“No part of nothin’,” Bill Monroe’s famous phrase describing music unworthy of praise just so happens to be the seemingly unusual choice for the title of the new release this month from Alan Tompkins, the president and founder of the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation.
No Part of Nothin’ has been a long time coming. Raised in western Kentucky, Tompkins grew up amidst sounds of classic country, Gospel, and bluegrass music. At a very early age, he learned to play and sing through the encouragement of his mother, and before long, found himself as the bassist and singer in a church worship band in his hometown.
However, it wasn’t until some years later when he found his true interests lay in bluegrass. After pursuing college degrees and a career in business, Tompkins was eventually led to traditional music. He learned to play upright bass and banjo as well as several other instruments commonly associated with traditional music, ultimately resulting in his first album.
No Part of Nothin’ features great traditional music. From the Bill Monroe/Hank Williams penned tune I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome, to traditional pieces like Angelina Baker and More Pretty Girls Than One, Tompkins’s vocals and fine musicianship clearly shine throughout. He is also joined by a multiple-award winning group of musicians, including Sam Bush, Ron Stewart, Kenny and Amanda Smith, Greg Cahill, and Texas country artist Deryl Dodd.
The twelve-song, 40-minute-long set of music not only highlights Alan’s skills as a bassist and vocalist, but also a rendition of Lonesome Road Blues on which he plays banjo. It also features two original pieces which he co-wrote with Gerald Jones. The first, Blue Kentucky Waltz, which tells the story of a “sweet flower” from the hills of Kentucky, sounds strikingly familiar and seems like it would have fit well into the repertoire of traditional bluegrass musicians like Bill Monroe and Jimmy Martin. The other original, No Part of Nothin’ Blues, is an instrumental which includes an interesting mandolin/bass intro.
One of the standout numbers on this album is a soul-stirring version of the hymn Farther Along which starts out a capella, with Tompkins’ rich, baritone voice bringing to mind the sound of an old-time church service.
While Bill Monroe might have used the phrase “No part of nothin’” to describe music he didn’t approve of, he definitely wouldn’t have applied it to this album. In fact, based on Tompkins’s song choice and musical skills, Monroe would have likely held him in high esteem.
No Part of Nothin’ can be purchased from CDBaby, iTunes, and Amazon. For more information on Tompkins and the album, visit www.alantompkins.com.