Palmer Divide
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Palmer Divide


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"Stacy's Music Row Report With Nashville's Top Music Critic - Picks & Pans"

Stacy's Music Row Report
With Nashville's Top Music Critic, Stacy Harris

Tuesday October 28, 2008

Picks & Pans

Palmer Divide
Radio Singles
Rating ****

This nine-song compilation is not Palmer Divide’s first recording, but, were it not for IBMA slipping this CD into my 2008 World of Bluegrass goody bag, I’m embarrassed to say I’d still be unfamiliar with the Colorado quartet.

Embarrassed, because Jody Adams, Dick Carlson, Greg Reed and Mickey Stinnett are well-known to Bluegrass Unlimited and Bluegrass Now readers as well as bluegrass festival fans and XM radio’s Bluegrass Junction listeners.

It’s about time I became aware of this group’s talent, particularly Adams’ ability as a lyricist. Jody wrote all of the songs on this CD except for The Legend of Baby Doe, which Mickey wrote.

Somebody Keeps Playin’ My Fiddle will tug at listeners’ heart strings, but my favorite cuts are Dress Rehearsal (reminding us of the brevity of life) and The Silence Says It All (an axiom familiar to anyone who has ever been dumped).
- Stacy Harris

"Band all about connection with audience"

Band all about connection with audience
By: Nicole Chillino, Staff Writer - The Tribune

Original bluegrass music that resonates with the audience is what Palmer Divide is all about.

The band members' musical experiences, at least 20 years' worth each, have taught them that to create music that will make a difference and reach people, it has to be relevant to the audience, said Jody Adams, Palmer Divide's mandolin, fiddle and guitar player. Palmer Divide will bring its original music, including shades of bluegrass-like folk and acoustic jazz, to the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17.
About five years ago, Adams said, the band was formed by himself and upright bass player Dick Carlson, guitar and mandolin player Greg Reed and resonator guitar and banjo player Mickey Stinnett. When it came time to name the band, a friend of the group suggested Palmer Divide, Adams said, because everyone in the western U.S. would be familiar with the land form.
The history, experience and education of each song's composer plays into what the song becomes, Adams said. Most of the songs are either about situations members of the band have experienced or situations the band members saw in other peoples' lives and hope they never experience, he said. Bluegrass festival promoters often tell the band it is the only group performing all original bluegrass music, Adams said. One promoter told them they combine familiar tones with new stories. The original songs have caught the attention of bluegrass playing radio stations across the country, he said. In Colorado, Fort Collins-based station KRFC - - is a frequent player and promoter of Palmer Divide, Adams said.

At this point in their careers, the group's members try not to take themselves too seriously and aim to connect with people, he said. Connecting with people is the bluegrass version of "hitting a home run," he said. Music has to be fun, and when people come to a Palmer Divide concert, they will hear music they can tap their feet to and music that says something to them. To connect with the local audience for the concert at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, the band wanted to make tickets affordable so that all those who can will attend, he said. - The Tribune

"PALMER DIVIDE - The Bow River Sessions"

PALMER DIVIDE - The Bow River Sessions
By: Joe Ross

Conceived as a way to accurately portray Palmer Divide's live contemporary bluegrass sound, soul, spontaneity and synergy, "The Bow River Sessions" were recorded during three days over one weekend in a makeshift cabin recording studio near the Medicine Bow River in Elk Mountain, Wyoming. To capture an organic and earthy feeling, Palmer Divide recorded the lead vocals and all the instruments live without overdubbing. Then, the harmony vocals were added later so that they could get vocal separation for the mixing process.

Conceptually, the resultant music is a success without anything trendy or gimmicky. The Colorado-based band's musicality fully compensates for any minor shortcomings that result from recording live. The songs are all originals, with the majority of them from the pen of Jody Adams whose lead vocals are warm with a texture as rich and smooth as suede on songs like "Oklahoma Daydreams," "Dress Rehearsal," and "Red Dirt on my Shoes." A successful singer/songwriter who has appeared at the Grand Ole Opry, White House, and on The Nashville Network, Jody Adams' mandolin is also a pervasive thread throughout their musical fabric. His occasional understated fiddle is a flavoring that the album could've used more of, especially on the slower numbers, for a more thorough bluegrass and all-encompassing sound. Born and raised in Oklahoma, Adams is a SPBGMA mandolin player of the year award winner.

