Mandolinist Frank Wakefield has legendary status in bluegrass. Guitarist and vocalist Leon Morris, though a strong talent as a singer and songwriter, has not quite achieved that level. Both are, however, old friends and associates, having recorded together in the 1960s, and both are strong keepers of the classic bluegrass sound of the ’50s and ’60s. For Tom Mindte, a keeper of the classic sound himself, bringing them together in a studio again makes perfect sense. The results are nothing short of delightful.
For the project, Mindte has backed them with several of the talented musicians in the Patuxent Music stable, including fiddler Nate Leath, banjoist Mark Delaney, guitarist Danny Knicely, and bassist Stefan Custodi. Morris handles a large share of the lead singing. His smooth, high-range baritone lead shines on his cover of “Here Today And Gone Tomorrow” and Bill Monroe’s “I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling Me” and on his own “Blue Monday,” a love-gone-wrong song in which every day feels like the title. He’s also in fine form, both vocally and as songwriter, on “Lena” and “Sitting Here Waiting For You.”
For his part, in addition to playing some trademark mandolin throughout, Wakefield contributes seven original songs, including a classic 3/4 bluegrass number called “You’re The One” and the emotional country yearners, “My Endless Love” and “Made Up My Mind.” The lead is provided by Bryan Deere on “You’re The One” and by Scott Brannon on the latter two. All three, with harmonies from Brennen Ernst, Danny Paisley, or Tom Mindte, are superb. Wakefield sings lead on two of his own songs, the best being his folk-tinged “Never Fall.” The album ends on Wakefield’s stomping, bluesy instrumental “Rondo,” and when it does end, it takes great willpower to resist playing the CD again. But why resist? (Patuxent Music, P.O. Box 572, Rockville, MD 20848, www.pxrec.com.)BW