Various Artists

Saturday Night Shuffle: A Celebration of Merle Travis the Man & His Music

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Saturday Night Shuffle is a lovingly performed tribute to Merle Travis, one of the most influential talents in country music and one of the greatest guitar pickers of all time. WARNING: This album is not a collection of major-label B-list alternative rock schlock of the sort that populates most "tribute"records, but rather is a CD full of sensitive interpretations of classic tunes, jaw-dropping chops, and all-around fun music performed by people who actually knew Travis personally. The disc features an all-star band led by Travis' son Thom Bresh and guest appearances by a host of country legends and Travis collaborators, such as Grandpa Jones, Vassar Clements, Buddy Emmons, and Josh Graves. A virtual treasure trove for aspiring guitar masters, there are several mind-boggling solo and duet guitar pieces here, mostly played by Bresh, Marcel Dadi, and the late, great Chet Atkins. Just as importantly, though, Saturday Night Shuffle serves as a great introduction to Travis as a composer. Listeners who think they are unfamiliar with Travis will be surprised at how many of these classic tunes they recognize. Fresh versions of "There Ain't a Cow in Texas," "Sixteen Tons," and "So Round So Firm" make abundantly clear the fact that he was an inventive and humorous lyricist whose perceptiveness and talent with wordplay were seldom matched, even in the world of pop standards. Overall, Saturday Night Shuffle is that rare tribute album that is indeed a fitting paean to the person who inspired it, and a must-have for any fan of Merle Travis or guitar music.

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