By Larry Nager

Six men are clustered center stage at the Ryman Auditorium, their pearl-grey felt hats shining in the spotlight, ribbon ties fluttering like tiny flags as they bob and weave around the single microphone. The Mother Church of Country music rings with the songs—and the sound—that make up the DNA of every classic bluegrass lover: “Shuckin’ The Corn,” “Salty Dog Blues,” “I’ll Go Stepping Too,” “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music),” “Get In Line Brother.” Heck, if you’re a regular Bluegrass Unlimited reader, you could probably write the setlist yourself. Outside the Ryman, it’s the modern-day Nashville of Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum. Inside, the sellout crowd has been transported back fifty years by the musical time machine that is the Earls of Leicester.

This is no mere Flatt & Scruggs tribute band. The all-star group features some of the biggest names in bluegrass—musicians and songwriters who have been established for decades with their own distinctive sounds and styles. But all have surrendered their egos, put their regular careers on hold and given it all up to become the most painstaking and nitpicking of Foggy Mountain Boys reenactors. Read entire article »

Great Pretenders — All-Star Earls Are Perfectly Foggy
By Larry Nager

The Ivory Wars — Will New Regulations Save The Elephants
Or Endanger Musicians And Dealers?
By Richard D. Smith

Noam Pikelny — Honoring Kenny Baker And Bill Monroe
By Bringing A Classic Album Back To Life
By Derek Halsey

Rebecca Frazier
By Juli Thanki

Bluegrass Unlimited’s 2015 Talent Directory

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 THE GAME  BLUE HIGHWAY  (Shawn Lane, Barry Bales) THE GAME, Rounder 9170

October 2014 Reviews


OLD SOUTH THE HANGING TREE No Label No Number    Old South is a veteran bluegrass quintet hailing from Adelaide in southern Australia. They have experience, enthusiasm, a nice repertoire of original songs written in the traditional style, and a resonator guitarist named Leonard Cohen (who really should look into teaming up with the Seldom […]

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JOHN BOWMAN WORSHIP HIM Pisgah Ridge PR 15462    John Bowman’s last solo gospel recording was one given entirely to the songs of Joe Isaacs. This time, Bowman casts his song net a bit wider, mixing together a couple of traditional tunes—“God’s Not Dead” and “Summer’s Gone (My God Made It All)”—with songs both old […]

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AFTER JACK ECHO Travianna Records TR140422    After Jack is a trio of young ladies from the Virginia/North Carolina/Tennessee area and this is a mostly original project showing their strong influences of old-time, bluegrass, and Americana music. The trio is Mary Allison (guitar and percussion), Emily Blankenship (bass), and Rachel Blankenship (banjo, mandolin, and percussion). […]

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RACHEL BURGE AND BLUE DAWNING Mountain Fever Records MFR 140624    New to Mountain Fever Records and making their recording debut as a well is Rachel Burge and Blue Dawning. Burge is on mandolin. Lance Gainer plays guitar, Michele Birkby-Vance the fiddle, Radford Vance the banjo, and Rick Westerman the bass. Everyone shares in the […]

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The High-48s

THE HIGH 48s BLUEGRASS BAND GREAT NORTHERN RAILROAD No Label No Number    Trains, trains, and more trains dominate the entire sixth recording from the High 48s, and why not? Trains have a strong hold on our music and our collective memory, even as they have less physical presence for us today. Interestingly, of the […]

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LARRY SPARKS LONESOME AND THEN SOME… A CLASSIC 50TH CELEBRATION Rebel Records REB-CD-1846 It doesn’t seem all that long ago when Larry Sparks’ fortieth anniversary album was released, which finally garnered the lonesome legend the IBMA Album Of The Year, Recorded Event Of The Year, and Male Vocalist Of The Year awards. Since then, impressively, […]

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VARIOUS ARTISTS CLOSE KIN: OUR ROOTS RUN DEEP Mountain Roads Recordings MMR-1020    This recording is a follow-up to the first Close Kin CD that featured bluegrass and old-time musicians playing together. This project, also produced by Johnny Williams, does that. However, the 11 musicians who play and sing on these dozen songs and tunes […]

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BOURBON BARREL CONGRESS No Label No Number    There’s always been a general consensus that an album, especially a debut album, should give a balanced representation of what kind of music a band plays. On this self-titled CD, Bourbon Barrel Congress, a quintet from central Virginia, is either remarkably diverse or else hasn’t quite made […]

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JIM AND LYNNA WOOLSEY THE ROAD THAT BRINGS YOU HOME Broken Record Records BRR1001    This is a wonderful project of original material from Jim and Lynna Woolsey. Written in a modern bluegrass style with a traditional edge, these songs could be welcome additions to anyone’s repertoire. With Jim on guitar and Lynna sharing the […]

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RICHARD BENNETT IN THE WIND SOMEWHERE Lonesome Day Records LDR 041    Scanning down the list of ten songs on Richard Bennett’s new CD, the temptation is to jump ahead to the six (of seven total) covers that close the recording to see how Bennett and guests Steffey, Stewart, Schatz, Rice, and Lane interpret them. […]

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VARIOUS ARTISTS YOU ARE THERE: CLASSIC EARLY FILMS OF LEGENDARY PERFORMERS, 1952-54 Shanachie 622DVD    Albert C. Gannaway, Jr., (1920-2008) was years ahead of his time. A noted film and television producer and songwriter, he had written songs for Nat King Cole, Bob Hope, Frankie Lane, and collaborated with Johnny Mercer on others. He produced several […]

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RACHEL EDDY NOTHIN’ BUT CORN No Label No Number    Rachel Eddy’s musical journey is an interesting one and international in scope. She is a very talented musician from West Virginia who grew up in a musical family. Eddy’s dad expertly played the “don’t touch my fiddle” trick when she was a kid, hoping his […]

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