Here’s another post from our all-the-more regular correspondent, Richard Thompson. He writes from England, where he is also a longstanding contributor to British Bluegrass News, a quarterly print publication where he also briefly served as editor.
The latest CD from bluegrass stalwart Paul Williams and his band, Where No One Stands Alone (Rebel REB 1822) will be released on May 22.
An very accomplished mandolin player, Paul Williams’ first job in bluegrass music was with the legendary Lonesome Pine Fiddlers in the 1950s. From there, he then went on to become one of Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys, staying with the group until the early 1960s. He wrote prolifically during those years and produced many bluegrass classics including Don’t Cry To Me, Prayer Bells Of Heaven and I Like To Hear Them Preach It.
In August of 1963 Williams retired from the bluegrass music circuit, to work for the US Postal Service. However, he continued to write songs and play in churches and radio broadcasts for the next thirty years or so.
In 1995 Paul Williams formed The Victory Trio and the group played in churches around his home town of Morristown, Tennessee. While the group was an immediate regional success, it took four years to achieve wider recognition. The big break came with their second self-produced recording, Old Ways & Old Paths, which was re-released on Rebel Records and subsequently was nominated for a Grammy award in 2000 in the Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album category.
Paul Williams and The Victory Trio have continued to release great bluegrass gospel albums through the years and their efforts have earned them several nominations for awards. For three consecutive years the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music (SPBGMA) and the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) nominated the band for Bluegrass Group of the Year, Bluegrass Gospel-Traditional Group of the Year and Bluegrass Vocal Group of the Year, respectively. In February this year the group were presented with the SPBGMA Bluegrass Gospel-Traditional Group of the Year award.
This new collection features 14 all new recordings done at Lasting Sounds Studio, Blountville, Tennessee, in October of last year. Of those, three are original songs penned by Williams; Beautiful Heaven, When We’re Living On The Other Side and I’m Getting Anxious. There are a further two songs where Williams shares co-writing credit; A Long Time Ago (with Susie Keys) and Can You Hear The Angels Sing? (with Joyce Williams).
Among the remainder is I Pressed Through The Crowd (penned by Joe Isaacs) and an Albert E Brumley song, I Know My Lord Is Going To Lead Me Out.
Thank You Jesus is the sole a cappella cut.
Williams has had a complete overhaul of supporting personnel since his last release, with Kelly McCord (guitar) and Rodney Worley (fiddle and guitar) both assisting Williams on vocals, and Kevin Bowen (banjo) and Matt Wallace (bass) rounding out the quintet.
All in all, the collection is more of the good traditional bluegrass gospel that one expects from Paul Williams and The Victory Trio.