It's interesting that none of the other three Palmer Divide members are Colorado natives either, but they do have one common experience having played in Black Rose, a trio that later went on to win the Rockygrass band contest. Originally from east Tennessee, Greg Reed (guitar, mandolin) also has experience with White Lightning and The Cletus Brothers. Written with his son, Greg's instrumental "White Oak Flats" was inspired by the old family homesteads and cemeteries in the Great Smoky Mountains. A Virginia native who migrated to Colorado in 1997, Mickey Stinnett (banjo, Dobro) also has performed with Flatland Grass, Benny Galloway, Cletus Brothers, and Lost Creek. Two of Stinnett's instrumentals (24 West, Legend of Baby Doe) appear on this project. Bass-player Dick Carlson comes originally from Nebraska and he toured from 1976-82 with the western swing band, Sour Mash, before relocating to Colorado. Palmer Divide seems to be Black Rose's evolution from a trio to a quartet (with the addition of Jody Adams).

"The Bow River Sessions" is more than just a tepid collaboration, but one can't help but wonder how the addition of a fifth member to the band might take them to even greater heights. I'd like to hear more of their fine originals. I'd like to hear Palmer Divide's next album produced in a more controlled studio environment. And I'd like to see them invite an award-winning guest fiddler like Ronnie Stewart or Tim Crouch to provide some tracks for further embellishment. Meanwhile, as their second album (their debut was called "Goin' Home"), "The Bow River Sessions" is a fine documentation of this group's captivating creativity, relaxed sophistication and great potential for Colorado bluegrass stardom. If you like healthy, whole-grain bluegrass music without a lot of preservatives and additives, check out this album from Palmer Divide.

- Joe Ross
(Joe Ross is a well-known music journalist who writes articles and CD reviews for national publications such as Bluegrass Unlimited (circulation 35,000), Bluegrass Now, Acoustic Musician, Sing Out!, SPBGMA Bluegrass Music News, Old-Time Music Herald, and many others.) - Joe Ross

"Bluegrass band retains organic recording sound"

Bluegrass band retains organic recording sound
August 25, 2006

What this band’s all about: Palmer Divide united many fine local musicians who wanted to make original bluegrass music.
Jody Adams (mandolin, fiddle, guitar) has performed at the Grand Ole Opry and the White House and also has a successful career as a singer/songwriter.
Dick Carlson (upright bass) is a former member of Western swing band, Sour Mash, and the local trio, Black Rose. Greg Reed (guitar, mandolin) was a member of the Denver band White Lightning and also played with The Cletus Brothers and Black Rose. Mickey Stinnett (resonator guitar, banjo) played in the Cletus Brothers, Lost Creek, and Black Rose.

Inspiration for the album: Palmer Divide decided to ditch the studio and recorded this album in a barn in Elk Mountain, Utah, over a three-day weekend. The band played as though they were in a live setting and left the little flaws. “Albums are so computer produced anymore that we just felt that it was time we tried to find some spontaneity and emotion,” Adams said.

Best CD-making moment: The first time the band listened to the recording and knew the unconventional recording was successful.

Review: If you’ve ever heard a mandolin picked with expert speed, you know that it’s easy to mistake bluegrass music for one amazing solo after another.
But bluegrass music is about synergy. It’s about the big picture. Palmer Divide gets that. Although there’s still plenty of breathtaking solos on this disc, the beauty of these songs lies in the layers of sound.
Instrumentals such as “Legend of Baby Doe” create sonic kaleidoscopes as melodies weave to produce a complex sound.
When lyrics are present, the words tend to be mature and grounded — concentrating on the yearning of a heart or the comfort of a good home.

This album is a true gem. - THE GAZETTE

"Bluegrass in a Digital Age"

Journal Santa Fe Newspaper
Friday, August 22, 2008

Bluegrass in a Digital Age

By Emily Van Cleve
For the Journal

Thank goodness for MP3 files. Without them, the Colorado bluegrass band Palmer Divide would have a hard time preparing for their gigs. The group's four members: fiddler Jody Adams, bass player Dick Carlson, guitar/mandolin player Greg Reed and guitar/banjo player Mickey Stinnett - live in different parts of the state, so they send one another music files when they're working on new material.

One of the bands featured at the 34th Annual Santa Fe Traditional & Bluegrass Music Festival this weekend, Palmer Divide became a unit in 2004. Carlson, Reed and Stinnett have known each other since the early 1990s and played together in a band called Black Rose from 1998 to 2003.

