The cover of Bluegrass for Beginners cleverly resembles a spiral notebook, as though the listener were taking a college course in mountain music. Luckily, the cost for taking this intro class is fairly reasonable, and the material is much more interesting than the average textbook. As might be expected, there are a number of bluegrass standards here, the type of songs a listener needs to be familiar with before traipsing off to the local bluegrass festival. The collection shoves off with Wynn Osborne's version of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," and the Osborne Brothers themselves perform their classic, "Rocky Top." There's a top-notch take on Bill Monroe's "Little Georgia Rose" by the Seldom Scene, and Don Reno delivers a spunky, live version of "Dueling Banjoes." There's also a fine rendition of John Prine's classic "Paradise" by Jim & Jesse, and the daddy of bluegrass himself, Bill Monroe, shows up for a fine take on "Body and Soul." Since a lot of the bluegrass essentials are fairly short by modern standards, the folks at CMH managed to fit 20 songs/instrumentals on Bluegrass for Beginners. While the neophyte will be glad that a test doesn't accompany this beginner's guide, chances are that he or she will memorize the material nonetheless from repeat listens.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.