Although the music on Country Bluegrass was recorded in the 1960s, it might as well have been recorded in the 1920s or 1930s, because when the husband-and-wife duo of Jeanie & Harry West recorded for Prestige in the 1960s, they showed no awareness of the country sounds of the day. Their specialty was the type of acoustic, pre-Hank Williams country that the Carter Family was known for, and they had no interest in the electric, rock-influenced sounds that were coming out of Nashville and Bakersfield. If you sounded like the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Patsy Montana, or the Prairie Ramblers in the 1960s, you stood little chance of enjoying airplay on country radio -- so not surprisingly, the Wests were considered too old-time, too Appalachian, too bluegrass for country stations (just as the country stations of the 1990s considered George Jones, Connie Smith, Merle Haggard, and Buck Owens old-fashioned). But they found a home for themselves on the folk circuit, and the folk audience proved to be receptive to their Prestige LPs Roaming the Blue Ridge With Jeanie West and Country Music in Bluegrass Style. Those albums had been out of print for many years when, in early 2000, Fantasy reissued them on this 78-minute CD. Turning their attention to the music of A.P. Carter, Bill Monroe, and others, the Wests remind listeners how enriching genuine hillbilly music can be. Much like Mississippi Delta blues, this music wins you over with its rawness, honesty, and lack of pretense. Clearly, the many hours that they spent listening to the Carter Family served them well.
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