As Si Kahn approaches his 70th birthday next spring as well as his 40th year as a recording artist, it makes sense that he would think about making a “greatest hits” CD.
And now he’s done just that! Aragon Mill: The Bluegrass Sessions, Si’s 18th album, was released in Europe on May Day. Its North American release coincides with Labor Day (what else would you expect from Si Kahn?), but will be available for DJ airplay beginning on September 1st. It features some of his best-known and most-loved songs, including “Aragon Mill,” “Gone Gonna Rise Again,” “Wild Rose of the Mountain” and “Blue Ridge Mountain Refugee.”
While some people may think of Si Kahn as primarily a folk songwriter, he’s been writing, performing and recording bluegrass music since the beginning of his music career. As Tim O’Brien notes, “Si Kahn’s fine songs have always held a mirror to the hardships and hopes of southern working men and women, which is why they fit so well with the string band sound on Aragon Mill: The Bluegrass Sessions. These are true life stories in a real hands on setting.”
But who ever imagined that Si would make his “greatest hits” CD with a German bluegrass band? The Looping Brothers (think Ira and Charlie Louvin) are one of Europe’s most respected, experienced and best-loved bluegrass bands, having worked and toured with such bluegrass legends as Bill Monroe, the Osborne Brothers, Kenny Baker, Josh Graves and Dan Crary.
Bluegrass artists who’ve recorded some of the songs on this CD and others by Si include Kathy Mattea, Hazel Dickens, Dry Branch Fire Squad, the Krüger Brothers, Molly O’Brien, Laurie Lewis & Tom Rozum, Charles Sawtelle, The Gordons, the Red Clay Ramblers and Robin & Linda Williams.
Si’s bluegrass songwriting has received serious critical acclaim. According to Dave Higgs, writing in Bluegrass News, “In a world rife with many talented songwriters, Si Kahn stands alone. And his deeply thoughtful, elegantly simple, sometimes majestic, often achingly moving and always hard-hitting songs have stood, and will continue to stand, the test of time.”
Bluegrass legend Laurie Lewis adds, in her introduction to Aragon Mill: The Bluegrass Sessions, “But the treatment here, in the capable hands of the Looping Brothers, casts each of these in a new light…All the material was chosen for the project by the Looping Brothers, who have placed each song in a shining bluegrass setting, surrounded by the intricate filigree of banjo, fiddle, mandolin and guitar. Si and his songs are jewels here on Earth.”