Add this gem to the list of tribute releases honoring the Father of Bluegrass on the hundredth anniversary of his birth. Recorded live at Bean Blossom in June 2011 and produced by Sammy Shelor, this package includes 12 cuts of Monroe standards, each quite ably performed by the best groups in the business. There is also a very attractive eight-page booklet with fine notes on each tune by Thomas Adler and color background images of each performing band. The recording quality is very good throughout, with the added element of the live on-stage performances.
Performers and songs include Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out appropriately kicking things off with “Uncle Pen,” Lou Reid & Carolina with “Can’t You Hear Me Calling,” Brand New Strings performing a very nice version of “Southern Flavor,” and Grasstowne with an a cappella “Were You There.” The Lonesome River Band gives us “Footprints In The Snow,” Audie Blaylock & Redline do a driving version of “Six Feet Under The Ground,” the Bartley Brothers follow with “Big Mon,” Blue Moon Rising performs “Body And Soul,” and Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press feature the classic “Blue Moon Of Kentucky.” Carolina Road performs a very nice “This World Is Not My Home,” Ronnie Reno & The Reno Tradition do “Bluegrass Breakdown,” and Wasson and McCall (with J.D. Crowe on banjo and Ron Stewart on fiddle) wrap up the proceeding with a fine version of “Molly And Tenbrooks.”
With great bands and fine performances of some the classic songs of Bill Monroe, all in a very nice package, this release should be pleasing to just about any bluegrass fan. Highly recommended. (Rural Rhythm Records, P.O. Box 750, Mt. Juliet, TN 37121, www.ruralrhythm.com.) AW