Cumberland Highlander Productions continues offering quality DVDs of performances aired on its RFD-TV television program, this one featuring two complete shows (two DVDs), thirty songs in all by the Karl Shiflett and Big Country Show.
One is from 2009 with mandolinist David Long, banjoist Dillon Scott, and fiddler Preston Schmidt. The other dates to 2002 with mandolinist Randy Lindley, banjoist Jake Jenkins, fiddler Chuck Westerman on fiddle, and reso-guitarist Andy Ruff. The constants from both shows are Karl, his son Kris on bass, three tunes (“Bluegrass Breakdown,” “Misery Loves Company,” and “Where The Smoke Goes Up”), a couple of jokes, and a whole lot of showmanship and fun.
The older show, filmed outdoors in front of the refurbished Bill Monroe birthplace, leans more to traditional bluegrass such as “I Know You’re Married,” “I Live In The Past,” “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone,” and “Old Dangerfield.” Lindley’s mandolin work shines throughout and the inclusion of the resonator guitar is a nice variant. The singing is tighter and more convincing than on the later show and Karl is more sedate (i.e., fewer leg kicks and mugging).
The newer show, filmed in a large shed-like structure at the same location, has slightly echoey sound and more of a swing and country feel with such tunes as “Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’,” “Why Baby Why,” “Act Naturally,” and “Kansas City Kitty.” Schmidt brings more verve to the fiddle playing, the choreography around the one mic has more life, and Karl has definitely upped his quota of leg kicks. But it’s all in good fun, and that’s the best way to describe these DVDs. (Cumberland Highlander Prod., P.O. Box 428, Rosine, KY 42370, www.highlandercountrystore.com.) BW