Hybrid Hoss drops for fiddler Mike Barnett

Compass Records has released a first single from their upcoming duet project with Mike Barnett, simply titled +1.

It boasts a baker’s dozen tracks, each featuring Barnett, fiddler with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, alongside fellow virtuosi in the acoustic string music field. Guests on the album include Eddie Barbash, Maeve Gilchrist, Alex Hargreaves, Sierra Hull, Sarah Jarosz, Dominick Leslie, Ricky Skaggs, Nat Smith, Jeff Picker, Cory Walker, Ric Robertson, and Molly Tuttle.

We have been following Mike for several years, from the time of his Compass debut in 2014, One Song Romance, through his time with Boston’s Deadly Gentlemen, to his joining up with Skaggs in 2016. Starting as a teen working with Jesse McReynolds while in high school, Mike has grown into a consummate professional who has also worked with artists like David Grisman and Bryan Sutton. Throughout it has been obvious that he was an exceptionally talented musician, with a unique creative vision for his instrument. 

+1 had been expected to release in September 2020, a date that was pushed back when Mike suffered a burst aneurysm in his brain on July 25. Recovery has been long and hard, involving several surgeries and intensive therapy, but with the help of his devoted wife, Annalise, he has already made tremendous progress towards a goal of complete recuperation and a return to his music career.

Now that he is doing better, Compass has a March 19 release date scheduled for Barnett’s new record, and a first listen in the form of Hybrid Hoss, a reharmonization of Bill Monroe’s classic Wheel Hoss, performed here as a duet between Mike and banjoist Cory Walker.

It stars out with the reharm, which may grate against the traditionalist ear, but swiftly morphs back into the tune we all know and love. Both artists hang some new ideas on this old frame, demonstrating adventurous and accomplished playing as they trade phrases along the way.

Pre-orders are available now for +1, wherever you stream or download music online.

If you are in a position to help Mike and Annalise with the costs of his rehabilitation, a medical fund has been established online. You can be assured of their deep and sincere gratitude.

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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.