockwood Music Hall (NYC(, Me and Thee Coffeehouse (Marblehead, MA), One Longfellow Square (Portland), The Strutt (Kalamazoo, MI), MAMA's coffeehouse (Bloomfield Hills, MI), Ebenezer's (D.C.), Ginkgo's (St. Paul, MN), Flipnotics (Austin, TX), Chickie Wah Wah's (New Orleans), Studio Live (Sedona, AZ).  Putnam's songs sound like they've come from a back porch in the Blue Ridge Mountains, or some cabin on the coast of Maine.  From whiskey-slinging good-time banjo numbers, to intimate heartbreakers on the guitar, to lighthearted tunes about 'lawnmower repair' on the mandolin, Putnam's able to connect with each member of his audience as if each one were an old friend with whom he were spending a precious evening.  He lives in a log cabin just north of Portland, and loves compost. Instrumentation Putnam Smith: banjo, acoustic guitar, mandolin, piano, voice Guest Musician: Seth Yentes  -- Cello

Review of Putnam Smith We Could Be Beekeepers by Steven “Nick” Nickelson: So many reviews I have read recently all say basically the same thing. Putnam Smithe is the real deal, the genuine article. He clearly likes the simplicity of earlier times and the instruments played in those times. He eschews the fancy doo-dads and gizmos used by today's electronic musicians in favor of human-powered musical instruments – much to the delight of his audiences. To me, he just seems like he would be more at home in then hills of Kentucky and surrounding states playing good ole bluegrass. At least he might appear more sociable. Bluegrass musicians just play (and sound) better when surrounded by like-minded players and pickers. Having said that – his writing talents are well-suited to his unique style of perf orming; yet, I sense the potential for transforming said songs to the bluegrass format. I think he could collect a ton of goodwill and fans if he did so. That's my two nickels worth. --------------Nick

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.