Some of the more popular bluegrass instrumental projects of recent years have been in a Pinecastle series which came to be called the Bluegrass Annual projects, as each was designated by the year in which it was released. Seven CDs were eventually included, starting with Bluegrass ’95, and concluding with Bluegrass 2001.
The series had a largely accidental genesis, initially recorded as a solo project for Clay Jones, now guitarist with Mountain Heart. When that project was finished, Clay made a decision to work outside of music, and Pinecastle was prepared to shelve the recording, seeing no venue to promote it. Scott Vestal, a long time friend of Clay’s who played banjo on the project, intervened with the label and convinced them to release it as an instrumental CD so that the artists who recorded with Clay (Adam Steffey, Wayne Benson, Aubrey Haynie, Barry Bales), could at least offer it for sale at their shows.
"I talked with Tom Riggs at Pinecastle and suggested that we release it in some form with a generic title so that at least the guys on the record could sell it at shows. I just threw out the name, Bluegrass ‚Äò95 and he liked it. No one expected it to sell so well but, when it did, Pinecastle turned the concept over to me and asked me to do one each year.”
Each was successful in its own right, but as the CD inventory for each title sold through, Pinecastle has elected to let them go out of print. Bluegrass 2001 is the only one still available as an audio CD.
They released a compilation from those CDs in the summer of 2005, called Ultimate Pickin, which featured 20 tracks taken from those recordings, and now a second compilation is out with a bit broader range that includes more tracks from those popular CDs.
The newly released More Ultimate Pickin also contains 20 tracks, taken from the aforementioned Vestal-produced projects, and other Pinecastle CDs like Bobby Osborne & Jesse McReynolds’ Masters Of The Mandolin, among others. A full track listing and a few audio samples can be found on the Pinecastle site.
You can still obtain the individual Bluegrass Annual projects as digital downloads in the iTunes Music Store. Follow the links below to find them in iTunes.