Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Album of the Week: THE BILL MONROE COLLECTION by Tony Rice

In honor of bluegrass legend, Bill Monroe's 100th birthday (Sep 13, 2011), guitar virtuoso Tony Rice has released a personal tribute entitled The Bill Monroe Collection (release date January 31, 2012). As Country music drifts further into pop sensibilities, it's nice to stop sometimes and remember where the music began. We were thrilled with the release of early recordings of Hank Williams and Buck Owens last year, and this release (although not by Bill Monroe himself) continues that spotlight on Country's great originators. Known as the "Father of Bluegrass," Bill Monroe had an enormous influence on the early days of Country all the way through the late 70s. For those of you not familiar with the style known as bluegrass, think of the song "Rocky Top" - lots of furious fiddling and banjo strumming mixed with slower country waltzes, all paying tribute to the simple joys of country living. Tony does a wonderful job paying homage to the genre and the man who invented it. Although he omits some of Bill Monroe's most famous songs ("Blue Moon of Kentucky" and "I Saw the Light" come to mind), Tony more than makes up for it with his enthusiastic and authentic renditions of 14 Bill Monroe Classics, most notably his take on "I'm on My Way Back to the Old Home." With over 40 years of experience at "pickin and grinnin," Tony uses his considerable talents to shine a glorious light on a true Country legend. For those of you new to Bluegrass, I hope this collection serves as a nice introduction to help you "see the light."

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