Guest House

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
An acoustic treat, Guest House is furnished with a blend of styles rooted in ancient tones but boasting a contemporary glow in the seasoned hands of bluegrass innovators Laurie Lewis (fiddle, guitars, vocals) and Tom Rozum (vocals, mandolin, mandola, guitar). The pair dip into gospel, folk, bluegrass, and country, positioning well-turned original songs alongside well-chosen covers, both of which allow for plenty of hot pickin' and a dollop of introspective instrumental commentary. With a few select side players along for support, Lewis's frantic, album-opening ballad, "Willie Poor Boy," takes a page from Woody Guthrie in its compassionate approach to a beleaguered ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
An acoustic treat, Guest House is furnished with a blend of styles rooted in ancient tones but boasting a contemporary glow in the seasoned hands of bluegrass innovators Laurie Lewis (fiddle, guitars, vocals) and Tom Rozum (vocals, mandolin, mandola, guitar). The pair dip into gospel, folk, bluegrass, and country, positioning well-turned original songs alongside well-chosen covers, both of which allow for plenty of hot pickin' and a dollop of introspective instrumental commentary. With a few select side players along for support, Lewis's frantic, album-opening ballad, "Willie Poor Boy," takes a page from Woody Guthrie in its compassionate approach to a beleaguered workingman's plight, and the acoustic instruments summon the sizzling spirit of Flatt & Scruggs. "Tramps and Hawkers," a deliberately paced, somber tale of a drifter's yearning for the land and people he must sadly leave behind, tugs extra hard at the heartstrings when Lewis adds poignant, keening fiddle support to Rozum's melancholy vocal. Bill Monroe's life story inspired the toe-tapping, banjo- and fiddle-fired epic "O My Malissa," which is paired with a version of the Monroe Brothers' "How Old Are You?" in an inspired moment of vocal and instrumental transcendence. An album so rich in authoritative picking, though, finds its most powerful moment in the a cappella voices harmonizing on "Quiet Hills," a hymnlike testimony to faith in the future in the midst of a bleak present. Toss in a spirited rendition of the evergreen "Old Dan Tucker" and a jubilant rendition of a Perry Como landmark, "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes," and this Guest House is full up -- with a surfeit of good things.
All Music Guide - Chris Nickson
There was a time when Laurie Lewis was seen as the queen of West Coast bluegrass, as if it was a different animal from Southern bluegrass. It's not, of course, and these days Lewis is recognized as one of the music's major practitioners. This showcases her vocal talents and puts her playing on the back burner, and she can certainly use her voice, especially on the two Hazel Dickens songs here, with "Scars from an Old Love" being so good you actually hold your breath during the song. That she's also a strong writer is demonstrated by three of her own compositions, with "O My Malissa" being the best, the tale of the courtship between the late great Bill Monroe's parents. It would be unfair to play down Tom Rozum's contributions, as he offers some scintillating mandolin work that's an absolute joy, and provides a perfect vocal foil for Lewis on tracks like "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes" and "Since You Went Away." They both get to shine vocally on "Quiet Hills," an a cappella piece that's made of fragile beauty. Closing with an instrumental medley was a good cleansing idea, and everyone obviously has a glorious time with it, Lewis' fiddle work on the first piece atmospheric and moving. All in all, a joyous, often lovely record.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/30/2004
  • Label: Hightone Records
  • UPC: 012928816724
  • Catalog Number: 8167

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Laurie Lewis Primary Artist, Fiddle, Guitar, Vocals
Nina Gerber Guitar, Guest Appearance
Mike Marshall Mandocello, Guest Appearance
Tom Rozum Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals, Mandola, Primary Artist
Tom Sauber Banjo, Guest Appearance
Scott Huffman Guitar, Guest Appearance
Craig Robert Smith Banjo, Guest Appearance
Todd Sickafoose Vocals, String Bass, Guest Appearance
Technical Credits
Laurie Lewis Arranger, Producer
Hazel Dickens Composer
Si Kahn Composer
Claudia Schmidt Composer
Jim Ringer Composer
Tom Rozum Arranger, Composer, Producer
Liz Meyer Composer
Slim Willet Composer
Traditional Composer
Todd Sickafoose Arranger
Kate McLeod Composer
L. David Lewis Composer
Tom Size Engineer
Tim Rozum Producer
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Versatility gives this album a high degree of intrigue and charm

    Playing Time – 53:36 -- The title of the third duet album from Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum was inspired by the 13th C. Persian poet, mystic and religious scholar Jalal al-Din Rumi. Like bluegrass music, the “Guest House” of humanity is wrought with various emotions from joy to sorrow, depression to delight. Laurie and Tom also have an affinity for old-time and folk music in their songs full of love, advice and caution. Besides her own the originals, the duo cover a couple by Hazel Dickens (”My Heart’s Own Love” and ”Scars From an Old Love”) and others by Claudia Schmidt, Si Kahn, Slim Willet, Liz Meyer, Jim Ringer, and Kate McLeod. The rollicking opener, “Willie Poor Boy,” is a sorrowful tale about an angry man with a gun whose rage lands him in prison. In a style reminiscent of The Louvins, “Since You Went Away” is an original country duet with understated arrangement but a catchy hook. “You can’t harvest any good when you sow bad seed” is the cautionary missive found in “Bad Seed.” An appealing Celtic melody is the foundation of Jim Ringer’s “Tramps and Hawkers.” There are other pleasant surprises – Rozum’s additional lyrics to “Old Dan Tucker”; a resurrection of the 1950s hit “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes”; the splendid four-part a cappella harmonies on Claudia Schmidt's “Quiet Hills”; the nearly 8-minute traditional fiddle tune medley that closes the album. Laurie wrote “O My Malissa” after reading about courtship of Bill Monroe’s parents. It makes a seque into “How Old Are You?,” a fiddle tune learned from a recording of Bill, Charlie and Birch Monroe in 1969. This medley and “My Heart’s Own Love” feature the frailing banjo of Tom Sauber. Craig Smith’s bluegrass banjo embellishes six cuts. The other accompanists include Todd Sickafoose (bass), Scott Huffman (guitar, 4 cuts), Nina Gerber (lead guitar, 2 cuts), Mike Marshall (mandocello on one cut, guitar on one cut). Laurie plays fiddle and guitar; Tom plays mandolin, mandola, and guitar. From Berkeley, Laurie got hooked on bluegrass in the 1960s and has played with many groups (Phantoms of the Opry, Good Ol’ Persons, Free Mexican Air Force, Vern Williams Band, Arkansas Shieks, Blue Rose, and Grant Street) before starting her own band in 1998. A two-time California State Women’s Fiddle Champion and two-time IBMA “Female Vocalist of the Year” (1992 and 1994), Laurie has also appeared at the Grand Ole Opry. Tom Rozum has worked with Lewis since 1986. He recently released his first solo album, “Jubilee,” and “Guest House” is actually their eighth overall album together. Lewis and Rozum recorded their first duet album in 1995. “The Oak and the Laurel” was nominated for a Grammy in 1996 for Best Traditional Folk Album. “Winter’s Grace” was put out in 1999. The indefatigable Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum have a reputation for exciting musicianship. Their sound keeps hot fiddle, mandolin and duet singing in the forefront. They’re a little bit classic country, a tad bit folk, a skosh old-timey, and slightly bluegrass. This album is proof that they can expertly do it all. Their versatility gives this album a high degree of intrigue and charm. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)

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