In 1994, Jerry Douglas and Tut Taylor conceived and coordinated a project dubbed The Great Dobro Sessions, an event that gathered some of the top dobro/resonator guitar players of the era to show off their skills and shine the spotlight on an instrument which had long been considered largely a support element in bluegrass, country and roots rock circles. That’s hardly the case now of course, thanks to Douglas, Taylor, and other skilled practitioners who have brought this particular instrument to the fore.
Nevertheless, credit Tim Graves, a 2020 Master Gold Dobro Player Award Winner, for reviving this super summit with some of today’s most notable players and performers. As a result, some 27 years after the original project took place, a dozen more musicians have opted to lend their talents to this, The New Reso Gathering, a recording that’s as impressive as the initial project was in its original incarnation
This time around, the spotlight falls on another group of seasoned players — Andy Hall, Fred Travers, Justin Moses, and Mike Webb, among them — and given Graves’ individual introductions, their credits and accomplishments are ceded center stage. As a result, the album unfolds like a showcase of sorts, with each musician demonstrating their abilities for a varied set of songs that includes both original and traditional tunes. Fireball, Fireball Mail, Buckaroo, Dusty Roads, Pickaway, and Happy Times resonate with an intent and enthusiasm that reflects the ample talents shared by each participant. Whether it’s the jaunty Farewell Blues or the subdued sentiments found in Lilly Dale, End of the World, Happy Hour at Paddy’s and Colorado Sunset, the players manage to vary the tone while still retaining the fluidity and finesse that each brings to the table.
So too, by listening to this collection, one is reminded of the way dobro has impacted modern music, in terms of both versatility and variety. Indeed, the credits claimed by each musician on this disc —careers that include efforts alongside such notables as Dale Ann Bradley, Seldom Scene, The Infamous Stringdusters, JD Crowe & the New South, and the Oak Ridge Boys — testify to the dobro’s impact and importance. So too, these instrumentals can certainly be appreciated by both fans and aficionados alike, given the engaging melodies and precise performances. This Gathering gains traction after only a single sampling.