A few years ago, Chuck Klosterman wrote a great column in Spin magazine in which he picked the 10 most accurately rated bands of all time. His theory was that most musicians are either underrated or overrated, but every now and then, one is rated exactly right (Van Halen topped his list).
Hill City's Vern Bishop is another musician whose level of success seems exactly matched to his talent. He never broke onto the national scene, but people in this neck of the woods know and love him from events like Aitkin's Riverboat Days and Brainerd's Cowboy & Hobo Days.
He has opened for big names in Nashville, Tenn. He has headlined in places like Branson, Mo., and Sandstone.
His new album, "Some Here, Some Gone But Not Forgotten," appears from the low-budget packaging to be thrown together. But the six originals and eight covers are professionally produced, and will exceed your lowered expectations.
Hill City's Vern Bishop recently released his new album of country originals and classics, "Some Here, Some Gone But Not Forgotten."
Bishop sings effectively - and traditionally. He doesn't break new ground, but does a nice job of covering old ground.
The record kicks off with "A Long Time Ago," which fits the paradoxical country template. The narrator recalls a time when he was too young to understand love, "so we just look back on what might've been, and wonder where we might be." Naturally, the melancholy words are offset by tinkly piano music and calypso guitars.
"Losing My Mind" is the country equivalent of Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days." It starts with "I was born in a honky tonk on the wrong side of town/Me and my buddy, we bought another round." Before long, the singer is wondering about a girl.
If you spin
Artist: Vern Bishop.
Album: "Some Here, Some Gone But Not Forgotten."
Highs: Bishop is in his comfort zone writing broken-hearted laments and covering the classics. Bishop fans should add this CD to their collection.
Lows: The music is of high quality, but low originality.
On the Web
For song samples from Vern Bishop's new album, click here
On other originals, Bishop attributes a desire to cheat to an inner demon, compares marriage to a habit (which his wife kicks), and - in a song from the point of view of his 99-year-old uncle - goes back to the early 20th century: "I was born on jackpine sand ... I've spent my whole life on this land."
Michelle Johnson, who teamed with Bishop on their Hank Williams/Patsy Cline tribute shows a few years ago, duets with Bishop on "I Make Believe." Backing vocals add a nicely atmospheric touch to covers like George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today" (which doesn't skimp on organ music, either), and the vocalists stick around for Conway Twitty's "It's Only Make Believe."
The other covers also are in Bishop's wheelhouse: Buddy Jewel's "Today I Started Loving You Again," Keith Whitley's "I'm Over You," Joe Nichols' "Farewell Party," Randy Travis' "Storms of Life," Tom Waits' "Invitation to the Blues" and Williams' "Crazy Heart."
Say what you will about the style of music, but Bishop certainly does it well. He won't go platinum, but he should sell a few albums around here.
To purchase the album, call (218) 697-2419 or send a check for $16 to Vern Bishop, 35375 600th St., Hill City, MN, 55748.
JOHN HANSEN, entertainment editor, may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5863.
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