Attention mandolin fans!
Billy Blue Records has released an interesting one-off single featuring two of the preeminent bluegrass mandolinists of the past 35 years, Doyle Lawson and Alan Bibey. Both have been innovators in our music for decades, and while Lawson has Bibey beat by 20 years or so, they each field a touring bluegrass group under their own names.
The two have recorded a twin (and triple!) mandolin version of Happy Go Lucky, one that Doyle wrote and included on his 1976 solo album. It was the younger mando icon who came up with the idea or cutting it together, and when he reached out to Doyle he was all for it. Since both artists record for Billy Blue, they got together at Eastwood Studio in Cana, VA earlier this month and came up with a stellar version.
Bibey says that it was a day to remember.
“It was a true honor to get to record a tune with one of my all-time mandolin heroes. I’ve always loved the song, Happy Go Lucky since I first heard it on Doyle’s Tennessee Dream album. I know it was a great day in the studio I’ll never forget. Thanks for everything, Doyle, but most of all for the friendship. By the way, Doyle crushed it!!”
Assembled for the recording were Doyle and Alan, with Ron Stewart on banjo, Jeff Huffman on guitar, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, and Zak McLamb on bass.
The tune opens with twin mandolins in harmony, then Alan takes one following a banjo break. Doyle plays one after that, and then a fiddle break, and then Doyle plays the melody with Alan putting on two harmonies on mandolin. The ending goes to four parts with the fiddle joining in.
He says it worked him hard…
“That was a wicked baritone and tenor part to do on the end with him. It took a minute or two… I got him though.”
Have a listen in this static video from Billy Blue.
Al tells us that they had so much fun that they cut another tune that day as well, a new one Lawson wrote. No word yet from Billy Blue as to whether either Doyle or Alan might include them on a future CD release.
Doyle spoke quite highly of his mandolin partner on this project.
“For the record, I’ve got a few years on this kid, and I’ve known him since he was a kid. His playing has always impressed me. He has a great selection of notes, and he plays clean. I was, quite honestly, a little surprised when he gave me a call and asked me to play a song with him. We liked it so good we did two!”
Thanks to Mr. Bibey for also sharing a few studio images from their day together.