Ferrell Stowe – Personal Tribute To: Josh

Ferrell Stowe - Personal Tribute To: Josh - Bluegrass UnlimitedFERRELL STOWE
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Josh Graves was the resonator guitar player of his era, dominating throughout his tenure with Flatt & Scruggs starting in 1955 and into the late ’70s and arguably beyond.
When you said “Dobro” in those days, you thought “Graves,” much as many today think “Douglas.” Ferrell Stowe, a fine musician in his own right, obviously still thinks highly of Graves and pays tribute to him with this recording.

The last time I reviewed Stowe was for his Trnava recording. That was a very different piece of work, alternating between tradition and modernity and including vocals. This recording is an all-instrumental affair and consists of songs associated with Graves or with his days in Flatt & Scruggs. You’ll know them all: “Randy Lynn Rag,” “Fireball Mail,” “Home Sweet Home,” and “Foggy Mountain Rock.” Stowe gives them all a studied and heartfelt airing, adding some nice personal twists to some classics. None of the tunes attempt to recreate the originals, including “Shuckin’ The Corn” and “Randy Lynn Rag,” both of which start not with banjo, but with reso-guitar. Deserving special mention are “Flatt Lonesome” and “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.” The former is a masterpiece of slow, bluesy playing that precisely captures the spirit of Lester Flatt and his vocal style. The solos all are mesmerizing, particularly Stowe’s use of his Oahu guitar. The latter tune is a beautiful distillation of the melody on which Stowe lets certain notes decay, leaving you hanging on for the next.

Supporting Stowe are mandolinist Ron Pennington (who shines throughout), banjoists Allen Jones and Charlie Cushman, guitarist Dave Marvilla, bassist Doug Clifton, brush drummer Jim Buttrey, and fiddler Johnny Warren. Having a few songs that didn’t kick off with the resonator and removing the brushes from about half the tunes would have made this more varied, but it is still a well-played and enjoyable tribute. (Ferrell Stowe, 1032 Wiley Pardue Rd., Ashland City, TN 37015, www.ferrellstowe.com.) BW

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