This single-CD compilation is the companion volume to the BMG Heritage release Bona Fide Bluegrass & Mountain Music (2002) -- and both focus on the high and lonesome sound of traditional Americana from the 20th century. The enormous success of Joel Coen's O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) spawned not only a well-received soundtrack, but also collections such as this. More Bona Fide Bluegrass and Mountain Music (2002), which includes one-and-a-half dozen sides which, despite spanning over half a century, are undeniably united by common acoustic-based motifs and organic musical themes. RCA Victor was one of the first companies to fully embrace and take advantage of the field and on-location recordings. In particular, the label's artist and repertory (A&R) man, Ralph Peer, has been credited for uncovering performers as far afield as Hoyt Ming ("Indian War Whoop (Country-Dance)") to Piedmont fiddle legend Arthur Smith ("Freight Train Moan") during various talent scouting excursions throughout the South-eastern United States. In addition to Peer's various discoveries, this set includes original recordings of tunes which have remained in the traditional folk genre for decades. One specific case in point is the revelation "You Are My Sunshine." Although the track later became a signature song for two-term Louisiana Governor Jimmy Davis, the original -- which is included here -- features the Pine Ridge Boys' 1939 recording. No bluegrass collection could be considered complete without copious contributions from Lester Flatt, who is highlighted in several different musical scenarios. Here, he is featured both as a solo artist on "Head Over Heels In Love," as well as with Bill Monroe, as the pair present "My Little Cabin Home On The Hill" and "Will You Be Loving Another Man." More recent inclusions, from the early '70s, pair Flatt with Mac Wiseman for seminal readings of "Over The Hills To The Poorhouse" and "The Bluebirds Singing For Me." While far from complete or definitive, this collection is certainly a worthy find for fans of authentic American folk/bluegrass and mountain music.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer