Various Artists, Stony Plain—40 Years (Stony Plain Records)

Not to be outdone by Alligator’s recent double CD 45th anniversary collection, along comes a three CD set celebrating Stony Plain Records’ fourth decade. Named after a suburb of Edmonton, Alberta, Stony Plain proved years ago it was certainly was “Canada’s Roots, Rock, Folk, Country and Blues label.” Formed as a labor of love (as most indies are) by the eclectic Holger Peterson, the label continues to release a steady stream of enjoyable music from various genres. This collection contains 47 tracks total, and each individual CD has a theme. Disc one is dedicated to singers and songwriters. There are several “name artists” in the mix, including Doug Sahm, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell and Steve Earle. In contrast, there are just as many new names to many listeners, including Jr. Gone Wild, Tim Hus and Corb Lund. There’s also a fine vintage track from Canada’s own Ian Tyson. Disc two is quite a bit more lively as it features blues, R&B, swing “and even more.” Name checks here include Joe Louis Walker, Rory Block, Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters, Billy Boy Arnold, Rosco Gordon and my old running buddy, the late Richard Newell, a.k.a. King Biscuit Boy. Disc three is somewhat a bonus as it contains largely unreleased material. For folks in these parts, the highlight here would be Duke Robillard’s lively treatment of Dave Bartholomew’s warhorse “Ain’t Gonna Do It.” There’s also material here that didn’t make the initial cut by Maria Muldaur, Eric Bibb, Sam Chatmon and Stony Plain’s first artist, Walter “Shakey” Horton. Splendid package with informative notes telling the Stony Plain story. Nice release that touches all the bases and you can’t beat the price.