Bluegrass guitarist Bryan Sutton has accomplished an awful lot since he first appeared on the scene with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder in 1995. This was at the beginning of Skaggs’ return to his bluegrass roots, and Sutton was enlisted for his ability to solo at the breakneck speeds at which Ricky wanted to play.
Bryan was featured on the first two bluegrass albums that Skaggs released, Bluegrass Rules and Ancient Tones, before deciding that the full time touring life was not for him. His skill and dexterity allowed him to earn his living as a studio session player and itinerant guitarist for hire, while also releasing a string of successful solo projects.
The International Bluegrass Music Association’s professional membership has selected him as their Guitar Player of the Year six times, despite not being part of a regular traveling band.
But by being available, a good bit of tour work came his way. When Béla Fleck toured in support of his Tales from the Acoustic Planet Vol 2, the Bluegrass Sessions in 1997, Bryan filled in when Tony Rice couldn’t make some shows. He’s also performed as a member of Hot Rize for their occasional reunion shows, and often pops up with The Travelin’ McCourys. And he is on tour now as a part of Noam Pikelny & Friends, supporting Noam’s masterful Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe.
In April, Sugar Hill will release Sutton’s fourth solo album, where the guitar slinger emerges as a singer as well. Into My Own promises plenty of virtuosic instrumental work, with assistance from some of Nashville’s most heralded pickers, but it’s discovering the voice that’s the big news here. There are new Sutton originals, a handful of fiddle tunes, and songs from Sutton, Guy Clark and Brendan Croker.
Assisting are Noam Pikelny and Rob McCoury on banjo, Jason Carter, Stuart Duncan and Luke Bulla on fiddle, Ronnie McCoury and Sam Bush on mandolin, with Greg Garrison, Alan Bartram and Dennis Crouch on bass.
Look for Into My Own on April 29.