J.D. Crowe & the New South

Bluegrass Holiday

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Any late-'60s band that included banjoist J.D. Crowe, singer Red Allen, and mandolinist Doyle Lawson would have to be looked at as a crossroads of sort, a meeting of bluegrass past and bluegrass future, a foray into tradition and a portent of things to come. Red Allen was an old-school vocalist who infused his singing with mountain soul that drew on tradition as laid down by innovators like Ralph Stanley and Bill Monroe. Both Lawson (in the Country Gentlemen) and Crowe, on the other hand, would come to the forefront in the '70s, both delving into a more progressive style while retaining a traditional base. The group's selections and style stick close to tradition on Bluegrass Holiday, with Allen singing lead and both Crowe and Lawson adding to the vocal blend. An upbeat, instrumental cut of "Train 45" is simply fabulous, with banjos and mandolins blazing. Bobby Slone's bass work keeps the band grounded, and he adds his fiddle skills to "Orange Blossom Special." Fans will be pleased that four bonus tracks, "Black Jack," "You're Not Easy to Forget," "Pike County Breakdown," and "We'll Meet Again Sweetheart," have been added. The recording quality is somewhat rough, and the vocals often sound distant, as though too much echo has been added. Fans, however, will be happy that Bluegrass Holiday is available again.

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