Rural Rhythm has put together a nicely varied cast for a live bluegrass performance of primarily Christmas music, caught on both CD and DVD in this two-disc 16-cut package. Vocal performers include Audie Blaylock, Dale Ann Bradley, Cumberland River and Cumberland River Academy, the Gulleys, Darron and Vanessa Nichols, Marty Raybon, and Brenda and Mike Scott. The stage musicians, doing an excellent job on tunes which are not the easiest to fit in the bluegrass style, include Jason Burleson on banjo and guitar, Clint Hurd on mandolin, Brandon Godman with some excellent fiddle work, Vic Graves on resonator guitar, and Brian Turner and John Bradley on bass. The performance was recorded at the Bell Theater in Pineville, Ky., in June of 2012.
The CD is well done, but the DVD disc seems to be the most attractive of the two discs, with very good camera work, a colorful and pleasing stage setting, and generally good sound (a couple hiccups in the review copy, for some reason). And while this is billed as a Christmas album, there are several songs which are not Christmas songs, including “In The Sweet Bye And Bye,” “’Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus,” “Nothing But The Blood,” and “Amazing Grace.” Other cuts include “Joy To The World,” “Silent Night,” “Oh Holy Night” (very nicely performed by Brad Gulley), “Away In The Manger,” “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Christmas The Mountain Way.”
The vocals are uniformly well-done, and the stage band does a fine job of backing. The DVD also includes interviews with the musicians and singers, along with stories of their personal Christmas experiences. Overall, a pleasant, appealing package. (Rural Rhythm, P.O. Box 750, Mt. Juliet, TN 37121, www.ruralrhythm.com.)AW