“We were familiar with Jody's style of playing because we'd heard him at different bluegrass festivals,” Reed said. “He does a lot of original tunes, and we've always liked them. The three of us were playing other people's music and traditional tunes for years and wanted to focus on original material. That was a major reason for the four of us getting together.”

Reed says Palmer Divide was initially apprehensive about presenting itself as a band that primarily plays original songs. “Audiences like to hear what's familiar,” he added. “But we've been lucky. We've been well-received from the start.”

Adams is the band's melody-maker and lyricist. Everybody does arrangements. Reed and Stinnett compose instrumental numbers. When a new tune or arrangement is in the works, MP3 files travel through cyberspace.

“We usually get together to practice once a week or every other week,” said Reed. “The summer is our busiest season for performing. We play a lot of local stuff and festivals like the one in Santa Fe.”

Palmer Divide is also getting ample satellite radio time on XM 14-Bluegrass Junction. Reed says the group has the No. 10 song on the station, which has 18 million subscribers.

“Our songs are about life experiences,” he explained. “Some of them are funny, and some are serious tunes. The topic of love, lack of it or lost love, always gets thrown in.”

Other acts performing during the weekend are Triple LLL, Honi Deaton & Dream, Eric and Suzy Thompson and the Freight Hoppers.
- Journal Santa Fe Newspaper

"Low key bluegrass band hitting high notes"

Low key bluegrass band hitting high notes
Comments 0 | Recommend 2
February 19, 2009 - 11:28 AM
It's late on a Saturday morning and four middle-aged men are singing in a basement just south of Monument.

They call themselves, appropriately enough, Palmer Divide, and the bluegrass group is coming into its own.

"Now, the boss man, he's been pickin' on me," starts Jody Adams, in a sweet tenor standing up to the bass, banjo, guitar and his fiddle.

Blood from a rock, man - he won't let me be.
Done made that pretty boy lots of dough.
But I'm still eatin' crumbs off of his floor.

"Well, something like that," says Greg Reed, who leans into his idle guitar as if they were matching pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

The group - which includes banjo player Mickey Stinnett, Adams on violin and bassist Dick Carlson - is set up around a spidery cluster of mikes in the middle of Stinnett's family room. Stinnett is running new recording equipment today, a Christmas upgrade from his last model. Stinnett calls it the Belchfire 500.

Everyone cracks up.

In today's four-hour session they'll record base tracks for a couple of songs on their fourth album, which is due out in April. In the coming weeks, the MP3s will be passed around via e-mail, each musician tweaking his part on home recording equipment. The new layers will eventually obscure the old version, becoming, in this case, "Shenandoah Train."

"It's pretty cool. You couldn't have done it two or three years ago," says Adams, who writes most of their songs. ("People say it's a brave move, a crazy move to play only original material, but how many times can you hear ‘Sunny Side of the Mountain?'")

Former sidemen all, the men have long juggled their music with the demands of families and jobs - in music and the white-collar world.

They don't like to talk about it. Promoters and public relations people tell them that bands aren't taken seriously if people know the musicians have day jobs.

"The reality is that you can play the Pikes Peak Center for $5,000 and two weeks later be playing for pizza and beer and $500," Adams explains. "No one will tell you that you do that, but you do."

Bluegrass is a small world, and the four became acquainted through failed bands and assorted gigs. Palmer Divide emerged in the winter of 2004. They say there are no frontmen here (and no accompanying egos), although Adams is clearly comfortable talking about the group and its aims.

And in the last year, there's been plenty to talk about.

In December, they flew to Nashville to do a live, in-studio interview and performance for XM Radio's Bluegrass Junction. XM wants them back for a repeat performance sometime this spring. And "Red Dirt on My Shoes" is tied for the No. 3 spot on XM Radio's bluegrass charts, which means Palmer Divide is heard as far away as Australia. The result: play on free radio far outside of Colorado Springs and a bump in record sales on sites such as, and

And tonight, they open for the Infamous Stringdusters, a national touring act that one writer called the "progressive edge of bluegrass."
"There's an important threshold in the development of a band, going beyond that regional focus to being known more widely," says DJ Stephen Harris, who hosts "Grassroots Revival" on KRCC (91.5 FM.) Their "Bow River Sessions" made Harris' Top 20 list for 2008. "It seems to be doing extremely well."

Adams laughs, calling their success a "hillbilly Grammy."
"Again?" Adams asks the group. He lifts a worn violin to his chin and in a lazy drawl every player falls into at some point today, he says, "Ledder go, boys. Ledder go."

