“Please trust me when I tell you this album of harmonica and guitar music is gift-worthy. Harmonica virtuoso and baritone vocalist Gary Allegretto’s talents are augmented by Ian Espinoza’s vocals and finger-picking style on a 1929 model National Steel guitar. Combining covers and original compositions, the album is an eclectic blend of mournful blues, traditional cowboy and Western, swaggering honky-tonk and playful country with a dash of bluegrass.

Their treatment of the classic “Along the Navajo Trail” is impressive. Likewise for “When I Was a Cowboy” by folk and blues icon Lead Belly (Huddie Ledbetter) and the traditional “Cowboy Waltz.” Allegretto and Espinoza’s originals tracks hold their own. Stand outs include “Bard of San Antone,” reminiscent of a Tom Russell ballad; “Abilene,” a mystery cloaked in a lovely melody; “Hard Times,” with a sense of the Great Depression; and “You Don’t Have to Go Home,” chock-full of wisdom as dispensed by a bar room bouncer.”

- by Jeri L. Dobrowski, Cowboy Jam Session, Western Culture News & Reviews, Christmas Gift Ideas

 

“It may be under the cultural radar but the western song is alive and well, as the various cowboy gatherings around the country attest every year. Credible new practitioners are popping up all the time, and not all of them are named Michael Martin Murphey. Hard on Murph’s heels is the duo of Gary Allegretto and Ian Espinoza with a scintillating debut album comprised of nine original tunes and four interesting covers. And it’s largely a two-man affair; other than Tom Corbett on mandolin on one track, the fellows have Paul Eckman playing discreet upright bass on four tracks and the formidable Gabe Witcher on fiddle on four tracks (together on two of those four tracks). Otherwise, it’s Allegretto’s resonant baritone voice and harmonica (along with washboard, Sierra Cup and Jew’s Harp on the final cut) and Espinoza’s expressive tenor, solid acoustic guitar and, notably, evocative National Steel guitar (a 1929 model once owned by Bukka White, no less) combining to carry the day.”

- David McGee, Deep Roots Magazine

 

“In my 25 years of attending all of the Western Music Association (WMA) conventions, I have NEVER witnessed an act as unique or fresh as Gary Allegretto and Ian Espinoza. Their music is outstanding. Further, I have never purchased a CD from any artist I’ve seen perform at any WMA convention – and I rushed to get my copy of ‘Allegretto/Espinoza’ just before they sold out.”

- Tom Chambers, Founding President, Western Music Association

 

“Gary Allegretto and Ian Espinoza have joined into one powerhouse duo on this release! Allegretto/Espinoza brings brilliant incorporation of different Blues and Honky Tonk elements into a mix of traditional and original Western songs. The result is nothing short of wonderful. Nine of the thirteen tracks presented are originals, and all are uniformly strong. Each track is a new joy with new surprises. Any way you stack it, this one wins. I hope there’s much more to come from Allegretto/Espinoza.”

- Rick Huff, Best of the West Reviews, Western Way Magazine, Fall 2013

 

“Gary Allegretto and Ian Espinoza have been musical pards for a good 20 years, and the ease with which they mesh together is apparent right from the CD’s opening song “First Rodeo”. Allegretto is a well-known harmonica player with an incredible original style, and Espinoza is a virtuoso guitarist…
“Their debut album features a mix of nine original compositions by both artists, as well as four covers. The lively blend of diverse instrumental and vocal treatments keeps the CD sounding fresh clear through – especially thanks to Espinoza’s 1930’s National Steel resonator guitar and Allegretto’s blues-tinged harp playing…
Allegretto / Espinoza is a quality Western CD put out by quality people who truly embody cowboy values.”

- Charley Engel, Featured CD Review, American Cowboy Magazine Oct/Nov 2013

 

“Allegretto/Espinoza, a collaboration between musicians Gary Allegretto and Ian Espinoza, is an acoustic tour-de-force. Consisting of primarily original cowboy music, the CD showcases Allegretto’s soaring harmonica, Espinoza’s masterful guitar work, and a handful of special guests. Both musicians share lead vocal, composition, and production duties. Fans of Allegretto’s albums will warm to Allegretto/ Espinoza immediately; his trademark vocal delivery, clever lyrical approach, and tasteful harmonica soloing remain intact. The CD also “features Espinoza’s virtuosic fingerpicking on a 1929 National resonator guitar previously owned by iconic Delta bluesman Bukka White…”

-Derek Crowder, “Our CD Pick” Feature, Hohner’s Easy Reeding Magazine, Fall 2013

 

“When I heard that Gary Allegretto and Ian Espinoza had a new CD out I was really looking forward to it … and I sure wasn’t disappointed. Both the vocals and the instruments of both these guys, along with their song choices, make for a great CD.
This CD is well put together with Gary and Ian doing equal amounts of everything. Gary plays harmonica on all tracks and Ian plays guitar on all tracks. Add Ian’s wonderful national steel guitar and Gary’s bass harmonica, washboard, sierra cup, and Jews harp on different tracks, along with background vocals and harmony throughout and you really do get 13 tracks (with 9 originals) of wonderful music…I’m sure you’ll enjoy every track!”

-Mark McMillan, President of British Columbia Cowboy Heritage Society (BCCHS), BCCHS Newsletter, Fall 2013

 

“Excellent, excellent, excellent project.  You guys obviously have a synergy that works just right.  I love the new songs, and fine mixture of blues with cowboy sounds.  The album has an old-timey feel and something fresh and new at the same time.”

- Marvin O’dell, WMA Director, Defenders of Freedom Radio, KKRN, Redding, CA

 

“I was blown away by Allegretto/Espinoza! I couldn’t stop listening.  The songs run the range from upbeat, fun cowboy songs to blues and ballads and others in between.  I assure you, you will like all 13 songs… my biggest problem now is deciding which I’m going to play on my next show!  The CD features Gary’s harmonica and Ian’s guitar and National Steel Guitar and they are both such good musicians…and both have such good voices!   There’s a lot of musical talent on this CD!”

- Totsie Slover, The Real West from the Old West, KOTS Radio, Deming, NM

 

Allegretto / Espinoza is an album ideally illustrating the cowboy way of life. Excellent use of harmonica and nimble guitar work with an emotional weight of lyrics. It offers a broad palate ranging from traditional western styles to the contemporary and blues. An intoxicating brew, warm, rich and inviting that will be a regular addition to my radio shows.”

- Graham Lees, Music Journalist and Host of The Western Hour

 

“An awesome collection of songs performed by two of the best.”

- Bob Mann – Big Hat Productions, Altadena, California

 

“Wow – what a great album!  Totally original in style.  Great arrangements, edgy playing and crystal clear vocals.  Love the songs too.”

Paul Hazzell, Country Music Writer and DJ, United Kingdom

 

“Allegretto and Espinoza are great as solo performers, together they are DYNAMITE!”

- Tommy Tucker – Western Heritage Show, KRLC Lewiston, Idaho