Tribute to John Hartford: Live from Mountain Stage

A Tribute to John Hartford: Live from Mountain Stage

     
 
A genuine American musical maverick, John Hartford died in June 2001 at the age of 63, after a career that saw him veer from bluegrass revivalism to modern country, and from a gig on the Smothers Brothers' show to a job steering steamboats on the Mississippi. Thankfully, he was around to witness and participate in NPR's Mountain Stage tribute to his under-recognized

Overview

A genuine American musical maverick, John Hartford died in June 2001 at the age of 63, after a career that saw him veer from bluegrass revivalism to modern country, and from a gig on the Smothers Brothers' show to a job steering steamboats on the Mississippi. Thankfully, he was around to witness and participate in NPR's Mountain Stage tribute to his under-recognized legacy, recorded in September 2000. A Tribute to John Hartford finds Tim O'Brien (both solo and in a spirited duet with Kathy Mattea covering Hartford's biggest hit, "Gentle on My Mind"), Bela Fleck, Norman Blake, Riders in the Sky, John Cowan, Gillian Welch, and the Jami Hartford Band pitching in with worthwhile contributions in the spirit of Hartford's easygoing, avuncular manner. Most of the songs here are Hartford originals, but those that are not fit seamlessly into the mix, from Blake's lively guitar instrumental, "Savannah Rag," to Cowan's searing rendition of Merle Travis's "Dark as a Dungeon" (also a highlight of Cowan's first-rate, self-titled solo debut). Hartford offers a five-song set that justifies all the warm testimonials and invigorating music that preceded him onstage. While none is as fitting as his closing version of "Give Me the Flowers While I'm Living," all are delights. His conversational singing style warms up his salute to Bill Monroe's legacy, "In the Heart of the Cross Eyed Child," while Benny Martin's Woody Guthrie-like story song, "Me and My Fiddle," spotlights the seemingly effortless integration of technique and emotion that Hartford brought both to his vocals and to his soulful instrumental work. Tribute albums are often mixed bags, but the passionate performances here are bright, vital, and alive -- and that's just the way Hartford, a musician with the utmost integrity, would have wanted it.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ronnie D. Lankford
John Hartford died on June 5, 2001, leaving behind over 30 years dedicated to writing and playing music. It would be difficult to locate a musician more respected and liked by his peers than Hartford, so recordings like A Tribute to John Hartford naturally follow. This tribute, recorded on September 24, 2000, isn't a by-the-number affair. Some artists play Hartford songs, others do not. Hartford himself makes an appearance, playing and singing several songs. The set kicks off with "Gentle on My Mind," an obvious choice that may seem a little tired; the song, however, receives such a fresh and lovely treatment by Kathy Mattea and Tim O'Brien that it's an inspired choice. Riders in the Sky offer a fun Western swing version of "Billy the Kid," while John Cowan, singing soulfully as always, delivers a six-minute version of "Dark as a Dungeon." Gillian Welch and David Rawlings lay down their signature, old-time groove on "In Tall Buildings," a Hartford classic shot through with his romantic sensibility, while Bela Fleck and Pat Flynn present a nifty version of "On the Road." The last five songs are left to the master himself, including tributes to his own heroes, Bill Monroe, Benny Martin, and Earl Scruggs. Pieces like "In the Heart of the Cross Eyed Child" and "Watching the River Go By" are more like spoken, traditional raps than songs, filled with Hartford's trademark humor. He offers a few moving, if typically bizarre, words on the reason for the little get-together and a short version of "Give Me the Flowers While I'm Living," and the show is over. It is a fitting end to a fitting tribute to the late, great John Hartford.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/29/2001
Label:
Imports
UPC:
0728951040523
catalogNumber:
793254

Tracks

  1. Gentle on My Mind by Kathy Mattea and Tim O'Brien
  2. Billy the Kid by Riders in the Sky
  3. Savanah Rag by Norman Blake
  4. Dark as a Dungeon by John Cowan
  5. Who Cut Your Heart Out? by The Jamie Hartford Band
  6. In Tall Buildings by Gillian Welch
  7. More Love by Tim O'Brien
  8. On the Road by Bela Fleck
  9. In the Heart of the Cross Eyed Child by John Hartford
  10. Me and My Fiddle by John Hartford
  11. The Boys from North Carolina by John Hartford
  12. Watching the River Go By by John Hartford
  13. Give Me the Flowers While I'm Living by John Hartford

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Norman Blake   Acoustic Guitar
Ray Flacke   Guitar
John Hartford   Fiddle,Vocals
Kathy Mattea   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Riders in the Sky   Track Performer
Bob Carlin   Banjo
Mike Compton   Mandolin
John Cowan   Bass,Vocals
Béla Fleck   Banjo
Pat Flynn   Acoustic Guitar
Jamie Hartford   Electric Guitar,Vocals
Tim O'Brien   Mandolin,Vocals
Larry Perkins   Bass
Dave Pomeroy   Bass
Scott Vestal   Banjo
Gillian Welch   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Too Slim   Bass,Vocals
Woody Paul   Fiddle,Vocals
David Rawlings   Acoustic Guitar,Vocal Harmony
Paco Shipp   Harmonica
Ranger Doug   Guitar,Vocals
Joey the Cowpolka King   Accordion,Vocals
Chris Sharp   Acoustic Guitar

Technical Credits

Larry Groce   Producer,Liner Notes
Bunetta   Executive Producer
Dan Einstein   Executive Producer
Francis Fisher   Engineer
Michael Lipton   Promotions Coordinator
Andy Ridenour   Executive Producer
Angela Haglund   Art Direction
Richie Collins   Monitor Mixer
Marilyn Divita   Management
Greg Proctor   Promotions Coordinator
Jim Raines   Engineer

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