Rutland singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist George Nostrand - also known as George, By George! - must spend more time playing music than sleeping. In little more than a year he's released the 10-track, original disc Radio Songs and a live recording from the Windham in Bellows Falls, and he recently started another band called George's Back Pocket. He's also thinking of rejoining the Rutland-area jam band Sandhill. Can't fault his ambition.
Nostrand sounds like he's having a grand old time on Radio Songs, his solo debut. He sings, performs and generally revels in his own music, not in any particular hurry to wrap up a tune. Many of his local compadres swing by for the party; guests include Jim Gilmour and Ryan Dubois, two performing musicians who operate a recording studio called Southview Arts, where the album was mixed. Vermont rocker Duane Carleton also makes an appearance, as do a slew of others.
More than 20 musicians are credited on the disc, but Nostrand seems to have things under control. The album is mixed just the way he wants it, with his vocals and acoustic guitar front and center.
Nostrand is a self-proclaimed "super hippie with long-ass hair," a line that's subsequently rhymed with "I might cuss and swear." He sings of heading south when Rutland County gets cold on "Mexico," shares reminiscences about growing up with "Griswold Drive," and describes being tongue-tied in love on "Blah."
Nostrand's songs contain plenty of "moon-June-spoon" poetics - "Always out there chasing shooting stars . . . Me and my guitar" - and the meandering guitar solos are designed for audiences already familiar with his personable style. Those who don't like jam bands or the acoustic-based music of the early Grateful Dead might not entirely enjoy the ride.
Still, the record is good, lo-fi fun overall. Closing cut "Smokin' in the Rain" ends with about a minute and a half of rain sounds followed by an interesting hootenanny version of the Lester Flatt classic, "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms."
For those curious about what George Nostrand is all about, Radio Songs provides a solid example of his affably freewheeling sound. Chances are, we'll be hearing more of it.