Scotty Stoneman

Live in L.A. with the Kentucky Colonels

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Although this is a straight bluegrass record, it will attract more crossover attention from rock and country listeners than the average such thing, not so much because of the featured artist as the backing band. For on this 1965 recording, fiddler and singer Scotty Stoneman was backed by the Kentucky Colonels, who include a young Clarence White on guitar and vocals, prior to White's leap into country-rock. Too, Stoneman had his admirers among other musicians who moved from folk to rock, such as Jerry Garcia, who enthusiastically calls Stoneman "the bluegrass Charlie Parker" on the back cover sleeve note (written in 1991). More fulsome praise by those who straddled the bluegrass and rock worlds is offered in the booklet, where Richard Greene and Peter Rowan go into some rather technical commentary, though with a similarly fervent admiring tone. As for the actual recording, it's perhaps a little less spectacular than some of the observations might lead you to expect, partly because the sound quality, though OK, isn't sparkling. Most of the largely traditional material is instrumental, giving Stoneman many chances to play rapid, extended passages that, certainly by bluegrass standards of the era, had a daring intensity. Such playing on one track, "Eighth of January," comes in for particularly ardent praise by Garcia, even if the version here lasts five minutes, not the "like 20 minutes" that Jerry remembers in his note. The vocal numbers aren't bad at all, highlighted by Stoneman's risque "Any Damn Thing" ("I pulled her dress up to her chin, and we played the game called any damn thing"). But the instrumental outings will excite players the most, even though these are the kind of things that excite musicians and aficionados more than general bluegrass/country listeners.

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