Kenny Smith is a name known well to bluegrass fans interested in instrumental prowess. Mr. Smith has won numerous awards, including a brace of IBMA trophies for Guitar Player of the Year in 1998 and 1999. Smith currently fronts his own band with wife Amanda, The Kenny & Amanda Smith Band. One of the ingredients of a good band is good pickers, and Kenny hasn’t failed to find them.
Aaron Williams began playing at a early age, and at 9 years old he decided mandolin was going to be his instrument of choice. He began playing with Kenny and Amanda in June of 2007 at the age of 15. Aaron has developed into quite a talented young mandolin player and recently release his first solo recording project. The CD, Inside, was co-produced by the Smiths along with Aaron.
The recording features Williams on mandolin, Kenny Smith on guitar, band mate Zac McLamb on bass, and former Smith band member Joey Cox on banjo. Twelve tracks are included, all instrumental in nature.
Two of the tracks are original numbers written by the young mando player from Blacksburg, VA. Both tunes can claim attractive melodies and a sense of tastefulness not always found in players this young. I especially enjoy Seven Mile Ford.
Several traditional tunes are included such as Buffalo Gals, Done Gone and Jesse James. Two Monroe tunes found their way onto the disc, White Horse Breakdown and The Lee Weddin’ Tune.
Only one Kenny Smith composition was included, but it is one of my favorites, Me and My Farmall. This tune was first released on Kenny’s solo CD, Studebaker and captured my ear then for its wonderful melodic richness. Aaron treats the tune with finesse, playing this beautiful melody with style, grace and tone.
As a first outing for a young musician, this CD proves a musical maturity beyond his years. With youthful players like Aaron writing their material and playing the standards, bluegrass is surely safe in the hands of the next generation.