Close Kin – bluegrass and old time together

Mountain Roads Recordings has set a November 15 release date for Close Kin, a new hybrid project that marries bluegrass and old time musicians in close collaboration.

It’s no coincidence that the announcement comes on the heels of the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention, as the album takes its inspiration from the commingling that occurs there each year among string musicians from different stylistic backgrounds.

Producer and bluegrass balladeer Johnny Williams has been one of the most vocal proponents of the Galax experience. He even named his most recent Mountain Roads CD, The Last Day Of Galax, where the title cut tells of the mild depression that sets in while watching the festivities wind down after spending a full week immersed in the music – and amidst the people who play it.

Williams and Mountain Roads’ Karl Cooler put their heads together for the concept for this project, whose subtitle perfectly describes the vibe: A Reunion of Bluegrass and Old-Time Music. They put a group of talented bluegrass and old time pickers in the studio for a selection of 16 mostly familiar older songs. The fun part comes in the pairings of the two instruments that most prominently define the subtle differences between the two camps. One track may feature clawhammer banjo with bluegrass fiddle, the next switching the two roles. Others will find both 3 finger and old time banjo, or dual fiddles from both sides of the divide.

Of course, vocal styles and other manner of accompaniment vary from the old to the new, and the skill and experience of the musicians, largely drawn from the Blue Ridge regions of east Tennessee, southwest Virginia and northwestern North Carolina, make it all work with a joy and exuberance that is highly infectious.

Mountain Roads has prepared this lengthy video to introduce the album, the artists, and the tunes, and it perfectly captures the spirit of the endeavor.

Though the retail release won’t hit until November, the album will be available to radio programmers through Airplay Direct in September. It will be offered for sale through Mountain Roads’ online store next month as well.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.