In addition to the Reno & Smily reunion CD from 1971 which we mentioned earlier, Rebel Records had two other releases out this week.
Dave Evans’ Pretty Green Hills is his first release in five years, featuring his band, traditionally known as River Bend, with Bobby Hicks guesting on fiddle. Evans plays banjo, Mike Garris is on bass, Merl Johnson on guitar, and Randy Thomas on mandolin. Bo Issac adds tenor vocals to Evan’s soulful lead singing.
Evans got his schooling in traditional bluegrass by working with some of the best. His first gig was with Earl Taylor in the late 1960s, followed by stints with Larry Sparks, Red Allen, The Boys From Indiana, and Melvin Goins. When he formed his own band in 1978, he had earned his reputation as a solid traditional style banjo player and lead vocalist. Now, more than a dozen albums later, Rebel offers a set of mostly traditional and standard bluegrass numbers, with a couple of originals each from Evans and Dixie and Tom T. Hall.
The other new Rebel release is an all a cappella Gospel compilation CD, Feel Like My Time Ain’t Long, with tracks from such highly-regarded artists as Blue Highway, Ralph Stanley, IIIrd Tyme Out, Larry Sparks, Paul Williams, and The Forbes Family. Included are such instant classics as Blue Highway’s Some Day from their Midnight Storm project, and a marvelous version of Gloryland from Ralph Stanley and the 1971 edition of The Clinch Mountain Boys. Many have described this as the best quartet Stanley ever fielded, with Roy Lee Centers, Jack Cooke and Keith Whitley assisting the good doctor.
When I Cross Over Jordan from the original IIIrd Tyme Out members (Baucom, Bibey, Deaton, Moore) is included, along with a stirring mountain version of Amazing Grace (call and response format) by The Marshall Family.
Rebel doesn’t put audio samples on their site, but both new releases are available on iTunes. If you have the iTunes software installed, you can sample the audio (or purchase downloads) for either Pretty Green Hills or Feel Like My Time Ain’t Long from iTunes.