Being a bluegrass radio host based in Ireland I don't have the luxury of regularly seeing the top touring bluegrass bands live, so I have to base my assessments on recordings to comment on current standards and styles. Rural Rhythm Records are a consistent source of top end CDs which keep my Lonesome Highway listeners glued to their computers each week.
With the increasingly high standard of Bluegrass CDs these days, it's hard to single just one out for special mention as they all are streets ahead of what is being spewed out as Country Music right now. But Hard Country from Audie Blaylock and Redline jumped right into my hand as an example of what I'd be really pleased to brag about as an intro to Bluegrass listening for newcomer or seasoned listener alike.
From the opening A Real Good Way To Lose to the hard driving instrumental closer
Newton's Grove here are 10 tracks to keep you hooked from the get go. Home Is Where The Heart Is and A Grandmother's Love are two beautiful ballads while Woody Guthrie’s Philadelphia Lawyer and the Louvin's Stormy Horizons filled the traditional bluegrass and country slots really well.
Redline are a band of seasoned musicians who sound as comfortable on this CD as sitting around in your favourite old cowboy boots. Jesse Brock on mandolin and Mountain Heart’s Jason Moore on bass round out the sterling qualities of Russ Carson on banjo and Patrick McAvinue on fiddle. Audie and Patrick provide the vocals and complete the round up on this really excellent CD.
If I were to select one album from this years bluegrass output to introduce a non-believer to the joys of bluegrass then this would have to be it, from it's very well designed cover art to all ten memorable and well balanced "bluegrass to my taste" tracks.