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New Harmony Records: Reviews

You're on horseback, along a ridgetop trail, more than a little rocky; the sky, bursting unbearingly blue, levitates, punctuated by an armada of billowing clouds, pushed by a big sky sun. You listen, first to the everpresent breeze, then to the soundtrack in your mind. What you hear seems uncanningly similar to "Two Guitars, One Heart," unfolding like a musical rolodex. First wistful, then optimistic, then achingly beautiful, then playful, and so it goes, this gently undulating journey over evocative peaks and valleys. Ron Neilson and John Bellar coax a ton of emotions out of their Weissenborn and resonator guitars, producing acoustic duets of multi-layered depth. Swirls of influences abound: Western, Pacific, American roots, echoes of the Heartland. The beauty lies in the unique blend of Bellar's resonator and Neilson's Hawaiian acoustic. Impeccable technique and balance make this collection a thoughtful, heartfelt ride.
Fred Kraus - Minor7th (Feb 15, 2008)
Lovely instrumental with woozy slide n sweet chord changes..A great atmosphere for your road trip.Maybe stopping for a while and just looking at the mountains in the distance reminiscing about a long lost girlfriend or something...
Bellar/Neilson Climbing The Sales Charts - December 31, 2007 - 08:21 PM
Bellar/Neilson "Two Guitars One Heart" nailed down the #3 slot on the Guitar Nine Records Top Sellers Chart: Folk for the year ending December 31, 2007.

Bellar/Neilson Chart Information - December 31, 2007 - 05:45 PM
Bellar/Neilson "Two Guitars One Heart" made #2 on the Guitar Nine Records Top Sellers Chart: World for the month ending December 31, 2007.

Chart Information For Bellar/Neilson - December 31, 2007 - 05:44 PM
Bellar/Neilson "Two Guitars One Heart" reached #1 on the Guitar Nine Records Top Sellers Chart: Folk for the month ending December 31, 2007.

Bellar/Neilson Chart News - December 31, 2007 - 05:43 PM
Bellar/Neilson "Two Guitars One Heart" reached #3 on the Guitar Nine Records Top Sellers Chart: Acoustic for the month ending December 31, 2007.
"Two Guitars, One Heart" by John Bellar and Ron Neilson. New Harmony Records; Genre: Lap-steel acoustic guitar instrumentals.
Distinguishing notes: John Bellar and Ron Neilson are Nashville musicians who recorded this project at Charles Michael Brotman's Lava Tracks Studio on the Big Island and mixed at Lava Tracks and Peck Tunes Studio. While this is not a Hawaiian project, the locale certainly influences the music. One track is called "Kaanapali Waltz," which unabashedly captures a Maui moment.
The duo may have roots in Tennessee but have developed a sense of (Island) place — or at least the suggestion thrives in a number of tracks upon quick listening.
The tone is new-age, not country music; the effect is soothing, mood-evoking music, and the titles tell the tale: "Seven Angels," "Only Love Remains," "Message From the Stars," "Stream of Memories."
You can write a mini-screenplay from the tranquil and seductive images Bellar and Neilson pull out of you.
Our take: Hana hou! (Ed translation: Encore! More!)
I cannot believe how good these guys are -- and I have to be honest; steel in a solo or duet context without another instrument is not my fave thing. It's sweet, balanced and not overpowering... Something amazing about Tennessee, like Hawaii, just produces and attracts great musicians. And there's nothing to be critical about here. The recording is clean and the music is tasty. I actually didn't realize how much I could like a steel-only CD.
John Burnett, Music Critic - Hawaii Tribune Herald, Hawaii (Nov 10, 2007)
Two fantastic acoustic guitar players, John Bellar & Ron Neilson meet each other in a wonderful mix of lap steel and traditional acoustic resonance guitar. Both guitarists excel in moody and soothing guitar compositions with a heart rendering approach to guitar music. The 15 tracks on this album last over more than an hour in romantic and emotional painted poetic art. The CD is a current flow of top-notch guitar duets with imaginary layers. The two players interact wonderful in moody enchanting, instrumentals. It is hard to discuss a song on this CD as any song on this piece of art evokes ones heart. The sound quality is also superb. On “Resonata” beautiful rich overtones, great structure and balance are excellent woven together, just as on “Stream of Memories”, “It's the Way” and for instance “Message from the Stars”. “Upbringing” has a touch of bluegrass and the last track “Ka'anapali Waltz” brings us a Hawaiian cheerful mood. Both guitar players are virtuosos on their instrument and are able to absorb a listener in engaging and soulful guitar duets which can't leave a heart unaffected.
You haven't heard guitar like this before. In an acoustic mix of lap steel and traditional dreadnaught resonance, guitarists Ron Neilson and John Bellar, combine accomplished technique and deft melodic instrumental songwriting. The writing is so melodic, in fact, that it is quite possible that most of these songs actually have lyrics and were songs prior to being converted over to the delightful instrumental pieces that make up the 15-track "Two Guitars One Heart". Or, maybe it's just that the recordings and performances are so based in emotion that it projects itself to assuming that there is meaning and lyrics behind the compositions. The CD begins with Stream of Memories, and immediately establishes a lush setting and aural companionship between guitars. Track 3, "Never Let Go", a deep bass is introduced as accompaniment for the guitars. In track 5, "Only Love Remains", you'll hear some of the most interesting pop solo-guitar lines to come out of a lap slide instrument. The intonation is precise, yet the nearly acrobatic phrasings are adventurous and raw - perfect. The following track, "Rain Chime", utilizes harmonics to convey the chime/rain effect - two minutes in space is provided to allow the guitars and ambiance to breathe. The harmonic experimentation continues with the following track, "Resonata". The minor mood piece has a quick paced right hand melody on top of a somber and open acoustic accompaniment. Track 14, "Upbringing", launches into a departure from the rest of the album in both tone of the guitars and overall genre. The medium travis bassed instrumental is near bluegrass, and is based more on melody within the acoustic picking pattern than the single line of a slide guitar - nice change. The final track bids the listener adieu with a Hawaiian goodbye in "Ka'anapali Waltz" - and strikes a happy little mood to lighten up the landscape. Overall this is a complete work of recorded guitar beauty. It pushes the guitar compositional and recorded format into new directions while maintaining the understood notion of melody and accessible song structure.
Don Kimenker - earBuzz (Sep 12, 2007)
This duo –– award winners on acoustic lap-steel guitars –– have a 15-song full-length CD that is well-produced and ready for retailers who prefer music that is organic, tuneful, and soothing to the psyche. The players’ individual styles blend nicely on "Stream of Memories.” The bittersweet “Once and Forevermore” sounds like it could be a poignant movie theme. Agile fretwork on “Never Let Go” demonstrates that this duo can also be uptempo and rhythmic. These artful instrumentals are consistently engaging.
In 1999, over 37,000 CDs were released in the U.S., containing an estimated 400,000 songs in all. In that same year, the average Denver commercial new music station added approximately 24 new songs to its airplay rotation--virtually none of them independently produced. Since airplay rotation in a given format is almost identical for all large radio markets across the country, and there are 9 English language new music formats, it is reasonable to assume that less than 216 new songs are given any amount of significant airplay on major U.S. commercial radio stations annually. In fact, many of the songs added to one format are also added to others, thus lowering the number of different songs which actually get aired. This means that less than one tenth of one percent of all the songs released in a given year will receive commercial airplay, and even that number is decreasing.

Put another way, over 99.94% percent of songs released annually will never be heard by a large radio audience.