Michael Prewitt – The Peerless Mountain Sessions

Since joining the bluegrass institution Special Consensus in 2021, Michael Prewitt has garnered acclaim for his commanding traditional approach to the mandolin. His debut solo album, The Peerless Mountain Sessions, is a collection of instrumentals which Prewitt has drawn from bluegrass, old time, and Canadian fiddle tradition.

The album opens with Prewitt’s rendition of Tombstone Junction by Bill Monroe. Though Monroe never formally recorded the tune himself, it’s beloved amongst bluegrass mandolinists and Michael delivers a fine performance of it. This track also introduces us to the core cast of backing musicians, which is without a doubt this project’s greatest strength. Rather than utilize a full band, Prewitt opted for a trio format, bringing a greater sense of clarity to each musician and their individual contributions. Brady Wallen, currently a member of the Amanda Cook Band, is featured on banjo as well as guitar on some tracks. Prewitt’s bandmate in Special C, Dan Eubanks is on bass.

Nine Miles Out of Louisville is one of two tunes taken directly from the repertoire of Buddy Thomas. While Prewitt stays true to the core of this piece, he also takes some excellent improvisational abilities with it as well. The other Thomas tune, Sheeps and Hogs Walking Through the Pasture, features solid banjo work from Wallen.

Surveyor’s Reel comes from the Canadian fiddler, Andy DeJarlis. This tune has a riveting melodic and rhythmic pulse as well as strong lead guitar from Brady Wallen. 

Although Bostony pays homage to the blind East Kentucky fiddler, Ed Haley, you could also say that the introduction of this track is tipping the hat to John Hartford who recorded and vocally introduced this tune on his 1996 fiddle album, Wild Hog in the Red Brush. Like the other pieces on this project, Michael’s rendering of this tune carries authenticity and creativity.

Lonesome Moonlight Waltz and Bluegrass Stomp are two Monroe pieces that show Dan Eubanks’ incredible prowess as a bass player. The former combines Prewitt’s mandolin right alongside Eubanks’ upright bass. The result is a stunning combination. The latter is a true tour-de force with every player’’s creativity coming to the forefront on this classic tune. Eubanks is a fine soloist on his instrument, and both tracks are remarkable displays of that.

The closing tune, I Am A Pilgrim, is clearly influenced by the Kentucky Colonels who first recorded the tune on their 1964 album, Appalachian Swing. This track features beautiful twin playing from Michael, along with his mentor and producer, Virgil Bowlin.

The Peerless Mountain Sessions is a marvelous work. Drawing from numerous sources, Michael Prewitt has presented a collection of tunes that fully exhibit his facility for different forms of traditional mandolin playing. This is a recording that should be studied by all who play the eight string.

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About the Author

Braeden Paul

Braeden Paul has been involved in various capacities of bluegrass music. A Texas native, Paul has been part of several Dallas-based bands as a mandolinist. He also serves on the board of directors of the Southwest Bluegrass Club in Grapevine, TX. As a writer, Braeden has also contributed numerous music reviews to the Bluegrass Society of America Facebook page, and is the co-author of Texas Bluegrass History: High Lonesome on the High Plains.