I'll never make it outta here alive.
There's no special keys or magic ways to try.
No ticket borrowed, begged or bought,
just make the best with what I've got.

Like many of their tunes, "Train" is a woody, caramel pearl that culls images of front porches and hound dogs, long, hard days and a future that looks an awful lot like the past. And throughout is the sprightly sadness of hot picking and bittersweet lyrics, a pairing that only bluegrass can pull off.

Stinnett laughs. "If you want happy, go to the right channel and listen to the music. Then go to the left channel and listen to the words."

As you listen, you can't help but think that these men know little about the hardscrabble lives they sing about. You'd be wrong, though. They knew enough about these worlds to sing it, not live it.

"I actually spent six years in the mining industry in Tennessee," Reed says, his voice a little bit stiffer now. "I wasn't sorry to leave it."

As the hour wears on, they hash out the mechanics of the song in the kind of shorthand that close friends and technicians indulge in. A "stab" is the quick "punch" for emphasis. A "walk down" is a downward run of notes. A "click track" - or as Stinnett calls it, the Click-O-Matic - is the steadying metronome.

"Where do you want the click? On one or two?" asks Carlson, the quiet one of the group.

Track set, they start again. In the back of the room, the wall heater kicks on, ticking as if it couldn't resist joining the fray.

At the bottom of the mountain
a forgotten world remains.
A thousand feet below life itself
runs the Shenandoah Train.

No, they say, they aren't stars, but really, who in bluegrass is even Alison Krauss big?

Still, there's a push to go the way of music videos, product endorsements and magazine covers, all the stuff that comes with A-list fame, Adams says.

Bluegrass, though, isn't much about image. "If a guy is 300 pounds, and he can fiddle like nobody's business," he says, "that's what it's about. The music is still Priority 1."

And that's good news for Palmer Divide. Not that it would matter to them in the long run.

"There's really not much else we'd rather be doing," Reed says. "We do this because we love it."

"I think we'd rather do it full time," Adams offers.

The other three: "If it paid."

They laugh.

Success, they say, is finding a way to play music, have a job and live full time with your family. It's building on their popularity. More radio play. Maybe playing for bigger crowds in higher-profile places.

"The reality is if one person gets it, that's still a huge success," Adams says. "That's powerful, when they really do get it. We really do connect."



CD's Released: "Radio Singles" in 2008, "The Bow River Sessions" in 2006, and "Goin' Home" in 2004.
"Red Dirt on My Shoes" and "Somebody Keeps Playin' My Fiddle" are currently in rotation on Sirius/XM Channel 14's Bluegrass Junction, & Sirius/XM Channel 15's The Village. We have several other songs from our various projects in rotation on many other radio stations internationally as well. We are also in steady rotation on streaming internet radio.



Palmer Divide formed as a band in 2004 with the single goal of not being another acoustic cover band. With their own approach to music they offer up an original flavor of acoustic music with well crafted lyrics, innovative instrumentation, and solid 3 part harmonies. Their unique yet familiar sound pulls from their deep respect of traditional bluegrass music and well as their desire to create a modern acoustic voice that is their own

Individually their resumes include such highlights as; multiple performances at the White House, the Grand Ole Opry, and The Nashville Network. Awards include winning the SPBGMA Mandolin Player of the Year, the Deer Creek Fiddlers Convention Dobro competition, and the Rockygrass Bluegrass Band competition with Black Rose.
Palmer Divide's featured songwriter, Jody Adams, has tunes being featured on CMT, MTV, Access Hollywood, A&E, Fox Sports, the WB Network, ESPN, as well as, having written the theme song for Bill Bennett's Radio Show ”Morning in America”. Several of his songs have also been featured on NBC’s hit “Friday Night Lights.”

Collectively they have appearing in both Bluegrass Unlimited and Bluegrass Now magazines, and have had two of their Prime Cuts of Bluegrass singles worked into daily rotation on Sirius/XM's Bluegrass Junction. They were as "In-Studio" feature band on Sirius/XM Studios Bluegrass Junction with Kyle Cantrell for the month of December. "Red Dirt on My Shoes" peaked at #3 for most spins on Bluegrass Junctions Most Played Songs. "Eye of the Storm" also finished #3 in the Bluegrass Radio Programmers poll. They have had 4 different songs place in the top 5 of the Bluegrass Radio Programmers poll in 2008. In addition, they were one of 4 bands selected to perform at the Huck Finn Jubilees' National Bluegrass Playoffs.