True Bluegrass Guitar – Various Artists

At the same time as releasing a set of mandolin recordings from the Rebel and County Records’ vaults, Rebel Records has made available a bluegrass guitar anthology, True Bluegrass Guitar.

Digging deep into their archives Rebel Records has assembled recordings by some of the greatest guitar pickers that have contributed to the bluegrass music genre.

Included are the legendary Tony Rice —an IBMA Hall of Fame member who had much to do with introducing lead guitar to the field of bluegrass. His work is highlighted here by the inclusion of four numbers—three dynamic old fiddle tunes; Salt Creek, Red Haired Boy and Billy In The Low Ground – and lastly is a lovely version of Hoagy Carmichael’s Georgia On My Mind.

Influenced by Rice is Richard Bennett whose talents are on display in the recordings of Greensleeves (with Rice on guitar also), and Kenny Baker’s Washington County. Speaking of Baker; his masterful ability as a guitarist has not been forgotten with him trading licks with Josh Graves on Bucktime.

By way of contrast, the late James Alan Shelton – a master of the cross-picking style – is represented with his tribute to his wife, Song For Greta, the Elizabeth Cotten classic Freight Train, and an instrumental version of Grandpa Jones’s Eight More Miles To Louisville.

Variety is provided with the bluesy tones of Carter’s Blues emanating from Larry Sparks’ early 1950’s D-28.

Another who is better known as a supreme vocalist is long-time Country Gentleman leader Charlie Waller, with Cannonball Rag – ably assisted by Randall Hylton, also on guitar.

Lining up alongside this august list of guitarists are the no-lesser esteemed notables, a three-time winner of the IBMA award for Guitar Player of the Year, David Grier (playing another traditional tune Whiskey Before Breakfast); Norman Blake – assisted by Red Rector – playing The Girl I Left Behind Me; Kenny Smith and Tim Stafford, with a twin-guitar arrangement of Angeline The Baker; and Jeremy Stephens, working out with Kirk Sutphin on an old-time duet learned from West Virginian Roy Harvey – Just Pickin’.

Last, but not least, are three tunes from 14-year veteran of Ricky Skaggs’s Kentucky Thunder and a former National Flat Pick Guitar Champion Cody Kilby; two traditional pieces Tom and Jerry and St Anne’s Reel, and his original Memories of You.

True Bluegrass Guitar (Rebel REBCD 8010) is a budget-priced collection of 19 tunes, available from the usual music outlets in CD and digital format.

Track listing in sequence –

Tom and Jerry– Cody Kilby / Freight Train– James Alan Shelton / Bucktime– Kenny Baker & Josh  Graves / Salt Creek– Tony Rice / The Girl I Left Behind Me– Norman Blake and Red Rector / Memories Of You– Cody Kilby / Just Pickin’– Jeremy Stephens / Eight More Miles To Louisville– James Alan Shelton / Red Haired Boy– Tony Rice / Greensleeves– Richard Bennett / Billy In The Lowground– Tony Rice / Angeline The Baker– Kenny Smith & Tim Stafford / Carter’s Blues- Larry Sparks / Whiskey Before Breakfast- David Grier / Cannonball Rag- Charlie Waller & Randall Hylton / Georgia On My Mind– Tony Rice / Song For Greta– James Alan Shelton / Washington County– Richard Bennett / St. Anne’s Reel– Cody Kilby.

Share this:

About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.