The first comes from David Peterson, whose Old Time Power serves as a classic representation of the way Gospel bluegrass first emerged in the rural south during the middle of the 20th century.
Peterson has always operated as a bluegrass and country “way back machine,” presenting period-perfect replicas of classic eras in our music. Old Time Power finds him assembled with a top notch group of pickers and singers, who recorded a set of Gospel favorites live in the studio over the course of several years. And believe me, there is power in this music.
Peterson belts it out with a true passion, and you know he believes every word he sings. His clear, unaffected tenor voice is perfect for delivering this sort of traditional music, from the opening strains of There Is Power In The Blood, through other treasured numbers like Love Lifted Me, Just A Closer Walk With Thee, and Go Tell It On The Mountain.
Accompaniment is provided by Charlie Cushman on banjo, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Dennis Crouch on bass, and Richard Bennett on arch top guitar. David Grisman and Mike Compton play the mandolin, Rob Ickes slides on a couple, and Robert Bowlin adds lead guitar on a few.
A special highlight is David’s duet with Larry Marrs on the Louvin Brothers’ I’ll Never Go Back, with gorgeous falsetto singing, which you’ll also hear on Onie Wheeler’s Mother Prays Loud In Her Sleep. Traditional country fans will love the brief Tex-Mex foray during Springs Of Living Water.
The trio and occasional quartet vocals are universally strong as well. In fact, there isn’t a sour note on this whole recording. If you enjoy old time Gospel bluegrass, this one is a must-have.
We couldn’t find any online audio samples, but Peterson did release this video of the live tracking of Trials, Troubles, Tribulations from The Friendly Gospel Singers. It aptly captures the spirit of the album.
Best as we can tell, the CD is only available directly from Peterson, by mail order. To get a copy of this superb record, send $20 to the following address, along with your shipping address.
P.O. Box 68197
Nashville, TN 37206
David can also be reached on Facebook.
On the other side of the street is The Lindsey Family, who typify the family band genre in bluegrass Gospel. It’s Mom, Dad, and the kids, with 8 children in total contributing to their newest project, Crosses And Stones.
By comparison to David Peterson, this is very modern music, with vocals shared across the many Lindsey sibs, both male and female, with ages running from 5 to 20. Mom and Dad (Alan and Tammy), are also represented (ages redacted), but the real stars of this show are the young folks.
Unsurprisingly it’s the older Lindsey children who shine brightest, having been playing and singing the longest with the family band. Caleb at 20 is a strong singer and mandolinist, who shares lead vocals with sisters Rebekah (18) on guitar, and Naomi (17) on bass. Younger brother Timothy, only 13, handles the banjo admirably, having only recently stepped into that job which he inherited when the eldest of the family, Jared (24), headed off to college.
The material ranges from driving bluegrass (Every Saint, Crosses And Stones, Oh What A Day, Beyond Those Gates, Wayward Son, Man In The Middle) which would bring any festival crowd to their feet, to the sort of acoustic country/Christian contemporary sound becoming more common in non-denominational churches (Heart of the Wood, ‘Neath The Light, Secret Place, Nail It To The Cross, Beautiful Name).
A pair of more novelty-oriented numbers are surely hits on the live shows. Soap & Water is a feature for the younger brothers and sisters, featuring Susanna (14), Liberty (11), Michael (8), and Olivia (5), while Screen Door is an a cappella doo-wop song, with percussion in the Cups tradition.
All the vocals are strong, both lead and harmony, with Caleb and Rebekah especially standing out. One expects that they will both continue to mature into veteran vocalists, as will Naomi who is right on their heels.
Crosses and Stones is available wherever bluegrass music is sold, and at their many live appearances, primary at churches.