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Blue Moon of Kentucky: Instrumental Tribute To Bill Monroe

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  • Posted September 9, 2011

    Carefully-cultivated, thoughtful, sweet instrumental remembrance

    Back in 2005, I reviewed Mike Scott and friends' 12-song instrumental tribute to Bill Monroe (put out on the Maple Street Music label). That 42-minute project was a tastefully-rendered CD of hot breaks for some favorite Father of Bluegrass classics featuring top talents Mike Scott (banjo), Bryan Sutton (guitar), Mike Compton (mandolin), Aubrey Haynie (fiddle), and Ben Isaacs (bass). In 2007, Mike Scott also released a disc with the tablature (and standard music notation) to accompany the 2005 product. The music is now being reissued in 2011 to bluegrass and country markets on the Rural Rhythm label with six additional tracks including Bill Cheatham, Precious Memories, Ole Joe Clark, Lonesome Road Blues, Gold Rush, and I Saw the Light. Additional musicians on this newly-enhanced product are Adam Steffey (mandolin), Tim Stafford (guitar), and Rob Ickes (Dobro). They don't start to appear until "Bill Cheatham" kicks off at track 8. As a 100th anniversary musical celebration of Bill Monroe's birth in 1911, this is a very fine, well-produced album that fully captures the instrumental magnificence of the genre. We can tell that these guys have bluegrass in their blood. Big Mon would've been pleased and proud to hear these guys picking together.

    Mike Scott hails from Tennessee. With over 35 years of professional bluegrass experience, this gifted, distinguished banjo-player spearheaded the tribute to the man they hold in such high esteem. Since forming his first band, Rocky Mountain Boys in 1972, Mike Scott has played with the Tennessee Bluegrass Four (74-77), Cumberland Mountain Boys (78-79), Carl Story & the Rambling Mountaineers (80-82), Jim & Jesse & the Virginia Boys (82-86), Mike Scott & The All American Band (86-00), Danny Davis & the Nashville Brass (98-04), Since 2000, he fronts his own band, as well as appears with Ronnie Reno & the Reno Tradition.

    While about half of the songs on "Blue Moon of Kentucky" are typically performed with singing, these picking pals give us a novel instrumental concept album. With reputations as some of the best instrumentalists in the business, these impressive talents have already locked in their places on the bluegrass family tree. Certainly, tunes like "Bluegrass Breakdown" and "Jerusalem Ridge" that were written as instrumentals are blue blazing hot renditions. But will you miss vocals on this project? I do find myself wanting to belt out the words on I Saw the Light, Kentucky Waltz, Blue Moon of Kentucky, Precious Memories, Footprints in the Snow, Crying Holy, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, and Molly & Tenbrooks. While some listeners will clearly miss lyrics and richly textured vocals, what we have is a carefully-cultivated, thoughtful, sweet instrumental remembrance of the man who formed the bluegrass sound.a mentor to so many who are keeping the sound vibrant, alive and true to tradition. (Joe Ross, Roseburg, Oregon)

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