Kentucky Gambler drops for J.D. Crowe & Rickey Wasson

Rickey Wasson has chosen today, August 27 – the birthday of bluegrass banjo hero J.D. Crowe – to release the first single from their upcoming collaboration project. The album is a bluegrass tribute to the late Merle Haggard, with Rickey as the primary lead singer and Crowe on banjo, and guest appearances from some of the top pickers and singers in our music. 

Hats Off To Haggard even includes a guest vocal from the man himself! Before becoming tool ill to perform, The Hag added his vocal to one of the tracks, and was completely in support of the project. He and Crowe had become friends several years back, and stayed in touch until Merle died from complications to a pneumonia he had contracted in 2016.

Today’s single release is for Kentucky Gambler, a Dolly Parton song that Haggard covered in 1975 and took to the #1 spot on the charts. Wasson’s rich baritone delivers the old song in great form, and it is a treat to hear Crowe’s banjo again. They are assisted on the track by Alison Krauss and Suzanne Cox on harmony vocals, Dan Tyminski on mandolin, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Mark Fain on bass, and Harry Stinson on drums. Rickey plays the guitar.

Here’s a taste of the single, which is available to radio programmers now on AirPlay Direct.

The full Hats Off To Haggard album will be released sometime this fall on the Truegrass Entertainment label.

Wasson and Crowe will do some limited touring later this year and next in support of this project. More details on all that to come.

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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.