Back in the 1960s and ’70s, several amazing acoustic flattop steel string guitar players burst like a clap of thunder on the folk and bluegrass scenes. Between the fiddle tune and rockabilly lightning of Doc Watson and the jazzy pyrotechnics of Tony Rice was—and is—the versatile folk-country style of Dan Crary.
Crary gathered a national following as early as 1968 in the Bluegrass Alliance as a solo artist, and continued with such outstanding groups as Byron Berline & Sundance and California. He just seems to get better and more versatile as the years go by. His latest ensemble Dan Crary & Thunderation delivers on this new CD a near-perfect storm of material and performance.
The eye of Thunderation’s storm is Crary, seasoned bassist Steve Spurgin (a long-time Crary collaborator), and impressive young mandolinist Martin Stevens. They are joined in the studio by a high-pleasure front of sidemen. Especially exciting are the contributions of mandolin players John Reischman of the Jaybirds, who has been on notable past Tony Rice recordings, and acoustic jazz wizard Don Stiernberg. Hearing Crary and Stiernberg trade licks on “Deep River Blues” is just a delight. The material ranges from folk (the traditional “Sail Away Ladies” to Bob Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country”) to contemporary country (Gillian Welch and Dave Rawling’s “One More Dollar”). Crary’s lead vocals remind us that along with being a giant flatpicker, he’s also a formidable singer. Bassist Spurgin proves himself a fine singer-songwriter with his originals “Muley Was A Railroad Man” and “Tumbleweed Town.” As you’d expect, there are also sweeping instrumentals, including Crary’s own “Thunderation.”
Perfect Storm leaves a rainbow of enjoyment in its passing. The music of Dan Crary & Thunderation rains and reigns. (www.bluenightrecords.com) RDS