Laurie Lewis and Kathy Kallick 'Sing The Songs Of Vern And Ray' - Self Release

I’m a long time fan of both of these bluegrass super-heroines and I’d been waiting for this album since I first heard it was in the melting pot. California based, both Laurie and Kathy have been friends, collaborators and band members for more than a few years. Originally members of the iconic Californian band The Good Old Persons, they both went on tohave separate and hugely respected solo careers. But they never forgot the main influence of their early years was the bluegrass and old timey sound of Vern Williams and Ray Park. This amazing collection is their way of somehow paying back and recognising the kick-start Vern and Ray’s music gave them.

Vern and Ray, although only together through the sixties and early seventies, were an everlasting influence on the west coast bluegrass scene and it’s early musicians, including Tony Rice, Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen (who played banjo with them before taking Doug Dillard’s vacant slot in my all time favourite band). Like a few others, their effect on the growing bluegrass scene was way in excess of their short time together.

Laurie Lewis and Kathy Kallick and their Bluegrass Pals take us through an 18 song primer of Californian-associated bluegrass standards that is a joy to listen to and a full on foot tapper to boot. I won’t single out any particular track, as that would be sure to lessen the importance of all the others. This is a complete pack of some of our all time favourite bluegrass tunes that owe their popularity to the short careers of Vern and Ray and are lovingly reprised here by two of bluegrass’s most respected daughters.

The only problem with this little collection is that you’ll have to hit the record store again for more of Kathy and Laurie’s essential bluegrass listening. Laurie Lewis singing Who Will Watch the Home Place? is still my favourite and most played radio tune. ‘Nuff said.

One of the best tribute albums I have heard in many a day.