100% Handmade Bluegrass
First Appeared at The Music Box, February 2004, Volume 11, #2
Written by John Metzger
David Grismanís Acoustic Disc doesnít tend to flood the market with music. In fact, since its founding in 1990, the company has released a mere 49 albums. All of them have been carefully selected in order to present as diverse an array of styles as possible, all while staying within the scope of the labelís ultimate mission: the preservation of acoustic music, musicians, and instruments. Despite its limited annual output, however, one could be forgiven for missing a few outings along the way. After all, some of its releases, at least on the surface, have been extraordinarily academic in nature, exploring the sounds of vintage instruments, for example, or delving into a particular style and examining it from all possible angles. Yet, even these scholarly projects prove to be delightful endeavors that seemingly gush with passion, beauty, and grace, if only given the chance.
As a means for guiding the layperson in discovering the rich heritage of acoustic instrumentation, Grismanís label has also issued seven compilations, each of which culls material from its other outings. The latest of these is 100% Handmade Bluegrass, a 16-song endeavor that features tracks by Old & in the Gray, Old & in the Way, the David Grisman Quintet, and the inimitable Charles Sawtelle. Elsewhere, Del McCoury joins a plethora of mandolinists to tear through the traditional Dusty Miller; Doc Watson teams up with Grisman for a lovely interpretation of Watson Blues; Red Allen and Frank Wakefield tenderly tackle íTis Sweet to Be Remembered; and on the albumís lone previously unreleased cut How Mountain Gals Can Love, Ralph Stanley and his son harmonize beautifully as fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and bass whirl and twirl freely. Depending upon how closely one follows Acoustic Discís output, this outing may or may not be a worthwhile addition, but for those unsure of where to begin, itís an outstanding introduction to a dozen of the labelís typically high-quality releases.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box