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Cousin Harley’s Blue Smoke: The Music of Merle Travis Album Makes Guitar World’s Top Ten List

Cousin Harley’s Blue Smoke: The Music of Merle Travis Album Makes Guitar World’s Top Ten List

Paul Pigat’s latest Cousin Harley album, Blue Smoke: The Music of Merle Travis, was named to Guitar World magazine’s Top Ten List of Best Roots Albums: Rock, Blues, and Country for 2017.

Damian Fanelli, Guitar World’s managing editor, compiled the list and described his love of Rootsy American music because of its winks to the past and nods to the future. Damian complimented the overall guitar playing on this year’s ten albums, especially Paul’s, by saying, “I hear guitar riffs and solos that sometimes send me back to the drawing board (especially when it comes to Cousin Harley’s new album).”

Other artists making this year’s Top Ten List included albums from such legends as Marty Stuart, Chris Hillman, Jimmie Vaughan, the late Hayes McMillan, plus JD McPherson, Kim Wilson, Nikki Lane, Son Volt, and the Legendary Shack Shakers.

Paul reacted to the news by saying, “I’m really honored. What a stellar group of musicians to be associated with. I record music that I love and that inspires me; it’s great to know other people dig it too.”

When asked how fans have reacted to his tribute to Merle Travis, Paul shared, “The response has been fantastic.  I think most of our fans know how much we are influenced by Merle Travis and they seem excited to hear our tribute. I just finished transcribing all the intros and solos for a book and I’m really happy with them. I’ve had a ton of interest in that as well.”

Cousin Harley. Photo: Adam PW Smith.

Blue Smoke: The Music of Merle Travis features eleven Merle Travis classics that have been given Cousin Harley’s hallmark rockabilly and western swing attitude, and includes “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette),” “Sixteen Tons,” “Divorce Me C.O.D.,” “Deep South,” “Blue Smoke,” and “Cincinnati Lou.” Paul also penned one original song, “Rosewood, Kentucky,” as a tribute to Travis’ birthplace.

The album project was sponsored by Bigsby, which has a historical connection to Merle Travis and is owned by the Gretsch Company.

Paul with Fred Gretsch in Chicago, 2015.

“Gretsch and Bigsby are truly run like a family and I can’t imagine better companies to be associated with,” added Paul, “Fred and Dinah are great friends and I can’t thank them enough for all their support and encouragement. I look forward to supporting this CD with my Bigsby guitar and Gretsch Synchro-Club. They’re tone monsters!”

Blue Smoke: The Music of Merle Travis is distributed through Little Pig Records and available from numerous online partners, including iTunes and CD Baby.

Listen to Cousin Harley’s rockin’ version of Merle Travis’s “Deep South.”

Main photo: Adam PW Smith.