Bluegrass Unlimited - October 2023
“Ida Clare! I’m so excited for this band and release. It comes out swinging with I Still Cry and takes us on a helluva ride. Original songs and sounds are key here. I love a band that has its own identity and it’s very clear in this case, all these musicians just love music. The way they weave roots music from several genres into their Americana sound is very organic and does not seemed over-produced or contrived. This is a band that can convey this material and same feelings live. Highlights for me are : High Ground, Second Hand World, I Still Cry. In closing, great songs, great energy and performance. A dose of real music. Check it!”
~ Darren Nicholson | IBMA award winning musician, singer, songwriter
“It’s tough to think of a better example of a well-kept secret, great songwriter here in Kentucky, than Jim Wheatley. His poignant song-smithing, combined with Lea Cockrell’s soulful vocal delivery, banjo magic from Robin Thixton, and all-around solid instrumental prowess from Nick Stevens and the whole Ida Clare crew make their sophomore record one to be proud of. In a world full of tired arguments between purists and progressives, this record breaks a few rules, while checking off plenty of bluegrass boxes. Ida Clare doesn’t need street cred to call themselves a bluegrass band, but the freshness of these songs, with their underlying bluegrass sensibilities, places them ahead of the pack.” - Aaron Bibelhauser | songwriter, picker, producer, radio broadcaster | Louisville, KY
"Ida2, is not your grandpa’s grass, there is something for everyone on their latest project. From the hard driving opening song “I Still Cry” to “Too Much Talkin” which has a bit of a Caribbean hint.
“Last Time it Rained”, a song about love & leaving is a personal favorite. “ Lonesome Time” is a catchy swing style number, that I’m sure will get folks up on their feet to do a little shuffle across the dance floor. “Magic in the Air” reminds me of a tune you might hear south of the border. Great original songwriting by Jim, and the powerful vocals by Lea, the masterful picking of Robin and with Nick on bass, all blend together perfectly. Just as some of the bluegrass bands of the 70’s & 80’s pushed the boundaries of their music, Ida Clare is expanding the boundaries to include not just bluegrassers’ but lovers of all music." - Walter Volz | Bluegrass Breakdown 88.1, FM | St. Louis, MO
I’ve listened to this new project from ‘Ida Clare’ several times now and I still can’t get enough of it… it’s got everything I like in bluegrass, though this is much more than a bluegrass band, they are an ‘everything’ band. An ‘up yours’ driving banjo from Robin Thixton (I’ve been a fan of hers for years), nobody’s gonna mess with Robin. She's world class. Lea Cockrell (vocals and acoustic guitar) is such an incredible singer, strong and confident and delicate when the song calls for it… beautiful tone and her timing is spot on. She is a force, like a tornado and a hurricane making love… a beautiful thing. Jim Wheatley plays mandolin and sings as well. (of course they are all great singers). Jim keeps it in pocket which in my opinion is what the mandolin should do.. his solo’s are well crafted and do not try to go too far out into left field… he’s a fine player indeed… the songwriting on this project is probably what stands out the most for me. These are not Bluegrass songs, sometimes I feel like I’m listening to something the Eagles or Jackson Brown or Bonnie Rait would be doing.. is it Americana? Bluegrass? Who cares, it’s music performed by seasoned professionals who know what they’re doing… anyway, it’s a really fun record to listen to and I congratulate these fine folks… let's all spread the word. Tim Carter | banjo player with Hayseed Dixie and Damn The Banjos | Nashville, TN
Ida Clare is in the studio working on their second project at Downtown Recording Studio owned by Ida Clare bassist, Nick Stevens. This album too will feature all original music.
Check out the Grasicana Charts for March 8, 2019. Ida Clare makes their first entrance with TWO songs coming in at 14 and 15.
Ida Clare performs on WHAS Great Day Live !
Recorded Tuesday, September 4 2018
July 30, 2018 by Lee Zimmerman
Though the cover art pictures a woman who resembles a cross between Rosie the Riveter and Ellie May Clampett, it mostly serves as a reminder that neither books nor albums can be judged by their covers. Ida Clare is a band, not a person, and image aside, it’s really only the music that matters. Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, this eponymous effort may mark the outfit’s debut, but it’s as assured and credible as anything offered by a group with a far more extensive pedigree. While the style and stance vary to a degree, they find a foundation in bluegrass, with banjo and mandolin used to underscore their sound.
Made up of mandolin player and songwriter Jim Wheatley, vocalist Lea Cockrell, bassist Mark Miller, and banjo player Robin Thixton, Ida Clare is more than merely an astute group of talented musicians. While some ensembles stake their reputation strictly on their ability to pick and play, Ida Clare uses its members’ talents to underscore the songs. Indeed, apart from the rambling instrumental Around the Town, each of these offerings stress the fact that the melodies are of prime importance. Opening track Hold On is both earnest and engaging, a prime example of a glorious grassicana fusion. The heartfelt Time Traveller follows suit, a tune infused with sobriety and circumspect. Don’t Let Me Go and Walls are, in equal measure, both resolute and resilient, indicative of deeper purpose and a more passionate pursuit. Ditto the beautiful ballad, Don’t Take Me Back, one of many highlights and further proof of the band’s savvy and skill.
While much of the album seems to delve into deeper meaning, some of the songs aim for upbeat appeal. Honey Man is the kind of tune that would befit a hoedown, especially given its fanciful tone and treatment. For the most part however, the songs find a compromise between the pacing and the pronouncements. You’re Not There andChance on You are underscored by Thixton’s busy banjo, turning each into a kind of romantic romp that still manages to articulate the emotion.
Ultimately Ida Clare deserves credit for interspersing their craft with conviction. An impressive debut, it bodes well for whatever may come next.