By James Moulton
If you are a fan of good old bluegrass music and live festivals, this is definitely for you. The event took place June 4, 2010 at the Graves Mountain Festival of Music in Syria, Virginia. This is beautiful ,rural Virginia, in the foothills of The Blueridge Mountains. I have spent a lot of time camping near this area and I love it.(Celebrating 55 Years of Bluegrass Music)
Many great Bluegrass bands were involved and they played lots of traditional bluegrass. Musicians involved were Russell Moore and Third Tyme Out, The Crowe Brothers, Lonesome River Band. Mark Newton, Carrie Hassler, Brand New Strings, Carl Jackson, Lou Reid and Carolina, Audie Blaylock and Redline, a very natural live recording with musicians from different bands joining each other on different songs. The Emcee was Kyle Cantrell of Sirius-XM radio.
Songwise, personally I really loved "Grave's Mountain Memories" written by Carl Jackson, who was asked to write the song by Sam Passamano, in commemoration of the event, "55 year Celebration". It just exudes Hi-lonesome bluegrass and He does an excellent job of telling about the festival and the History of The Graves Family too. Performed by the Rural Rhythm All-Stars, Carl Jackson, Mark Newton, Audie Blaylock, Lou Reid, Russell Moore, Sammy Shelor, Mike Hartgrove, Wayne Benson, Mike Anglin plus special kudos to Carrie Hassler for adding female backup vocals to so many songs. The song has a beautiful melody, and the chorus is off the meter with the excellent harmonies. It's a song that stays in your head, unless you like grunge music.
What is evident at the event is the pure joy that the artists have in playing and singing together. These folk are clearly enjoying themselves and that is what music should be about.
Sound engineering was handled by Gene Daniell who has 30 years experience in recording Bluegrass and Acoustic performances. He was helped by Mark Newton in mixing, mastering process done at his own studio in Marietta ,Georgia. Produced by Sam Passamano Jr. and Mark Newton.
President of Rural Rhythm Records, Sam Passamano Jr. has a real heart for bluegrass music and was responsible for putting this together. One of the top pure bluegrass labels , this 55 year celebration shares the vision of Bluegrass music. If you visit RR's website, the music is split into traditional Bluegrass, and contemporary bluegrass. He cares for it all. Also, has a Christian Division.
Over the last couple of years I have reviewed CDs by most of these bands and they put out a real good sounding CD. But, I think they all sound better live. The High Lonesome harmonies are sweet, and there are so many folk singing on some of the tracks. There is a lot more music where this came from, They wanted to get what they thought most special and best out first. These twelve songs represent all of the artists involved, (I'm pretty sure). But I hear there are hours of audio and also video. How neat ,would a DVD be?
But, let us not get ahead of things. These songs however give you a real feel for real bluegrass. A combination of songs which are vocal and instrumental, it is a special recording.
"Ground Speed" by the RR All-Stars with Sammy Shelar and Carl Jackson featured on banjo is really good. "Old Dangerfield" is another great instrumental by Audie Blaylocks band and Wayne Benson on fiddle. There is some remarkable playing going on by these excellent players. A couple of more vocal standouts are "Head Over Heels" by Carrie Hassler with Brand New Strings, with special guest Brandon Rickman. Also, The Crowe Brothers sound really good with the Lonesome River Band on "Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms".
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